Business Can Be Tough….

You often don’t know why a small business fails, but there are numerous reasons. We learned yesterday a specialty shop we really liked in the Keys closed. Granted, we hadn’t been in quite some time; essentially due to not being convenient from a distance perspective. Perhaps the closure was only due to poor sales, or there could have been other factors. In another case, a pub we enjoy is changing hands with a different format planned and we’ll see if it continues to be a favorite or if it goes in a direction we don’t care for. This is a place people flocked to at the grand opening, talked about how wonderful it was to have this type of place to go to and then within months, they were down to limited clientele enough nights to be cost-effective. The simple fact is people do only have so much disposable income and both the instances I cited are not necessities of life. Even though Americans spend a tremendous amount of money eating out, there are lots of choices. And, as this area grows, more restaurants open to create greater competition. That’s one of the most difficult businesses to manage under the best of circumstances. Staring any business comes with so many challenges, yet it is a dream of millions and despite the trillions of dollars of the huge corporations, small businesses really are the “backbone” of most communities. I’ve mentioned before in other posts, individuals and families who have to count literally every penny must take the cost of anything into consideration. The extra spent to buy from a small business may come with not being able to buy something else that is needed. For those of us who do have discretionary income, it is an action we can take to help those taking the risk to achieve their dream

Trip, Day 8….

So today is it; Daddy’s 95th birthday. I’ll visit with him until mid-afternoon, then head over to Bossier where I’ll have dinner with the other old high school friend as the final planned meeting that has become our tradition. The 3:00 a.m. wake-up tomorrow to get to the airport on time for the 5:00 a.m. flight will keep the wine consumption down.

Anyway, if Daddy wants catfish again for lunch, I’ll run out for it and then my step-siblings are coming around 5:00 with cupcakes and ice cream cups for everyone to celebrate. My sister and brother will make trips to see him later in the year. As I have mentioned previously, the assisted living facility where he is has the basics, but is small at only 26 rooms. The staff is friendly and seems to do well with the residents and in seeing many of the same faces over the years there also seems to be a nice level of stability (among the staff). My father’s short term memory problem means he can no longer enjoy reading; something he did for most of his adult life. While he does have limited vision in one eye, the real problem is unless it’s a short article, he can’t recall what he read. He does still watch some television, but mostly plays the afternoon games of different forms of bingo and sits either on the front porch or at one of the front windows in the airy lobby. With 90-plus degrees, sitting outside for long doesn’t work well. There is a fair flow of people coming and going, which allows for a social aspect.

The Poor Bike…..

While I do know people in our age group who still run marathons and compete in the Senior Olympics, most of us don’t fall into that category. Part of the reason Medicare and other insurances have their “Silver Sneakers Program” and there are numerous exercise routines designed for we seniors, is to try and make it as easy as possible to maintain  exercise. I have a friend who is amazing with yoga. Having tried it only a few times, I can’t seem to get my head wrapped around the techniques. As I’ve mentioned in more than one post, I have struggled with my weight since my late teens. It’s both a metabolic and a lifestyle issue. All the women on my mother’s side of the family deal with the inclination to being overweight and the men don’t. There is probably some cosmic chuckle in there somewhere. Anyway, as much as I hate running, I was required to do so in the Army and it did keep my weight under control, albeit at the very edge of what was acceptable. It was truly my own fault I allowed it to “edge up”, then “shoot up” after retirement. My primary doctor has either never had a weight problem or had one and overcame it because she is this slender thing who constantly reminds me of how I can lose weight. Yes, thank you, I’m aware of all that.

Anyway, the fact is I enjoy eating and drinking and even though I have cut back on carbs, that isn’t enough to make more than incremental progress. I do faithfully exercise just to manage that much. I work out 5-6 days a week for 40 minutes. I used to walk and when I had a minor injury, the therapist suggested  a recumbent, stationary bicycle. I can’t use an ordinary bike because of my knees (a common aspect of a career in the Army). A recumbent gives the same aerobic workout with less downward pressure on the knees. And so, our poor bike has been “ridden” many miles between Hubby and I. The gears began slipping several weeks ago and it reached the point of a replacement being necessary. The new one is to be delivered today. I just hope it doesn’t have all kinds of electronic functions I have to learn.

