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Archive for December, 2012

SO WHAT DID I LEARN IN 2012?

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 21, 2012

BRYCE ON LIFE

– Tim’s year-end wrap-up.

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

The year 2012 is about to pass into the history books. I don’t even think the Ripley people would believe it. The elections obviously commanded our attention, from primaries, to conventions, to debates, and to the final elections. Closely tied to it was the economy, unemployment, energy, and the turmoil in the Middle East. The Summer Olympics in London was a welcome distraction, but it was short lived. As we are nearing the end of the year, I want to reflect on what I personally learned. Think of this as my year-end wrap-up report if you will.

2012 taught me this is no longer my grandfather’s United States, or my father’s for that matter. In fact, it’s a lot different than what I was taught as a lad. It seems the obvious is no longer obvious. Our priorities have changed from what I believe are cultural differences. First, Latinos are now the number one minority, followed by Asians who hopscotched the blacks to the #2 position. Single women now outnumber married women, and gays seem to be more openly accepted. All of this sounds simple, but represents a dramatic change in our demographics and, as such, a change in national attitudes.

Everything seems to be drifting on the wind, including our moral fiber. What was right is now wrong, and vice versa. It would be easy to say the country has become morally corrupt, but who is to judge, the young or the old? Obviously this didn’t happen over night. It has been slowly moving in this direction for a long time; e.g., instead of the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, we now openly discuss homosexual relationships; instead of celebrating the family unit, it has become splintered; instead of the Baby Boomers retiring as their predecessors did, few can afford to, making for a crowded job market; rewarding incompetence now seems to be a way of life, and; lying and deceit appears to be an acceptable form of behavior as long as the end justifies the means. Such things greatly influence our priorities and behavior.

I learned the division of the country has become even more pronounced along ideological and class lines. We always knew there were differences, but it became glaringly obvious during this election year. The void between left and right has grown to Grand Canyon proportions, with very few moderates remaining to take a stand. Political discourse can be better described as visceral as opposed to intellectual.

Nevertheless, I have learned the country now believes entitlements are a right, not a privilege; the citizens believe a redistribution of the wealth is fair, and; that spending more than you have is a perfectly acceptable form of fiduciary behavior. I admit it took me a long time to figure this out, but I now “get it.” In the past, I assumed this would head us down a dangerous path to bankruptcy, but evidently the country is not concerned. Then again, we have always been a nation of reactionaries as opposed to planners.

Perhaps the most notable thing I learned this year was the citizens of this country have become overtly self-aware, meaning a person can separate him/herself as an individual from their environment. We’ve seen this for many years on the roads as people drive as if they were the only ones on the highway. However, it has become more pronounced in our society and I attribute it primarily to our extensive use of personal technology. We see it in shopping malls and stores where people walk in front of you as you are examining merchandise. They are not interested in what you are doing, only what they personally want to do. This is also becoming more common in business as people lack sensitivity to others working around them, thereby inhibiting harmony, and we also see this in our discourse where we no longer know how to properly carry on an argument. It is no small wonder that “Teabagger” has become a part of our vernacular, even if it is misapplied.

It would be easy to say I learned a lot about the power of the media this year, and how it is an instrument of the government to manipulate the masses, but this has been going on for quite some time. I could also comment how naive the American public has become, that they are lazy and prefer the spin of the media as opposed to checking the facts themselves, but we already knew this.

Despite all of this, I cannot help but wonder if we really are any better than just 50 years ago? Or 100 years for that matter. Sure, the technology has changed a lot, and the world has gotten smaller and more dangerous as a result, but the problems remain essentially unchanged: the world population is still growing too fast, war has certainly not been made extinct, we still suffer with malnutrition and economics, and we still do not have cures for cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and a litany of other diseases. Not to worry though, there is nothing our smart phones cannot overcome for us.

One final note, I would be remiss if I didn’t recognize a handful of the people who passed away in 2012, people who helped shape our lives in one way or another:

Neil Armstrong, Peter Bergman, Pedro Borbón, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Bork, Ray Bradbury, Andrew Breitbart, Helen Gurley Brown, Dave Brubeck, Gary Carter, Dick Clark, Gary Collins, Greg Cook, Don Cornelius, Judith Crist, Richard Dawson, Phyllis Diller, Angelo Dundee, Donald “Duck” Dunn, Nora Ephron, Chad Everett, Ben Gazara, Andy Griffith, Larry Hagman, Marvin Hamlisch, Levon Helm, Sherman Hemsley, Celeste Holm, Whitney Houston, Daniel Inouye, Davy Jones, Alex Karras, Herbert Lom, George McGovern, Russell Means, Sun Myung Moon, Oscar Niemeyer, Joe Paterno, Johnny “The Needle” Pesky, Darrell Royal, Warren Rudman, Steve Sabol, Earl Scruggs, Ravi Shankar, Carroll Shelby, Amarillo Slim, Arlen Specter, Chris Stevens, Donna Summer, Jack Twyman, Gore Vidal, Mike Wallace, Andy Williams, William Windom. and Richard D. Zanuck.

If you do not know who some of these people are, you should do yourself a favor and look them up. If you didn’t see your name on the list, consider yourself fortunate. I know I do.

