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SHOPPING

Posted by Tim Bryce on May 29, 2015

BRYCE ON LIFE

– A pastime or an obsession?

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

When I go shopping, I’m one of those guys who doesn’t like to dicker over price. I want to go in, buy what I want and move along. To me, shopping over the Internet was a Godsend as I can browse at my leisure, compare prices, and order what I want without the hassle of talking to a sales clerk. I don’t like to barter, but I know a lot of people who do. My father was a past master of the trade, particularly when it came to cars. When negotiating with a salesman, he treated it like a game as to who could outdo each other. I knew a lot of guys from his generation who liked to shop for cars the way he did. Plain and simply, it was the love of the joust they relished. Although my father would get the price down, I couldn’t help but believe in the end, the salesman had the last laugh. As for me, such shenanigans are a waste of time.

“Horse trading,” as we still refer to it, is still a lively pastime. I’ve got friends who actively engage in it and their goal is to always “trade up” for something better. For example, I have seen them start with a bicycle, trade it up for a chain saw, to a scooter, to a motorcycle, to a camper, to a car, and finally to a boat. It takes them a bit of time to go through the process and requires them to fix and cleanup the current commodity du jour, but they thoroughly enjoy the game. True, they’re ultimately making some money in the end, but they’re also spending money cleaning and fixing up the merchandise as well as devoting considerable time to their hobby. The one thing I’ve learned about these people is they do not form any attachments to their property. They will wheel and deal in all of their material possessions, even pets and livestock. I don’t know if these people are to be envied or pitied for their obsession, but they certainly seem to enjoy it.

I am also not one of those guys who longs to go shopping at a mall for an afternoon. Frankly, I think I would rather have a prostate examination instead. I marvel at how people can do this as much as they do, particularly before Christmas. Women shoppers amaze me as they methodically go in and out of stores, examining merchandise, trying on clothes, and buying nothing. It’s kind of like watching an ant canvass an area scrounging for food.

I have a female friend who I would classify as a professional shopper. She knows where virtually everything is in the city she lives, and makes routine rounds around town in a constant search for the lowest prices and latest sales. She has done this so often, all of the sales clerks in town know her on a first name basis. Each time she goes out, she is compelled to buy something. If you were to visit her home you would find racks of clothes which still have the price tags on them. Interestingly, just about everything she buys is returned. As an aside, her monthly credit card statements read like “War and Peace” with numerous pages of debits and credits, yet the monthly balance always ends up at zero. You would think such shopping madness would get tiresome. Surprisingly, it does not. It is the love of the hunt that drives her just as much as “horse trading” does for my other friends.

I have heard the act of shopping called everything from a hobby to an obsession, to a disease or some form of addiction. For those obsessed with it, Psychiatrists have a name for it, Compulsive Buying Disorder (CBD) which can be treated by medication and support groups. Interestingly, CBD is found in approximately 6% of the American populace, 80% of which are female.

Aside from CBD, I think what drives shoppers more than anything is the incentive of financial rewards. Other than this, I cannot see any enjoyment in shopping for its own sake, regardless of how the store is decorated or its friendly service. If you are shopping just to occupy your time, you must be a glutton for punishment.

As for me, while everyone else is at the mall, I’ll be sitting at the beach quietly reading a good book. It sure beats a prostate examination (or shopping).

Originally published: April 23, 2010

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  BED BUGS & OUR CHANGING WORLD – What is the true cause of our changing world and what can be done about it?

LAST TIME:  THE JEWISH VOTE  – Are American Jews being taken for granted by the Democratic Party?

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Life | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

THE JEWISH VOTE

Posted by Tim Bryce on May 27, 2015

BRYCE ON POLITICS

– Are American Jews being taken for granted by the Democratic Party?

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Throughout the 20th century and into the 21st, Jewish American voters gravitated to Democratic causes and candidates. This is probably due to the social programs they support. In the 2008 presidential election, 78% of Jews voted for Barack Obama and 68% in the 2012 elections. Historically, their passion has been liberal programs and support for the Israeli state.

During last year’s Israeli-Gaza Strip conflict though, Jewish voters were not quick to support Israel and tended to align themselves with the Palestinians who, it was believed, suffered the most in the conflict. Hamas was simply no match for the Israeli Army who pummeled the Palestinians for rocket attacks. During the conflict, over 2,200 people were killed, mostly Palestinians during 50 days of violence. Well known Jewish American spokesmen and women were surprisingly mum in terms of their support for the Israelis, whereas Republicans soundly endorsed Israel. This represented a significant twist in support.

Last March, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke before a joint session of Congress, Democrats condemned the speech, including Jewish members, claiming it was political in intent, while Republicans supported it. There is little doubt there is a serious rift between Mr. Obama, a Democrat, and Mr. Netanyahu who often expresses conservative values. The relationship is essentially no different than what the President has with the Speaker of the House and the Majority Leader of the Senate.

