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Archive for July, 2009

ALASKA – our 49th on their 50th

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 30, 2009

During my summer sabbatical I took a tour of Alaska, our 49th state who is celebrating their 50th anniversary of statehood in 2009. My two week tour took me to Katchekan, Juneau, Scagway, Valdez, Copper River, Denali, and Fairbanks. Often touted as the “Final Frontier,” I half-expected Alaska to be an extension of the American Wild West, complete with cowboys, horses, buffalo, etc. It’s not. Alaska has its own unique character and charm. “Rugged” is the adjective which more aptly describes it. Alaska is so big, it has it’s own time zone (contrary to popular belief, it is not Pacific or Rocky Mountain time).

Alaska offers a lot of eye candy in the form of mountains, glaciers, rivers, tundra, and wildlife. I tend to believe Franz Liszt’s “Les Préludes” should be listened to when touring the state as it reflects the majesty of Alaska’s wilderness. It truly is beautiful, regardless if you are a naturalist or not.

In late June, temperatures along the Inside Passage (in the southeast part of the state) hovered around the 50’s and dropped lower as you got closer to water or one of the state’s many glaciers. I’m sorry, but for this Florida boy, Alaska was simply too cold. At first, the coldness is a curiosity, but it loses its amusement when you finally realize this is as warm as it is going to get. Interestingly, as we moved further north in the state, and away from the glaciers, it actually warmed up. For example, Fairbanks was substantially warmer than the Inside Passage.

All of the cities have their own unique nuance, and the citizens are friendly, but Skagway is generally considered the favorite town to visit by tourists. It offers a rustic historic charm and simple geometric layout which is easy to navigate. More important, the natives (not the merchants who are only there temporarily) appear to be genuine and down to earth. When you stand in downtown Skagway, you cannot help but feel a part of Jack London’s “The Call of the Wild.”

In contrast, just outside of Skagway is Glacier Point, home to the Davidson Glacier and a wilderness adventure involving canoes, a lot of hiking, and man eating mosquitoes. These critters are so abundant and massive in size that I suspect they could easily carry off a small child if they were so inclined to do so. Between the coldness of the glacier and the piranha-mosquitos, it’s easy to overlook the beauty of the area and makes you wonder how the nature guides can live out there.

The town of Denali was perhaps the most picturesque place we visited. Its name means, “The Great One,” a reference to nearby Mt. McKinley, the highest mountain in North America. It is also home to the Denali National Park, which has an abundance of wildlife including moose, bears, caribou, wolves, foxes, and other things that go bump in the night. It’s no small wonder that everyone knows how to use a gun up there.

It rains a lot in Alaska, particularly the Inside Passage. Surprising to a lot of tourists is to learn this part of Alaska is actually a rain forest. Even in summer, you have to wear layers of clothing to protect you from the elements. Otherwise, Alaska can be pretty dry and quite comfortable during the summer months.

One thing that is difficult for tourists to adjust to is the summer solstice where the sun never truly sets. It’s awkward to try and sleep without any darkness, but somehow you adjust. However, it does have a tendency to distort your sense of time. As an interesting footnote, the Alaska Goldpanner baseball team of Fairbanks holds a Midnight Sun Baseball game to commemorate the solstice. It starts at 10pm and ends around 1am. What makes it unlike other stadiums is that no lights are used to light the field. It’s different, very different.

When touring Alaska, the real stars of the show is the abundant wildlife and your trip is not complete without having a close encounter of some kind. While there, we saw a lot of wildlife on land, sea, and air, including moose, caribou, reindeer, grizzly bears, beavers, otters, wolves, foxes, squirrels, bald eagles, gulls, terns, whales, seals, salmon, and arctic greyling. Interestingly, there are no snakes in Alaska as they cannot stand the cold anymore than I can. The favorite sighting among tourists though is the moose, a seemingly docile animal, but I don’t think I would like to get on its bad side in a close encounter. I’ll stay in the car if you don’t mind.

We signed up for a couple of fly-fishing excursions while there, one for salmon and one for arctic greyling. I found fishing to be hit or miss up there, and I wouldn’t recommend doing it without a guide who knows what he or she is doing. Be forewarned though, fishing is substantially different than the little streams and rivers we have in the lower 48, requiring a slightly different casting technique.