Happy New Year everyone!

“We’ll Meet Again”

FADE TO BLACK

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 © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.


NEXT UP: 
BREAK TIME – “I’ll be back (in 2013)” (Arnold Schwarzenegger)


Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, (12:30-3:00pm).

Also look for Tim’s postings in the Palm Harbor Patch, The Gentlemen’s Association, and throughout the Internet.

Posted in Life, Politics, Society | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

TODAY’S SLAVE MENTALITY

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 19, 2012

BRYCE ON SOCIETY

– An interesting theory of how people behave in this country.

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

Slavery in the United States was abolished with Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation which took effect in 1863, but I’m not sure it has completely gone away. Slavery flourished in North America throughout the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries where it was an important part of the country’s economic system. Under the legendary Sugar-Rum-Slave triad; sugar was shipped from the Caribbean to Europe where it was distilled into rum, profits from this was then used to ship merchandise to West Africa where it was traded for slaves, which were sent to the Caribbean where they were sold as field hands for the sugar plantations, others were used as indoor servants.

The tortuous life of the slaves involved such things as picking cotton, heavy labor, and just about every menial task imaginable. Some would try to escape, others would resist slavery and rebel, such as the famous Nat Turner rebellion in 1831. Runaways would be recaptured and returned to their master where they were brutally punished, primarily using the whip. Rebels were executed quickly and publicly. Aside from this, most of the slaves were resigned to their fate and adhered to the rules and regulations of their master thereby becoming dependent on him for food, clothing, and shelter. Consequently, they learned to live modestly, avoid responsibility, and be happy allowing someone else to take care of them. So much so, they would defend the master in perilous times knowing their livelihood depended on him.

Slave codes were introduced to prohibit slaves from learning to read and write, carry firearms, attend religious gatherings, and many other activities, all aimed at controlling their behavior. This was all done to dissuade slaves from running away or rebelling, and frankly, proved to be very effective for this purpose.

When the slaves were freed, some thrived under their new found freedom, but many others were lost and became wards of the state. They may have been freed from their masters, but were lost without someone telling them what to do.

The slave mentality is still very much among us. A class of people have emerged in this country who put forth minimal effort knowing the master will take care of them (the government). As more and more people become addicted to entitlements, they become more apathetic and less likely to work. As an example, let’s consider the American Indian where we have been spending in excess of $2.6 billion annually (1) over the last few years for such things as health care, education, public safety, housing, and rural development. Despite this huge cash infusion over an extended period of time, only 25% are employed, and they suffer from the highest poverty rate and lowest life expectancy in the country. The point is, when you become a ward of the state and such amenities are guaranteed to you, there is a natural inclination for apathy to run rampant.

Those imbued with the slave mentality do not simply want something for nothing, they expect it. Whereas they are content to perform simple labor, they expect their master, the federal government, to provide for their housing, welfare, health care, and other amenities. This explains why entitlements have grown at an alarming rate in recent years and why such people have no problem with a massive government. They are mindful of the rules and regulations of the master, but have no true understanding of the concept of freedom which is nothing more than a catch-phrase of the government.

In contrast, those opposed to big government and actively work to sustain themselves relish freedom and truly understand the price of it in blood and sweat. They realize freedom encourages personal initiative to invent, innovate, discover, write, and create. They may either be successful or a failure, but they relish the opportunity to at least try. They are allowed to believe what they want, say what they want, go where they want, but most importantly they are allowed to be an entrepreneur with all of the risks and responsibilities involved. The slave mentality class doesn’t grasp this and shirks risk and responsibility, preferring the safety of the master instead.

The slave codes of today are implemented by the media who cleverly manipulates the people’s sense of right and wrong, thereby defining how they should think and act. As George Orwell correctly observed, “The people will believe what the media tells them they believe.” Political correctness is an obvious example of how the media influences the perceptions of people. In reality, the media is controlled by the government who orchestrates the messages to the masses. From this, the slaves steadfastly protect their master by savagely attacking his detractors, either physically or verbally. Such slaves are simple people who can be easily manipulated by the media.

For the slave mentality to flourish, government needs to grow and become more invasive in the lives of the people. Entitlements are the hallmark of the slaves, something they believe they deserve as opposed to earn; something the master will provide. To grasp the size of the people possessing the slave mentality, consider how the country’s Welfare has escalated since 1960:

So what exactly is the slave mentality? A person who is willing to become subservient to the government in exchange for basic creature comforts as opposed to earning it themselves. The slave unknowingly remains a prisoner and is not truly free. In reality, he/she does not understand freedom, nor do they want it for freedom requires hard work, risk, and responsibility, elements which they have been conditioned to avoid. Knowing this, the government master controls the people through simple bribery and uses the media to manipulate the perceptions of the masses.

The initial reaction to this theory is to dismiss it out of hand, that wards of the state can hardly be considered slaves. However, if they think like slaves, behave like slaves, then in all likelihood they are slaves. It is important to recognize this mentality is certainly not unique to the United States; it has also become prevalent in the United Kingdom as well as other European countries. One thing we cannot overlook is that if the master’s source of money evaporates, he will be unable to take care of his slaves, and then they will have to settle for less. They may resist austerity measures initially, but they will inevitably have to fall in line. Just remember, if the slaves get out of line, the master still has the whip which he is unafraid of using.