Whereas the Democratic Party historically embraced the Jewish vote, now it appears the tide is turning. It is no secret the Democrats have embraced minorities, such as Black, Asian, and Latino voters, but there seems to be a growing resentment against the Jews in the party. I’m not sure why, perhaps antisemitism is growing in this country, as in Europe.

To illustrate, I recently received an e-mail from a die-hard Liberal Democrat who made the surprising admission, “I don’t like Jews. They don’t like Arabs or, for that matter, any Muslims and think Christians are wrong. Jews preach and practice hate, killing and destruction. I hate Jews.”

Frankly, I was thunderstruck by the comment. This is a well educated man who practices law, not to mention a Republican basher of the first order. The fact he would openly admit this caught me completely off guard. I had heard such comments emanating from Europe, but this was the first I had heard over here, and from a loyal Democrat no less, thereby causing me to think others in the party feel likewise.

This also leads me to suspect a change is in the offing. If it is true, Republicans are more loyal to Israeli causes, and Jewish bashing is beginning to occur in the Democratic party, is it possible Jewish Americans will abdicate the party they so proudly served for so many years? Maybe the elders of the Jewish community are beginning to re-think their party loyalty.

The comment from my Democrat acquaintance may be an isolated incident, but it was so strong I cannot help but believe others like him support it. Nobody likes being taken for granted, particularly Jewish voters. I cannot help but believe a change is in the offing as we head into the 2016 elections.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  SHOPPING – A pastime or an obsession?

LAST TIME:  BASEBALL: THE LOVE OF THE GAME  – It is a great game.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Politics, Religion | Tagged: , , , , | 16 Comments »

BASEBALL: THE LOVE OF THE GAME

Posted by Tim Bryce on May 22, 2015

BRYCE ON SPORTS

– It is a great game.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

I have always had a fondness for the game of baseball. As a kid, I played Little League but also carried my glove and bat with me just about everywhere for a quick pickup game whether it was before or after school, or during recess. Growing up in Connecticut, I followed the early 1960’s Yankees and vividly remember when the Mets were introduced. As we moved around the country I became a fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Chicago Cubs, and finally watched the emergence of the Big Red Machine in Cincinnati. Frankly, I do not believe we will ever see another team as good as the 1976 Reds. They were very special.

I played in coed softball leagues as I got older. When I became a parent, I coached boys baseball, girls softball, served on the local Little League board of directors, and umpired to boot. My signature as a coach was to line my kids up on the infield foul line before a game and pledged allegiance to the flag. After all, it is America’s game. Curiously, there were some coaches who adamantly opposed me doing this, but I see citizenship as an inherent part of the game.

I suffered under no illusion my kids were going to be superstars and, as such, I concentrated on teaching the basics (hitting, fielding, and pitching), teamwork, and hopefully, the love of the game. There is something magical about the game of baseball; the smell of the grass, the heat of the sun on your back, the taste of the leather string on your cowhide mitt, the crack of the bat, and the excitement of the play. You relish the camaraderie of your teammates, the precision of a perfect bunt, the tenacity of a runner stealing a base, and the grace of an infielder flawlessly throwing out a runner or executing a double play.

Baseball is a game of nuances and you really cannot appreciate it if you have never played it. As you approach home plate to bat, you see how the fielders are setting up to play you, either deep, in close, or to a particular field. You take your sign from the third base coach, check the eyes of the pitcher, hear the cheering of the parents, and all along your mind is constantly calculating all of the variables involved. Your hands grip the bat as you position yourself in the batter’s box. Your body language tells the other team whether or not you can be intimidated. Finally, just before the pitcher makes his wind-up, you spit. Translation,
“Bring it on!”

There is also a lot of communications in a baseball game, both vocal and silent. The vocal is rather obvious, the silent communications is a lot more interesting. We’re all aware of the third base coach making strange gyrations with his hands in order to call the play, but there are also a lot of subliminal signs not so apparent, such as a manager turning up his collar or crossing his legs. The communications between pitcher and catcher is also well known. The great Willie Mays was notorious for his ability to study and steal the signs of the opposing team. It just takes a little concentration and attention to detail.

When I coached Little League, and my kids were batting with one or more runners on base, I would suddenly yell from the dugout, “Red-22, Red-22.” Actually, it was nothing more than a smoke screen as it meant absolutely nothing, but it put the other team on edge as they thought some trick play was about to be executed. My kids thought it was a riot.

As a Little League coach, you realize you are having an impact on your young players when they start asking you more questions about the game, such as the meaning of the infield fly rule, how to keep a scorecard, how a batting average is calculated or ERA, the number of ways a runner can advance to first base (eight) or the number of ways to make an out (14), etc. It’s no small wonder baseball is a great game for trivia buffs as there are so many facets to it. Casual spectators do not truly appreciate baseball as much as students of the game.