To me, I think the people of Alaska are just as inspiring, if not more so, than the landscape and wildlife. The people are self-reliant, multiskilled, proud of their state, and not afraid to tackle a challenge. They may prefer independence and isolation, but they have learned to work together as neighbors as well. The natives make you feel welcome and seem to be genuinely pleased to share their country with you, be it at a rest stop, hotel, or wherever.

When you consider how crazy the world is today, it’s easy to understand why people thrive on the isolation of Alaska. Way off on the horizon or on a ridge, it is not uncommon to see someone camping and just enjoying the quiet beauty of Alaska, and I guess that’s one of the big reasons why people come. Far and away, I saw more huckleberry tourists than Alaskans.

During the summer months, there is an influx of young people in their twenties to take on tourist related jobs, like waiters, guides, bus drivers, bell hops, etc. They come from all around the U.S. not simply for the money, but for the adventure of Alaska as well. Many are determined to stay for a short period of time, but fall in love with Alaska’s charm, and become full-time residents.

After visiting Alaska, I was often asked, “Could you live there?” Perhaps if I was 30 years younger, had no family connections, and wasn’t so set in my ways, maybe, just maybe. As a confirmed Floridian, it’s hard for me to imagine enduring the cold again. The real question is, “Would I recommend a visit to Alaska?” Absolutely. To paraphrase author Guy de Maupassant, “See Alaska and Die,” meaning you have finally seen something meaningful and inspiring.

Alaska has certainly come a long way in its short 50 years of statehood. It is truly amazing to see how they carved a civilization out of the wilderness, a real tribute to the human spirit.

By the way, perhaps the most interesting gift I found up there was decorated moose droppings. You can’t help but feel that someone is pulling the tourists’ leg with this one.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

Keep the Faith!

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

Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) 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 a listing of Tim’s Pet Peeves, click HERE.

Download Tim’s new eBook (PDF), “Bryce’s Pet Peeve Anthology – Volume I” (free) DOWNLOAD).

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Life, Travel | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

CRUISING

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 27, 2009

I went on an ocean cruise last month. My wife and I have been taking cruises since we were married in the early 1980’s and have sailed on various lines in different locales. I know a lot of people will argue with me on this, but I find most of the cruise lines to be fundamentally the same in terms of operation. Maybe it’s because all of the major lines are now owned by Carnival Corporation & plc under the tutelage of Micky Arison in Miami.

The people on board are interesting; both the crew and the passengers. The crew works hard and are hospitable (those that speak English, and even those who do not). Passengers are an interesting mix though, you have your basic blowhards who are trying to impress others, the health freaks, retirees who wander aimlessly and get in your way, the rednecks on their first cruise, young people who haven’t yet learned shipboard etiquette, and people you generally want to avoid like the plague. I don’t think the Vanderbilts or Rockefellers cruise anymore. I guess someone in Carnival’s sales department finally figured out there is more money to be made from the middle class.

Over the years I have come to admire the cruise lines as a brilliant marketing machine. Actually cruising is only a portion of their business. They also maintain incestuous relationships with all of the local merchants and hotels you encounter on your voyage; they either own them outright or extort advertising money from them. Then, of course, they nickle/dime you to death on everything: drinks, Internet access, cell phone contact, etc. When you are cruising, you learn quickly that nothing is free.

Waiters and cabin stewards do a first class job. Most are from overseas (e.g., the Philippines, Brazil, etc.), and they can teach their American counterparts a thing or two when it comes to service. However, I tend to look at a ship as an eating/colon cleaning machine. Food is everywhere and you are treated to some truly remarkable dishes, both in terms of quantity and quality. I don’t think anyone has ever disembarked from a ship without tucking away a few pounds.

This all means you spend a lot of time in the bathroom, which has been remodeled over the years. The toilet is now particularly effective and strong. The first time I flushed it I thought it was going to suck the family jewels down the drain. Very scary.

The showers are functional and have lots of hot water, but it can be very awkward taking a shower while the ship is rolling on the high seas. The shower curtains are made of cling wrap which acts like a magnet enveloping your body. Between the shower curtain and the rolling of the ship, I felt like a mummy surfing on the high seas. Note to Carnival: somebody look into redesigning the showers.

