BLAINESWORLD #845

Section 4C

C. GREEN BEANS & ICE CREAM: THE REMARKABLE POWER OF POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT ( GreenBean Leadership Publications) by Bill Sims, Jr. points out that change can take place in your company and/or life–but only if you back it up with something; i.e., positive reinforcement .I was convinced of this with the author’s first example:* By the time I was a four-year old kid, I had already sampled green beans and concluded they weren’t for me. The strings might as well have been wood chips, the way they caught in my throat as I tried to get them down.

Mom was my boss, and I was her newest employee. We had a real labor/management crisis going on. She begged, cajoled, and pleaded. But I was determined not to eat those green beans.

So I crossed my arms, frowned, and pouted, figuring she’d give up and forget about green beans, as she always had in the past.

But this time, Mom had a secret weapon. Now, there was something else on the table besides that dreaded green scourge.

“Billy Joe, if you eat your green beans you can have some . . .”

You guessed it. “Ice cream!”

This sheer stoke of maternal genius changed my behavior forever. In a flash, I saw those green beans, not as an oppressive burden, but as a first-class ticket to that lovely ice cream.

Sure, Mom got what she wanted-a balanced diet for her four-year-old.

And I got ice cream.

Pretty cool.

(Thanks, Mom. You are the best!)

I’m not sure exactly when or how Mom pared back the ice cream, but somehow I came to terms with green beans and accepted them for what they are-pretty healthy and tasty by themselves (oh, Mom learned to buy stringless bean, and that didn’t hurt either).

Mom had learned how to change my behavior!

Unfortunately for me, my Mom never thought of this . . . and consequently, I never became much of a vegetable eater. Too bad.

But even if you don’t want to get children to like vegetables, this is a book that will get you thinking with virtually every tidbit; for example:

* One employee quit her job because: “When I make a mistake, my boss says something about it 100 percent of the time; when I work extra hard, he says nothing about it 99 percent of the time.”

I also liked the various techniques that were cited that have been used by many successful companies, including this one:

* At Hewlett Packard, a manager was thrilled with the work done by an employee. All he had was a banana in his lunch bag. He quickly handed the banana to his employee and the “Golden Banana Award” was born.

Was the banana motivating? Nope.

Did the manager’s sincere feedback and appreciation make a positive impact? Yes.

The banana became a symbol of that sincere appreciation. We humans need symbols, place-markers, to help us measure our progress through life.

GREEN BEANS & ICE CREAM is a book that I’ll be recommending not only to managers, but to parents, teachers, and virtually anybody else who wants to achieve different results than what they’ve been accustomed to getting.

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Section 4D

D. SHADOWBOSSES: GOVERNMENT UNIONS CONTROL AMERICA AND ROB TAXPAYERS BLIND (Hachette Audio) by Mallory Factor with Elizabeth Factor and read by Mallory Factor is not a book for everybody.
Many union members, in particular, will not like it.But nevertheless, the premise is an interesting one; i.e., that Shoadowbosses–the heads of the gigantic government employee unions that spend billions on politics to keep pro-union politicians in office–threaten our American way of life.

They are also paid quite well for their efforts:

* Many government employee union bosses, though, are the true 1 percent, living off the rest of us. Many union bosses receive salaries and benefits approaching or exceeding half a million dollars. Countless other union officials make generous salaries that are multiple times what their union members make. For example, at the national headquarters of America’s largest labor union, the National Education Association, over half of the employees make over $75,000 in salary a year, and thirty-one employees make over $200,000 in salary a year, not including generous benefit packages.

As to whether having Shadowbosses is good for the economy, Factor contends that’s not the case:

* Not coincidentally, states with the longest and strongest history of government employee unions are also the states with the worst bud- get crises. Of the ten states with the highest debt per capita in 2010, all of them are heavily unionized and none of them are right-to-work states. Congress has even heard testimony that identified government employee unions as a “major contributing factor-perhaps the major contributing factor” to our state and local budgetary crises.

The book then goes on to attack teachers and their unions:

* Let’s be honest-if you were to imagine an ideal K-12 program for the twenty-first century, would you select a nine-and-a-half-month program that breaks for ten weeks in the summer? Would you choose a 170- to 180-day school year, when America’s competitors have a school year of 220 days or more? Would you need to spend an average of nearly $11,000 a year per school child, not including the cost of school buildings and infrastructure? Would you build extensive infrastructure that is only used seven to eight hours a day, for only part of the year?

And the above comment points out one instance where I find fault with SHADWOBOSSES . . . schools are this way in both union and non-union states . . . and were set up that way long before unions ever became powerful . . . my belief is that there are few districts in the country who could afford want schools that ran all year round.

I also didn’t find the book very balanced, nor do I believe that every problem in this country is due to the fact that some strong unions have helped make life better for the average American worker.

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Section 8

In the Blink of an Eye
by Richardson Technology* on Monday, December 3, 2012

One minute your life, computer, and Facebook account were perfect . . . and in the blink of an eye… just a single click of your mouse… suddenly your computer–and it seems your whole life–have been tossed upon the raging seas!