You know you have a love of the game when you collect baseball cards, not as a commodity, but simply to have them; that you keep a prized baseball signed by your teammates many years ago; that you cannot bring yourself to throw away an old baseball bat or glove years after you have stopped using them, or; you completely understood what Pete Rose meant when he said, “I’d walk through hell in a gasoline suit to play baseball.”

It is a great game.

Originally published: April 16, 2010

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  THE JEWISH VOTE – Are American Jews being taken for granted by the Democratic Party? 

LAST TIME:  ENGAGING YOUR WORKERS  – How to inspire and motivate the work force.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Baseball, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , | 11 Comments »

ENGAGING YOUR WORKERS

Posted by Tim Bryce on May 20, 2015

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– How to inspire and motivate the work force.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

In March of this year, Gallup produced a study titled, “Companies Are Maximizing Only 5% of Their Workforces.” In it, they contend companies are only engaging their workers by a paltry 5%. This should raise the eyebrows of managers and executives everywhere. It means they are failing to challenge their workers in finding meaning in their work thereby inhibiting motivation to excel.

Gallup studied three attributes of workers; their tenure on the job, how laborious they worked, and whether they are placed in jobs aligned with their talents. One of the key observations they made is those who have been with their company a long time tend to lose their motivation and enthusiasm for the job. In short, they stagnate. They do just enough to get by. Some even form grudges which undermines the company whenever possible. This obviously influences junior workers who may adopt similar attitudes. Gallup also discovered people were not matched to job assignments based on their skills, meaning they were less effective since they didn’t possess the proper talents or experience to perform their assigned work.

Some believe financial incentives are the only way to encourage workers to accelerate performance. Money is a nice cattle prod, but it is only a short term solution. If the workers do not have the proper skills or interests, performance improvements will be minimal. And as we all know, working harder is not working smarter.

Instead, some fundamental changes are required, such as:

1. Evaluate employee performance, through a standard review process. Perhaps some counseling or additional training is in order. Also consider reassigning the employee or charging him/her with new work assignments. Your mission is to change the worker’s outlook on both his/her job and the company overall. As an aside, use this opportunity to determine the true leaders of your work force and build on them.

2. Assess the corporate culture, both in terms of physical surroundings, as well as logical dimensions. A fresh coat of paint can work wonders, not to mention such things as furniture, tools and equipment, even a revised dress code. Studies have shown that employees respond positively to such changes. It is like saying, “You are important and we are making an investment in you.” Logical considerations include such intangibles as management style and general operating policies. The following is a set of suggestions to study this:

– The manager’s perspective on employees; e.g., smart versus dumb, hard workers versus lazy, trustworthy versus suspicious.

– Does the manager play favorites or treats everyone equally? This may indicate a political environment. The intent is to determine if the manager promotes teamwork or rugged individualism.

– How does the manager run his/her operations; e.g., clean and orderly versus sloppy, workers are dressed appropriately for the job or not, do workers properly socialize and practice common courtesy, etc.

– Do workers respect the boss or are they in fear of him, or do they simply ignore him (indicating a complete lack of respect for authority and skills)?

– Employee records on tardiness and absenteeism can be used to denote the perspective of workers on the job. Also consider errors in workmanship, customer complaints, and violations of corporate policies. By doing so, the interests and ethics of the work force will emerge.

3. Manage from the bottom-up; empower the workers as opposed to micromanaging them (theory X). This means delegating responsibility and forcing workers to supervise themselves as opposed to supervising their every move. This Theory Y form of management provides workers with a sense of ownership and pride in their work. The manager’s role then becomes one of expediting problems. It also means workers are treated as professionals which contributes to their sense of self-worth.

4. Develop a Skills Inventory and assess workers skills and proficiencies as applied to their current job. This will facilitate the selection of the right worker for the right job assessment. It will also indicate if additional training and certification is required. Frankly, I cannot imagine a major company in the 21st century who is not making use of a skills inventory.

These simple, common sense techniques are fundamental to sound management practices. It’s not about counting beans, it’s a matter of understanding the human dynamics of the business, a skill we have seemed to lost in the 21st century.

I found the Gallup poll to be most illuminating. If anything, it tells us more about managers as opposed to workers. The title of the study though is a misnomer. Instead, it should have been titled, “Only 5% of managers know how to maximize their Workforces.” A very scary figure.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  BASEBALL: THE LOVE OF THE GAME – It is a great game.

LAST TIME:  THE POWER OF PRAYER  – Does it really work?

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Business, Marriage | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

THE POWER OF PRAYER

Posted by Tim Bryce on May 18, 2015

BRYCE ON RELIGION

– Does it really work?

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

I have had many friends who have asked for prayers for a loved one, usually someone in sickness and distress, such as someone about to undergo surgery, a failing parent, or a young person fighting an addiction. My Christian and Jewish friends are quick to respond to offer their support, but I do not hear too much from agnostics. On more than one occasion I have heard from the people seeking support adamantly claim, “Prayer works!”

