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Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

SOME MONOTONOUS WORK: JUST WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 18, 2017

BRYCE ON LIFE

– The therapeutic effects of collating and punching paper.

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

The original purpose of our company was to develop and market a methodology to walk people step-by-step through the design and development of information systems, from soup-to-nuts. We implemented this as a series of manuals and forms for people to reference during the process. Actually, there were three manuals in the set which were housed in 22-ring binders: a manual to explain the methodology, another to show examples, and a third with training materials and an installation guide. This was done at a time before there were quick copy shops. Based on our artwork, a printer would produce copies of the manuals and forms on an offset press which was returned to us for coallating, punching, and insertion into the binders. This was certainly not a glamorous job, but it had to be done regardless. To implement it, we setup long tables and organized the pages around them. We then began the arduous task of coallating and inserting the paper by encircling those tables for hours. On a good day, we could assemble forty manuals which was considered a respectable pace. Inevitably, we began to experience the effects of monotony and boredom. You couldn’t go on autopilot completely during this assembly as you didn’t want to make a mistake, but it certainly wasn’t complicated either. We did this for several years until we were able to automate our manuals for access via the computer. I cannot honestly say I miss those days, but I appreciate the necessity of the work.

We’ve probably all performed some form of monotonous activity, be it collating and punching paper, stapling, folding, photocopying, applying adhesive labels, or some other task that doesn’t require a lot of brain power, but still has to be done nevertheless. Every now and then, I find such work to be a welcome departure from the trials and tribulations of the day, where you can “zone-out” for a while and yet do something productive in the process. Some might call this “idiot work” but that does a disservice to the necessity of the task and those performing it. Actually, it is rather remarkable how people can become somewhat robotic in performing repetitive tasks over and over again without frequently making mistakes. Occasional breaks help clear the head and allows the worker to re-focus.

Some “professionals” consider it beneath their dignity to perform such work. Actually, it can be rather therapeutic. Not only is it a good distraction to clear the mind, it should also be a reminder of the dignity of work in general. It may not be rocket science, but it is still necessary. For those who suffer from an inflated ego, there is nothing better than a little “idiot work” to bring them back down to earth.

Monotonous work may not be glamorous and seem somewhat boring, but we must be mindful of the fact that just about every business or nonprofit has some form of repetitive task to be performed. I, for one, am cognizant of the need for it and certainly do not demean anyone having to perform such work. My company would certainly not be here today without it. Whenever someone asks for some help in this regard I am glad to assist if time permits. As I said, I see it as a great stress reliever and do some of my best thinking under such conditions. It’s just what the doctor ordered.

By the way, for those asking, “Why did you use 22-ring binders?” Actually, this was done by design. Most binders only have two or three rings, which means it would be easy to insert additional pages into them. We didn’t want that. In fact, we wanted to make it as difficult as possible to insert more pages, hence the 22-ring binders. You see, there is a method to our madness.

First published: May 11, 2012

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 40 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 © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  IS THERE REALLY A CASE FOR PRES. TRUMP’S IMPEACHMENT? – The short answer, No.

LAST TIME:  A TRIBUTE TO TYPEWRITERS  – In praise of the look, feel, and smell of a typed letter.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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A TRIBUTE TO TYPEWRITERS

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 16, 2017

BRYCE ON LIFE

– In praise of the look, feel, and smell of a typed letter.

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

I have been using a variety of computer word processors over the last thirty years and produced some rather fine looking documents using them, but for some reason I still miss the typewriter. Maybe it’s because you can quickly type up an impressive looking envelope or fill out a form; Yes, many organizations still use paper forms, particularly nonprofits. The look and feel of a business letter seems somehow more impressive when prepared on a typewriter, more professional and authoritative if you will.

Some people have an aversion to typewriters and generally dismiss them as dinosaurs in the office. I certainly am not of this opinion as we still have an aging IBM Wheelwriter 30, Series II in our office which we would never dream of losing. We don’t type a lot of letters with it anymore, but when we do, they still look first class. When compared to today’s computers, the keyboard is starting to show its age, but there is a crispness to the letters it produces as well as a smell, which I attribute to the printer ink and carbon paper which was used to make duplicate copies. In most companies today, you are expected to print an adhesive label to put on an envelope, which pales in comparison to an envelope with a typed address. It looks rather impressive with a touch of class, something you do not see much anymore in the corporate world.

