A City Divided

We Are Enterprise“A house divided against itself cannot stand.” I have heard that quoted at least twice in the last two weeks the Enterprise City School Board meeting on June 25, 2013 and again at the Enterprise City Council meeting on July 2, 2013 regarding the divided house that is now Enterprise, Alabama, a city divided.

That is a reference to a scripture verse and a quote from a speech by Abraham Lincoln. In Mark 3:25 in the English Standard Version Jesus says, “And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.” The speech by Abraham Lincoln was given on June 16, 1858 at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, IL upon acceptance of the Republican nomination for that state’s U.S. Senator when he said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

Begging is not productive

I have also heard the mayor of Enterprise begging at both meetings for the citizens of Enterprise to come together and, for some reason I am yet to understand, magically start to trust members of the school board whom many believe have not dealt honestly, fairly, or even legally with the former Superintendent of Enterprise City Schools as well as the people of Enterprise.

Rumors, Accusations

Many accusations and rumors have circulated around Enterprise regarding this situation. I know people involved on both sides of the issue, went to school with some of them, go to church with some of them. Some were my teachers or administrators when I was in school here many years ago. Those rumors and accusations will continue to circulate and grow I suspect until these issues are addressed and resolved. It would do me or anyone else no good to repeat those here so I will refrain from doing so. When I do add my comments within this section they will look like this.

I believe the facts do bring up some interesting and pretty obvious questions.  Until these questions are answered satisfactorily for the citizens of Enterprise in some of these meetings, or, if need be, in a court of law, the city will remain divided. When there is as much distrust between one group of people and those that are charged with making decisions in their best interest as there is here now a change has to occur to start down the road of rebuilding the trust that has been lost.

Facts

What I would like to provide first are the facts that are undisputed and then what I believe needs to be done for the city of Enterprise to have any chance at coming together and moving forward. You can see the minutes of these meetings at the Board of Education’s web site and videos at Southeast Sun’s YouTube channel.

May 28, 2013 School Board Meeting

In the May 28, 2013 school board meeting the results of a an evaluation by Dr. James Wright with Professional Services, LLC on the performance of Dr. Milner, the now former Superintendent of Enterprise City Schools. Dr. Wright said this was one of the strongest evaluation results he had seen. He said these strong results were an indication of Dr. Milner’s ability and efforts to work with the board.

June 18, 2013

Dr. Milner resigned as Superintendent of Enterprise City Schools and gave a 30 day notice in an email to the school board.

June 19, 2013 Special Called Board Meeting

School Board Vice President Joe Paul Stewart and School Board attorney J. P. Sawyer resigned. Ross Cotter was elected President of the School Board and Gloria Jones vice president by acclamation as no second to the nominations were given.

June 25, 2013 School Board Meeting

I attended this meeting along with several hundred other local citizens and news media. What I learned at this meeting from at least two of the existing board members if we, the citizens, had been at prior meetings then we would not have the situation we have now.

What this says to me is they believe they need to be watched and monitored so they do not make unwise or even illegal decisions. I can remember a time when the people chosen to serve in the capacity of school board member were expected to be of good character and to make wise decisions whether anyone was there to watch them or not.

Several former school teachers, administrators and citizens spoke at the meeting and members Cotter, Jones and Brown were asked to resign, which did receive much applause unlike when the mayor spoke and there was silence.

What I also noticed at this meeting is the board members were asked specific and direct questions and chose to not answer many of them. This would have been an opportunity for them to respond and try to set the record straight from their perspective but choosing not to do so says something altogether different. 

July 2, 2013 City Council Meeting

I also attended this meeting, which was standing room only, but the room is much smaller than the one used for the school board meetings. Local news media was in attendance at this meeting as well. The mayor covered the agreement made between the city and the school board that is one of the areas of concern for the citizens and school system. The agreement was made and approved by both the city council and school board so it does exist. The disposition of that agreement and what will happen when the $550,000 payments are supposed to start in 2016 does appear to be in the hands of the city. They do claim they will review the agreement and economic condition of the city and the school system at that time and determine if the payments will be required or not.

There were also statements made by the city attorney, Rainer Cotter, who is the son of the current President of the School Board, Ross Cotter, Joe Paul Stewart, former School Board Vice-President, Perry Vickers, former principal of Dauphin Junior High, and Dr. Jim Reese, former Superintendent of Schools.

My Questions

The summary above is just that, a summary, and is not intended to be all-inclusive. I do believe there is enough information provided for anyone to be read-in on the situation and able to form their own opinions on these events. Here are some questions that seem rather obvious to me and remain unanswered.