Keep the Faith!

1 – U.S. Department of the Interior Budget Justifications and Performance Information, FY 2013

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 © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  SO WHAT DID I LEARN IN 2012? – Tim’s year-end wrap-up.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, (12:30-3:00pm).

Also look for Tim’s postings in the Palm Harbor Patch, The Gentlemen’s Association, and throughout the Internet.

Posted in Government, Politics, Society | Tagged: , , , , | 16 Comments »

WHAT IS BUSINESS?

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 17, 2012

BRYCE ON BUSINESS

– Sounds like an innocent question, but do we have a consensus understanding?

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

Recently I was asked to give a couple of presentations at a District meeting of the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLE), a nonprofit organization aimed at helping high school and middle school students prepare for careers in business. My sessions were based on my book, “MORPHING INTO THE REAL WORLD – A Handbook for Entering the Work Force.” In between sessions, I had a student approach me. He was a young man, probably 18 years of age, with sandy hair and dressed in a suit and tie which he looked uncomfortable in. I remembered him from my first session and he wanted to question my interpretation of business and how it should be conducted. Although the question sounded rather innocent, I suspected he was looking for something else.

I began by explaining that business was primarily concerned with building, marketing, and delivering a product or service in exchange for compensation; that the goal was to achieve profit by maximizing income and minimizing costs, all of which should be performed by operating within the rules and regulations of the law, even though some people will circumvent the law in order to make a profit. I described business as a truly capitalistic concept which encourages the individual to pioneer, invent, innovate, and assume risk. In return, the person can prosper if successful or suffer the consequences of failure. In other words, conducting business means assuming a certain level of risk and responsibility. It is certainly not for sissies. Beyond this, successful business people have implemented standard practices to cultivate trust with customers, vendors, and employees. This means conducting business with a sense of urgency, honesty, dignity, quality, and pride in workmanship. A little class doesn’t hurt either.

I observed the best business relationships were based on what W. Edwards Deming called a “win-win” scenario, whereby both parties prosper cooperatively. Some people believe in win-lose relationships, meaning one party wins at the expense of the other. Instead, “win-win” establishes a long-term relationship whereby both parties prosper over an extended period of time.

I told him ideally a person should find a career as opposed to just a job, although necessity may force a person to do otherwise. In my many years in the Information Technology sector, I encountered several people who fell into systems and software work by accident, not by design. As an aside, some of the best systems people I’ve met along the way had no computer background whatsoever, but rather began in such fields as music, construction, even library science. These were all fields based on some form of discipline and science. Such people may have been lousy programmers, but they had a keen sense for total systems and how to manage them. They may not have planned a career in systems, but the necessity of possessing a job forced them to embrace a new career which they flourished in. The ideal career or job is one which you take pleasure in performing. Some people though are forced to take positions out of necessity as opposed to choice. However, you can find pleasure in just about any task if you master it. Therefore, it behooves you to put your best foot forward even in the face of a seemingly boring or difficult job.

“Not everyone can be boss though, what about the rights of the workers?” the student asked.

True, not everyone can be the owner or boss, some simply do not have the inclination and prefer being followers. I admonished the student as long as he receives wages from someone, he should do it with loyalty and dedication. He should not malign the character of his superior and respect his/her wishes. If he doesn’t like the person, he should move on to another job, but as long as he accepts the wages of the boss, you are beholden to the person and deserves your loyalty. Conversely, the boss should treat the workers with dignity and respect. The objective is to develop a professional attitude on both sides.

“Then why are there so many micromanagers out there?” I was asked.

“Megalomania,” I answered. Some people wish to dominate others by exerting their will obnoxiously in the workplace, to the point that no decision or action can be taken without the approval of the control freak. Such people are political animals who desperately crave recognition and reward, yet casts blame on others when things go awry. Micromanagement is indicative that respect and trust have broken down between workers and the manager. Instead, managers should manage more and supervise less. This means managing from the “bottom-up” whereby workers are charged with assignments, empowered to make decisions, and work accordingly. In other words managing from the bottom-up seeks to improve the trust and respect of the workers simply by treating them as professionals and holding them accountable for their actions.

The student remembered one of my comments during my presentation where I observed a person’s personal and professional lives were one and the same. “What you are suggesting is that a person should lead a worthy and meaningful life?”

I agreed. There is dignity in all forms of work and I certainly do not look down my nose at anyone who is trying to improve their station in life by doing a competent job, regardless of what it may be. How someone performs their duties and responsibilities is a reflection of their personal character. It expresses their dedication, their sense of professionalism, and whether they care about how they are perceived by others.

“So you believe the employer should provide workers with a meaningful career?”

“Not necessarily,” I countered. Matching a job to someone’s skills and proficiencies should be of concern to the employer, but it’s a two way street. It is in the employer’s best interests to have workers who are striving to improve themselves and, as a result, the company will improve, but for this to work, the employee must demonstrate personal initiative, that he/she is willing to assume personal responsibility and risk. However, if the employee believes the employer is going to spoonfeed them skills and knowledge, they are likely to be more parasitic in their approach to work as opposed to professional.