I have always marveled at the power of prayer. I see it as a sign of compassion, hope for the person in trouble as well as the family and friends who made the request. This says a lot about our humanity as a people.

I am not sure if praying for divine intervention actually works but it comforts us to put our faith in a Supreme Being when situations run out of our control. Back when I was about to graduate from college in Ohio, my mother and father visited Sydney, Australia on a business trip. Following one of my father’s sales seminars there, the two of them got into the back seat of a taxi to return to their hotel. A storm was howling that evening, so much so, the cab driver had trouble seeing out the windshield. The streets were slippery and the cab, unfortunately, went out of control, aimed at a telephone poll. The driver leaped out of the cab moments before it crashed into the poll. My father jumped in front of my mother to cover her and drove the front seat under the engine. He was taken to a local hospital with all of his ribs broken and abrasions on his face from the broken windshield. A piece of glass settled next to his eye nearly blinding him.

My mother called my brother with the news who, in turn, called me at school. Here I was, thousands of miles from the hospital, and feeling helpless to do anything. All I could do was turn to prayer.

Fortunately, my father survived the crash. The glass was removed from his face and eye, and his ribs were bandaged. He was eventually sent home but experienced extreme discomfort for months afterwards due to his ribs. The scars slowly disappeared over time. The surgeons evidently did a good job as you could hardly tell he was ever in an accident. Interestingly, when he woke up in the hospital, the nurse tending to him wore an interesting name badge, “Bryce,” and sure enough, she was a relative. Frankly, I looked upon her as his guardian angel, the coincidence was simply too remarkable. This led us to discover a branch of our relatives in Australia who we had lost touch with following the first World War. Nonetheless, I would like to believe my prayers had been answered.

One last footnote about my father’s stay in the hospital; ever the consummate salesman, one of the prospective buyers of our product visited him. From his hospital bed and heavily bandaged, my father gave him a sales presentation. He must have been good since the man signed a contract that afternoon. “Who-da-thunk-it.”

Prayer can be comforting to both the person praying, the victim in question, and the family and friends. However, I have learned we cannot rely on it solely, that we must go beyond prayer if possible, and help a fellow human-being. Sometimes a simple visit with the person can work wonders, or perhaps providing a meal, running an errand, taking them to an appointment, mowing the lawn, or whatever. We used to do this naturally, but I am not sure people remember to be kind to each other anymore.

I surely am not suggesting prayer should be confined to times of crisis. It is also a powerful way of expressing thanks, such as for health, well-being, and the bounties we enjoy. It can also be used as an expression of hope, such as for peace, and the safety of people and our country.

Those who do not believe in the power of prayer are typically quick to cite the “separation of church and state” (something which is NOT described in the U.S. Constitution). Personal prayer may be banned from the classroom, but it certainly can be invoked on our own, at any time and any place.

Prayers indeed have power, as many of my friends contend. It may not be foolproof, but I see nothing to suggest it is meaningless or subject to ridicule. Sometimes, it is all we’ve got.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  ENGAGING YOUR WORKERS – How to inspire and motivate the work force.

LAST TIME:  DRIVING CIRCLES AROUND DISNEY  – How a seemingly easy drive turned into a nightmare.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Religion | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

DRIVING CIRCLES AROUND DISNEY

Posted by Tim Bryce on May 15, 2015

BRYCE ON LIFE

– How a seemingly easy drive turned into a nightmare.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

I recently attended a meeting at the Disney World complex near Orlando. Actually, it was held at a Hilton Hotel, a non-Disney property operating in the complex. Although I’ve been to Orlando many times, I haven’t been to Disney since the kids were little. I don’t have a GPS in my car, so, to make sure I knew where I was going, I printed a map from the Internet which I assumed was accurate and the directions looked familiar to me. Normally, it takes me about an hour and a half to drive from Tampa to Disney, but on this particular evening it took over three hours. No, there weren’t any accidents, no heavy traffic, no construction, no obnoxious drivers to follow; just Disney.

According to the map, I was to turn off I-4 west at the main Disney interchange (World Center Drive which becomes Epcot Center Drive) which leads you to Epcot and the Hilton which I was led to believe was close to Epcot. Okay, fine, got it, no problem, let’s go. As I made the proper turnoff from I-4, I began my trek down Epcot Center Drive, which is a well sculpted boulevard featuring all kinds of Disney eye-candy. Traffic control appears to be a big concern with the Disney people and they had numerous signs guiding motorists to the various Disney properties. I was hoping I might see a billboard or some sign to direct me to the Hilton, but alas, nothing but Disney signs which started to become irritating.

