Category Archives: Blogging

Posting again

Maybe you are as shocked to see a new post from me here as I am.  Maybe not.

It has been a long time since I even considered posting here on this longest running of all my blog attempts.  It’s not worth the time to rehash or go back and try to analyze what was going on.  It’s best to see my posting this entry as someone walking in the door and calling out “I’m home.”  The only salient fact is that I’m back, not how long I was gone or for what reason.

Life has moved on for me, but I am back here and vocal again.  For better, I hope, or worse, if need be.

Why am I home again?  If I answer that honestly, I’d say it’s because I took a look at WordPress.com again, and I was delighted by the improvements that the Automattic team has made to the interface for writing a blog.  Everything is easier to do than it used to be.  I can focus on adding the content and what to say, and pretty much whatever I want to do (at least so far) I have been able to do intuitively and with remarkably little effort.  I so liked the interface, I decided to use it for this entry.

And so I’m back.    Welcome back me.

Advertisements

About Paul Moor

Most of you who know me know of my friend Paul Moor. He and I met online in a writers group back in the early 90s.

In February on the first, I think it was, he suffered a stroke that left him aphasic and unsteady.   His aphasia has improved considerably and even surprisingly already. At 85, he is still dealing with unsteadiness and that may be true from here on out.  But the good news is that he has made enough progress that he is being sent home to his apartment on July 20th.  His friend  Wolfi Petri who has been caring for Maxe, the wonder Dachshund, will bring him over on the 20th for a visit with Paul.  Whether Maxe and Paul hook up for good on the 20th remains to be seen.  I believe that Meals on Wheels will be making 3 stops a day at Paul’s house, and he has a busy schedule of therapy planned out for him.

I can only say, bravo, Paul.  You’ve made a remarkable recovery and your journey to do so has revealed some interesting things such as:

An amazing legion of supporters and well-wishers who sprang up and rallied to Paul’s aid.  His friend, Dr. Helmut Mueller, has taken the lead in overseeing the assistance that Paul gets.  He arranged for Frau Salien to be appointed administrator of Paul’s estate.  Paul said to me that even if he might be considered unpatriotic, he had to admit that he was glad this happened to him in Germany rather than in the U. S.   (Let the health care debate begin.)  He does seem to be under a good protective umbrella there.

Yesterday when Dr. Charles McClelland was visiting him, he shot this video (as an on camera interview) of Paul sending a greeting out to his friends.  This is a moment that a number of us weren’t sure we would ever see.  So Paul’s going home to his apartment is an enormous achievement.

Bear in mind,  this video is a one-take, extemporaneous dialog from an 85 year old man who is now but four months into his recovery from a stroke.  Pretty impressive to me.

Sometime back when I first read Mitch Albom’s “Tuesdays with Morie” and concluded that I planned to travel along this path to the end of the road with Paul, I realized that I should cherish those times we talk on the phone and joke and carry on as if we were in the same room.  I can spend however many days with Paul that we are lucky enough to have helping him  exercise his memory while I glean from him all the pearls of wisdom he wants to share.  Carpe diem.

Paul’s memory is getting a little ragged around the edges, but he is really looking forward to getting his hands on a standard desk set type telephone so that he can place and receive calls.

Soon he’ll be back at home.  I’ll take that for now.

Blogging 8 years

Today is the 8th anniversary of the day I first put pen to pixel and created this blog.  It’s been hosted at different locations from time to time, but it has been semi-continuously updated since that first Father’s Day in 2001.  My one-year hiatus last year will be the subject of a book about what I learned trying to lead the team out there in Las Vegas.  I want to reflect on what happened and my complicity in the outcome.

Since I’m mentioning my project for next year, let me point you to the site where I’ll post about it most often  so that you can follow me and be a part of the system I am using to hold myself accountable to achieve this objective.  The site is called Las Vegas MyOptic.  I believe the initial posts there will explain what I have in mind for the project.  The site is my way of keeping my head still in Las Vegas.

If you’ll indulge me for a moment

This is a note I sent last night to an audience that’s introduced in the note itself.   I decided to make it my entry for this morning.