Hurricane Warnings….

With only two years passed since Hurricane Irma, the threat of Dorian is very much on people’s minds here, and even more so for the ones  who suffered through Hurricane Michael last year . At the moment, the northerly track places the storm further up in Florida. While that may be good news for this area, the strength of it is troubling for those who may be hit. In storm preparations exercises held in May by Florida Power and Light (FPL), the regional supplier for FL and up into GA, they are no doubt watching very closely. With a new governor in FL, he probably would just as soon not be tested in his very first year. I don’t mean that in a cavalier manner; this is serious business. I mean, no matter how prepared you think you are to respond  to a disaster, you don’t know how your teams will react until the time comes. On the other hand, if lessons were learned from last year, that will be helpful.

A very real point is the seeming lack of understanding of a lot of people about the first three days, sometimes referred to as, “72 on you”. That means having adequate supplies on hand to be able to sustain yourself/family and stay off the streets/roads for 72 hours. Relief measures cannot take place in the middle of a storm and accessibility of roads and streets immediately following is unpredictable. One of the reasons is hurricanes often spawn tornadoes and that is where significant tree damage can occur which in turn brings down power lines and blocks streets/roads. Keeping all vehicles except those actively involved in relief efforts out of the way is important. Heavy rainfall is the other aspect which can cause flooding and that can apply even if storm surge is not a factor. Rescue vehicles can be limited in their use if heavy flooding is an issue. Preparation and prayers are in order right now.

How Bureaucrats Sneak Up on You…..

This is one of those situations that when intense frustration ends, it comes close to being funny. Here’s how it went. We decided to invest the very large sum of money to have the whole-house, standby generator installed. In this area, that means the propane tank will be underground. Naturally, we intended everything to go behind the fence. So, it turns out our yard is not actually the dimensions we think. Once measured by the people who make the rules, we were a few feet off the clearance required between the generator and something like the electrical panel it had to wire into. That meant placement in front of the fence. Next, the tank has to be buried a certain number of feet from that so now the word is that won’t fit on the same side as the generator. (Our yards aren’t very big). The tank will have to be buried on the opposite side of the yard on the other side of the driveway and walk. So, tear up 3-4 rows of pavers and a section of the walk to dig trench to lay in the fuel line.As if all this isn’t enough frustration, there are quite frankly inexcusable delays that equal into months behind schedule.

Okay, the tank gets installed and the gentleman who handled this part was a subcontractor. He was quite professional, explained everything going on and then as he finished, he mentioned in order to pass inspection, we had to have these yellow “cones” placed in front of the tank. This is in case anyone should happen to drive onto our yard and on top of the tank. When I looked at him in disbelief, he said after the inspection, we could remove them because probably no one would come back to check again. Except, and this is a big except – when I arrived home I found three bright yellow 16 inch high, 3 inch round posts in the ground with concrete to secure them. While there is no question that will provide a warning, there was definitely no moving them. Let us just say that when it comes to colors, the air surrounding me was blue as I vented my anger. Of course that was to several geckos as the guys who installed these had wisely not stayed around.

This also meant we were now in indisputable violation of Homeowner Association rules for what we can and can’t have in a front yard. Receiving notification of that violation did take a couple of months. We’d discussed a couple of options and Hubby decided planting hibiscus in front of each post and painting the posts green would work the best. We went through the approval process with the HOA and despite now being in violation of code because the posts are no longer yellow, I did insist at least one of the hibiscus should be yellow. I can’t imagine an inspector will ever come by again, but if so, I’ll argue the point.

The “Slippery Slope” of Compartmentalization….