I learned to type in Mrs. Weldman’s class during my junior year in High School. Most of us typed on manual typewriters where pressing a key forced a metallic arm to rise up and strike the paper with a letter. Only a handful of the students in my class were allowed to use the electric models which didn’t require as much umph in pressing the keys. Our teacher would often have us perform three minute tests to monitor our typing speed and accuracy. Repetitive exercises forced us to improve in both, e.g., “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.” Because a typewriter is less forgiving than a word processor in terms of correcting mistakes, you tend to develop better typing habits. I’ve carried these habits forward to this day and consider myself a rather good typist (Thanks Mrs. Weldman).

Since then, I’ve used a variety of manual and electric typewriters, everything from the classic keystroke, to print balls with different fonts, to daisy wheels which spin to the desired letter and prints the character. As good a typist as I consider myself to be, I thank God somebody created correction tape and liquid paper. Letters produced using word processors may be easier to correct and have impressive spell checkers, but they somehow seem plain to me regardless of the stock paper you use or the variety of available fonts. There’s simply a feel to a typed letter that makes it seem more important. Maybe it’s because it takes more effort to create a typed letter, and by doing so it means the typist is more thoughtful of the person who will receive it. To me, it’s just plain classy.

I also go back to a time when I found the tickety-tack sound of the typewriters to be strangely melodic. I’ll admit a room full of typists clicking away could make quite a racket, but it also seemed to suggest to me some serious business was being conducted. It was like going into the nerve center of a newsroom where important stories were being written. It was quite invigorating. Now, when you go into offices where people quietly work away in the privacy of their cubicles, you wonder if anyone is awake. Somehow I miss the hubbub of business, it felt like something was actually happening.

Surprisingly, there is a bit of a Renaissance going on with typewriters these days as it has somehow become hip to be seen as a struggling writer who lugs a portable typewriter around. I think it’s an Ernie Pyle kind of thing. Nonetheless, there is renewed interest in typewriters and devotees are showcasing their classic equipment in museums, both physically and virtually on the Internet. One of the best I’ve found is Mr. Martin’s Typewriter Museum, be sure to check it out. I’m also told that because of their rarity, a typewriter repairman can now make a decent living. Who’da thunk it.

Like music, fashion, and the media, we tend to develop a close association with the technology of our youth. My kids probably have as much trouble understanding my fascination with typewriters, as I have with their smart phones. We appreciate the technology of our era. As much as I would like to believe I am digital, in all likelihood I am more analog in nature.

One last reason why I owe my allegiance to the typewriter; it was in Mrs. Weldman’s class where I first met my wife.

First published: April 27, 2012

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 40 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 © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  SOME MONOTONOUS WORK: JUST WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED – The therapeutic effects of collating and punching paper.

LAST TIME:  THE FOUR STEPS FOR AMERICAN SUBVERSION  – A warning from a former KGB agent.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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

GAMES WE PLAYED AS KIDS

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 6, 2017

BRYCE ON LIFE

– Anybody remember “Red Rover”?

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

It’s interesting what you can learn just sitting on a park bench. Not long ago, I was down at Crystal Beach, a local park and pier on the Gulf of Mexico where I was enjoying some Florida sunshine and waiting for the sunset when I happened to overhear some kids who were bored and looking for something to do. In the course of the conversation they talked about their favorite games; they mentioned: “Call of Duty,” “Batman: Arkham City,” and “Portal 2.” Only then did I realize they were talking about computer video games and got me thinking about the games I played as a child growing up in Connecticut.

Back then, the emphasis was to get out of the house and get some fresh air. We were fortunate to live in a wooded countryside with a stream running through our backyards in the community. We spent a lot of time swimming and fishing in the stream, where we mostly caught brook trout. The only organized sport we played back then was Little League baseball, but it seemed we were always playing a pickup game regardless where we were.

We drove our bicycles everywhere; to school, to the baseball fields, and to the store. One of our favorite endeavors was to canvas the neighborhood to collect used soft drink bottles and take them to the grocery store where we turned them in for the deposit (two cents for a regular bottle, three cents or a nickle for a quart bottle). We would then take the money and play a round of putt-putt golf at a nearby range, and stop off at a country store to buy penny candy; e.g., root beer barrels, paper strips of dots, rock candy, jaw breakers, pixie straws, wax candy, licorice sticks, and a myriad of other delicacies.

Living in a wooded setting, one of our favorite games was Hide and Seek, and we all learned some rather devious places to hide. So much so, it would take a couple of hours to play just a handful of games. We would also play Tag, Red Rover, and Red Light/Green Light. Our fathers tried to teach us “Buck Buck” (aka “Johnny on the Pony”) but this never really caught on with us.