1) What happened to cause the Superintendent of Schools, who was well respected in Enterprise and just rated one of the best in the state of Alabama, the School Board Vice President and the School Board attorney to all resign within 16 hours? Did they all just decide it was time for a change  coincidentally at the same time or was something else going on to cause these mass resignations?

2) Since it is the belief of many in Enterprise the three members of the school board asked to resign in the June 25th meeting were planning to vote to fire the superintendent and not accept his resignation, how can this same group of people be expected to select a qualified candidate as the new superintendent? How can anyone they select not be seen as just a figurehead? I don’t believe they can. Why would anyone want to be hired into this situation?

3) Could there be a conflict of interest in any discussions between the school board and city council regarding the disposition of $32,000,000 since the school board members are appointed by the city council?

4) Would it be better for all concerned if the school board members were elected?

 My Suggestions

My suggestion as to what has to be done for any healing, coming together or moving forward to occur in Enterprise is for Mr. Cotter to resign his position as school board member. It would be better if we started with a clean slate of board members and members Brown and Jones were to resign as well. If they do really want to do what is best for the Enterprise City School System and the city of Enterprise that is what they would do.

As I mentioned earlier, the begging for us to come together and move forward and repeating the “house divided” quote without any changes is not working and will not work. There need to be changes made to show the citizens of Enterprise there is a reason for us to believe we can come together and move forward. There is no trust to build on now between the citizens of Enterprise and the School Board.

This would allow new members to be appointed (still not the best way to do this in my opinion – see question 4 above) to join the two members recently added and then some level of trust can be restored and the city can begin to heal, come together and move forward. If they choose not to do this and believe they can serve with any support from the citizens of Enterprise I believe this is a gross miscalculation on their part and just shows their resolve to hold on to their position or power and will confirm the accusations many have made. They would not have to admit they have done anything wrong, which they may not have, and just state they are doing this for the good of the school system and the city of Enterprise. This, however, would be doing something right.

With the current system of school board members being appointed by the City Council there does need to be some way the citizens can have input as to who these appointees are. If not, we could be back in the same situation again.

What are your thoughts? Please click the ‘Leave a reply’ link under the title of the post above.

Until next time…

Originally posted on Peculiar Perspective on 7/05/2013

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Disney…Is it worth the cost?

Have you ever bought anything and then had “buyer’s remorse”, wishing you hadn’t bought it or that you had waited to make your buying decision? I know I have. However, I have learned over the years as I get older and hopefully wiser, at least in some areas, that if you wait for some period of time, whether that is a day, a week, a month or longer, you often find that item you were about to exchange your hard-earned dollars for is not something you really have to have. Often, your “I have to have that” mindset changes to “I might get that later” or “I will wait until it goes on sale” or “I really don’t want to spend my money on that” to “I found something else I want more.”

Items differ, desires are more common

We all have desires or wants for things we do not have at times. We could see an ad on TV or on the internet for the latest cell phone, newest iPad, golf club, pocket hose, latest diet fad, or bass-o-matic blender. We are the most marketed to generation that has ever existed on planet earth and these marketers are good at what they do.

Disney is one of the best in the world

The Walt Disney Company is one of the best marketing organizations in the world. They are very good at determining what their customers or guests want and then providing that product or service  in a manner that is second to  none. Walt Disney World, in my opinion, is the crown jewel of the Disney Empire. If you have ever visited Walt Disney World then you know that a pass to enter any of the parks there is not inexpensive, especially if you are taking a family of 6, which is what we often did. You do pay a premium price for a premium entertainment experience.

We have visited Walt Disney World too many times to count. We did live in Florida for nine years and had Florida Resident annual passes which allowed us to go multiple times a year. Our oldest daughter went before she was born, when my wife was pregnant with her. We got her a Mickey Mouse plush doll  she still has today. She turns 26 next month.

27 years and no buyer’s remorse

In all the trips we have made to The Magic Kingdom over the past 27 years, I have never once had a feeling of not getting our money’s worth. There are not many places I know of which that statement could be applied to and be true. We have spent a lot of money there, too much of that to count as well. You cannot put a price on the first time your children see Mickey and Minnie, Chip and Dale, Cinderella in her castle or Goofy, although he was kind of scary at first because of his size.

Magical Place, Where Dreams Do Come True

It really is a magical place and not just for the kids. That was part of Walt Disney’s goal – to make entertainment enjoyable for kids and for the kid in all of us adults too.

Regarding Disneyland, Walt Disney said, “I felt there should be something built where the parents and the children could have fun together.” He succeeded in building that place and his dream of Walt Disney World was honored and completed with Roy’s leadership, who died just two months after it was opened.