You’ve got a warning screen that’s popped up on your screen and it won’t go away . . . and now one of your friends is calling your cell and asking what were you thinking when you posted all that weird stuff for everyone to see.  You can’t get to Facebook because that warning thing on your screen wants your credit card information and won’t close, no matter how many times you click on the “Cancel” button.One minute life is good, the next . . . you’ve got serious distractions!

You are reading this scenario, so it hasn’t happened to you yet.  First thing:  DON’T CLICK ON THE POP UP WARNING.  Take your hands off the keyboard and mouse.  If it doesn’t look like your anti-virus software, or it sort of looks like Windows but has all these colored, flashing, warning things that you’ve never seen in Windows before– Behold!  Social Engineering!–it’s an advertisement for downloading something really bad on your computer.

Another way it may present itself is an ad for some product, or video, or game… but when you click on it, you have to “agree” to view the content . . . it may be ok, or it may be a request to install malicious software on your computer.  Two different methods, same result: you get screwed, someone else gets a look at all your data, passwords, bank account numbers . . .If you can, don’t touch the warning on your screen.  Close all the other applications . . . save anything else you were working on . . . leave the browser window open . . . shut down your computer.  After shutting down all the way (important), start your computer up again and watch to see if anything unusual pops up… like that warning screen.

Even if nothing pops up, just know that when you open your browser again, the tab that you were looking at may spawn the warning popup again, because it’s going to point to the same location.  But let’s say after you reboot, all sorts of stuff is going on… and there is a security window you’ve never seen before telling you how infected you are and prompting you to get the full version ($49.99) so you can get things cleaned up.  This is the infection.  And your credit card information is the prize they are after.  Oh, and all your passwords too!If you’d like to read more about what to do when you get infected, see the article I’ve written on What to do when your computer starts acting erratic at:
http://richardsontech.net/when-your-computer-starts-acting-erratic-diy

If you want to be proactive, here are some programs, with free versions, that seem to do a good job (as of Dec. 2012):

Avast! antivirus
Malwarebytes
SuperAntiSpyware
Spybot Search and Destroy

And in the end, Windows always has a way to turn back the clock on your computer.  It’s called System Restore.  But be warned that some malicious programs are smart enough to infect or delete all the system restore points.  You should learn how to use system restore before you need it:
http://richardsontech.net/control-my-pc

The article has links for versions of Windows commonly in use today.

As soon as possible, after you realize you’ve been hacked (infected)… change your Facebook password.  Please use something other than one of the well known and published – 25 worst passwords of 2012.  That’s another story.

* Reprinted with the gracious permission of Jon Richardson. Jon is a website, social media coach, and network consultant to small business owners in Colorado: reach him at RTech451@gmail.com

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Section 11

My 1959 pick-up
by Roger Clark*

I’ve been cleaning out my apartment and I stumbled upon some old books and journals: Travels With Charlie by John Steinbeck and an old journal of mine from 1971 to 1980.

This little remembrance is about the way literature can influence and positively change a person’s life in a rewarding and edifying way. It is also about how friends can introduce one to a way of living without social constraints. This is also about learning to be free.

Between Junior High School and Graduation Day in 1967, I read tons of assigned novels, poems and literary tomes. Unlike many boys in my family and neighborhood, I learned to love reading. Grandma always said, “If you read, you can teach yourself anything.” She was right. And her house was filled with bookshelves and books. She was a great inspiration.

The teachers at Bucks County Community College (including Bruce Katsiff, Marlene Miller, Bob Dodge and Paul Keene) led me to another level of learning, and I took a super-charged possession of knowledge and ran with it. Additionally, I met fellow students with shared interests in art, literature and learning. Many of this group of guys were extremely talented, brilliant and very unique.  They came from the same blue collar working class environment I came from. They worked at Rohm & Hass Chemical Company, United States Steel, American Can Co., Atlas Fence MFG and related industries in our neighborhood.

These guys carried paper-back novels in the back pockets of their blue jeans! This impressed me in a way that still stands out as special. I do not recall the men in my family reading novels. My father and the men of his generation in my small world, were examples of manly men who battled in WWII. They didn’t read novels or poems. They filled their time with other activities like working around the house, teaching kids how to fish or throw a football or baseball. They hung out at the local tavern, or watching sports on TV. If they did read, it was the headlines or the sports section of the newspaper.

From my childhood perspective, reading seemed the realm of women. But my fellow college friends were a different breed of men. These were guys who were not ashamed to admit they LOVED reading! And they could be tough guys when they had to be, too. They were very unique, and they helped me become confident in my masculinity and be sensitive to the romance of the imagination without fear of being called a “sissy.” Better, yet, ignoring it if being called so by a neighborhood kid.

Many of these guys did some of the things I grew up with like hunting, fishing, working on cars, riding motorcycles and other cool things like camping, hiking, and boating on our local stream–the Delaware River!