Before I knew it, I found myself approaching the Epcot resort which allegedly was near my hotel, so I felt a glimmer of hope. I thought I would stop and ask someone at the parking gates for directions. Unfortunately, I discovered that after 7:00pm, the gates are wide open and there wasn’t an attendant to be found. Okay, I’m near Epcot, the map says I’m not far away, but for some reason I couldn’t find any of the roads on the map. My male stubbornness began to surface as I told myself to keep pushing on, there has got to be someone around here who can help me. As I was to discover, there wasn’t. By now, I was starting to get a great behind-the-scenes tour of Disney as I found myself traversing the many access roads around the park (Epcot Center Road was well behind me by this time). In addition to the big parks and main resorts, I drove by the Tower of Terror, the monorail maintenance depot, several emergency areas, a secluded golf course, a dog kennel, and tons of parking. Actually, I saw more of Disney that evening than I did with my kids years ago. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a single human being to talk to. There was nothing but bus and tram operators dropping off guests to pick up their cars in the parking lots, everything else was automated. The whole place was on autopilot and I got the unsettling feeling that the only human being controlling all of this was in Teaneck, New Jersey. Heck, I would have even settled for Goofy to give me directions, but I think he had already turned in for the night (probably at the Hilton).

Around and around I went with nothing but Disney signs directing me to their next resort. Somehow I broke out of the vicious circle and found myself in a daze heading towards Tampa on I-4. Okay, I told myself not to panic but to turn around at the next exit which, unfortunately, was something called the Osceola Parkway, a toll road which did nothing to improve my personality. Nonetheless, I persevered and pressed on. Now desperate, I pulled the car off to the side of the road and called the hotel who was finally able to talk me down like an airplane landing at a fog covered runway. Interestingly, my Internet map had gotten it completely wrong. More disturbing to me though, was the absence of any sign to a non-Disney property, and the lack of human-beings to help point me in the right direction. I would have even welcomed a private radio network like you see at airports which offer driving instructions. No, the Disney folks were content to have me circle the complex over and over again like I was in the Daytona 500.

I found this experience nightmarish and it certainly didn’t endear me to Disney. Not surprising, I discovered several other motorists caught in the same trap I was in and are probably still circling around the complex.

If you talk to a Disney employee, he or she will proudly proclaim they work for “The Mouse.”
This may be so, but someone needs to tell the Disney people that there is a rat in the traffic department.

Originally Published: April 12, 2010

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:  timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  THE POWER OF PRAYER – Does it really work?

LAST TIME:  OUR FASCINATION WITH TRAINS  – How we perceive our trains is how we perceive America.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in humor, Life | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

OUR FASCINATION WITH TRAINS

Posted by Tim Bryce on May 13, 2015

BRYCE ON TRAINS

– How we perceive our trains is how we perceive America.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Many years ago when I was a lad, my friends and I would put pennies on railroad tracks. We would hide and wait for a massive freight train to flatten them into a shiny, paper-thin strips of copper with Lincoln’s face still visible. We would then have a lucky token or something to exchange, such as for baseball cards or candy. Thus began my love affair with trains.

During the early 1960’s, my father commuted by train from Connecticut to Manhattan. If we wanted to go into the city, the New Haven Railroad was the sensible alternative to driving. This was my first train ride which I found fascinating as do most children on their first trip. I remember it was comfortable and very scenic. We moved away from Connecticut in 1965, and the New Haven RR filed for bankruptcy shortly thereafter.

Since then, I have traveled on a wide variety of trains of different makes and models. In Chicago, the North Western RR was a commuter service to and from downtown. It would stop at Arlington Park, a well known horse track, where executives could catch the last few races of the day and have dinner. We would also take the North Western to Wisconsin for skiing trips. It played an important role in the lives of the residents of Chicago. After we moved from Chicago, the North Western also was shut down and replaced by the Union Pacific.

I have also had the pleasure to ride on Japan’s Shinkansen or “Bullet Train” which reached speeds over 100 mph as I traveled between Tokyo and Osaka. It was clean, comfortable, and an enjoyable way to see the Japanese countryside. A few years ago, we took Alaska’s Denali Star Line from Denali State Park to Fairbanks, an enjoyable ride inside double-deck dome cars, which made for a picturesque viewing of the Alaskan wilderness. I have also been on many subways, including the London Underground (also known as the “Tube”), as well as in Japan, New York, Philadelphia, and the “L” trains in Chicago. I have also had the pleasure of riding the legendary San Francisco Trolley Cars which are not trains in the strictest sense, but an enjoyable ride nonetheless.

Trains used to define America. They criss-crossed the nation as the primary form of transportation for many years. During times of war, troop trains moved soldiers throughout the country and was symbolic of the greatness of our country and its unity. Trains bore proud names like The Zephyr, The Hiawatha, The Chief, and The Comet, all before political correctness caught on. Sleeper cars were comfortable and clean, if not a little cramped. Dining cars served good food and drinks. Massive train stations became the busy hubs of cities, all designed as architectural wonders. went to the station not just to travel, but to eat, drink, talk business, and pickup the latest newspaper. However, this all began to fade away with the rise of automobiles and airplanes after World War II.

