Saturday, November 8, 2008

Wisdom at Waffle House

I met a man last weekend who gave me some unsolicited advice but I haven't been able to shake it. He was a working man in blue coveralls with his name embroidered on the pocket. He was an older, local fellow with some teeth missing and askew. 

He noticed me waiting for a table and stopped to comment on my children. He mentioned that he had raised 3 girls in his lifetime. And then proceeded to give me some advice. I leave you with his own words as best as I can remember them: "People say raising girls is harder than boys, but I say it's easy. You just gotta be right there for them when they need Daddy. When I'm at work and I get a call from home, I just close up my tool box and head on home. My friends ask me, 'Don't you have a job?' but I tell'em my wife has 3 kids to raise and she can't do it alone." 

I've reflected on his words all week and they strike a chord within me. You can find morsels of wisdom anywhere you go.

Friday, May 2, 2008


At work we have a LATE CAMERA. It is a web cam that sits near the front door. From 8:31 a.m. until 9:00 a.m. any motion triggers it to snap a picture with a time stamp and then e-mail that to everyone in the company.

My Lame Excuse: I forgot that I needed gas and left the house just in time to get to work. I only pumped 2 gallons but even that made me 3 minutes late. Doesn't everyone have a lame excuse for being late?

There is a problem when people are later than 9:00, but we can't extend the time because the productive people are going back out the door. Also, some folks have tried to sneak in the back door.

An issue that I struggle with is that some of the people who are habitually late, stay late and are the most productive (aka profitable) people. Others not. Some of my early people leave before quitting time.

As an employer, I'm not sure if I should look at tardiness as a personal discipline issue or rather allow people to play to their natural rhythms and work when they are most productive.

Your comments welcome. Are you a late person or early person? Why?

Monday, April 21, 2008

The 2lb Double Face Sledge Hammer

I was feeling sort of down. My rental house that, until just a few weeks ago, had been occupied by a "family" was vacant. The tenants moved back to their home country and left $16,000 worth of damage to the house. (Apparently the phrase single-family home in English doesn't translate to the same thing in other languages.)

I left early Saturday morning, just after breakfast and protests from all of my children to try my hand at some repairs. The list is long and just reviewing it makes me unsettled.

After some bone jarring gravel shoveling on the driveway to try to smooth out the ruts, I started removing all the carpet. My hands were blistered and cramped up. I could hardly open them. I was beginning to get in a really foul mood.

But then it happened.

I was getting a knife from the toolbox and when I lifted the top tray, I saw it down in the bottom. There it was, beckoning like some sort of Tool Time Excalibur. It had been hiding down there, just adding dead weight but at that moment it was clamoring to be wielded by an angry soul.

The 2 LB Double Faced Sledge Hammer.

With fervor, I obliged.

First to go was the makeshift door frame they had installed to close off the family room in order to make it another bedroom.

Next was the makeshift closet in the same room.
And finally, the downstairs shower, damaged by the upstairs shower being used without a curtain, was the last resister.

I came down full force on the tiles. Crack. They easily busted into dozens of pieces. It was almost too easy. Then I hit it. The big block in the center. It was solid brick covered in steel reinforced concrete. A worthy adversary.

With every blow, the block barrier gave small but satisfying results. Chips and flecks, chunks and steel mesh loosening and crumbling. The sound in the small shower enclosure was deafening.

My ears were ringing but I couldn't stop until the whole thing lay in a heap of rubble on the floor.


  • 16" Length

  • Double face

  • Polished face

  • Hickory handle

  • Forged steel head

  • Used for general sledging operations in staking wood, concrete, metal and stone

  • Common uses are drifting timbers and striking spikes, star drills, hardened nails and home security

  • No toolbox complete without one

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Trilding

Trilding [tril-ding] -noun
1. a relatively permanent enclosed construction around any of various forms of vehicle for carrying goods and materials, usually consisting of a single, no longer functioning self-propelled unit, used for any of a wide variety of activities, as living, entertaining, or manufacturing while having a roof and usually windows.
2. South Georgia storage shed

3. The 8th wonder of Modern Day Redneck Construction

It's okay. Go ahead and click on the photo for an enlargement. I'll wait. Yes, you are seeing correctly. They backed the truck up, salvaged the wheels and bricked it in.