“Then you are suggesting the person’s morality is an inherent part of conducting business isn’t it?”

I was startled by the perception and immediately agreed. It means a person’s word is a measurement of his bond and denotes his integrity. The boss sets the example for ethical behavior, but it is up to the workers to follow his/her lead.

“So, if I understand you correctly Mr. Bryce, business is about people; it involves people working together harmoniously to build and deliver a work product under a win-win philosophy, and that people should be treated as professionals and held accountable as such.”

Yes, then I added one last note; When it comes to conducting business, everything begins with a sale. Activities such as engineering, research, manufacturing, etc. are all important, but none more so than sales. All workers should be mindful of this and every activity in a business should be geared towards producing income, for in the end, without sales, everything else evaporates.

The young man thanked me for my time before scurrying off to another session. I had enjoyed this dialog with him; it was refreshing and demonstrated his perception of what I was talking about. I only hope I had impacted the other students in the same manner.

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 © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  TODAY’S SLAVE MENTALITY – An interesting theory of how people behave in this country.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, (12:30-3:00pm).

Also look for Tim’s postings in the Palm Harbor Patch, The Gentlemen’s Association, and throughout the Internet.

Posted in Business, Management | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

THE PASSING OF THE CROONERS

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 14, 2012

BRYCE ON LIFE

– How the rich music of Sinatra, Como, Crosby, Martin, et al is slipping away from us.

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

Emerging from the Big Band era of the 1930’s was the “Crooner,” a lead singer who was usually male. Actually, the crooner is the stepchild of both Big Band and the Jazz era. Unlike those eras though, the emphasis was on the singer as opposed to just the sound of the music. These were people with unique voices supported by slick orchestras, and singing the popular songs of the day, primarily the 1940’s and 1950’s. These were people with magnetic personalities which were derived, in large part, from the types of love songs they sang; people like Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Dean Martin, and Tony Bennett, most of whom are long gone. Interestingly, Sinatra disliked the “Crooner” label and considered himself more of a star. Capitol Records had a keen eye for crooners and developed a stable of singers where they cultivated their image as well as their music.

Two things were interesting about the crooners in general; first, they had more than just a good singing voice, each possessed a unique characteristic which was difficult to duplicate, and songs were specially selected to match them. Second, all were backed by excellent musicians, not just some hacks who knew how to play an instrument. Further, they had the best arrangers such as Nelson Riddle, Gordon Jenkins, Ralph Carmichael, Axel Stordahl, Sy Oliver, Percy Faith, Les Brown, and Billy May.

Perhaps the best music from the crooner era came in the 1950’s as audio technology was noticeably enhanced, e.g. “High Fidelity” and “Stereo”. The 50’s also marked the decline of the crooner which was pushed aside for other musical styles, most notably Rock and Roll. The crooners carried on but interest rapidly declined. Tony Bennett, at age 86, remains the last of the greats. The music is still appreciated and lives on through such artists as Harry Connick, Jr. and Michael Bublé.

Aside from the greats, there were others who made names for themselves as crooners. They are not as well remembered, but their work was excellent and deserves recognition. In particular, three artists come to mind, all of which broke with the stereotype of the crooner.

Nat King Cole

In an industry dominated by white male singers, Nat King Cole broke the color barrier, particularly in television in the 1950’s where he hosted a variety show. Cole began as an accomplished jazz pianist, but his deep voice led him to the microphone. He was a chain smoker, consuming three packs of Kool cigarettes a day under the belief it helped him tune his rich voice. Eventually, he succumbed to lung cancer as a result. Even though his music lives on, thanks in large part to his daughter, Natalie Cole, most young people are unfamiliar with his name. They may have heard his songs in movies and on the radio, particularly this time of year where “The Christmas Song” is routinely played, but they really do not know who he is.

Cole’s best crooning work includes such greats as “Ramblin Rose,” “Mona Lisa,” “Unforgettable,” “The Very Thought of You,” “Almost Like Being in Love,” and the legendary “Stardust” (arguably one of the best renditions of this famous song). Another personal favorite of mine is his “Route 66” which is more of a jazz piece.

Peggy Lee

Lee certainly earned the recognition of “Crooner” even though she was obviously not one of the boys. Yet, she possessed a smokey purr which was unlike any other female singer, and she tackled the same sort of arrangements the boys did. She was active on the nightclub and concert circuit for years and worked up until near her death in 2002. She began as a singer for Benny Goodman’s orchestra and forged a sophisticated personality essentially no different than Sinatra or Martin; she was a singer’s singer and everyone loved her for it. Although her name is fading away, her music certainly isn’t. Just about every young person is familiar with her signature song, “Fever.” Her classic, “Is That All There Is?,” is a personal favorite and demonstrates her on-air magnetism. Other hits include “I Don’t Know Enough About You,” and “It’s a Good Day.” She is said to be a mentor figure for such musical greats as Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Paul McCartney, Bette Midler, Madonna, and Dusty Springfield.