Since 1971, the country has relied on Amtrak, a publicly funded passenger service managed as a for-profit business. The American taxpayer has been funding Amtrak on an average of $1.4 billion per year. In other words, it cannot stand on its own feet. When you compare it to domestic airlines and bus services, Amtrak earns twice the amount of revenue per passenger mile, and consumes much less energy to operate. Only the airlines have a better safety record. Regardless, it cannot survive without the support of the taxpayer.

I have never traveled on Amtrak personally, but several friends have told me of their experiences, which weren’t exactly glowing. Nonetheless, Amtrak continues to modernize in order to compete by including such things as free Wi-Fi on board, e-ticketing to compete with the airlines, and powerful new GE locomotives. Despite all this, Amtrak suffers from an image problem. If you are interested in traveling around the USA, your first inclination is to consider the airlines, then the Interstate Highway System, and finally Amtrak. Service, reliability, on-time performance, safety and price is what Americans consider when it comes to transportation, not to mention a financially sound operation.

In Florida, we recently shelved the idea of creating a passenger train system which would unite the major cities. Frankly, the people liked the idea in theory, but realized it would be cost prohibitive to implement with little in return on investment. Other states have also considered such massive projects. I believe people are attracted to such endeavors not so much for practicality, but as a fond reminder of a bygone era and our love affair with the train.

I believe our fascination with the train is because we perceive it as this massive and powerful locomotive, followed by several cars for passengers or freight, a complicated piece of equipment consisting of millions of parts, making it a marvel of engineering and transportation. Yet, to me, despite its strength and complexity, it is a thing of beauty, sleek and elegant, a real athlete. It reminds me of a thoroughbred race horse like the late great Secretariat, an animal you were simply in awe of. I believe this is how a lot of us look at trains, making each journey an interesting ride.

Our fondness for trains is so great that toy trains are still a favorite, especially during Christmas time. Kids love them, even to this day. I still have our Lionel train set from the 1950’s. Whenever I set it up around the Christmas tree, I vividly remember how much I played with it as a child, not just because it was a toy, but because it was a train, a symbol of strength and beauty. The train set still works as well as it did 60 years ago, maybe because I keep it safely wrapped up in its original packing. It may not be as glitzy or combative as a computer game, but it is a gentle reminder of the greatness of trains and our love affair with them.

Although trains have experienced a decline in this country, I cannot imagine America without them. The sound of its horn, the rhythm of the tracks, the comfort and service of the cars, and the majesty of the beast itself is how I perceive trains, and an iconic reflection of our country.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:  timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  DRIVING CIRCLES AROUND DISNEY – How a seemingly easy drive turned into a nightmare.

LAST TIME:  CHINESE FOOD SAMPLER  – Chinese food says a lot about the local area.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Transportation, Travel | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

CHINESE FOOD SAMPLER

Posted by Tim Bryce on May 11, 2015

BRYCE ON FOOD & LIFE

– Chinese food says a lot about the local area.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

I have enjoyed Chinese food since my youth. As I grew older I gravitated to Szechuan style cooking which is spicy hot. When I travel though, I like to frequent Chinese restaurants as they are located just about everywhere on the planet and, as such, I look upon them as a litmus test of the community I am visiting.

Although there are plenty of Chinese restaurants spread across the United States, perhaps the best are in New York and California. The food in New York City’s Chinatown and Greenwich Village is simply fabulous. In California, San Francisco’s Chinatown is excellent, as are the Chinese restaurants in Los Angeles, but I have a special place in my heart for the food in San Diego where I learned about hot Chinese oils.

Australia has some excellent Chinese restaurants, particularly around Sydney. Anytime you mix the large Australian prawns with Chinese cooking, you simply cannot miss. Interestingly, down under they do not use “doggy bags,” but rather “pussy boxes.” I am not sure why.

Brazil has some excellent restaurants for beef, seafood, and pasta, but when it comes to Chinese cooking, forget it. I couldn’t find anything palatable.

I have never had a bad Chinese meal in Canada, and I have visited quite a bit of the country. However, I have a particular fondness for the food in Toronto’s Chinatown. The variety is incredible, everything is fresh, and the cooking is excellent. I always make it a point to visit there when I am in the area.

In Japan, Chinese food is considered a delicacy much like how Americans look upon French cooking. As such, you cannot go wrong with Chinese food in Japan. It’s simply spectacular.

I have been to Hong Kong three times, and while there I hoped to experience some excellent Chinese cuisine. Unfortunately, I did not. I had some great English food there, such as a roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, but the Chinese food itself was tasteless. I was very disappointed.

The Chinese food in Norway was some of the worst I ever had. Who ever heard of Sweet and Sour Reindeer?

Saudi Arabia was just as bad with their Moo Goo Gai Lamb. Lebanese food is the delicacy over there and I highly recommend it over the Chinese fare, as well as the Japanese.

I didn’t get a chance to try Chinese food in South Korea as they have their own form of Asian cooking which is excellent. They make heavy use of garlic and curry in their dishes, which is fine with me, but unfortunately it seeps out of your pores later on, which is not exactly the sweetest of smells.