It is a magical place for me too. I have always been amazed, first at the art of animation that started with Roy and Walt Disney when they started the company in 1923, to the magic of Disneyland and  Walt Disney World and the feeling I get when I step inside the gates. I really am transported to a different world. I can leave the “real world” behind for a few hours and enjoy time with my family and the magic created there. That is priceless and hard for anyone who hasn’t been there, and even some who have, to understand.

I guess some of that magic has rubbed off on our children as they still love to go whenever possible and our oldest daughter, mentioned above, is now a cast member. My family surprised me with a trip they had planned for us to celebrate my 50th birthday in 2011. It was the best gift ever.

The Family - My 50th Birthday Trip
The Family – My 50th Birthday Trip

 

Me, Roy and Minnie - New Year's Eve Eve 2011
Me, Roy and Minnie – New Year’s Eve Eve 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In retrospect, I do wish I would have been wiser in how we paid for many of those trips and not resorted to the “American way” of putting it on a credit card and paying for it later but I still would not take back or undo any of those trips because they are such a big part of our lives and memories…good memories.

No Regrets

What I am trying to say is I have never left Walt Disney World with any regrets or buyer’s remorse for the dollars we have spent. My only regret when we leave is that we are leaving. We are often trying to plan our next trip on the way home.

This is not meant to be an advertisement for Walt Disney World but it is an endorsement. If you have never been then I do recommend you go if at all possible. Some people actually do not like it. I really cannot understand that but it is true. My purpose in writing this is just to try to give you a sense of my love for the place, respect for the men who created it, and fascination for the history  of how it all came to be.

As for the history, I have read several biographies of Walt Disney and have one on Roy Disney on my bookshelf now to read as well. I am actually in the midst of reading Walt Disney by Neal Gabler now. Since this is one of my interests, some would say obsession, I expect you will see more blogs about Walt, Roy, the history of Disney, lessons I have learned from studying their lives, and some of the new developments there too.

The reason I hold these men and this place in such high esteem is what they have meant to our family. I also believe there are many lessons to learn by studying more about successful people and how they became successful and I obviously believe there are many lessons we can learn from the Disneys.

Imagination, Perseverance, Innovation, Attention to Detail, Pursuit of Excellence, Love of Country

I am fascinated and amazed by the imagination, perseverance, innovation, attention to detail, and constant pursuit of excellence exhibited by the Disney brothers. Those are qualities that will serve anyone well in whatever they do. We all benefit from their successes and failures today. They changed their generation and continue to impact our culture today, 40+ years since they both died.

Since it almost July 4th I am also reminded that Walt Disney had a great love of country that is on display throughout his life and career that continues to be displayed by The Disney Company today. “And actually, if you could see close in my eyes,” Walt Disney said, “the American flag is waving in both of them, and up my spine is growing this red, white, and blue stripe.”

Regarding The Disney Company Walt Disney is quoted as saying “It was all started by a mouse.” Regarding movies, he said, “I do not make films primarily for children. I make them for the child in all  of us, whether we be six or sixty.” As I am much closer to 60 now than 6 I hope that my ‘inner child’ does not disappear when I do reach sixty.

Regarding Disneyland, from which Walt Disney World and the other Disney Parks around the world originated, he said, “It all started from a daddy with two daughters wondering where he could take them where he could have a little fun with them, too.”

As for this daddy, with three daughters and a son, and now a son-in-law too, I am thankful that we can enjoy the realization of “One Man’s Dream”. We are forever in Walt and Roy Disney’s debt because the fun and memories we have made and now share are priceless to us so, yes, it has been well worth the cost for us.

Whenever I see Mickey Mouse or Walt Disney or the entrance to Walt Disney World or Cinderella’s Castle or the train station something is triggered in my brain that causes me to smile and think of the many good times shared there with my family. For that I am very thankful.

Here is one last picture, for now anyway, of Walt watching over the Magic Kingdom.

Walt watching over the Magic Kingdom
Walt watching over the Magic Kingdom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have a magical day!

Until next time…

Originally posted on Peculiar Perspective on 6/30/2013

You do really care and it does matter

question-markWe are in the car, ready to go eat and the question is asked, “Where do you want to go? What do you want to eat?” Ever been there?

Does this sound familiar to you?

If you have and your family is anything like mine you will hear the following answers. “I don’t care” and “It doesn’t matter to me.”

If you are anything like me, and believe words mean things, then you are thinking to yourself, well ok, then I get to choose so you start naming options and, just to see if it does really matter and if anyone does really care you say, “How about McDonald’s?”

(McDonald’s is never our first choice but when on the road you make choices of convenience sometimes and it is often used to make a point as in this situation.)

From somewhere in the back of the care you hear, “No. I don’t like McDonald’s.” or “Anywhere but McDonald’s.”