Friends,

I’d like to invite you, no let me make that “encourage you,” to view tonight’s entry at my personal blog, because I have made an important and unfortunately, a sad announcement there tonight.  I ask that you watch the video in the post as it will introduce you, better than I could do in any other way nor nearly as quickly, to my ex-wife Carole, who died last night of cancer.

Those of you getting this message are a diverse mixture, but by no means an exhaustive one nor even an adequate sampling, of ex-fellow employees and business contacts and, in the BCC, members of the inner group of my local Knoxville social circle.  I’d encourage any of you receiving a copy of this message to share it with anyone else that you feel would like to receive it.

I thank you for those tears you may shed in sympathy with our family tonight.  There is no greater gift nor any better way for you to comfort us than to allow yourself to feel our pain tonight.  Nothing more than that is required.

Thanks to Jimmy and Cathy, I’m “learning to dance in the rain” with a heart full of gratitude to you both, mostly for the gift of your friendship.  I read the little book you gave me when I was at the dentist’s office this past week.  Its message gives me strength and inspiration, and resolve.

Pete C. if, by some miracle of serendipity that Manpreet simply could not prevent, you actually receive your copy of this message (I had to guess at your address), please forward it to my fellow NA Ops managers.  I no longer have access to their address or I wouldn’t have asked it of you.  It seems that just as Carole slipped away from me before I knew it, so did my opportunity to say an adequate goodbye to that group before I myself became the “dearly departed.” 😉

Susie, maybe you could make sure, for Pete, that the group gets a copy, since I’m pretty sure you’ll get yours. Thanks.

David S., I hope you have access to all those now in (or formerly in) Indianapolis that might want to receive a copy of this message.  And Jim A., you have access to our mutual contacts on other continents who might want to receive this message.  Please do me the favor of sharing it with them.

I love you all.  You each contributed in a unique way to a wonderful year last year, for which I wish to thank you one and all.

And so with this message,  I bid you a fond adieu,

What I failed to say in that note but wish I had, was “Oh and please buy a copy of my book about the experience when it comes out next year.”

Note to self:  Remember to add that to my closing whenever I am speaking in public throughout this next year.

Leaving Las Vegas

Leaving Las Vegas is going to be a whole lot harder than I thought it would be!

And I’m not referring to closing the business or even to packing up the clothing and personal goods for the trip home. I’m talking about leaving the life I have here, the friends I have here, the freedom I have here and the fun I have here. Knoxville is where my younger son and his family live. My other son and his family have a home north of Atlanta.

Of course, I own a home in Knoxville and that has been the place I call home ever since 1979. By default it seems, because so many of my possessions are there and because some of my family and friends are there, and maybe just because I have been around there for so long, Knoxville is my home. And that’s where I’m headed, come Tuesday morning (the good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise!). I’ll be going back to Knoxville towing my car behind me.

But in many ways my life in Las Vegas was more fulfilling than my life in Knoxville. Brodie has said that the alternate name for the “Land of Enchantment” is the “Land of Entrapment.” In some ways I can see what he means, because New Mexico is Enchanting to the point that one could become Entraped here. I’m feeling a connection to New Mexico that I didn’t expect to feel, and that is causing me to wonder how I could start over, since I’m going to have to do that anyway, but from here.

It is for me an interesting twist to this saga that I didn’t expect to have to deal with. Maybe it’s only a tremor; but one never knows which tremors are the beginnings of upheavals.

Cast in a new role

In what felt a bit like an unexpected call in the middle of the night, back in October, the 21st to be specific, I received an email from a former client of mine with whom I have consulted off and on since around 1988 asking whether I’d be willing to consider “an assignment for a year or so in New Mexico.” Having already retired and, I’ll admit, having begun to resign myself to the inevitable decline that leads to the end of life, I was surprised and invigorated by his suggestion so I followed up with him just to learn what the possibilities were. That conversation and subsequent events have now led to a new opportunity for me, a new role. And just this last week, I received a formal offer to become the Call Center Manager for the Vertex Outsourcing call center in Las Vegas, NM — not Nevada mind you, but New Mexico.