Jimmy Durante

Durante was an unusual character and undoubtedly forgotten by many people (he passed away back in 1980). Whereas the great crooners were handsome men, the old “Schnozzola” (as he was called for his sizable nose) was relatively short and balding. Yet, he had a magnetic personality with a gravely voice unlike everyone else thus mentioned. He was primarily known as a comedian who played a ragtime jazz piano. Durante was one of those rare entertainers who was successful in Vaudeville, radio, television, and movies. His nightclub act was often considered raucous and bawdy. His first jazz hit was “Inka Dinka Doo” which became his signature song, but this was considered lighthearted music that certainly wouldn’t cause a woman to swoon. His serious work came in the late 1950’s and early 60’s as the music technology improved. Even though Durante was advancing in years and possessed a coarse voice, his arrangers helped him produce a string of hits still familiar to a lot of people, including: “Young at Heart,” “As Time Goes By,” “Make Someone Happy,” “I’ll Be Seeing You,” and “Smile.” These were all proven songs made famous by other artists, but Durante’s rendition is perhaps more memorable.

Although I wish singers like Harry Connick, Jr. and Michael Bublé much success, and that others join them, we must realize we have witnessed the passing of an era of some very rich music. The singers today may have some fine voices, but none with the unusual sounds the crooners gave us, coupled with fine orchestrations behind them. We may not know the songs of today, but we certainly remember those the crooners gave us, both those artists with recognized names and those quickly fading from our view.

“Good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.”

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 © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

 

NEXT UP:  WHAT IS BUSINESS? – Sounds like an innocent question, but do we have a consensus understanding?

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, (12:30-3:00pm).

Also look for Tim’s postings in the Palm Harbor Patch, The Gentlemen’s Association, and throughout the Internet.

Posted in Entertainment, Life | Tagged: , , , , | 9 Comments »

THE REMINGTON RAND ADDING MACHINE, MODEL 41013-10

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 12, 2012

BRYCE ON OFFICE EQUIPMENT

– They don’t make office equipment like this anymore.

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

When we started our company back in 1971, we needed some basic office equipment, such as filing cabinets, typewriters, etc. Unlike today, there were no personal computers or smart phones. Access to computers were by dumb terminals and printers were quite large to accommodate massive printouts. For all practical purposes small businesses had little use for computers at the time, primarily due to the excessive costs associated with them. Our most prized equipment were two IBM “Selectric” typewriters and a Remington Rand adding machine, Model 41013-10. The typewriters were replaced many times over the years, and of course, we implemented computer equipment in the office back in 1980. However, it was our adding machine which became the workhorse of our office which we’ve used for over 40 years now.

The machine is rather large and heavy, much more imposing than the typical calculators you can buy in any office supply store these days. Nevertheless, it can still perform calculations at warp speed with an authoritative printer sound for each calculation. While other equipment came and went, our Remington Rand stayed the course and was used extensively. Frankly, the calculators of today pale in comparison in terms of durability and speed. We have had the unit serviced a few times over the years, but in reality it required little maintenance. As we became more and more dependent on the computer to manage our finances though, use of the adding machine diminished greatly. We still use it for occasional calculations, but not as frequently as the old days.

Recently we began to notice the print was fading on the paper tape. We couldn’t remember the last time we changed the ribbon, maybe it was 20 years ago. So, it was finally time to take a look and see what the problem was. We removed the machine’s plastic cover thereby revealing its inner workings, a voluminous labyrinth of small metal bars, springs, and gears. It was very intimidating and I would never presume myself to be proficient enough to work on the machine should the necessity arise. Today I am accustomed to simply snapping high-priced printer cartridges into computer printers. If I cannot fix the printer, I would probably be inclined to throw the whole unit away and buy a new one, but you cannot do this with something as imposing as our adding machine.

It had been a long time since we looked at the undercarriage of the Remington Rand which, in a way, reminded me of looking under the hood of a 1957 Chevy. Of course, we had no booklet or any other documentation describing how to maintain it. On the chance of finding an old booklet on the Internet, I began to run some searches based on the model number. Although I couldn’t find any documentation, I discovered the adding machine was much older than I had originally imagined, 1955 to be exact. This means the machine was already 16 years old when we bought it second-hand in 1971. It also meant it was 56 years old and a museum piece. I could only find references to it in the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of American History. Naturally, we found this all rather amusing, that is, until we tried to replace the ribbon.

It had been many years since we had to replace an old-style cotton ribbon such as this, one without a casing, just a ribbon on a small metal spool. Threading the ribbon was actually the hard part as we hadn’t performed such a task in a long time and had forgotten the exact route for the ribbon to follow. We persevered though, getting messy ink all over our fingers in the process. Fortunately, and to our pleasant surprise, we discovered we had one last ribbon in our inventory of office supplies. Fearing the ink may have dried up, we were pleased to find the ribbon sealed and packed in a plastic bag and paper box and was as fresh as when we had purchased it some 20 years ago.

It took two of us about 30 minutes to replace the ribbon, and I admit a fair bit of swearing, but we finally figured it out and installed it properly. The machine once again runs like a champ, much to our personal pleasure.