I saw this very unusual building addition on a previous trip to Statesboro. I was determined to hunt it down and get a picture this trip because I didn't think anyone would believe me. The picture speaks for itself.

After taking the picture, I wondered, "what type of establishment is this anyway?"

Well if you must know, it's Gnat's Landing. Seems to be quite popular with the locals.

Tonight: Barefoot Booyak

Friday: Do Good DJ's

Saturday: Triple Shock

Anyone know of other trildings? Post a link to a photo.

I Frequent "The Beaver House"

Anytime I get south of Macon, GA (some call it the gnat line) I start looking for South GA Sweet Tea. It's thick like syrup and served ice cold. I usually drink about 6 glasses in a sitting, the first one before the waitress leaves the table.

My company has a client in Statesboro, GA. We find ourselves down there about 2 times a year.

A couple of years ago I was down there with Mike Cowan, a graduate of GA Southern, and he introduced me to the Beaver House. Back in his day they served a meal plan for college students and they didn't keep track of how many times you had eaten during the week. Needless to say, Mike did not go hungry while in college.

These days he has quite a devotion to the place. I'm not sure if it's because the food is so good or just plain guilt from his former life, but I can't go down there with Mike and not eat at the Beaver House. He says, "I wake up at night in a cold sweat thinking about their fried chicken. I love that chicken."

Now that's all well and good until we get into a monthly financial review at the office and my other partners see charges on the company Amex for The Beaver House. Of course they are thinking what you were thinking when you read the heading of this post. (Which is probably the only reason you're reading this.)

So just to prove it's not some seedy truck stop off I-85 South, here is The Beaver House.

The sign inside says, "Seconds are a compliment. Thirds will cost you $1.00."

I recommend the sweet tea; Mike, the fried chicken.

Make sure you get your Prom reservations in on time.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Use is Ownership

I have a good friend, Steve Marto, who coined the phrase back in high school that "Use is Ownership". That phrase originated from the fact that we liked to go fishing but we had no boat and no pond. There was a guy that we knew who gave us complete access to his pond and his row boat. At first we would knock on his door and ask. Eventually he said, "Guys, you don't have to ask, just go and use."

That day Steve said, "We own a pond with a boat." To a couple of kids who liked to fish, this was heaven!

Now you've probably had someone offer something to you and it sounded sincere but you knew in your heart that there were limits. You know what I'm talking about. Phrases like "Come over anytime." and "Mi Casa es tu casa." What they really meant was, "You are an honored GUEST in our home."

My parents are magnificent people and they understand this concept. They've been blessed in this life with a cabin up in the mountains. It's in a gated community. They tell us to "come up anytime" and they mean it. I've had a key since the day they bought the place.

The gate has a "clicker". Well they not only gave me a key but also a clicker.
The clicker is important because when you get to the gate, if you don't have a clicker you have to check in with the guard who is an off duty sheriff. Now the guard is always affable, but when you come up to the gate and he has to come out of his warm little security hut, he takes on this authority role and challenges you as to why you are there. You have to go through this rig amoral about who you are and who you are visiting. You are a guest. "Hey I'm Lauren and Fran Buckland's son. I'm here to VISIT my parents." I'm a guest.

But when you have the clicker, you roll up fat, click the gate open and experience a guard with a different attitude. He knows one of his "employers" is coming through. He tips his hat, waves and smiles.

There have been a couple of occasions through the years when they changed the gate electronics and I needed a new clicker. In the times that we visit before receiving the new clicker, I'm relegated back to guest status and I hate it. Really I quit going because I can't stand to be confronted by the guard. (Do I have a problem with authority or what?) This happened recently and last fall my mom finally gave me a new clicker. I felt like, NOW I really can come up anytime.