Not McDonald’s

I  know for our family McDonald’s will not be in the mix for sometime since two of us got food poisoning from a McDonald’s on the way to our vacation beach destination a couple of years ago allowing us to “enjoy” an ambulance ride and spend some quality time in the Savannah Memorial Hospital, and the rest of our vacation in bed, but that is another story for another day.

Back to the subject

So, naturally, my response is “So you do really care and it does matter.” Has that ever happened in your family?

It is not a big deal, just curious to know if it is just me and our family or if this is a common occurrence that happens around the world.

I have been guilty of the “I don’t care” answer myself when I know I really do. Why do we do that and not really say what we mean? Is it a family version of political correctness or just the family members being considerate of other family members and allowing someone else to make the choice or decision?

I don’t know.

What do you think?

Until next time…

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Adult? Language

Adult? LanguageI must have missed the memo so can someone tell me when what once was, and still is for me, vulgar and even obscene language evolved to become adult language?

I am an adult too

I have been an adult for many years myself and I choose to not use what is now commonly categorized as adult language. Does that mean I no longer qualify to be an adult? Am I being childish?

Since I have chosen to publish this blog I guess I am wondering if there is anyone else out there who feels the same way I do or am I just really peculiar or weird or the exception to the rule. I don’t mind being an exception and actually make an effort in this direction most of the time but things like this that just become “normal” and accepted because everyone is doing it often cause me to think…and sometimes write.

Offensive to me

I find it offensive. I am not talking about the language that is now supposedly “adult” but the implication by that label that all or most adults speak that way so it must now be called “adult language.” I do not accept that premise and believe it is rather childish and shows a lack of vocabulary or a choice to not use their vocabulary by the speaker.

I do understand that being offended is my choice as it is for anyone and is based on their beliefs and understanding. Like most things in life there are exceptions to this when someone is making a conscious effort to offend someone but that is not what I am talking about here.

I have no problem with the people who choose to use this “adult language” other than just my general dislike of the language.  Until the freedom of speech is taken away from us, we all do still have free speech in this country. Everyone has the right to use the language they choose to use. That doesn’t mean I have to like the language anyone else uses or they have to like the words I choose to use. As long as we are not harming, threatening harm, or impeding on any of our other God-given rights we are still free to choose.

On a side note, this freedom, along with many of our other freedoms, are being eroded every day but that is another subject for another day.

The type of language anyone uses is still a choice that any individual can and does make every day.

Repetition does not make it so…or does it?

I find it offensive that language that was once vulgar and uncommon as everyday language has now become categorized and accepted as “adult”. I am an adult and that label offends me as it should any other adult who shares my perspective. According to Merriam-Webster adult means “fully developed and mature”. It does go on to say “dealing with explicitly sexual material” and uses adult book stores and adult movies as examples. I do understand that words in use do become colloquialized and evolve to have new meanings. Google was once just a noun, a name of a search engine, and now it is a verb too. Google it if you don’t believe me.

I guess I am just old-fashioned but I believe that many adult movies and adult books do not contain explicitly sexual material so is categorizing them as adult, in the same group as those that do contain explicitly sexual material really the best description or the best use of the language?

Confused

I was registering for a bulletin board site just yesterday and part of the rules for this board stated, “By agreeing to these rules, you warrant that you will not post any messages that are obscene, vulgar, sexually-oriented, hateful, threatening, or otherwise violative of any laws.”

Why didn’t they just say, “Do not use ‘adult’ language.”? I am confused.

Questions

I don’t propose to have any or all “the” answers but I do have a lot of questions and this is just one of many. This is nothing new for me. I get these questions in my head all the time. I am just writing some of them down now. My hope is that some of these questions might make you, the reader, think or look at a subject from a different perspective too. Another hope is that I can learn something new too as there is always more to learn.

Any Thoughts?

If you have a thought on the subject I would love to hear it. Let me know in the comments. Please do use adult language in your comments and do not post any messages that are obscene, vulgar, sexually-oriented, hateful, or threatening. While freedom of speech is still allowed in our country it is up to the blogger as to what is allowed on his or her site and if you have read this far you know what that means for this blog.

Until next time…

If you like what you read here or just want to see what comes out of my warped mind enter your email address in the sidebar on the left and subscribe. This is the only way to ensure you will be notified immediately whenever a new post is published.

Awesome!

That word is often used to describe everything from your most recent meal to the creator of the universe. That covers a lot of ground.

I have had issues with using that word for some time ever since hearing the song “Awesome God” written and released first by Rich Mullins and then covered or released by every other contemporary Christian artist on the planet, or at least it seemed that way.

Here is the issue as I viewed it. Continue reading Awesome!