Serious musings alert. A conversation the other day triggered the chain of thought about the ability to mentally compartmentalize. In this case, I’m referring to situations where you have multiple things to deal with and there is no way to manage them all at once. Although compartmentalizing is a type of prioritizing, prioritizing is closer to, “Let’s take this one step at a time,” rather than the infamous line of Margaret Mitchell’s character, Scarlett O’Hara’s, “After all, tomorrow is another day”. By that, I mean in keeping with her character, thinking about it another day also in general meant she would find a way to not take responsibility for her own actions.

Therein lies the three aspects of compartmentalization I consider to be “risky”. The first is the inclination to revisionism. The “well I should have said….” can morph into having thought you did so, then building the memory around that. (It’s not an uncommon trait as I have written about in other posts.) If the issue being compartmentalized is something that needs to be dealt with, then depending on when it is dealt with, the revised scenario may be brought out and either corrected or can lead to further complications. If you’ve ever found yourself in a situation that seems to be getting out of control, think back to how it originated and see if perhaps there was a basic misunderstanding in waiting to deal with whatever it is/was.

The second aspect of compartmentalization is the matter may be not overly significant to you, and yet important to another individual. You may forget about it through no malice and also cause complications because the other party/parties may view your forgetting in an unfavorable way.

The third aspect is if compartmentalization slides into repression/suppression. I do want to clarify there is a reason the phrase, “time and place for everything” exists, and that includes letting things go. Choosing to not deal with something immediately may well be the best option and then letting go of whatever it is may also be the correct choice.On the other hand, there can be unpleasant aspects to life which do require response/action and finding the way to do so is important.

Days Zipping Past….

It’s obviously been hectic or I would have posted. It’s a combination of things as it often is. There’s no actual let-up until Friday which will make it approximately two months of pretty much non-stop activity. Not that I will have spare time, but rather tasks will be spread out a bit more. Anyway, in the course of having a friend visit, I took her to Everglades City. We hadn’t been for quite some time and unfortunately our favorite place for lunch was closed since it was a Sunday and the other place was closed apparently for good. It looks as if it sustained some damage and was perhaps not re-opened. The assumption is back during Hurricane Irma, but who knows. We popped into the Island Cafe, an old-fashioned kind of place with an ice cream shop in the back part, which is separate from the main dining room. There was a lot of fried food, to include gator nuggets that we passed on. The food was good though, the service friendly, and the ice cream was excellent. We did stop at the famous Clyde Butcher Gallery on the way back and alligators were bellowing even though there weren’t any in the parking lot this time.

The fence is finally finished and if the freezer repair guy has ordered the correct parts, that will be taken care of Friday. Fortunately, it still functions well enough to not impact the refrigerator and we got everything moved to the one in the garage. It’s a filter issue apparently designed so it takes a repairman to get to it. He pulled all the drawers out and in truth, they did need to be cleaned, so I suppose that’s a good thing. That task simply hasn’t been at the top of my priority list. Ah well, so it goes.

Unintended or Ignored Consequences…..

Somewhat serious content alert. “Unintended consequences” is another term people often misuse. A definition posted on Wikipedia is, “outcomes that are not the ones foreseen and intended by a purposeful action.”

The “misuse” from my perspective is when a new idea is proposed and opposition to the idea is raised, reasons for the opposition may be met with a comment such as, “Oh, you’re worrying/arguing over something that won’t ever happen.” In my experience, this is especially applicable when social and actual engineering is involved. (Business, too, but I’m not going to use those examples). Those of us who were young in the 1960s, a time of much social upheaval, brushed aside a great many concerns of our parents/grandparents warning us of potential breakdown of families, etc. A number of those consequences can be seen today. Therefore, a major increase in children with no father figure and the adverse affect that can have is not an unintended consequence – it is one which was clearly stated and ignored. Yes, I realized having no father is better than a dangerously abusive one, but there are many, many studies supporting the major problem of no father figure in homes.