For entertainment there are nightclub acts and Las Vegas-style musical reviews. I realize the ship’s cast tries hard, but it’s nowhere near the caliber of Las Vegas (or Las Cruces for that matter). If you’re a recognizable entertainer and you’ve been asked to perform on a cruise ship, it’s time to fire your agent as it means your career is flickering out. Not to worry though, they always need help in the galley.

The casino has always been a favorite of mine and the cruise lines do a competent job with the little space they are afforded. I love a game of craps or baccarat, but these are limited on ships. Often there is but one craps table and baccarat tables are particularly scarce. There is a lot of blackjack tables as well as roulette, and a table for Texas hold’em poker, not to mention the many slot machines on board. Unlike Vegas though, you have to pay for your drinks which, frankly, surprises me.

If you are a smoker, you would think that a cruise ship would be a wonderful place to kick back and enjoy yourself. Regrettably, this is not the case as smoking is confined to very few secluded places, kind of like being sentenced to a Gulag. Before embarking on our latest voyage I learned there was a comfortable cigar room on board. The prospect of this appealed to me as I enjoy a good cigar. However, when I finally found the room, which truly looked great, it was crammed full of cigarette smokers who had nowhere else to go. Believe it or not, cigar and cigarette smoking does not mix, which quickly killed the cigar room for me.

One of the nice things about cruising is that you tend to lose track of time and dates as you are often preoccupied by a good book, a shore excursion, relaxing on deck, the health club, or whatever. Cruising can be an excellent distraction from the rigors of life, assuming you can forget about your laptop and cell phone for a while. After being pampered for a week, you feel refreshed and ready to go back to work. The only down side to cruising though is when it’s over, it’s time to start another diet.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

Keep the Faith!

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

Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) 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 a listing of Tim’s Pet Peeves, click HERE.

Download Tim’s new eBook (PDF), “Bryce’s Pet Peeve Anthology – Volume I” (free) DOWNLOAD).

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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

OUR CHANGING VERNACULAR

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 24, 2009

I’m told that English is the hardest language to learn, probably because of the idioms and slang we use. I don’t know which is worse, “American-ese” or our counterparts in the UK. Nonetheless I find it interesting how our language changes over time. Back in the 1930’s and 40’s, people were “swell” and “gay” meant to be lighthearted. In the 1960’s and 70’s, everything was “Super,” “Far out,” and “Hip,” but we don’t use these words anymore, nor do we use words like “Hi-fi,” “Stereo,” “Ethyl,” “Hi-Test,” “keypunch,” or “CRT.”

In the last ten years alone I’ve noticed changes in our vernacular. The following is a list of words and expressions that are currently a natural part of our vocabulary, yet weren’t used just ten years ago (the 1990’s): Hydrate, Hybrid, Green, Blog, WiFi, Multitasking, same-sex, “creative class,” chipotle, and pandemic (as an aside, I find it amusing this last word only applies to the mainstream vocabulary of the 21st century; I guess it wasn’t applicable for the Black Plague of the 14th – 18th centuries). These words were certainly in the dictionary before, but they weren’t a part of our speech patterns as they are today.

True, a lot of these words are driven by marketing and the media, but it is ultimately derived from our changing technology, diet, and moral values. In a way, a changing vernacular is indicative of our changing social priorities and attitudes. As a small example, how we communicate in the office today is substantially different than the 1950’s, thanks in large part to being “politically correct.” At the time, there was little sensitivity to racial or gender equality. Right or wrong, offices were masculine dominated and, as such, there was little concern for offending anyone in our language.

It also seems our youth are relying more and more on monosyllables words and are less inclined to engage in honest debate. When they argue, it is typically on the Internet and hiding behind the anonymity of a bogus user name whereby the discourse becomes vicious and sloppy. I interpret this as a “dumbing down” of America.

I seriously doubt that our forefathers from the 1700’s would understand what we say today, and people from the 1800’s would probably have trouble with our vocabulary as well.