The Masters…A Tradition Now Like Many Others

Whether you are a golfer or golf fan if you watch TV in March and early April every year you have probably seen commercial for The Masters, the first of the 4 major professional golf tournaments every year hosted and played at The Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. The tag line CBS uses for these ads is, “The Masters, a tradition unlike any other.”

Golf, A Game Like No Other

I have been a golfer and continue to be a fan of golf, the game and many of those who play it. I marvel at the skills they display and the game of golf itself is like no other. The tournaments are contested on different courses each week and the professional golfers depend on their own skills, work ethic, character, and mental toughness. Golfers pay close attention to the rules of the game and often call penalties on themselves even when no one else might have seen the infraction. They also hold their playing partners to the highest standard and can call attention to a rule infraction by their playing partners in order to protect the field. All of these factors determine how successful any golfer is or is not on the PGA Tour. Those are some of the primary reasons I love the game, the golfer is dependent on himself for success or failure and himself or herself alone and the character normally displayed is not common any more in today’s society.

A Tradition For Me

The Masters every April has always been my favorite tournament of the year and it has been a tradition for me to watch The Masters on Sunday afternoon every year for the past 40 years. I have not missed very many. Ask my family. Our children have grown up watching it and we have been there to practice rounds a couple of times. Augusta National is a beautiful place, one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. Look back at Abstract or just a different perspective? if you want to see more thoughts on Augusta National.

That is another reason I love golf. It is played on some of the most beautiful places in the world. Augusta National is the top of that list for me and millions of others. The Masters always marks the official beginning of spring for me. I think I can speak intelligently about the subject as I am somewhat familiar with it.

All that to say, what I am about to say about what The Masters did today is hard for me to say but it has so affected me I cannot not say it.

Bobby Jones and The Masters

Bobby Jones along with Clifford Roberts founded The Masters and was known for his integrity while playing the game and in his life after retiring from competitive golf at the age of 28. He was an amateur and played the game because he loved the game. He once saw his ball move, after addressing it, a rules violation, and called a penalty on himself. No one else saw the infraction and even the official recommended he not call the penalty because no one else had seen it. He did call the penalty on himself because he said he would know he saw it move and it was an infraction. This happened during The U.S. Open, another of the four major tournaments each year, and that one stroke caused him to tie for the tournament lead at the end of regulation and he eventually lost the tournament in a playoff.

There are many other instances such as this throughout the history of golf and this integrity of the game is one of the reasons I love it and sets golf apart from many other sports I believe.

Fast Forward to Today, April 13, 2013

Yesterday, during the second round of The Masters, Tiger Woods, one of the best golfers of all time, committed an infraction on the 15th hole. This was seen by millions of people and was clearly a violation of the rule. He made an illegal drop in his words, “I went back to where I played it from,” Woods said, “but I went 2 yards further back and I took, tried to take 2 yards off the shot of what I felt I hit.”  Rule 26-1 is the rule in question. Since he signed his scorecard for a 6 on this hole instead of a 7 he signed an incorrect scorecard and should be disqualified.

The Masters Rules committee said they saw the drop and did not think it was a rule violation, a sad commentary on the rules committee, and did not mention this to Tiger then or when he finished his round before he signed his scorecard. Apparently a television viewer or viewers called in to say Tiger had violated the rules so they then decided to review the issue.

It is the player’s responsibility to know the rules of the game and abide by the rules. If they have a question about any of the rules there is always an official either with their group or one can be summoned to answer any question they have about a rule or situation. Tiger did not ask for help from an official. It is irrelevant whether Tiger thought he was breaking a rule or not. Ignorance of the rule does not imply you do not have to abide by it. If that was the case then all golfers would just plead ignorance when a rule violation was in question.

Review Not Handled Like All Others

Normally, when there is a question about a rule, an official is asked to make a ruling, the ruling is made and play continues. This is normally done before the player signs his scorecard. This did not happen Friday with this situation. Instead, the rules committee apparently had to think about the implications of this issue overnight as they did not summon Tiger to discuss this until Saturday morning. This is one of the reasons I am disappointed with The Masters. They have always been above reproach when it comes to their tradition and the rules of the game in keeping with the spirit of the founder of the tournament Bobby Jones.

Tiger Woods had several hours after this meeting with the rules committee to consider doing the honorable and right thing by disqualifying himself but chose not to. He could have gained much respect and many new fans and possibly more self-respect if he had and would not have his career marked with this asterisk and have “the Tiger rule” follow him around the rest of his career. I did not really expect him to do this but was hoping he might surprise me and the rest of the golfing world.