In Spain I tried Chinese food but once, and it was good from what I remember, but everything they cook in Spain is wonderful, particularly in San Sebastian where the great Spanish chefs come from.

I judged the Chinese food in London, England to be rather ho-hum. I found some excellent Indonesian food in Soho, but I struck out when it came to finding good Chinese food. As an aside, I had trouble finding a decent salad and breakfast there as well; I guess the British love their grease. If you really want to understand the culinary culture of the UK, visit a pub, not a Chinese restaurant.

Chinese food is normally tailored to local tastes. What we experience here in America is hardly what you will find in mainland China. In fact, to the average American, you would probably find authentic Chinese cooking not very appetizing at all. So, when you taste Chinese food in other lands, you are getting a sense of the locale you are visiting. For example, they may like their food sweet, hot, or just plain bland.

I have had a lot of fun taste testing Chinese food over the years. My biggest surprise though was Hong Kong where I couldn’t find any Chinese food of merit. Then again, I cannot find it here in my home town of Palm Harbor either.

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  OUR FASCINATION WITH TRAINS – How we perceive our trains is how we perceive America.

LAST TIME:  CIGARS 101 – IT’S PERSONAL  – Sorry, but there is nothing like a good cigar.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Food, Life | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

CIGARS 101 – IT’S PERSONAL

Posted by Tim Bryce on May 8, 2015

BRYCE ON LIFE

– Sorry, but there is nothing like a good cigar.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

I have always been of the opinion that you shouldn’t trust anyone who doesn’t have at least one known vice, be it swearing, drinking, smoking, or whatever. If they appear to be overly virtuous, then they are probably hiding something much more malicious. I remember one fellow from Toledo who went to great lengths to project a Lilly-white image. He regularly attended church, could quote chapter and verse from the Bible, and condemned anyone for any form of indiscretion. You would have believed such a person would be trustworthy, honest and forthright. Frankly, I found him to be one of the most ruthless and unscrupulous businessmen I ever had the displeasure to meet, not to mention an extreme bore. I have challenged this rule about vice over the years and found it to hold true time and again.

As for me, my passion has always been cigars, something I learned to smoke when I was thirteen years old behind my friend’s house in Chicago (a White Owl Classic if memory serves me correctly). I am not advocating smoking or trying to encourage others to imbibe, just to describe someone’s choice in life. I do not promote or advocate smoking cigars, but I have found it to be a small personal pleasure. I guess I am at the stage where I am no longer impressed by mansions, fast sports cars, boats, or any other “boys toys” to find happiness. To me it’s the little things that makes life pleasurable, such as a fine woman, good company and conversation, perhaps a drink, and a really good cigar.

I never acquired a taste for cigarettes or chewing tobacco and found them to be simply a waste of time (and money), but that’s me. Occasionally I’ll pick up a pipe, but frankly, I get more enjoyment out of a cigar. In addition to recreation, I enjoy smoking a cigar while I’m writing as it allows me to pause and concentrate on the subject at hand. It also helps me pass the time when performing the tedium of mowing my lawn.

Cigars come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, colors and tastes and one of the biggest misconceptions I would like to clear up is there is no such thing as a bad one, unless of course it has dried out, been soiled, or somehow been damaged. Actually, it’s a matter of matching the right person to the right cigar. There are some cigars I simply wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole, such as a green-leafed natural, something soaked in liquor, or twisted to look like a rope. I have enjoyed tobacco from Cuba, the Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, the Philippines, and many other locations. My tastes have evolved over the years whereby I prefer a large cigar with a generous ring size and wrapped in a dark Maduro leaf. But again, that’s me. Cigars are a personal thing. What one smoker may enjoy, another may despise. That’s why it is a matter of trying different cigars until you find what you like. Novice cigar aficionados should seek the expertise of a mentor to provide the proper tutelage. The worst thing you can do is try to smoke a type of cigar to impress someone else, not yourself. Further, a cigar should not be forced on you as it is a conscious decision you must personally make.

I cannot possibly teach you everything you need to know about selecting a cigar herein, there are simply too many variables involved, everything from its origin and manufacturer, to the wrapper, the filler, or even how it should be cut and lit. Outsiders may be surprised to learn the best cigar wrappers do not come from the Caribbean, but rather Connecticut, right here in the good old U.S.A. There is evidently something in the Connecticut soil conducive for growing the right leaves for wrapping a cigar. As Stengel would have said, “Who da thunk it.”

I was always envious of Winston Churchill, the famous Prime Minister of England, who was an iconic figure for the cigar. I have read books on Churchill and had the pleasure of visiting his Chartwell home in England. Interestingly, when Churchill was alive there was always at least 10,000 cigars in his home. It seems he received truckloads of them from various heads of state, grateful constituents, and various manufacturers who hoped he would endorse their product. Imagine what a learning experience it would have been to sample the various cigars under his roof.