One time, the neighborhood was planning a Clam Bake party and the adults were all charged with various responsibilities, be it preparations, cooking, dessert, entertainment, cleanup or whatever. The father next door was charged with keeping the kids out of everyone’s hair so the adults could do their jobs. To do so, he devised a scavenger hunt whereby he placed clues all over the neighborhood, at certain landmarks in the woods, and at our school. He broke us up into teams to make it competitive. The hunt began in the morning from a massive boulder in his backyard. After he explained the rules, he turned us loose where we had to find the carefully hidden clues and and decipher them which was rather devilish as I recall. This went on for several hours until late in the afternoon where the hunt finally led us back to his boulder in the backyard where he sat enjoying the day by reading a book. We all thought it rather ironic that the hunt ended at the same place it started. He just laughed.

Afterwards, we had dinner and were now too tired to do anything but go to bed, which the parents had hoped for as their Clam Bake was about to begin. Afterwards we realized it was a brilliant bit of strategy by the parents.

There were many other things occupying our time in those days: we whittled, we caught fireflies in mason jars, built forts in the woods, picked apples in a nearby orchard, and played a lot of Dodge Ball (we called it “German Dodge” for some unknown reason). When it rained, a group of us would get together and play marathon sessions of Monopoly. In the winter, we slowed down a bit, but still found time to ride our sleds down hills, ice skating, build snow forts, and of course engage in several snowball fights.

So, as I thought about the young men talking about their video games, I kind of felt sorry for them. Here we were sitting on the Gulf of Mexico on a beautiful day and they were bored. It never occurred to them to drop a fishing line off the pier or even a simple game of catch or “pickle” (running bases). They just wanted to go home and play their favorite video game. I was tempted to teach them how to play Red Rover, but like our fathers who tried to teach us “Buck Buck,” I knew this wouldn’t really catch on with them. Pity.

Whenever I hear a youngster lament, “There’s nothing to do,” I just role my eyes and think back to my youth. There is much more to being a child than just playing with electronic gadgets. Maybe the parents just need to throw the kids outside and force them to discover the world around them.

First published: March 30, 2012

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 40 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 © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  OUR CHANGING VALUES – “You cannot treat a patient if he doesn’t know he is sick.” – Bryce’s Law

LAST TIME:  JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS  – How the Internet has altered the way we argue.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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

JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 4, 2017

BRYCE ON LIFE

– How the Internet has altered the way we argue.

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

Recently I came across a local news story having to do with road rage. Evidently, two men in their twenties got into a highway dispute in the wee hours of a morning which led to a physical confrontation whereby one man finally pulled out a gun to defend himself and killed the other person. The shooter has not been charged with a crime as he is protected by Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. This resulted in a firestorm of letters commenting on the story, most criticizing the shooter and claiming the victim was a really nice guy. Interestingly, most of the people springing to the defense of the victim appeared to be of the same age (in their twenties). Those who came to the defense of the shooter appeared to be older. This led to a rather toxic debate on the Internet with the two sides arguing which person was at fault in the incident. So much so, I got the uneasy feeling the issue started to become as ugly as the initial confrontation, maybe more so.

As for me, I felt it was an unfortunate incident but I certainly didn’t have enough information to form an opinion one way or another, just an article where the reporter pieced together a story from law enforcement reports. This is why I was surprised by the vicious discourse resulting from the article. Some of the commentators were familiar with the location where the shooting occurred, some claimed to know one or the other person in the incident, and others played detective or attorney. All had a definite opinion which they fervently argued, some even going so far as to attack anyone possessing an opposing opinion. I was actually more aghast by the comments as opposed to the actual accident itself. Obviously, none of them were present at the time of the incident, nor knew the sequence of events leading up to it, nor the evidence or testimony compiled by the police afterwards, yet they were hellbent on defending their position which struck me as rather strange. The same can also be said about the Trayvon Martin incident where the public became a lynch mob before allowing the police to complete their investigation.

Actually, these incidents typify how Americans tend to argue in the 21st century. It is not so much a matter of civil discourse anymore as it is spin, attack, ridicule, deceive, and assassinate character; a sort of “Sherman’s march to the sea” mentality where everything is destroyed that gets in the way of the person arguing. This approach has been facilitated by the Internet where it is easy to snipe at your opponent under the cloak of anonymity which seems rather cowardly to me. This is why I have always tried to maintain my true identity on the Internet as I am willing to stand by my words. You may not always agree with me, but you know where I stand on an issue.

In both my writings and pursuant correspondence I avoid saying anything I wouldn’t be afraid to say to a person’s face. I know a lot of people on the Internet who cannot make this same claim. I am also mindful of the old axiom, “If you haven’t got anything good to say about a person, do not say it.” As such, I do not engage in arguments where I know the other person is trying to bait me. If I were to take the bait and allow myself to argue in the gutter, I would lose my dignity and respect, which is something my opponent may be willing to risk, but I am not. When it is apparent we are at loggerheads, and we will obviously not change each other’s opinion or perspective, I simply drop the matter recognizing it is futile to continue. In other words, a lot of people need to learn when to “let it go.”