Next, let’s consider how our first names have changed over the years. According to the U.S. Social Security Administration, the top five boys names are currently: Jacob, Michael, Ethan, Joshua, and Daniel. All are fine old names. The top five girls names are: Emma, Isabella, Emily, Madison, and Ava. Again, some fine established names here as well. Ten years ago though, we were swamped with names like: Britney, Heather, and Lindsay, but these have fallen off the radar lately, probably because Hollywood is changing.

It seems it was not too long ago that we heard names like Edna, Esther, Alice, Ruth, Annabelle, Doris, Harriet, Helen, Beatrice, Maxine, Laverne, Mildred, Agnes, Herbie, Herman, Orv, and Milt, but you don’t hear too many of these names among children today. We still have stalwart names like John, Joe, Bill, Bob, Susan, Katie, Linda, Anne, and Elizabeth, but even these are starting to dwindle in use. I guess this is why I was glad to hear “Emily” was making a comeback.

It’s fun to hear America talking, but you have to listen carefully to hear our world change.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

Keep the Faith!

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

Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) 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 a listing of Tim’s Pet Peeves, click HERE.

Download Tim’s new eBook (PDF), “Bryce’s Pet Peeve Anthology – Volume I” (free) DOWNLOAD).

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Life | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

WHY AMERICA SUCCEEDS

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 21, 2009

These are indeed strange times. We now question not only America’s future, but its very existence. This is not the first time we have questioned our ability to carry on. The 1860’s, 1930’s and 1960’s were strange times in our country’s history, but somehow we held on and succeeded in spite of overwhelming odds against us.

I have had the pleasure and privilege of being able to see quite a bit of the world, and there are many countries with admirable strengths, but there are weaknesses in them as well. Although other countries are quick to criticize our actions and policies, make no mistake, America is the country everyone wants to work with, and the place where everyone wants to come to. In spite of all of our problems, America continues to somehow persevere. One cannot help but ask, “Why?”

As the world’s melting pot, we are a culturally diversified society with a heterogeneous set of opinions and perspectives. Our customs, beliefs, and values are derived not just from the “old world” but from geographical idiosyncrasies as well; e.g., New England, the Mid-Atlantic states, the South, the Midwest, the Southwest, and the Northwest, each with their own indelible peculiarities which influences the behavior and opinion of the citizens. Getting the people of the United States to conform to a standard set of values, rules, and laws is not only incredibly difficult, it is nothing less than a miracle that we have lasted this long.

So why does America succeed? Two reasons:

First, Freedom – We were very fortunate to have a set of founding fathers with the foresight to develop an innovative Constitution and Bill of Rights which defines the checks and balances of government and establishes the unalienable rights we all enjoy as citizens. It is simply brilliant. Freedom allows us to express our creativity and imagination, encourages an entrepreneurial spirit, and promotes a free-enterprise system that stimulates the growth of the middle class representing the economic engine of our country (and the world). Without this engine, America would be no different than any other third world country.

We have been fortunate to have had many people defend these rights over the years, both in and out of uniform, but perhaps no more than Abraham Lincoln who seemed to grasp the significance of what our forefathers were trying to do and, thankfully, preserved it for succeeding generations. I very much doubt we have anyone in our government today with the wisdom and vision needed to devise as sophisticated a document as the framers of the Constitution did over 200 years ago.

Second, the People – who thrive under an environment of freedom. America is not just one people, it is several types of people operating under one umbrella. Both our strength and weakness lies in our cultural diversity. It brings many different perspectives, insights, and new ideas to the table, thus encouraging opportunity, competitiveness and invention on a global scale. It is because of this cultural mix that we only come together as a result of disaster; the rest of the time is spent arguing, finger pointing, and political wrangling. This is why Americans are typically better reactors as opposed to planners. If America has an Achilles’ Heel, it is that we tend to wait for disaster before we act; e.g., The Lusitania, Pearl Harbor, and 911.

America succeeds not because of our government, but in spite of it. Without the blueprint of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, our government would be more invasive in our lives than it already is.

So, why do we succeed? Actually, I think it’s more than just dumb luck, but rather because the time was right to create a country like the United States, the need was real, and we were fortunate to have good and learned people who put it all together. As long as we believe in our Constitution and Bill of Rights, and do not deviate from them, and believe in ourselves, “We the people…” of America will succeed.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

Keep the Faith!