What I found interesting from this experience is that we have all been conditioned to discard office equipment when it wears out, as opposed to maintaining it for a few more years. It also says a lot about how we built things years ago. Here we have a machine that is pushing 60 years of age, yet is rugged, durable, and above all else, works as well as the day it was built. Unfortunately, I cannot make the same claim for computer equipment or smart phones which are three years old or younger. Our Remington Rand 41013-10 adding machine reminds me of the old Timex commercial, whereby, “It takes a lickin’ but keeps on tickin’.”

One final note, when we finished the job, we thought about reordering a new ribbon for the next time. I’m not sure we could ever find the correct ribbon but beyond that, if the new ribbon we installed lasts as long as the one we just replaced, I do not think it will really matter in the year 2032.

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 © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.


NEXT UP: 
THE PASSING OF THE CROONERS – How the rich music of Sinatra, Como, Crosby, Martin, et al is slipping away from us.


Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, (12:30-3:00pm).

Also look for Tim’s postings in the Palm Harbor Patch, The Gentlemen’s Association, and throughout the Internet.

Posted in Business, Life | Tagged: , , , , , | 11 Comments »

OPERATING ON AUTOPILOT

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 10, 2012

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– What happens when we fall into a rut.

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

I am always surprised by the vast majority of people who are content operating in an autopilot mode; you know what I mean, people who are more content following the tedium of routine as opposed to thinking for themselves. We see it everyday as we commute to/from work where people stare blankly into space, we see it in the workplace where people want to go on automatic as opposed to thinking for themselves, we see it when people watch television like zombies, and we readily saw it in the last election where people willfully embraced the gospel according to the press as opposed to thinking for themselves. It’s amazing we can accomplish anything since people do not wish to exercise their minds and exceed the status quo. Let me give you an example.

I belong to a nonprofit organization which has been suffering from a decline in membership over the last ten years. Year after year, the officers of the association point out the problems with membership, yet offer no leadership in terms of solving the problem. Year after year they whine about it, but never do anything to solve the problem; nothing, nada, zip. Instead of looking for new and imaginative solutions, they concentrate on the status quo and build an unbearable bureaucracy that impedes progress. Bottom-line, they are more interested in squeezing their membership for more money as opposed to growing their base. This is like our tax problem in this country, whereby some people want to raise tax rates, while others want to reduce regulations thereby allowing companies to conduct more business, make more money, and consequently pay more taxes. Bottom-line, the leaders of the nonprofit organization prefer operating on autopilot as opposed to challenging the status quo and introducing new ideas to solve the problem.

I am the type of person who abhors the idea of falling into a rut. As an old systems man, I appreciate the need for performing certain processes in a routine and predictable manner, but I also realize progress is arrested when we surrender to the status quo. This is why I have a natural curiosity to learn and improve how business is performed. Unfortunately, not everyone shares my perspective and prefers to be told what to do. As much as I criticize the concept of micromanagement, I can understand its deployment as many people will go on autopilot unless someone tells them what to do otherwise.

As we should all know, changing the status quo must be handled carefully, as it may ruffle the feathers of those in charge and cause people to break from the comfort of their autopilot mode. As Machiavelli wrote in “The Prince” (1513), “It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to manage than a new system. For the initiator has the enmity of all who would profit by the preservation of the old institution and merely lukewarm defenders in those who gain by the new ones.”

Deviating from the status quo means implementing change, and we should change when there is good reason to do so, not simply for the sake of it alone. Whether we like it or not, we live in a world of change. For example, consider how our technology has changed over the last ten years; e.g., smart phones, High Def-TV, tablet computers, etc. Then consider how our music has changed, fashions, speech, politics, even our humor is different than just ten short years ago. Such changes were implemented in small increments over time, seemingly transparent to us, yet they are there. The reality is we live in a world of change yet people steadfastly resist adapting to it, which brings us back to operating in an autopilot mode.

Most of us want little turmoil, we just want to go about our lives and make a living. As I mentioned in my article, “Increasing Brain Power,” most people only actively engage their brains for no more than three hours each day, if that. The reason this number is so low is because thinking requires work, something people seem to have an aversion to these days. As such, most people resist “making waves.” The reality though is we live in a world of change which we must learn to embrace in order to make progress. By definition, this means to steadily improve our station in life, to exceed the status quo. By operating in an autopilot mode, you are resisting progress and not truly addressing the problems at hand, such as membership at the nonprofit organization I mentioned earlier.

I guess what I’m getting at, remaining in an autopilot mode does yourself a disservice as well as the people around you. It means you are resisting change, and by doing so, you are resisting progress. This is why it is important to change our patterns now and then and get out of the rut we may fall into. Try a different restaurant or type of food, read a book, take a class, wear something different, go on a vacation, or try howling at the moon, whatever. In other words, turn off the autopilot switch now and then and try driving manually. I think you’ll enjoy the view.

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 © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

 

NEXT UP:  THE REMINGTON RAND ADDING MACHINE, MODEL 41013-10 – They don’t make office equipment like this anymore.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, (12:30-3:00pm).

Also look for Tim’s postings in the Palm Harbor Patch, The Gentlemen’s Association, and throughout the Internet.

 

Posted in Business, Management | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

THE RETURN OF THE SNOWBIRDS

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 7, 2012

BRYCE ON LIFE

– It’s that time of the year again.