When we discovered an author, we read everything he/she wrote. Reading became a social activity and while involved with the books, we would sit around at night drinking wine and beer, eating crackers and cheese, and we discussed the meaning of these books until three or four in the morning. This was a new and interesting kind of life, and I loved it!

Here is a short list of some of the authors we discussed as young aspiring thinkers: William Saroyan, Kurt Vonnegut, Ray Bradbury, Alan Ginsberg, J.D. Salinger, Willa Cather, Longfellow, Steinbeck, Laura Wilder,  Sartre, Nietzsche and the list goes on, and on and on . . .

Anyway, Steinbeck was and remains one of my favorite authors  Favorite titles include: Grapes of Wrath and Travels With Charley, The Red Pony, Tortilla Flat, In Dubious Battle and The Moon is Down.

I was 12 years young when Travels With Charley was published, and I remember overhearing my Grandmother talking about it. So I read it and was totally fascinated by the idea of taking a trip and writing about it. I was introduced to Travelogue or Outdoor literature, of which Robert Louis Stevenson was excellent. (Grandma had a copy of Travels With a Donkey in the Cevennes in her collection of books).

Travels With Charley stuck in my mind for the longest time. I always thought it would be fun to maybe do something like Steinbeck and his doggie some day. After completing college studies, in 1971,  I got a job as a substitute teacher in the Bristol Township Public School District. While working in this profession, I decided it would be challenging and educational to find a broken-down, abandoned motor vehicle and fix it up and bring it back to good running condition.  Saturdays and Sundays found me searching the junk yards in Lower Bucks County for the perfect vehicle.  One day, I was searching the auto scrap yard on Route # 413 in Bristol when the perfect vehicle jumped out and grabbed my attention. It reminded me of Steinbeck’s truck.

It was an older model, 1/2 ton, 1959 pick-up truck. When I saw the truck, lying upside down surrounded by junk vehicles, I wondered if it was the same make and model  of the pick-up I remembered reading about in Travels with Charlie? The truck in the junk yard looked like a giant beast with its paws reaching skyward and begging to have its belly scratched. I went to the owner to discover the condition of the motor and transmission and suspension system.

The owner said he would right the vehicle, replace all the fluids, put on tires and provide a battery and see if it was operable. He told me to return the next day. When I returned to the junk yard the next day,  the truck was waiting for me by the office. He gave me the key. and I started the engine.  The darn thing revved up. and I drove it around the junk yard. The gears shifted, the breaks worked, and it was drivable. The hoses, leaked, half of the dashboard gages didn’t work, the radiator hissed and spewed steam and most of the lights did not work, but to me this was the best truck in the world. The price was unbelievable, too! The owner of the yard, a man about 55 years old, told me a little story before he quoted the purchase price.

He said, “When I was kid growing up in Bristol, all the older teenage boys worked on junk cars they picked up in local yards like this one and other yards around here. Saturdays and Sundays were days to climb under and around the vehicles, fixing and repairing cars built in the 1920s and 1930s.  Friday and Saturday nights we would drive out of town and find a lonely stretch of road and have drag races with the jalopies.  Because I think it’s a good thing for you to do and because you’ll have years of enjoyment after the truck is on the road, I’m gonna give it to you for 50 bucks on the condition you bring it around here once and a while to let me see your progress.”

With that, I happily gave him the money and drove down the road with nuts and bolts flying every which way.

Two years later, my truck was painted red, all the dents and scratches gone and the motor hummed as well as it did  the day it rolled off the Detroit assembly line. (See the accompanying  photo taken the summer it was completed.)  For years afterward, I stopped at that junk yard to visit the owner and chat with him about cars. His son took over the yard. and the old man passed on. The place is still on Route #413, and I always get a good feeling when I drive by and look in and see the piles of old vehicles. He was a nice guy and he sure got a kick out young fellows like me interested in fixin’ up old jalopies.

At the end of the summer of 1976, the August of the Bicentennial of the USA, I packed my truck with camping gear and decided to do as Steinbeck had done 16 years earlier. I made plans to see America and learn more about the beauty of our vast nation. And so I headed west. . . . two months later, I decided to settle in a little town in the panhandle of Idaho and put down roots for a while. Moscow ended up being my home for nearly 4 years. I do have a journal from those days, and I have another picture of me with my truck at a campsite someplace on the way to Idaho that year. My life was totally altered from that experience.

From then onward, I would forever seek more from life, wander greater distances and want to experience everything this life offers.

Thank you Steinbeck and Charlie and a book about searching.

PS. By the way, I think Steinbeck’s car was a 1960 Chevy. Mine was a 1959 Ford F-100. Not exactly the same, but close. It’s the spirit of the thing that matters. Right?

* Reprinted with the gracious permission of Roger Clark. For more information about this talented artist, please click: http://www.theartfulroger.net
  

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2 Responses to BLAINESWORLD #845

  1. Patty says:

    I like your work.We kind of have the same interests. I have paintings that I have done over the years and an old 52 GMC pickup. Had to put this all on hold over the years to raise my family and to hold a job. Good work Roger 🙂

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