Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Neil Gaiman - Make Good Art Speech

If you haven't read anything by Neil Gaiman yet,  you should put it on your birthday list now.  Here is a speech he gave, it is worth a listen.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Permission to be uncool!

I watched this Oprah thing with Brene Brown, and really liked what they are selling.  Instead of disengaging and pretending we are cool, we need to be uncool and engage.  Try to fix the world, don't hide behind a shield of cool.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

California - too big for Fox news BS?

I enjoyed this article by comedian Bill Maher, where he touts California's economic turn around.  Just a few months ago, California was in the same shape as Illinois, headed toward a financial cliff of their own making.  They have embraced the entire Democratic agenda, and voted out almost all of the Republicans.  How have they performed this economic miracle?  They raised taxes, and cut spending, at the same time!  What a radical concept.

Maybe this is something Illinois should embrace?  We have raised taxes, but cutting state spending at the same time?  We should try it.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Why Buy a New Car?

Was talking to a friend about buying a new car.  He told me that new cars were mechanically the same as the 10 year old cars, but his new luxury car is an entertainment system.  It has maps, fancy stereo options, automatically puts cell calls on the speaker.  His advice, if you want that, buy a new car.

I have been running around in the last generation of cars for many years, no backing camera, no Bluetooth, no screens.  But, I hardly drive anywhere.  I can connect an iPod to the stereo, and have a CD player.  My car has some dings in the paint too, but only 90k miles.

Would you trade in, if you were in my shoes?

Focused on Something Else

I only want to write so much, and I'm focused on something else.  Sorry for the delay. :)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Rita Cheng Gets a Tip of the Hat

I haven't been impressed by SIU's management since I became an adult.  Universities have been getting their funding cut for years, it isn't an easy environment.  But, that doesn't excuse that SIU's administration has been so darn stupid and wasteful, for so many years.

I wasn't living in town when Rita Cheng got hired, I hear she is smart and capable.  I also hear, she is pushing for improvement as hard as Poshard will let her.  Good for her.  If that is true, I'm looking forward to Poshard's departure.

This year, I read the transcript on the State of SIUC address.  It is good.  Finally, someone has looked at the how SIU does business, and started trying to fix it.  Imagine, recruiting better students?  Giving better students money to come to school here, and spreading that money over 4 years?  After all, if you can't afford the second year, who cares if you come for the first.  Maybe more important, she is capable of giving a speech that explains what SIU is doing and why.  Trust me, gets very old.

Last time SIU had a capable leader, that seemed to be talking about doing all of these common sense things, they fired her.  Maybe things weren't bad enough yet, but now they are.  Go Rita go.

Of course, your comments are welcome.

Happiness = Reality - Expectations

I have been amazed how difficult it is to hire and train the current generation of new college graduates.  Just saw this blog post and it is worth a read.  The whole idea is right on target.  I'm thinking it applies to other people then, Generation Y Yuppies.  People who work for the state, who can't be fired maybe?

I love this quote -
For those hiring members of Gen Y, Harvey suggests asking the interview question, "Do you feel you are generally superior to your coworkers/classmates/etc., and if so, why?" He says that "if the candidate answers yes to the first part but struggles with the 'why,' there may be an entitlement issue. This is because entitlement perceptions are often based on an unfounded sense of superiority and deservingness. They've been led to believe, perhaps through overzealous self-esteem building exercises in their youth, that they are somehow special but often lack any real justification for this belief."
 You mean a very cool tattoo doesn't make you special?  Custom ear rings, what allow people to see light through your ears doesn't make you special?  I have always felt that outworking everyone made me special, that has mostly worked.

How about you, are you special?  Did you earn that, or are you just entitled?

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Kevin Lucas "Apocalypse"

Carbondale marimba master, Kevin Lucas has a new piece out.  That is a lot of percussion. :)

Friday, August 30, 2013

Letters to the Editors - A Complaint

A week ago Monday, I decided to write 3 letters to the editor, of three papers, and see if I could get them published.  The Nightlife, published my letter in their next issue, a couple of days later.  The Southern Illinoisan published my letter today.  But, the DE didn't publish my letter, at least not yet, and it was the more provocative of the bunch.  As a matter of fact, I don't think the DE publishes letters to the editors anymore.

So, another goal is missed.  Only 2 or 3 letters published.  Only 1 of 3, inside of a week.  Have to find something else to try to achieve.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Cheapest Places to Live in the US

Our neck of the woods has a majority of "The 8 Least Expensive Places to Live in the United States."  I was kind and put the link to all at once, I had to do that stupid page though them one at a time.  Hate that.