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

Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) 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 a listing of Tim’s Pet Peeves, click HERE.

Download Tim’s new eBook (PDF), “Bryce’s Pet Peeve Anthology – Volume I” (free) DOWNLOAD).

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Life, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

CHECK HER TEETH

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 17, 2009

Over the years I have had the pleasure of watching several fine young men grow into adulthood. Inevitably, they become serious about a woman and consider marriage. On more than one occasion I have been asked what they should be looking for in a woman, e.g., a potentially good mother, cook, sex partner, or whatever. I flippantly advise them to “check her teeth,” which is an expression I picked up from a horse trainer years ago. Now, please, I do not mean any disrespect to women by this remark. In fact, I recommend the same thing to young women considering a husband, “check his teeth.”

I was advised by the trainer that you should, of course, review the animal’s papers, check it with your hands, study how it walks and rides, see how it responds to the human voice, and inspect its hooves, but checking the teeth says a lot about the health and treatment of the horse. In other words, carefully study the animal before you buy it. We should do anything of substance likewise, be it an automobile, a boat, or a major appliance or piece of equipment. Too often people become enamored with the advertising sizzle and overlook the actual state of the object and end up with something they regret later on.

The same is true in marriage. Too often people overlook deficiencies in the other person and becoming preoccupied with the other person’s sexual prowess or money. Only later do they realize they should have done some more checking on the other person and some soul-searching. The divorce courts are littered with millions of couples who didn’t do their homework properly and paid dearly for it.

Over in the Middle East, Saudi men can still practice polygamy, whereby they can have as many as five wives; one as his principal or senior wife, one to do the cooking, one to do the cleaning or to teach, one to raise the children, and one for sexual pleasures. The wives don’t always get along with each other which is why the man may have to pay for multiple houses for his different wives to live in, which sounds like a pretty high price to pay for a man not being able to make up his mind.

In this country, we practice monogamous relationships, at least we’re supposed to in marriage. In most marriage vows, we promise to love, honor and obey until death do us part, which implies marriage is for a long time. Unfortunately, there seems to be fewer people these days who take this obligation seriously and change partners like they change clothes. Then again, I guess this stimulates the economy as it keeps a lot of attorneys, judges and law clerks gainfully employed.

We would have a lot fewer divorces in this country if we just took the time to study some teeth. Maybe the expression “look before you leap” would be more appropriate, but I have found “check his/her teeth” makes a more indelible impression on the young person.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

Keep the Faith!

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

Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) 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 a listing of Tim’s Pet Peeves, click HERE.

Download Tim’s new eBook (PDF), “Bryce’s Pet Peeve Anthology – Volume I” (free) DOWNLOAD).

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Life | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

VOTER CERTIFICATION

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 14, 2009

Back when this country was originally founded, the only people who were allowed to vote were Christian white men over 21 who owned property. If you were a woman, poor, or a non-white, or of a questionable religious background, forget it. This, of course, changed over the years where any U.S. citizen over the age of 18 can now vote, but I do not believe we are really any better as a result of this. Let me explain…

I happened to watch the last installment of the “Tonight Show” starring Jay Leno on May 29, 2009, just before the reigns were turned over to Conan O’Brien. On the show, Leno played highlights of his “Jaywalking” segment whereby he would interview the general public and ask people simple questions about current events and government. He seemed to have a knack for attracting every crackpot and screwball answer you can or cannot imagine. It was very funny, scary, but funny nonetheless. Here is a small sample:

“Q: Who was the first President of the United States?”
“A: Benjamin Franklin”

“Q: What was the Gettysburg Address? Have you heard of it?”
“A: Yes, I’ve heard of it; I don’t know the exact address though.”

“Q: (Pointing at an American flag waving in the wind); How many stars are on the flag?”
“A: It’s moving too fast for me to count them.”

I say “scary” because it makes me uneasy knowing these clods are probably registered voters and their uneducated vote will count every bit as much as an educated vote, which affects everybody’s future, including mine. The media and politicians may love such an arrangement where they can dazzle and sway the uneducated voters. As for me, I wish we had some sort of voter certification.