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

They began to trickle back into the area in early October, but now the migration is in full bloom with the various trailer courts filling up down here in Florida. I am, of course, talking about “Snowbirds,” retirees who are escaping the chilly north in favor of a warmer climate for the winter. We rely on the snowbirds heavily as they greatly support our economy through tourism. They may clog the roads and restaurants, speak with some strange dialects, but we welcome them warmly this time of year (“Don-cha-know”).

When the Snowbirds arrive, native Floridians typically drive to work a little earlier, and expect to eat at a restaurant a little later than normal, all to give the tourists ample time to enjoy themselves. The only problem we have with them is their varying driving habits. How someone from Michigan drives is considerably different than someone from New York, which is different than someone from Maine, Ohio, and just about anywhere else. It’s very exasperating to drive under such conditions which tests our patience.

The trademark of the Snowbird is, of course, the Recreational Vehicle (RV) which comes in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and costs. Whatever the size, they somehow manage to clog the roads and Walmart parking lots. I’m always amazed by owners of opulent RV’s who do not have another form of transportation, such as a bicycle, motor scooter, or automobile. They have to do a lot of walking otherwise. Close to our office is a trailer court where I’ve seen a Snowbird with a state-of-the-art bus-length RV which includes a tow hitch to pull an equally impressive trailer. Inside the trailer are two beautiful motorcycles and a complete shop to maintain them. Although I consider it a rather smart setup, I would be concerned with driving such “Hogs” down here which can be a rather dangerous proposition.

Over the years I have learned there are RV groups who enjoy traveling in “caravans” throughout North America, and Florida gets more than their fair share this time of year. A caravan is nothing more than a group of friends who travel together as a support group on outings. The first RV in line is considered the “Wagon Master” to lead the group. Somehow the image of Gil Favor leading a cattle drive in “Rawhide” comes to mind. The last RV in line is called the “Tail Gunner” which is reminiscent of a B-17 Flying Fortress. Such caravans represent considerable money to trailer park owners and, as such, they are warmly received.

Although you can easily detect snowbirds by their vernacular, you can just as easily spot them by their attitude which borders on pompous arrogance. Coming from the north, they somehow believe southerners are rubes who know nothing, that only northerners know how things should be done. As a displaced northerner myself who settled here many years ago, I am acutely aware of the cultural divide. I have learned Southerners know plenty, they just express themselves differently than their northern counterparts. They may seem rather cold initially, but if you are kind and open to suggestion, they make you feel right at home. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the food of the south who enjoy such things as grits, different interpretations of barbecue, and such oddities as crawdads and deep fried turkey. Northerners simply do not understand southern cuisine. Then again, it took them about 100 years to learn to appreciate southern fried chicken.

Quite often you will hear snowbirds lament, “That’s not how we do it back home.” Maybe not, but you are not in the north anymore and you have to learn to acclimate to the local culture. This begins by losing the stuffy northern attitude, relaxing, and learning to enjoy southern hospitality. Welcome Y’all!

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 © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

 

NEXT UP:  OPERATING ON AUTOPILOT – What happens when we fall into a rut.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, (12:30-3:00pm).

Also look for Tim’s postings in the Palm Harbor Patch, The Gentlemen’s Association, and throughout the Internet.

 

Posted in Life | Tagged: , , , , | 13 Comments »

POLITICAL POSTMORTEM, 2012

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 5, 2012

BRYCE ON POLITICS

– What we learned following the election and what we will do about it.

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

It’s been about a month since the election and the dust has finally settled. I believe we are all glad the negative television commercials are gone, as well as the obnoxious lawn signs, but there are a lot of people who miss the action and are beginning to exhibit withdrawal symptoms. Whereas young people were mostly apathetic during this electoral cycle, older people and party loyalists were transfixed on any news pertaining to the campaigns, including presidential, congressional, and local. This resulted in a windfall for the media. Over $1 billion was spent on television advertising alone for the presidential race, not to mention radio, newspaper, billboards, telephone calls, and Internet advertising. In all, we set another record in terms of campaign spending, but was it really worth it?

According to OpenSecrets.org, a research group tracking money in U.S. politics, the University of California was President Obama’s top campaign contributor at $927,568. I don’t quite understand how a university system like California’s, which is supposed to be floundering financially and raising student tuition to new heights, can afford such generosity. Then again, maybe I just answered my own question. The fifth largest contributor to the president’s re-election campaign was the U.S. Government at $528,603. I wonder if the American taxpayers knew about this and agreed to it. I know I was never consulted.

I am still concerned about the apathy of young people and their apparent indifference for our electoral process. I have never seen a generation so uninformed, regardless of the information technology currently available, nor do they seem concerned about the future of the country. This frightens me.

We also learned the country is as polarized as ever, maybe more so. This has been building since the 2000 election with the hanging chads, but has gotten progressively worse. For the first time though, anger has been expressed through social media, such as the physical threats made to assassinate Gov. Romney or calls for uprisings. Such open expressions of hostility are not new, but their propagation through technology is. I pity the Secret Service which has to investigate such threats and taunts.

The media encourages such behavior, as exemplified by MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell who challenged Tagg Romney to a fight on camera (see VIDEO). O’Donnell was neither reprimanded or fired by the network. This can only be construed as MSNBC approving of his antics, and by inference, promotes and endorses open hostilities.