A few weeks ago I was challenged by my devotional. It asked, "Is Jesus an honored guest at your house, in your heart, or is he an owner?" The question struck a cord with me as I considered this guest/owner dichotomy.

Revelation 3:20 says, “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends."

This is a good beginning for a relationship but at this point in my life I would rather just give Him not only a key but also a clicker so he doesn't have to continue to stand and knock every time. I don't want to be the gate guard, charged with weighing if I'm going to let Him in this time or not.

Jesus, you don't have to ask, just come and use. Like Mary says in Luke 1:38, "be it unto me according to thy word."


Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Pen

Recently a good friend of mine gave me a pen as a gift. I call him a good friend because he instinctively knew that I would love this pen. It was not on my Amazon gift list nor am I known as a pen collector. However, I am an aficionado of fine pens. I humbly accept this label after some deep introspection and a review of my pen purchases over the years.

It is a Fisher Space Pen, black bullet style with a clip. The Space Pen is the kind that writes upside down and that the NASA astronauts have used since 1969.
The pen measures about 3½” closed but opens to a full sized 5½” writing implement when the cap is placed on the back end. It fits unobtrusively in my pants pocket, has the weight and feel I like when writing and the ink always flows onto the paper from the first point I set the tip on without blobbing up like a cheap Bic.

If you are a Seinfeld fan, you’ll remember fondly Season 3 Episode 5 which is about a space pen that after reluctantly accepting the pen, Jerry returns because he realizes the gift offer was disingenuous.

A fine pen does not have to be expensive. It has to inspire you to write and flow the ink well when you do. It has to fit your hand both in size and weight. With the right pen in your pocket, you look forward to signing your name and would never dream of using the public string attached teller pen, even if it takes a couple of more seconds to produce your personal writing instrument.

My appreciation for pens comes from my father. In his early years he always had a nice desk pen set with both a ball point and a fountain pen. I was welcome to use the ball point. But no one was allowed to use the fountain pen because he said the nib gets used to the particular angle at which each writer holds the pen and another user can ruin the pen. That’s when I learned that pens are personal. He was right.

He was also a fan of the Pilot Razor Point. He taught me that a good pen lets the ink flow and does not require pressure on the paper. I can still remember him coaching me and my sister, “don’t press so hard or you’ll ruin the tip.”

I’ll tell you how I came to own my Mont Blanc Meisterst├╝ck.

I had always admired the Mont Blanc and wanted one for years. I was signing a contract at a local gym. (oh, they got you too?) The owner handed me his Mont Blanc to fill out the forms and when I was just about finished, he left his office. I waited for about 10 minutes and then left the pen and the signed contract on his desk.

He later called me to ask if I had “inadvertently” kept his special pen. I didn’t want him to suspect me so I went and bought him a new one and presented it in the box saying I was sorry I left his pen unattended. (Yes I also deal with a guilty conscience.) To my astonishment, he had either found his or already replaced it and refused my gift.

I decided to keep it but I rarely use it. Really it is a little light for my taste and I don’t like to pull it out because everyone knows the Mont Blanc symbol and it’s too flashy and nouveau riche.
Three other pens I own and like are:

A Cross Tablet pen my wonderful wife gave me on my first Father’s Day. Just because you go paperless does not mean you have to give up style and comfort. (Does not work with my new Dell XT but I blame Dell for their egregious design flaw. It might be reason enough to return to Toshiba. Anyone interested in a gently used XT?)

My hand-turned wooden pen I purchased at the Apple Festival in Ellijay, GA several years ago.

The Zebra F-301. I love the feel of the steel and it has a good weight for an “office supply” I can get my company to purchase.
Although not written with the space pen, but rather inspired by it, I close my first blog post. For unwittingly exhorting me to write again, I thank you my friend.