Yes, I have had my fair share of detractors over the years condemn me for my passion, and I make an effort not to let it interfere with others, but the taunting by the anti-smoking establishment gets rather tiresome. They just do not understand the pleasure of a good cigar. A few years ago when I was still coaching and umpiring in Little League, I went down to the local ball fields one night to see a friend’s son play. I was comfortably sitting away from others in the outfield and had just lit a cigar when another coach spotted me and, lacking an umpire for his game, begged me to call the game for him. I reluctantly accepted and entered the field with my cigar in tow. Some of the parents jeered me for the cigar but I assured them not to worry and I put it out and stuck it in the backstop fence so I could smoke it later. The game went on for several innings. When it was over, I returned to retrieve the cigar and found it had fallen out of the fence and on to the red clay of the field, much to the amusement of the parents who chided me earlier. Unfazed, I simply rubbed the red clay off and re-lit it, much to the amazement of the parents. “Sorry,” I said, “but there is nothing like a good cigar.”

It’s personal.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  CHINESE FOOD SAMPLER – Chinese food says a lot about the local area.

LAST TIME:  INFORMATION RESOURCE MYOPIA  – Segments of Information Technology departments see only what they want to see.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Cigars, Life | Tagged: , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

INFORMATION RESOURCE MYOPIA

Posted by Tim Bryce on May 6, 2015

BRYCE ON TECHNOLOGY

– Segments of Information Technology departments see only what they want to see.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

In my nearly 40 years through the Information Technology field (IT), I have come to realize the practitioners in this industry suffer from acute myopia regarding their work. Programmers tend to believe their part of the puzzle is the most important, as do business process analysts, data base analysts, network analysts, project managers, enterprise analysts, etc. True, each has an important role to play, but very few people comprehend the big picture, which is why their work is fragmented and lacks harmony. Few companies understand their business from a global perspective, such as the location of all of their business units, the business functions involved, the organizational structure, the human and machine resources, the systems and business processes, programs, data resources, not to mention the information requirements needed to run the business. In a perfect world, these components would all be cataloged and cross-referenced to minimize data and work redundancy and promote systems integration. This is what I refer to as Information Resource Management (IRM) or the “View of the enterprise from 50,000 feet.”

Instead of working cooperatively and in concert, a series of fiefdoms have emerged within IT with different interests, concepts, and vocabulary, thereby leading to a Tower of Babel effect. Each fiefdom speaks a different language which hinders cooperation and productivity. It is a strange phenomenon few business leaders are cognizant of, as well as government officials.

This fragmented look at information resources is compounded by the general belief by IT people the only valid problems to be solved are those that can be automated by computing. Rarely, is there any interest in the manual forms of processing, or data used outside of a data base management system. Believe it or not, companies still print and file purchase orders, contracts, back-orders, and a lot more. However, this is considered inconsequential by IT people. However, if these manual systems and files were properly recorded, a blueprint would emerge in terms of how to make them more productive. Let me be clear about something, not everything needs to be automated. Quite often a manual process or file can solve a problem more cost-effectively than by automation. As an aside, this last statement would be considered heresy by most IT departments.

The benefits of a global IRM perspective are numerous; data redundancy is eliminated meaning it can be shared in multiple systems, which implies end-users would receive consistent information throughout the company. It also means systems would be integrated as opposed to operating with separate and incompatible data bases. In addition, if the systems are integrated, it would reduce repetitious work thereby saving money. To make this all happen, companies need to possess this “View from 50,000 feet” perspective and implement a set of standards all parts of the IT world can implement in a cohesive manner.

Implementing standards in the IT industry has always been its Achilles’ heel. Again, concepts and vocabulary vary within IT from one job segment to the next. This is an old problem. My father first discussed the lack of standards at a DPMA conference in Seattle back in 1970. He put forth the same argument I have described herein and, unfortunately, it fell on deaf ears at the time as well. However, understand this, the technology has obviously changed since 1970, but the problems have not; IT projects are still late and over budget, companies are plagued by redundant data, nothing is documented thereby hindering maintenance and modification efforts, developers are not rowing on the same oar, and they still do not know how to specify information requirements. These are the same problems he articulated nearly half a century ago. This is what happens when you treat a science as an art form.

Some would argue documenting the information resources of a business is an impossible task. Not true. It certainly will not happen over night, but we should always be cognizant of the old expression, “You eat elephants one spoonful at a time.” In other words, it is an evolutionary process holding great rewards for visionaries who want to maximize the productivity of their business. However, if companies are content with IT departments performing “quick and dirty” work, than the problems of 1970 will likely be with us for another 50 years.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:  timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  CIGARS 101 – IT’S PERSONAL – Sorry, but there is nothing like a good cigar.

LAST TIME:  WHY ARE COMPUTER VIRUSES STILL A PROBLEM?  – Why have we been battling secrutity problems for over forty years?

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Software, Systems, Technology | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

 
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