A Stroke of Preference

This mystique and standard was breached today with this ruling in much the same manner as Kobe Bryant or LeBron James do not get called for fouls that other, non-marquee players do get called for in basketball. Special treatment for Tiger Woods was given today as I have no doubt that if this was any other participant in the tournament this week disqualification would have been the result and it would have been handled Friday night and not Saturday morning. The reasons that seem obvious to me are TV rating and dollars. I never thought The Masters would lower itself to this level but since they have their tag line for me will be, “The Masters, a tradition like many others” and that is sad for me.

Breaking A 40 Year Tradition is Hard

So I will be breaking a 40 year tradition for me tomorrow afternoon. I will not be watching The Masters while Tiger Woods is still playing as I do not want my TV to be counted among the numbers that make up the ratings for the telecast and I want my integrity to remain intact. I cannot condemn their actions and then watch anyway. That would be hypocritical. I know my boycott will not make any difference to CBS or The Masters but it will make a difference for me. It will be hard, as breaking any tradition that has lasted 40 years would be.

After he is done I will probably watch the end of the tournament. I can’t say for sure right now what I will do next year. I do know Augusta National is still one of the most beautiful places on earth and I would like to visit again. I have a daughter and son-in-law who live in Augusta so I have another reason to visit as well. However, as with people, any time credibility is lost it is hard for it to be regained, if it ever is, and it does take time. That will be true of The Masters for me. They no longer hold the highest level of honor and credibility they did Thursday for me. I hope that does return but it will take some time if it does.

Until then, The Masters has now become a tradition like many others, a sad day for golf.

Maybe I will watch, Bobby Jones, A Stroke of Genius to remind me of the integrity of the man who started this tournament. Maybe The Masters Rules Committee and Tiger Woods should re-watch this too.

Those are my thoughts on the subject. I would love to hear yours in the comments.

Until next time…

Originally published on Peculiar Perspective on 04/13/2013

Working From Home

Recent news from Yahoo and Best Buy about either banning or limiting telecommuting, the technical label for working from home, caught my attention.  I have read some of the reasons behind these changes and they seem valid to me.

Yahoo Banned All Telecommuting

Yahoo’s CEO checked the VPN logs, which shows how often employees log in from home, and found they were not logging in enough so, based on that, and I suspect their productivity for the jobs they were responsible for doing, determined it would be best for them, at this time, to ban all telecommuting and, I assume, either bring all of the telecommuters back into an office in Sunnyvale, California or let some of them go.  Bringing them back into any office will be an enormous expense to the company as office space, furniture, and equipment will have to be acquired unless they have an enormous unused space now.  I am sure they considered this before the decision was made and announced.

My personal opinion is this seems drastic to me but I do not have all the facts and know sometimes drastic changes are necessary in order to bring about the change a company needs so I do believe the CEO made the decision she thinks is needed for Yahoo at this time. I do wish her well and hope they do bring the results she is looking for.

Best Buy Requires Telecommuters to Have Manager’s Approval

Best Buy will allow some if it’s 4000 telecommuters to work from home if they discuss it with their manager and get their approval, which, apparently has not been a requirement to date.  That seem perfectly logical to me, a “duh” moment, as I would have expected this to have been happening all along.  It doesn’t make any sense to me why it wasn’t.

Why would I care?

You might ask yourself why these stories would interest me or why would I care. It’s simple really. I have been a telecommuter for the last 10 years so if these type decisions do become a trend it could affect me. I cannot speak with any first-hand knowledge about Yahoo or Best Buy’s telecommuters but I can speak about my experience. I don’t really think many, if any, other companies will make this type of change just because others have but this may prompt them to look at their own telecommuter productivity and monitor that, as they should, to see if any adjustment are warranted.

Advantages of Telecommuting

Advantages of telecommuting are many.  Some of these include less cost for the physical office, less sick time for the employees, more hours worked for employees who are not spending time commuting to an office, more productivity from the employee, and the employee theoretically, at least, can have a better life outside of work whether that be with family, friends, hobbies, or whatever interests they enjoy. For employees there is also less expense for clothes, fuel, food, and auto maintenance. In recent years with the cost of gasoline this advantage is huge for telecommuters. Some would consider a side benefit of this as being good for the environment as well.

Disadvantages of Telecommuting

Some jobs are best done with people meeting face to face in an office setting and some people need this interaction in order to reach their peak productivity level. If you are trying to climb the corporate ladder then you will probably need to be working in a physical office in order to get very far toward this goal.  For some people, telecommuting does not fit their personality.  They need the physical interaction with co-workers and that is hard to get over the phone.

My Story

For me, I can probably count on one hand the number of sick days I have taken over the past 10 years. There have been many days when I would not have gone into the office that I have been able to work from home. When I last drove to the office I had a one hour commute one way so two hours a day I was in the car not working and not spending time with my family. I had a co-worker in California who had a two hour commute one way on a good day so she regularly spent four hours in the car not working and not spending time with her family. If the company just got half of this commuting time back in hours worked it should mean a significant increase in productivity.