Moving on, however, to an example of unintended consequences (although maybe some people did warn of this) is the recent advertising for a company that provides on-line ordering and delivery of pet supplies. One of the benefits is  the consumer will no linger have to wrestle with heavy bags of pet food, etc. That is true. What I recently learned and hadn’t considered is that some postal workers are having to retire earlier than planned because of the significant increase in heavy loads they have to handle. As was stated to me, via a third, “Sure, one or two deliveries a week is okay. But when it becomes almost a daily thing with multiple deliveries, that’s more than I can deal with.” When private delivery firms hire people, that is with the understanding there are likely to be heavy deliveries. That is not in general (or wasn’t) true for most postal workers. Is the adverse affect on postal workers more important than the benefit to the consumer? That, will of course, depend on your point of view.

It’s Always Hurts…..

Serious content alert.  I’m not sure I’ve posted about the expanded writing community I’m engaging with on Twitter. I’m no more proficient on Twitter than I am on Facebook and my friend who is a marketer is the one who got me signed up. A month or perhaps a little longer ago, one of the authors reached out and started a campaign to link more independent (which mostly means self-published) writers together in a supportive way. I have, quite frankly, been startled at the number that have emerged. There’s quite a mix of new writers as well as those who seem fairly well established and I had no idea so many were in the Young Adult, fantasy, and Sci-Fi genres. I suppose with the mega-hits of Harry Potter and Game of Thrones I shouldn’t find it surprising. Anyway, the past couple of days, authors have been posting about rejection and how to handle it or the anxiety that comes from waiting to hear about a query. One of the tough things to learn about the query process is hearing anything is unlikely. Even the standard, “Thank you for your submission, but it isn’t right for us” (or whatever the canned response) is at least better than having to assume you’ve been rejected. Way back when, a small publisher took so long to respond to me with a request for the full manuscript, I had literally given up and signed with what turned out to be a terrible choice. Had I received the other letter two weeks prior I might have had a chance with them. On the other hand, it might not have made any difference. However, getting back to handling out and out rejection. It hurts. Period. There are occasionally encouraging rejections with a suggestion or two about something to consider or even a referral to another source. In general though it is simply painful. Each author has to find a way to cope. I usually allow myself a short time of self-pity, then do something nice – yes, it often involves a lovely dinner/lunch somewhere. Chocolate and favorite beverages are good.

A Touching Post….

Pensive thoughts alert. A friend who is a marketing expert set me up with a Twitter account several years ago. While I use my personal Facebook for actual relatives, friends, and acquaintances, Twitter is pretty well devoted to my author side. About a month ago, one of the writers set a campaign into motion to engage the writing community in order for independent writers to feel more connected. It took off like wildfire and even though I don’t respond to everything by any means, I have definitely stepped up my engagement. Other writers, especially new ones, ask questions about things I have already been through and perhaps my own experience can be helpful to them. In this case  though, a young woman posted her grandmother just passed away. She was with her and they spoke of fond memories until the end. She was glad to have been there. I commented back my condolences.

As I’ve previously posted, I have a great deal of respect for hospice and the philosophy it has brought more to the forefront for many of us. Indeed, another friend was by his sister’s side last week as she passed on after not quite two weeks in hospice. In our mobile and geographically dispersed society we can’t always be at a loved one’s side in the case of something unexpected. The other side of that coin is there may be times the worst is expected and there is a respite/rally instead. Go anyway because one really never does know when the last day will come. I will once again urge anyone who has aging friends/relatives to check into the Five Wishes Living Will (https://fivewishes.org/). The difference in it and other such documents is the level of detail included; you think through aspects that may not have occurred to you before. I had a wonderful email exchange with the organization’s founders when I referenced them in Your Room at the End: Thoughts About Aging We’d Rather Avoid (http://amzn.to/1aYPey5)

I realize this is not a cheery way to start a Monday, and my next post will be lighter for sure.