Las Vegas, NM, is a relatively small but historic town nestled in the northeastern quadrant of the state at an elevation of 6,424 feet, higher even than the Mile High City of Denver. This site was chosen as the location for the call center because of its lack of disruptions due to weather (316 days of sunshine a year) and because of the work ethic and skills of its bilingual local population. However, this small, historic (which also implies old) town became something of an obstacle in locating a qualified individual to move there and manage the operation. And that, it turns out, was what caused my friend to think of me. Because I am 66, unattached and don’t have small children who would have to attend the Las Vegas school system, my maturity and prior experiences made him think of me as a desirable candidate who might be open to moving there.

“A year or so,” as originally suggested by my friend, has actually turned out to be two years when we got down to specifying the details of the agreement. I will move to New Mexico, maintain my house here in Knoxville, and return here after the two year contract is up. My objectives are to develop and sustain a culture in the center that causes the employees to feel valued and respected and that results in their conveying those same things to the customers in the calls they take from them. Although there are of course performance metrics that must be met as well, the primary objective for me is to nurture the kind of environment that is rarely sustained in a call center, so that customers are treated as valued assets rather than interruptions in the representatives’ busy, stressful and sometimes monotonous day. That’s an interesting challenge that I have often tried in my consulting assignments to help other managers achieve with, I will acknowledge, varying degrees of success. Now for the first time in my career I’ll have the authority and accountability to do just that myself. I welcome the challenge, and I believe I’ll find it both educational and interesting.

The other major goal I’ll have while there is to identify and train my replacement. Through modeling the behaviors needed to run a call center in this way and by coaching this potential replacement in his or her use of those same behaviors, I’ll seek to create an environment that can keep going without interruption when my time on site is up.

I haven’t yet decided what this move will mean to my blogging. Since beginning to discuss the possible move, I’ve chosen not to update my blog because I didn’t want to discuss these events online until they were firm enough to be revealed. And once I do assume the new role, I’m not sure how much I want to blog about what will surely occupy most of my thinking throughout the day, nor do I know how much time I might have for an activity like blogging. I suppose I could keep writing about technology as I’ve done through much of the last couple of years, but there are other blogs that already do a better job of that than I do. So my blogging may be a casualty of my new role, but that hasn’t yet been decided and remains to be seen.

At least now you know what has been going on with me for the last several months and why I’ve not been posting here as frequently as I used to. I’m about to embark on “Perry’s Excellent Adventure” in New Mexico, so if you happen to be traveling through the southwest feel free to look me up. I’m sure I’d welcome seeing a face “from home.”

A new theme

If you are viewing this entry in an RSS reader, come on over to my blog and take a look at the new theme I installed today.  It is called 1BlogTheme and it was created by Javier Garcia.  It has a rich feature set that can be configured from the admin panel in the WordPress installation without having to delve into the mysteries of PHP.  Explore any of those new features that may interest you by clicking on some of the links that surround the post.  You won’t hurt anything by doing so.  If you find you have displayed something (for instance, the list of Bookmark Services) and you can’t get rid of it, just click on the link to Home above and everything will be restored to normal.  If anything seems to be broken for you as you surf around the site, let me know in the comments. 

One feature that attracted me to this theme was the dual sidebar which, as it turns out, can be displayed either at the right or the left, just by changing a setting on the setup page.  I’ve set it to display at the right because a number of my previous blog entries refer to something in the sidebar at the right.  The dual sidebar is, in fact, a triple pane because the main pane of the sidebar extends across the top of the other two columns (panes) of information.  At the moment that main pane displays the information contained in the About section, but any of the panes in the sidebar can be populated with any of the widgets that I might want to display there.

This theme looks more professional to me than my previous theme did.  And anyway I think it was time for me to make a change, if for no other reason than to make it more interesting for me to look at.  I have viewed this theme in IE7, in Firefox, and in Flock 1.0, and all of them seem to display everything about the same way.  Again, I would appreciate a comment from any of you who may use a different browser and see any idiosyncrasies in the new theme.   I can’t guarantee that I can eliminate every unique quirk introduced by different browsers, but I will try to make it as inoffensive as possible.