To me, voting is a rare privilege that should be cherished. It is the one area where we can peacefully exercise control over our government and influence our own future. As such, I take it seriously. Unfortunately, too many people do not, which is why I firmly believe there should be some sort of certification program to qualify people to become voters. This country is too big and important to leave it in the hands of those who do not care to understand the basic principles of this country. The stakes are simply too high.

When applying for American citizenship, those born abroad must learn some American history, some civics lessons, and pass a test as devised by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. If they pass it, they must pledge an oath of allegiance to the United States. In other words, we make a big deal out of becoming an American, and the new citizens tend to take their civic responsibilities seriously. However, the average native-born voter treats it frivolously. I seriously doubt most of the registered voters could pass the same test, but should be required to take it or something like it.

If we were to devise a certification program, what should it include? Hopefully, some civics, some history, and some basic economics and sociology. Obviously, people should understand at both the federal and state level: the branches of government and their responsibilities, the Constitution, and who the elected and appointed officials are (and their track records). Attendance at refresher classes or seminars should be a prerequisite, as well as attendance at some debates.

How we implement such a certification program at this stage is not nearly as important as recognizing the basic need for it. We do not take voting seriously in this country and we have become the laughing stock on the world stage. It is in this country’s best interests, as well as the world’s, that we have voters who are better educated.

Just remember, “suffrage” means the right to vote, not to suffer. Unfortunately, I think it is working the other way around these days.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

Keep the Faith!

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

Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) 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 a listing of Tim’s Pet Peeves, click HERE.

Download Tim’s new eBook (PDF), “Bryce’s Pet Peeve Anthology – Volume I” (free) DOWNLOAD).

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Life, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

ASSUMING RESPONSIBILITY

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 10, 2009

I recently saw a picture of a boy who had been running through his house with a fork and somehow tripped and got it stuck in his nose. Perhaps you’ve seen the photo yourself on the Internet. It looked pretty painful, funny but painful. It occurred to me this is how changes begin to be implemented in our society. I’m sure this incident resulted in a costly hospital bill to have the fork surgically removed from the boy’s nose, along with some plastic surgery, and in order to avoid a costly medical bill, the family will inevitably try to sue someone, such as the manufacturer of the fork. If successful, we will probably see some legislation emerge requiring fork manufacturers to change the design and create a “safety fork,” imprint a safety warning on all forks, e.g.; “Warning! Use of this fork may be hazardous to your health,” and there will probably be a recall on all existing forks. All this, because the parents were too stupid to supervise a five year old.

In reality, the parents and child are obviously at fault here. Either the parents didn’t teach the child properly, which would be my guess, or the child was just plain thick and needed to learn the lesson the hard way. Instead, someone else will have to pay for this little snafu and take a great tool like the fork and make it illegal. Suddenly, it’s not the parents fault, it is yours. We have seen hundreds, if not thousands, of such frivolous lawsuits over the years, such as the infamous McDonald’s hot coffee case.

I don’t know where this propensity for being portrayed as a victim comes from, but I have my suspicions, namely those who do not assume responsibility for their actions and prefer to be wards of the state, whereby someone else picks up the bill every time the person screws up. I fail to see the logic in this.

“But Tim, have you no compassion for the suffering of these poor souls?”

I have plenty of compassion, a whole truckload of it, but I’ll donate my money to those I believe deserve it, not to some misfits who are forcing me to pay for the problems they created. Where I come from, that’s called “bunco.”

If you live in a capitalist society, as we do, you are required to assume responsibility for your actions and demonstrate a little personal initiative. Sure, we should help those less fortunate than ourselves, but this should be voluntary as opposed to mandatory. Unfortunately, there is a movement underfoot in this country to change all of this which would negate the need to be responsible. However, if everybody gets on the dole, I’m just wondering who is going to pay the bills? You know what, it won’t work.

Next time you think your problems are caused by someone else, look in the mirror first.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

Keep the Faith!

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

Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) 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 a listing of Tim’s Pet Peeves, click HERE.

Download Tim’s new eBook (PDF), “Bryce’s Pet Peeve Anthology – Volume I” (free) DOWNLOAD).