I have always tried to work more than I typically would have in the office just to eliminate any appearance that I was not carrying my weight and getting my job done working at home. I often go much too far overboard with this and it is hard to determine when work ends and when time off begins, one of the primary disadvantages of working from home.

I do not take this privilege for granted. I am thankful for my job as a Project Manager and developer and the challenges and rewards it provides. Based on my performance appraisals over these years my managers do believe I am doing a good job. If that changes I suspect my status as a telecommuter would be up for review as well.

However, these past two weeks I have seen my family much less than most traditional office workers likely would have as the project I am currently working on has required significant time above and beyond what would be considered as a normal work day.  I don’t call this overtime because it is just what is required to get the job done from time to time and usually comes and goes in cycles.

My family is very understanding (they often go overboard with their understanding) but it does begin to wear on all of us when it continues for extended periods of time as this current project has. I do know this is time I will never get back and that is the hardest reality for me.

I have had this topic as one I would like to write about for some time but these past two weeks have prompted me to write this today. This is also the reason I did not get another blog post out this week, which is really insignificant in the grand scheme of things to say the least.

No Single Answer for All

Any news regarding telecommuting is always on my radar. Telecommuting is not for everyone but for those who can be productive and do not need the physical interaction with others in an office it is a very productive arrangement for both the employer and employee. It has been a very good arrangement for me so far. However, it is not as easy as some might think. It should be an agreement first from the company to allow workers to work from home and then a discussion and agreement between the manager and employee. That is the only way I see it working.

That is my perspective, peculiar or maybe not, and will not change even though I know I could be working in an office at some point in the future if my situation changes.

I would love to hear your thoughts so please do leave a comment if you would like to share them.

Until next time…

Originally published on Peculiar Perspective on 03/30/2013

Yes, No or Not Now

Need to be reminded

 

Many of you may already know this or maybe not. I guess that is one of the reasons I write. Those that have knowledge on a particular subject, including me, often need to be reminded. Those that don’t might just learn something new or get a new perspective on what they already know. Come to think of it, that is one of the reasons I read too. I like to learn new things and often need to be reminded.

 

Today’s post is about a topic I have known to be true for many years. I remember hearing a sermon on this subject when we lived in Birmingham in the late 1980’s and have heard it many times since then in other sermons, bible studies, and in conversations with others, which is who I normally have my conversations with.

God, Not Listening?

Many people claim they have been praying for something for years and God is not listening to them or must not care about them because He hasn’t answered their prayers.  You might be wondering to yourself,

“I wonder what Garth Brooks has to say about this?”

Well, he did have a song several years ago on the subject of thanking God for unanswered prayer.  I couldn’t help it because of my peculiar mind but every time I heard this song I either said to myself or to anyone who might be with me at the time, “there is no such thing as unanswered prayer” as that is what I believe.

Could our interpretation be wrong?

The prayers of God’s children, those who have accepted His gift of salvation and eternal life, are always heard by our Heavenly Father and always answered. However, we are often not perceptive enough or wise enough to understand the answer.

No

Often, we will get a no answer and believe it can’t be true because we “know” God wouldn’t do that to us so we ignore the answer and continue following our own plan.

Yes

Sometimes we get a yes answer and have a similar reaction. “God couldn’t really want me to do that” so, again, we ignore the answer we didn’t want to hear and forge our own path. That is called free will, which we all have, but along with that we have to accept the consequences of those free will choices we all make.

Not now

Probably the hardest answer to accept is the not now answer. This is because we all live in the “gotta have it and gotta have it now” world. This could be God trying to teach us patience, which is often a hard and painful lesson to learn or He could just be saying we are not ready yet or He has something better in mind.

.

How do I know what God is saying?

 

The way I understand this is our prayers are us talking to God and God’s Word, the Bible, is Him talking to us. Yes, He still speaks to us today every day through His Word. Of course the catch there is you have to be spending time in His Word to be able to hear and discern what He is saying to you. One of the benefits of my new Early to Rise challenge is helping me be much more consistent spending time in God’s Word reading my Bible every day.

Don’t be anxious

It Philippians 4:6-7 we are told, 

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” ESV

The peace that is mentioned here is one way I believe prayers are answered. You will not get an audible yes or no from God but He will give you a peace about a decision you are struggling with or praying about.  I have trouble with the not being anxious part from time to time but when the peace comes it is obvious.