Understand this though, my way of arguing is considered old school. Today’s Internet savvy kids do not possess this school of thought and, consequently, do not abide by any rules whatsoever. As far as they are concerned, all is fair in love and war, and show no restraint in their arguments or ethical compunction. Somewhere along the line we have forgotten that arguments are a very personal form of communications. We can either do it with a little style and respect for the other party, or simply go for the jugular. Unfortunately, the era of gentlemanly debate ended with the 20th century. It may be considered a bygone era, but we didn’t have quite as many Road Rage incidents back then either.

First published: October 4, 2012

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 40 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 © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  GAMES WE PLAYED AS KIDS – Anybody remember “Red Rover”?

LAST TIME:  WHY THE REPUBLICANS IN CONGRESS ARE BLOWING IT  – They only have themselves to blame.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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

INTUITIVENESS, THE SIXTH SENSE

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 2, 2017

BRYCE ON LIFE

– Some recognition for the Radar O’Reillys of the world.

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

In just about any job interview, managers look at applicants for such things as skills and proficiencies, intelligence level, their ability to listen and learn, and a variety of other attributes. One aspect they are particularly interested in is the intuitiveness of the person which is difficult to quantify and substantiate. Just about all managers hope the new worker possesses this important “sixth sense” which helps to spot problems before they occur and take corrective action. One of the best icons for intuitiveness was Corporal Radar O’Reilly of M.A.S.H. fame, who would process paperwork and take care of the camp’s business before the Colonel could issue the orders. As efficient as Radar was, he was the exception as opposed to the rule in the camp. The same is true in business.

Over the years I have met several Radar O’Reilly-types in the I.T. industry, most assuming clerical roles. In the past, they may have been secretaries, librarians, project administrators, or even systems analysts. The point is, they weren’t high on the totem pole, yet everyone in the department was acutely aware of their ability to overcome administrative obstacles, particularly the boss who understood the employee’s value and developed a dependence on it. It’s not that such employees possess any special knowledge, as much as they know how to conquer problems. In the process, they make themselves invaluable to the department, thereby guaranteeing job security.

From my perspective, there are three attributes that make up such a person:

1. They know their systems inside and out. Such insight, coupled with experience gives them the confidence they need to properly take action. They have either made all of the mistakes, and suffered the consequences from them, or are at least cognizant of the ramifications for making such mistakes.

2. They have an innate desire to please which is what motivates them. It seems they are trying to prove something to someone, particularly a superior, that they know how to do their job and make it look effortless.

3. They possess an empathy for human needs. Such people understand what it means to be frustrated by a problem and, as a result, they are quick to respond to people to either ease their pain or make them feel more comfortable. Bottom-line, they are caring people who are willing to extend a helping hand.

Years ago, when we were starting our company in Cincinnati, we needed to make a sales presentation to a company in Louisville. At the time, we used transparencies and needed a portable overhead transparency projector to take with us. Anticipating the need, we went through normal channels to order a 3M projector two weeks before the presentation. The sales rep assured us he could deliver it to us with plenty of time to spare. Days came and went until we were just two days before the presentation and we still had not received the projector. Our sales rep had fumbled the order and we were at a loss as to what to do. In desperation, we called the President of 3M in Minneapolis. His secretary answered the phone and explained the president was busy; was there something she could help us with? We explained our dilemma to which she replied, “Oh dear, I understand your problem, please leave it to me.”

The very next morning, just 24 hours before our presentation in Louisville, a delivery truck arrived with our precious projector. Frankly, we were overwhelmed how efficiently the secretary had solved our problem, which she made look simple. Being grateful, we wrote a letter to the president of 3M, thanking his secretary for solving our problem and complimented her on the professional manner in which she solved the problem. Realizing the secretary was probably charged with opening and organizing the president’s mail, we can only assume the letter ended up at the top of his stack.

It’s a special sort of person who possesses intuitiveness and, frankly, I’m not quite sure how to determine this during a job interview. Quite often, intuitiveness is nothing more than experience in disguise, but I tend to believe it goes beyond this and requires some specific human related factors such as empathy and a desire to please. Whatever it is, such people are to be cherished as they make life easier for the rest of us. It would be a big mistake to take such people for granted. In fact, you should probably do as we did with the 3M secretary, thank them.

First published: December 4, 2012

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 40 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 © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  WHY THE REPUBLICANS IN CONGRESS ARE BLOWING IT – They only have themselves to blame.