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Life | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

WHAT MICHAEL JACKSON’S DEATH TELLS US ABOUT OURSELVES

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 7, 2009

Michael Jackson’s untimely death is unfortunate, but his passing has taken on a life of its own, and just as strange as the entertainer’s life. We’ve seen a lot of major entertainers pass over the years, such as Sinatra, Elvis, and John Lennon, but I don’t think we’ve seen anything that quite measures on the Richter scale like Jackson’s death. Normally funerals are quiet and dignified affairs reserved for family and close friends, but Jackson’s service was more of a three ring circus, commanding the media’s air waves and causing a lock down in Los Angeles, both on the ground and in the air. I don’t think we’ve seen anything quite like this before, and hopefully we won’t again.

The frenzy behind his passing makes you wonder if his fans are mourning or celebrating. It also tells us a lot about our society and its values. For example:

Although the coroner’s report has not yet been published, his death most likely will be linked to drugs. This certainly won’t be the first or last time an entertainer succumbs to drugs; e.g., Belushi, Elvis, Garland, Ledger, etc. Undeniably, there is a drug culture in the entertainment industry, something we’ve known all along yet do nothing about. What message does this send when all of our popular entertainers are hooked on drugs? Also if the media is run by drugs, how does it influence our perspectives and lives?

Jackson’s death also tells us how sensational our press really is. To illustrate, it was difficult, if not impossible, to find a channel on television that wasn’t covering some aspect of the story. Lot’s of conjecture, load’s of speculation, but few facts. Then there were the media pigs, like Al Sharpton, who seized on the opportunity to gain exposure for themselves. It seems that every entertainer who ever had a close or remote encounter with Jackson was interviewed. As an aside, I thought it was funny that everyone claimed they were his best friend. I wonder where they were during his trial.

In addition to promoting entertainers, Jackson’s passing represents a marketing bonanza for people who want to profit from his death, e.g., selling of Jackson related paraphernalia, scalping tickets, etc. eBay alone has literally thousands of Jackson items for sale. Believe me, these people are more interested in the almighty dollar than Jackson’s demise.

I find it curious how his fans have blind faith in an entertainer with questionable moral values. We saw such allegiance by his fans outside of his infamous child molestation trial in 2003. His public persona was defined by his soft talking, his skin bleaching, the white glove and grabbing his crotch during performances, his views on marriage and children, sleeping in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, purchasing the remains of the elephant man, etc. Regardless of whether any of this is true or not, the public’s perception was that something was “Wacko with Jacko.” Nevertheless, his loyal fans quickly forgave and forgot, which makes me wonder what lessons he taught them. For example, is it okay to emulate a man who didn’t pay his bills and incurred substantial debt?

If anything, Jackson’s death tells us how perverted and powerful the entertainment industry is, and how easily people can be swayed like lemmings. Does Jackson deserve all this attention, even in death? He was certainly not a President or head of state, nor an inventor, builder or Nobel Prize winner. Regardless how good you think he was, he was nothing more than an entertainer of questionable moral character. And the world applauds this? Boy, have we got our priorities messed up.

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

Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) 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 a listing of Tim’s Pet Peeves, click HERE.

Download Tim’s new eBook (PDF), “Bryce’s Pet Peeve Anthology – Volume I” (free) DOWNLOAD).

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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EARRINGS

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 7, 2009

Earrings have been used by people around the world for centuries. From what I can see, they serve two purposes: for appearances or to make a statement of some kind. I always liked the “mod” earrings worn by women of the late 1960’s and I generally believe earrings on women enhance their beauty. However, I can’t say I’m a big fan of multiple earrings, studs, or whatever is stapled to a single ear. To me, that borders on self-mutilation. I’m also not a big fan of other body piercings, particularly in the tongue and nose, but youth will have their day.

Aside from this, I think earrings are used to make more of a statement than anything else. Years ago, sailors wore earrings for different purposes, such as to indicate a global tour, a survivor of a sunken ship, etc. In the late 60’s and 70’s, the gays began to wear earrings on their right ear to designate their sexual preference, but I think this has changed in recent times. Whereas, it used to be “left is ‘right’ and right is ‘wrong'”, now I don’t think it matters anymore. People will wear earrings any way they want.