What I looked at the demographic data for Carbondale, from the 2000 Census, we had the smallest number of attached garages of any small city in the country.  We also had the highest percentage of high school and college graduates per capita. 

Calvin and Hobbes writer, Bill Watterson's Uplifting Advice

Here is a link to a recent comic by Bill Watterson, the author of Calvin and Hobbes.  I love the honesty, he realizes his job is sucking his soul out of his body, so he quits his job.  What a concept, you hate your job, you are doing terrible work, so you quit.  So honest, so ethical, got to love it.

Computer Passwords Compromised

I'm sure everyone, knows someone, who has been hacked.  I have had my credit card compromised twice in the last 18 month.  For a while, computer scientists have known that passwords on websites aren't safe.  I figured out how to do something like this when I was 16, it is nothing new.

It isn't a matter of if, it is a matter of when.  So, watch those credit card statements carefully for charges you didn't make, and hope someone invents a better way.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Student Center Replaces Their Restaurants

A nice article in the DE today, about what the Student Center is doing about their lack of restaurants.  Turns out the previous manager of restaurants in the Student Center wasn't making enough money, so they pulled out at the end of last Spring Semester.  Fair enough.    What is interesting about the article is that SIU has decided to buy some franchises, and run them with Student Center staff.

A review, running a business is hard, but running a restaurant is a killer.  The Student Center has run lots of restaurants over the years, and it was always a disaster.  There are a few state employees capable of running a restaurant well.  The combination of bad service and poor food prep is a killer.

SIU, it would be smarter to outsource.  Lots of Student Centers, across this great country of ours, have allowed small local restaurants to open a branch, with great success.  I suspect it would be a better path.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Firing 10% of SIU? A Reasonable Request.

Don't know if you caught my letter to the Nightlife this week.

I was talking to someone I respect, about that letter, who works at SIU.  They asked me, if I wanted to get rid of 10% of SIU employees, how would I do it?  They told me that the secretary ranks have been cut already.  Someone else told me the painters in housing are way down too.  A third person told me that University Museum has been cut from 22 employees to 5 (22! I don't know, but 22?).  Maybe there isn't any more fat?  Ha ha, good one.

Do we all agree that if you are working at 25% of capacity, you should be fired?  Let's just start with that.  You aren't working, and you can't be rehabilitated, you are gone.  No tenure, no union contract, no person should be protected, who will not work.  That alone would fix much of the problems.

Let's start with a simple idea, someone needs to go into the administration of SIU and debone it.  Just like a fish, you have to go in and examine things, and throw the part that can't be consumed away.  It isn't easy.  I have done it, but heck, when I'm in those positions, I make a lot of money by having the right sized staff (or at least lose less).  The fish isn't the problem, it is the bones.  Repeat after me, it is lonely at the top.

Let's start with the easy stuff.  Everyone who cuts lawns should be gone, and that work should be outsourced to private industry, no skill there, easy.  Moving stuff?  Painting?  Phones?  Networks? Hanging blackboards?  Replacing ceiling tiles?  Everything that isn't the mission of the university, should be examined and outsourced, or eliminated.  You aren't thinking that the big manufacturing plant has insourced everything, do you?  There isn't a more expensive blue collar employee, then State Civil Service.  Every administration department that has less then 10 people, that has a director, assistant director, a staff member or two, and a secretary, is likely overstaffed.  You could just start to examine the small departments, and work up from there.  It is likely that 2 people do the work, and everyone else BS's, isn't it?

If you work at SIU, walk out of your office, and go down the hall, counting offices.  How many offices contain someone who would be fired, if they weren't "employed" (not works there, just employed) by SIU?  Can you make it 10 offices, before finding someone who should be gone?  As you walk, how many people have terrible jobs, where there isn't enough work to do, so they are trapped in the highest paying job available to them?  I can see those departments, staffed for the one day of the year when they maximum work load, and bored out of their minds the rest of the time, from here.  The trapped people should be freed to pursue a challenging and rewarding career.

SIU is out of balance.  In a perfect world, the employees, customers and owners are in some kind of balance.  What the owners of SIU, the citizens of Illinois, through their duly elected officials, are trying to tell you that they aren't happy.  So, they are cutting your money, until balance is restored.  For too long, the employees of SIU have taken more then their fair share, you should fix it, before something really bad happens.  If you want to argue that most all universities are this way, you are right, and the citizens have decided to fix it.