LAST TIME:  WHY WE GET PEEVED  – Probably because we haven’t been paying attention to the changes around us.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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

WHY WE GET PEEVED

Posted by Tim Bryce on September 29, 2017

BRYCE ON LIFE

– Probably because we haven’t been paying attention to the changes around us.

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

I was recently talking to a friend who was commenting on some of my pet peeves, many of which he could relate to. Inevitably, he asked me why the world was so screwed up today. I thought about this for quite some time afterwards and believe I finally have an answer; it has always been screwed up, we simply weren’t paying attention. Let me explain…

As we enter the work force, usually in our 20’s, we’re full of vim and vigor. We tend to tackle assignments brashly, some would say recklessly or impetuously. Because we want to make a name for ourselves, we tend to knock down obstacles in order to reach our goals and be rewarded. What we lack in knowledge and experience, we make up for in sheer energy.

In our 30’s we’re still energetic but we become smarter as we gain experience in what we do. As we enter our 40’s, we tend to slow down a bit but think of ourselves at the top of our game.

In our 50’s, we’ve become fully experienced in our profession and life, and from this we become acutely aware of our limitations. It is then when we begin to realize time has passed too quickly and we finally start to recognize the changes in the world. In other words, in our youth we were preoccupied with starting our lives; so much so, we were distracted and did not realize the world was changing around us. As we get older, we slow down and suddenly become cognizant of the changes and ask why things aren’t the same as they used to be in our youth.

Our world is a big and complicated place. So big, it is impossible to stay on top of all of the changes going on around us, even in spite of the 24/7 news media. Changes come at us from many directions: politics, science and technology, the arts, competition, fashion, customs, public opinion, social issues, international affairs, and a wide range of changing laws, rules and regulations. However, change is so slow, it is almost transparent to us and if we become distracted, as most of us do, we don’t recognize it. Only after a few decades do the changes become vividly clear to us and by then, it is usually too late to do anything about them as we should have been paying attention earlier on. Suddenly we realize people are acting and looking different, particularly the next generation, that social and moral norms are different, and the world has changed.

So why do we get “peeved”? I think it is simply because we have suddenly realized the world is different and the status quo is unlike what we remembered from our youth. And we don’t like it.

First published: October 23, 2009

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 40 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 © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  INTUITIVENESS, THE SIXTH SENSE – Some recognition for the Radar O’Reillys of the world.

LAST TIME:  WHY WE LISTEN TO RUSH & COMPANY  – Maybe because they are “right”?

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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

ROBO CALL HEADACHES

Posted by Tim Bryce on September 26, 2017

BRYCE ON LIFE

– Are they really necessary?

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

It seems I do not receive too many telephone calls from humans anymore. Rather, most are from computers (aka, “Robo Calls”) either soliciting something or informing me of the schedule of a maintenance worker. Like a lot of you, I am not immune to the absurd spam calls. One of my favorites is, “Stop what you’re doing and listen carefully…” Yea, like I’m going to drop everything and listen to some dolt trying to sell me something. I can usually hang-up on such calls within one second.

Health insurance companies use robo calls, as do travel agencies. Many companies just want to get you on the line so they can transfer you to someone in Tibet who reads a script to sell you something. I take pleasure in hanging up just as the person is getting on the line.

During political seasons, it is not uncommon to be bombarded by robo calls from various campaigns. My friends complain about it, but rarely do I get any. Maybe it’s because I’ve told them all to go where the sun doesn’t shine so many times, I’ve been blackballed by both Democrats and Republicans alike. Quite often, these political calls are soliciting donations for campaigns. To my way of thinking, they wouldn’t need more money if they simply stopped using this obnoxious form of communications.

Service companies like to use robo calls, such as for deliveries or to keep you abreast of when their people are going to be working at your home or office. For example, my lawn service, which applies fertilizer and pest control, dutifully calls me early in the week to let me know when an appointment is made. I then receive another reminder the day before. Interestingly, there is nothing for me to do or respond to, which makes me wonder why they don’t either send an e-mail or text message instead. Maybe they believe we need to be reassured by the soothing voice of a recorded message. Frankly, I find it to be a colossal waste of my time.

Following one of Florida’s legendary storms which knocked out power and cable, we naturally had trouble contacting both companies. We had to traverse voice mail jail and wait in queue a long time to talk to a representative who would only say their people were “assessing and evaluating” damage as opposed to fixing the outage. I became so frustrated with my cable operator I decided to switch companies again. As an aside, it seems I have to do this every two or three years.