Then there is the matter of lying, cheating, and deceit in the campaign itself, either by official representatives of the campaigns or the public, which is why Voter Identification became such a major issue this past year. The closer we got to the election, the more dirty political tricks we saw, such as the letters sent to Republicans in the closing days of the campaign that informed them it wasn’t necessary for them to vote.

The biggest lesson I learned from this electoral cycle though was that the country hates our current form of elections. It is sinfully wasteful in terms of finances, consumes too much time thereby promoting polarity, and distracts politicians from tending to the duties taxpayers pay them to do. We probably spent more on the election than what President Obama proposed to tax the rich. Our form of elections are neither efficient or effective. For a country who prides itself on the efficiency of our technology, we certainly do a lousy job of conducting an election. It’s barbaric, but we only have ourselves to blame. As Pogo said, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

One last note, in a recent poll of registered voters, a paltry 22% believed in the polls during the campaign, a whopping 75% didn’t find the media credible in their political reporting, and the rest were unsure what day it was.

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 © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

 

NEXT UP:  THE RETURN OF THE SNOWBIRDS – It’s that time of the year again.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, (12:30-3:00pm).

Also look for Tim’s postings in the Palm Harbor Patch, The Gentlemen’s Association, and throughout the Internet.

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

WELCOME TO DECEMBER

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 3, 2012

BRYCE ON LIFE

– Tis the season for “Bah” and Humbug”!

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

There’s only one other month I dislike more than July, and that is the month of December. During July, people in my neck of the woods evacuate in record numbers, leaving a ghost town behind. December though seems just plain “lost” to me, meaning not much is accomplished as the schools shut down and people scurry out of town on vacation or to celebrate the holidays elsewhere.

Following Thanksgiving, the corporate world also seems to shut down until the new year. People try to use up their vacation days, a plethora of company parties are planned, small companies shut down, and voice mail seems to run everything. From a business perspective, Internet traffic drops off noticeably (except for spam), telephone calls diminish, and for all intents and purposes snail mail disappears completely. It’s like the country goes into a state of hibernation. The only exception to this is sales as companies are desperately trying to spend money before the end of the year as opposed to turning it over to the government in the form of taxes. Aside from this, the December slow down is a good month to close up the operating year and make plans for the next one.

As a kid, I enjoyed December as it represented the Christmas holidays and toys. I’ve long outgrown that though, and am very much turned off by the commercialization of the holidays. The idea of decorating the house inside and out, sending out holiday cards which nobody reads, scurrying around to buy presents which will ultimately be returned is loathsome to me. Then there is the matter of pitiful television programming whereby we watch shows like “Frosty the Snowman” for the millionth time or sitcoms wishing everyone politically correct tidings of the season, even though they were recorded last April. Maybe I should just declare December “cruise month” and be done with the holidays once and for all.

Company parties this time of year are always entertaining, particularly when you see a drunken employee telling off the boss. Excuse me, I meant a soon-to-be-fired drunken employee. In the business world, an employee’s upwards mobility in the corporate hierarchy can be greatly enhanced by producing a good holiday party. You may remember me describing the efforts of a friend who was put in charge of an IBM Christmas party years ago in Poughkeepsie. Employee families were invited to attend, including the children of course. It was a very big affair. Every child in attendance was given a good present by Santa (not something cheap), everyone fed on a sumptuous meal, there was plenty of libations, music and entertainment, and all within budget. My friend, even had enough money left over to make a respectable donation to a charity on behalf of the company. And, Yes, a photographer was on hand to take everyone’s picture. The company party ultimately catapulted my friend’s career at IBM where he served for many years.

December is also when we generally “pork up” on all the goodies baked and cooked this time of year. If we go to holiday parties, we tend to overeat, over indulge, and pledge to turn over a new leaf in the new year, which we seldom do. It’s particularly difficult for people living in the snowy north who are stuck inside and come down with a touch of Cabin Fever. At least down here in Florida, we can sneak outside and do some lawn work or visit the beach.

I generally keep a low profile during the month of December in order to avoid the madness and not add to it. Others may enjoy the fanfare of the holidays, I try to stay out of the limelight and quietly go about my business. It’s not that I am avoiding my faith, certainly I am not. I just find it is something rather personal.

I’m not sure why we make a big deal out of December. Maybe it’s because of our religious faith, or maybe it represents the end of a calendar year which was either good or bad (if the latter, please do not call me). People seem to have forgotten that December was invented in 1929 as a means to comfort those hurt during the stock market crash in October. Prior to this, there was only eleven months. Following Thanksgiving, we went straight into the new year. Retailers learned to capitalize this time of the year by unloading the shoddy merchandise they bought too much of during the year. Whatever the reason, good luck this month and what’s a good number for a cruise line?

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 © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

 

NEXT UP:  POLITICAL POSTMORTEM, 2012 – What we learned following the election and what we will do about it.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, (12:30-3:00pm).

Also look for Tim’s postings in the Palm Harbor Patch, The Gentlemen’s Association, and throughout the Internet.

Posted in Life | Tagged: , , , , | 8 Comments »

 
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