I have received all three answers to different prayers in my journey through life so far. What you might see too is sometimes when you are praying and hoping for a yes from God He will give you a not now and you keep praying and the not now will become a no. At that moment it is often hard to understand but when we get past this experience and look back on it we can see how God has directed us to the best path for us – not just a good path – and it might not look anything like our original plan.

Sometimes our prayers change

You might also see that request you were asking for change to a different request as you pray and listen (read His word). This happened for me when my mother was battling cancer, which she did valiantly for 17 years. My prayers went from removing the cancer and healing her, which He did for a time, to removing the pain and cancer permanently by taking her home to be with Him, which He did as well.

Don’t take my word for it. Find out for yourself.

Don’t take my word for whether this is true or not. My words will not always be accurate, not because I am intentionally trying to say anything not true, but just because I am human.

His Word, on the other hand, IS The Gospel Truth. Take His Word for it.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” John 1:1 ESV

Until next time…

Originally published on Peculiar Perspective on 03/25/2013

Sheep are dumb

While reading Dr. Kevin Connors post this morning called “The Lord is My SHEPHERD  this morning I was reminded of a truth from the Bible that is a little bit humorous to me as well as being a good reminder of who we are and who God is.  His post is very thought provoking or convicting depending on how your perspective and I recommend you take a look if you have a few minutes.

Sheep are dumb animals.  They don’t do much thinking of their own and tend to follow the crowd even if the rest of the crowd is walking off the edge of a cliff.  My point is they are not very intelligent creatures.  You might be wondering what this has to do with you or me.  Well, here’s the thing.  We, God’s people, are compared to and called sheep many times in the Bible.

English: Very dumb sheep at Treanscrabbagh She...
English: Very dumb sheep at Treanscrabbagh Sheep are not renowned for their intelligence, but these really take the prize for stupidity. But on the other hand, they are most unlikely to escape into the road, and there need be no worry about the bottom falling out of the market for lamb. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The pause and extra space there was intentional.  Did you get the intended meaning? Sheep are dumb. We are called sheep, so, consequently we are dumb creatures too. This is a little bit humorous to me as I try to not take myself too seriously so I don’t mind being called a sheep.

It is also a very real reminder of just how much we really are like sheep and that we need a shepherd.  Jesus is the shepherd.

If you know Him when you hear him you will know his voice.

I hope you do know Him.  If not, He has a book out that has been a best seller for years.  It is His love letter to you. Get it or open yours and read it.

If you don’t have one you can get one free here at Bible.com for your computer, tablet or smartphone.

You can hear His voice and you can know Him too.

The Lord is my Good Shepherd
The Lord is my Good Shepherd (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Until next time…

Originally published on Peculiar Perspective on 03/20/2013

Fog

It was very foggy here on the way to church this morning and that got me to thinking.   Anyone who knows me very well knows that can be dangerous, not really in a physical sense but in the sense you just never know where that may lead.

Fog in Seattle
Fog in Seattle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What does fog make you think of? 

Anything other than you need to turn your headlights on and pay more attention to the road and possibly slow down?

For me, this morning, it made me think of God and His plans for us, His children.   There is a Steven Curtis Chapman song called God is God that has the lines, “God is God and I am not.  I can only see a part of the picture He’s painting.”  That came to mind for me this morning in the fog.  You can see a live performance (well it is a recording of a live performance) here God is God (Live).

Me? A Masterpiece?

God is painting a masterpiece, which happens to be our lives, and He does only show us a part of the masterpiece He is painting.  It can be — usually is — frustrating for us because we want to see the end of the story or three steps ahead but we are only shown the next step.  After we take that step, then we can see more.

We can fight against this reality as much as we like but God will not show us our next step until He knows we are ready for it or until we have learned the lesson He is trying to teach us where we are now, which is one way He shows how much He loves us.

Have children?  Do you act like them or do they act like you?

For parents this is much like we try to teach our children.  We love them and want the best for them but we know if they do not experience the challenges and setbacks that are often painful for us to watch they will not grow or learn and are destined to keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again, and will never achieve the victory they strive for.  As much as we might like to take the fall for them we know that the lessons we have learned well are the hard ones so I suspect that is how they will best learn them as well.

If you are anything at all like me you have given your son or daughter a task to do, knowing that if they are obedient and do the task with the attitude and effort required to do their best job, without complaining, you have a reward for them.  That reward could be taking them to get ice cream or to the movie or a new video game or whatever would be fun and a reward for them.  You don’t tell them you have a reward in mind because you want to see if they will be obedient first.

God does the same for His children.  He requires and expects our obedience to do what He is telling us to do without complaining.  He has a reward for us.  The fog this morning reminded me of that.  Maybe it will be a reminder for you too.

Until next time…

Originally published on Peculiar Perspective on 03/17/2013