My latest cable operator scheduled an appointment to install the service. From then on, robo calls took over. On the morning of the day when the technician was to arrive, I received my first call…

“This is Tampa Cable (fictitious company) calling to remind you that one of our technicians is scheduled to be at your home at (address) at …2 to 4pm… today. It will be necessary for someone with a photo ID to be present for work to be performed. We estimate this work should take no more than …1… hour.”

Okay, fine, I get the idea. However, at 1:00pm I received robo call number two:

“This is Tampa Cable calling to remind you that one of our technicians is scheduled to be at your home at (address) at …2 to 4pm… today. It will be necessary for someone with a photo ID to be present for work to be performed. We estimate this work should take no more than …1… hour.”

It didn’t end there though. My third and last call said:

“This is Tampa Cable calling to let you know your technician is on his way to your house at (address) and will be there in less than 30 minutes.”

Now they had crossed over the line of obnoxiousness. I realize they are trying to keep the customer informed and their technicians on time, but it occurred to me what would happen if something went wrong along the way thereby causing a delay. Maybe I would get a robo call like this:

“This is Tampa Cable calling to let you know your technician has been delayed. He ate a burrito supreme at the Clearwater Taco Shack at …1236 US-19… and has had to make a stop at a gas station at …1457 US-19… and will be delayed …15… minutes. We thank you for your patience in this matter.”

Frankly, I don’t need too many reminders. Just make the appointment and keep it. Simple, right?

The one sad thing about all this, robo calls are normally more articulate and understandable than the average customer service rep.

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 40 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 © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  WHY WE LISTEN TO RUSH & COMPANY – Maybe because they are “right”?

LAST TIME:  EASTER ISLAND STATUES  – “If the mind really is the finest computer, then there are a lot of people out there who need to be rebooted.” – Bryce’s Law

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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EASTER ISLAND STATUES

Posted by Tim Bryce on September 25, 2017

BRYCE ON LIFE

– “If the mind really is the finest computer, then there are a lot of people out there who need to be rebooted.” – Bryce’s Law

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To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Have you ever gone into a fast food franchise and felt you were being processed essentially no different than their product? I think we all have, and frankly I don’t like it. Let me give you a couple of examples.

First, I had a friend who recently visited a Taco Bell and placed an order that came to $3.17. He then paid the cashier with a $5 bill, but for some reason the cash register wasn’t working properly and couldn’t tell the cashier what the change was which, according to my scientific calculation, is a whopping $1.83. My friend waited patiently for his change, but noticed a strange blank look coming over the cashier’s face, kind of like the gaze of an Easter Island statue. After waiting a sufficient amount of time, he snapped the cashier out of her trance by simply asking, “Can I have my change?”

The clerk responded, “Ah, ah….,” as she looked like a deer caught in the headlights on an oncoming automobile. The food order itself was efficiently processed, bagged, and presented to my friend, but he grew impatient for his change. He insisted, “Miss, can I please have my change?” Her look now turned to fright as the machine steadfastly refused to tell her the correct amount.

“Look, it’s really quite simple,” my friend said, “You owe me $1.83.”

“Are you sure?” she responded.

This probably upset my friend more than anything. Instead of performing simple math, she was as locked up as her computerized register was, and the line of customers grew and grew behind my friend.

The next incident involved a recent visit I had to a KFC in Georgia. It had been several years since I had visited the home of the Colonel, and it will probably be several more years before I return. Probably the biggest thing commanding the consumer’s attention in the store is the impressively large menu board, with dozens of food combinations displayed on it. As for me, I just wanted six chicken wings, but couldn’t seem to find it in the menu maze. The only thing that came close to matching what I wanted was something called “Hot Wings.” Thinking this was it, I ordered it from the cashier who dutifully asked me what kind I wanted.

Innocently, I said, “original recipe,” thinking back to a time when there was only two types of KFC chicken, original recipe and extra crispy.

“No sir, what kind do you want?”

Unbeknownst to me, and not marked as such on the menu maze, there were three types of coating you get, probably some sort of honey glaze or different levels of heat, none of which I wanted.

I then said to the cashier, “No, I just want six original recipe chicken wings and that’s all.” Sounds simple, right? This caused the clerk to turn into another Easter Island statue as she was dumbfounded how to answer me. If it wasn’t on the menu maze or her cash register I guess you were SOL. The impasse was finally broken by the manager who said it would take too long to cook the wings and cost more than the regular “Hot Wings” which she recommended instead. Realizing a line of impatient customers was building behind me, I just threw up my hands and said, “Thank you, you’ve been a great audience,” and I exited stage left.

I learned quite a few things from all of this. First, you can, in fact, program people as easily as you can any machine. Simply create a dependency on technology and tightly control the parameters by which it works. In most cases, the human being will trust the machine’s judgment over their own. Second, deviation from the system is simply unacceptable. You can either take it or leave it, but you dare not ask to have it your way.