Following the gays, rockers began to wear them, which was followed by athletes and celebrities. Now, it’s more of an avant-garde call for attention than anything else. My favorite application though has to be the older bikers who dress up on the weekend with leather vests, head bandanas, chaps, western boots, and wear earrings to indicate they are still pirates at heart. This cracks me up to no end. Pirates? Hardly. They look more like rejects from the Village People. I guess some people need to escape into an illusionary world during their off hours.

Like anything else, everything is fine when used in moderation. It is when you take it to the sublime that it looks horrible and becomes annoying. I’ve seen a lot of strange earrings and piercings in my day, but I would have to say probably the most obnoxious I’ve ever seen is a woman who had a miniature cell phone implanted in her lower ear lobe as an earring.

Just when you think you have seen it all, somebody inevitably throws you a curve ball.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

Keep the Faith!

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

Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) 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 a listing of Tim’s Pet Peeves, click HERE.

Download Tim’s new eBook (PDF), “Bryce’s Pet Peeve Anthology – Volume I” (free) DOWNLOAD).

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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EQUALITY

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 3, 2009

The Declaration of Independence tells us that all men are created equal, but we sure don’t want to be treated as such when we get older. Americans steadfastly and openly proclaim their belief in the concept of equality, yet adamantly refuse to be treated in this manner. Equality, therefore, is an American myth and one reason why we tend to act more like stubborn individualists as opposed to team players. Being treated equally and fairly sounds nice, but it’s a matter of who knows who, and what we can do for each other (aka, “Politics 101”).

Waiting in line is a good example of everyone being treated equally; basically, everyone waits their turn in line, but inevitably there are people who want to cut in line, or go directly to the front of it and are willing to pay handsomely to do so. Celebrities and the rich pay for special privileges, e.g.; to get the best table in a restaurant, the best medical treatment, legal breaks, free drinks, and the best seat in the house.

Equality in business is definitely a myth. First, you have to understand companies act more like dictatorships as opposed to democratic institutions. We use job titles to differentiate people and reflect the chain of command. Organization charts, which depicts a hierarchy, represents documented proof that people are not equal, even if it is nothing more than a management versus labor relationship.

Even in nonprofit organizations and fraternal groups that openly promote the concept of equality, you will not find it. Instead, you have people craving recognition through titles, sashes, badges, pins, and other such nonsense, thereby trying to delineate themselves from everyone else. Basically, it’s a game of one-upmanship. As an aside, I find it amusing when a a person who didn’t accomplish anything in their professional career, tries to find glory and power through nonprofit organizations. I refer to this as “much ado about nothing.”

There are three areas where people try to differentiate themselves:

  • Their physical attributes, such as strength, size, abilities, and appearance.
  • Their intellect whereby we try to discern who is smarter than who.
  • Their social attributes, which is probably the most powerful of the three, as defined by wealth, personal connections, social standing, and conduct.

More than anything, equality is about ego and we are taught at an early age not to be just be as good as someone else, but to be better than them; and if you cannot be better than them, then undermine them every chance you get. Compare this to the Japanese who are taught at any early age to work together collectively towards common goals. Even as you enter the workforce you are placed on an even footing with others in your “class.” It is only after a number of years working at the company (ten normally) when it is decided what your position and job title will be. The Japanese may not tout equality in their culture as much as the Americans do, but it is much more ingrained in them than the Americans.

In the United States, we have a lot of rights, we have a lot of rules, but we really don’t have as much equality as people believe we do, which is why I call it a myth. You might have an understanding about racial, gender, and social rights, but you will never have equality in the minds of the American masses. So, please put down the placards saying you want equality. Don’t make me laugh. You don’t want equality, you want to leapfrog ahead.

I am reminded of the story of the ant and the aardvark who happened upon one and other on the street. The ant being somewhat nervous about the aardvark’s intentions said to him, “Brother Aardvark, it is good to see you. We are both creatures of the earth, we both drink the same water and breath the same air. We’re equals.” The aardvark shot out his long sticky tongue and devoured the ant in the blink of an eye, burped, and replied, “I’m afraid you’ve been misinformed my boy.”

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

Keep the Faith!

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

Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) 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 a listing of Tim’s Pet Peeves, click HERE.

Download Tim’s new eBook (PDF), “Bryce’s Pet Peeve Anthology – Volume I” (free) DOWNLOAD).

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Life | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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