I'm listening to the Avett Brothers at Red Rocks in the background, isn't it amazing what you can get on the internet?

Enough for now, more about this later.  Of course, your comments are welcome, assuming you don't want to do it anonymously.

Cool new feature on Blogger

When I was in town last, 6 years ago, I had lots of comments on this blog.  At that time, you could moderate all comments (publish or not publish), and I did that because I got tired of the spam.  I just looked, and now you can eliminate anonymous comments.  I did that today.

Be happy to have you play, but now, you are going to have to supply an identity of some sort.  The good news is that almost everyone has one these days.  Bad news, you will have to be like me, and expose at least a little bit of yourself.  I hear it makes for a more civil discussion, we will see.  Yes, you can make you points better, if you have to own them.

Let me know what you think.

Friday, August 23, 2013

SIU Entry Signs

I really don't know if adding these fancy brick signs, at all then major entrances of SIUC was a good idea or not.  They cost $100k or $250k each?  I'm not sure about the ROI for it.  It is marketing, and it is often hard to figure out if the money you spent is worth it.  But, I do have something to say about the way the sign was implemented... Who was the genius who put the stupid Wendler era logo at each end of the sign?  We all know that logo is the first thing changed on University campuses these days, for most any reason.  Why would anyone think that this logo wasn't going to be changed in the near future?

What do you think, were these signs worthwhile?  Should they have added the logo?

Ran into Bill McMinn

Speaking of the not lazy, I ran into the Bill McMinn the other day.  He mentioned my blog piece on him and how his childhood friends mention having read it.  It is interesting when you have a well read blog, you get up the search engines for certain subjects.

Bill is still looking good, but says he isn't ready to take the REC Center back over.  I guess he got smarter after retiring?

Carbondale Nightlife Letter

I wrote a letter to the editor of the Nightlife, that appeared in this week's issue.  It was in response to Chris Wissmann's editorial "A Eulogy for Glenn Poshard."

Yes, I'm calling for a 10% reduction in staff of SIUC.  They are doing no work, they might as well go.

As always, your comments are welcome.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Architecture of SIU - little look at Morris Library

It is fun to walk around SIU and look at the architectural choices that are made on new buildings and try to understand why they were made.

Let's look at Morris Library for a minute -

Here is a picture of the original look.  There was a very expensive remodel (claimed to be $14M, but there was administration staff from all over campus working it all the time.  Surely, it was way higher), and the choice was made to modernize the facade of the building.  While the facade was being changed, all the brick fell off, and a whole lot of money was used to repair the damage.  To me, this is the definition of a bad remodel.  The building went from being clearly identifiable as being built in 1955 or so, to being built in 1995.  Neither building is classically beautiful (as many building on campus are).  I would have no gripe with this decision making, except they ran out of money before they moved the books back into the library.

There is no doubt that the building needed a soup to nuts refresh, after years of abuse.  Thank goodness the State ponied up the money for it.

I'm working toward the new administration building, stay tuned.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Three Distinct Business Communities of Carbondale

It is often helpful to start thinking about things in a very black and white  way.  In the most simple case, Carbondale is divided into 3 distinct business areas: SIUC; Medical; and everyone else.  It is interesting how few people know of anything outside of their own business area.

Like most people in the "everyone else" category, I'm interested in SIU.  We all follow SIU, because most of us are in the service businesses, that support SIU, their employees and students.  We know who is naughty and nice in SIU management.  We hear all the rumors.  When I talk to professors, they are always amazed by how much more I have heard about University Politics then they have.  When you are making money on people, and not making money by sitting in your office staring at a black board, you need to know.

I know nothing about the medical community in Carbondale.  I'm not sure that anyone, outside of the medical community does.  I figure, they are like the mafia, in Good Fellows, we are the chumps, and many/most are using the general public as boat payment plans.  It is hard to party with the chumps, when you are feeding off of them.

The "everyone else" group is your standard collection of small business men, insurance agents, restauranteurs, and a few fools like me.  I think that we believe that if there is to be economic growth in Carbondale, if the number of students doesn't suddenly turn around, it had better come from us.  We also know how incredibly difficult it is to deal with the City of Carbondale, and their economic development arm, the CDBC.  In particular, if you aren't a local.

I remember when I used to have comments.  I guess you shouldn't stop blogging for 5 years, if you want that to continue. :)