More than anything though, I learned that I won’t be returning to these franchises any time soon. Call me old fashioned if you want, but any time you put the machine ahead of the human being, I think you’ve got a problem.

First published: September 22, 2009

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 40 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 © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  ROBO CALL HEADACHES – Are they really necessary?

LAST TIME:  FUN WITH HAIR BLOWERS  – How to kill a few birds with one stone.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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FUN WITH HAIR BLOWERS

Posted by Tim Bryce on September 22, 2017

BRYCE ON LIFE

– How to kill a few birds with one stone.

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To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

During this time of the year, when tourists are flocking to Florida, traffic can be quite congested on our highways, not to mention fast. Although the posted speed limit is 45mph for the highway in front of our office, motorists frequently exceed the limit (loudly I might add). Like any local government these days, our county has to tighten its belts, particularly the sheriff’s office which has been experiencing budget cuts. Not surprising, they tend to overlook speeding in certain areas, such as in front of my office. So I took it upon myself to devise a cost effective way to slow traffic.

I tried an interesting experiment whereby I wondered if I could get cars to slow down simply by holding an old broken hair blower which people might confuse for a radar gun. To make myself look somewhat official, I wore a light blue Columbia fishing shirt and navy blue trousers. I then went out to the side of the road, and pointed the hair blower to on-coming traffic. Lo and behold, cars began to slow down as soon as they saw me. So far, so good, but I wanted to make sure it was the hair blower and not my clothing that caused the motorists to slow down. I next tried it wearing a red shirt and experienced the same success. I then tried it dressed in shorts; then in a loud tee shirt; with a baseball cap on; wearing sandals; and many other combinations. Again and again, the motorists slowed down the moment they saw the hair blower. Finally, I tried it with a stuffed dummy sitting in a lawn chair with the hair blower prominently displayed. I tilted the head down so the motorists couldn’t see the dummy’s face. Remarkably, despite the hair blower in plain sight, people paid no attention to the dummy and sped along unabated. From this, I concluded it was necessary to have a human being present in order to sell the deception.

As I was disassembling the dummy, a homeless man happened to approach me walking down the side of the road and solicited a handout. I asked if he would rather earn a few bucks instead of accepting charity. He replied he would be delighted to do so. I then asked him to sit by the road with the hair blower for which, in turn I would give him some money. He was a little scruffy looking but I thought it would be an interesting test. To his credit, he sat near the highway for approximately three hours and during that time I observed traffic did, indeed, slow down as I suspected it would. I paid the man who then went cheerfully on his way.

It occurred to me there were several such people like the homeless man who would be glad to render such a service, but instead of canvassing for such people, why not ask those who are receiving unemployment benefits or food stamps to perform such a service. Surely, that is the least they could do for all the benefits they are receiving. Imagine this; people sitting along the side of every road in the county holding broken hair blowers. What could be more cost effective to slow traffic? Now and then, the sheriff’s office could even randomly assign a real radar gun in the field to keep motorists honest.

Imagine –
Price of a broken hair blower: $0
Cost of unemployed person to slow down traffic: $0
Slowing down speeding traffic by welfare/food stamp recipients: Priceless

Wow, talk about killing a few birds with a single stone. All that is needed are a few broken hair blowers and a little common sense.

EPILOG

Since this article was produced, the concept has been picked up and used elsewhere around the globe. One specific instance was in Scotland where is proved highly effective in slowing traffic in a village.

First published: February 10, 2012

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 40 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 © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  EASTER ISLAND STATUES – “If the mind really is the finest computer, then there are a lot of people out there who need to be rebooted.” – Bryce’s Law

LAST TIME:  IS SOFTWARE HARD?  – “Systems are logical, programming is physical” – Bryce’s Law

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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

LESSONS LEARNED FROM IRMA

Posted by Tim Bryce on September 19, 2017

BRYCE ON LIFE

– A lot of the problems were our own doing.

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Well, we survived Irma… not just the hurricane, but a ratings hungry news media, power and gas outages, and lack of reliable news. Frankly, I’m surprised we still have a sense of humor. Contrary to what the media told us, Irma was not the most devastating hurricane to hit Florida “ever, ever.” Have we already forgotten Andrew of 1992 which wiped out Homestead and left thousands homeless? What about the legendary “No Name Storm” of 1993 which produced more debris, downed trees, boat damage, and power outages than Irma? Or 2004 where hurricanes Charley, Frances, and Ivan crisscrossed the state leaving a swath of destruction behind? Of the storms I have witnessed in Florida since 1985, I would place Irma a distant fourth.

So why all the hubbub? Hurricane Katrina in 2005 showed what a real hurricane could do to a grossly under prepared area. The public was also keenly aware of the destructive images recently coming out of Texas from Hurricane Harvey. Destruction and the possibility of death seems to have a way of unnerving the strongest of us.

What was different though between the Florida storms of the past and Irma? Irma shut down the state and created panic conditions, the others did not. Three important lessons emerged in its wake:

First, the news media used fear to prod the populace. Fear is a powerful motivating factor. Have you ever noticed how animals in the wild react when they smell the smoke of a wild fire? They all retreat from it in their own way, but can be coerced to stampede under the right conditions. The human animal does likewise. Most of us calmly and methodically prepared for the coming storm, but many panicked and stampeded out of the state. We see this same use of fear used by the media in political campaigns.

Pandemonium reigned on the Saturday before the arrival of Irma. You didn’t dare go out on the roads unless you absolutely had to. Tempers flared on the roadways and in long lines. People began to hoard more supplies than they really needed, booked hotel reservations up north which they never used, and there were accusations of price gouging.

All of this in the name of ratings.

The second lesson was the anger created from ghost town conditions. When the power went out, and the gas stations closed, a domino effect occurred. One-by-one, all of the stores, restaurants, car dealerships, and public service institutions closed their doors. Even the post office closed and refused to accept mail. The old adage of, “through snow, wind and hail…”, is now an obsolete notion. Basically, the area came to a standstill, something I have never seen in Tampa Bay in the 32 years I have lived here. There is something eerie about standing in an empty Home Depot parking lot with tumble weeds around you. Virtually all stores and malls were closed, with no gas or water to be found anywhere. Super markets looked like the food shortages of Venezuela. Frustration grew.

The power grid of Florida is obviously inadequate to serve the state. It is frail and barbaric, and led by people who prefer to react to situations as opposed to planning. Let me give you a small yet typical example; in my neighborhood alone, my house is on a circuit that always seems to be the first to lose power and the last to regain it. Due to the many pine trees in the area, they fall and snap the lines hanging from above. Obviously, they should have buried the lines long ago but refuse to do so, claiming the cost would be exorbitant. In reality, it would be cheaper in the long run to bury the lines and keep their paying customers on line. The point is, they are content putting their fingers in the dyke as opposed to permanently fixing the dyke. This is a classic example of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Immediately following the storm, there was a noticeable absence of power company trucks, cable operators, and county utilities helping to clear debris from the roadways and neighborhoods. The only group that appeared to know what they were doing was law enforcement who safeguarded our streets and maintained order. Everyone else was “evaluating and assessing damage” as opposed to getting the job done. Even now, days after the storm, many people are still without power and access to the outside world. Even if the service providers are working, their low visibility creates the impression they simply do not care about the public.

The loss of power and utilities caused many people, including yours truly, to become nomadic in search for a place to relax and breath air conditioning. Several thousand people sought refuge in public shelters, mostly under crowded conditions. All of this required patience to maintain sanity.

The third lesson of Irma was when the power went out, cable and the Internet died along with it. Cell phone tower coverage was spotty at best. All of this meant reliable information was limited. Even our local newspaper, the Tampa Bay Times, stopped deliveries. It was rather amusing to receive the Sunday paper on the following Tuesday. Why bother?

The one medium that got us through this period was AM/FM radio which provided news during the day, and entertainment at night. While it is being claimed AM/FM radio is obsolete technology and on its deathbed, they were the only ones there for the public 24/7. Thank God for AM/FM.

So Irma has passed Florida and gone into the history books. What was left in its wake was an incredible amount of angst caused by fear, anger, and the unknown. It was difficult even for the best of families, thereby creating high levels of stress. Aside from the laborious task of cleaning up their homes and restocking food supplies, Floridians need to regain their composure. This was a highly charged emotional roller-coaster we have been on for several days that left the populace burned out. All of this would be funny if it wasn’t so exhaustive. And we must remember hurricane season will not be over until November 30th.

Throughout this ordeal, we had several friends and family from the north pray for our safety, for which we give thanks. Next time though, I would ask them not to pray for us, but for some sort of sanity to deliver us from the madness of the media, power companies, and information blackouts.

The next time a storm like this occurs, I believe I will take a vacation to Las Vegas until it has blown over. I am confident my home will survive, but my personality will not.

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 40 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 © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  IS SOFTWARE HARD? – WEDNESDAY (SEPTEMBER 20, 2017) – “Systems are logical, programming is physical” – Bryce’s Law

LAST TIME:  THE OFFICE SHRINK  – Who fulfills the role in your organization?

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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