Thursday, January 16, 2020


This week's 2 - on  - 1 topic is Satisfaction. Satisfaction is basically the fulfillment of a need or a want. I'm certain most of you have been  asked to respond to a Customer Service (CS) survey at one time or another, and it wasn't long ago that when you called a support line the guarantee of an unhappy experience was assured by the heavily accented agent on the other end of the call.

At one time, when I was a supervisor in a call center in Fort Worth for RadioShack products, I had an excellent phone agent named Dinesh Dave. Dinesh was of Indian descent and he had a fairly strong Indian accent,  several times per week customers would refuse to speak with Dinesh and demand to speak to his supervisor so the call would be transferred to me. The first thing said to me was usually where are you located? About 50% of the time I was called a liar when I responded "Fort Worth, Texas". Obviously I was in India and my Texas accent was very poor. When I explained that my accent was from California many still accused me of lying and  claimed they would stop shopping at RadioShack until we had USA based support centers.

Occasionally the caller would be reasonable and we'd have a good laugh and then I went ahead with solving the problem but there were always callers who simply wre not satisfied, insisting we clearly were not USA based. I would then give them the RadioShack main switchboard number - it had an  817 area code,  not a toll-free 800 number. Then they would complain about having to pay for a call and I'd say call that number and ask for me - or they could simply let me solve their problem.

It was always fun to get a celebrity caller - I regularly dealt with the wife of conservative commentator Bill Kristol. She was always cordial but the best celebrity caller I dealt with was Noel Paul Stookey - known to most as the Paul in Peter,  Paul and Mary. He too was cordial but said he had been promised a cell phone he purchased would do certain things which it could not do. He simply said I could have him as a  satisfied customer advocate who would always be happy to spread the good word or he could simply say he'd never shop with us again and happily say why that was.

I then contacted the District Manager responsible for the offending store manager, explained the situation and said I was going to give Noel a new phone that did perform as promised and he agreed but told me to send Noel to his office - it seems he did not quite believe the customer was who he said he was. I called Noel back and gave him the info and the next day I got a call from that District Manager who admitted he did not think it was  really the Paul Stookey. I laughed and he said all was now good. Noel then called to express his satisfaction with my efforts on his behalf and invited me to a CD wrap party for a new children's CD that was about to be released (that company is called Hugworks). Of course I went and when we met face to face I guess I stared a bit and Noel asked what was wrong. I just laughed and said other than  athletes, most "famous" people I met were much shorter than my 6'2". He laughed and  said that happened a lot - because Mary was so tall many people were surprised how tall he and Peter really were. I had a great time talking music with the ex-rock and roller that became a folkie.  We were both satisfied with the results of that encounter and yes, I left with an autographed Peter, Paul and Mary photo.

There have been several posts on Facebook recently that suggest one cannot be truly happy until he or she becomes satisfied with what they have. That seems to suggest that setting high goals is a bad thing - and that is something i totally disagree with. Setting goals high enough that achieving them requires real effort - and learn to appreciate what you obtain while you continue moving in the direction you have chosen. Most importantly, never be satisfied with what you know. As long as you are breathing,  keep learning.

That's my quick shack take on this week's topic. Be sure to visit Ramana's blog for his take on the topic he selected at Ramana's Musings.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Perception 2-on-1 Blog 01/10/2020

This week's topic is perception. Wikipedia says "Perception (from the Latin perceptio) is the organization, identification, and interpretation of sensory information in order to represent and understand the presented information, or the environment."

Anyone who has been involved in sales at one time or another has heard the tome "You cannot make a second first impression". In other words you'd better look and sound like you know what you are talking about, whether or not it is true. Then you were likely trained to "sell the sizzle, not the steak". That is business speak for sell them what they want, not what they need. Sell based on their emotion. Sell the benefits, not the features. Ya gotta love marketing folks. Anything to make a sale.

Now there are times when selling the benefits are not enough, Think of the saavy IT head looking to replace his companies computers. That individual is likely interested in the features  aka technical stuff about the systems he/she are to purchase. In other words, know your audience -  their perception of you as a sales professional is tied to what you know of the real features of the hardware you sell. Know your audience.

Reality as seen through each individuals eyes will vary somewhat so when does perception meet reality? That is an interesting question as we all have our own perception of reality. We each see reality through our own eyes and judge it based upon our individual experiences. One's perception of popular music, for example, may be that rock and roll is junk if all they have ever listened to is classical music. A reader my have the perception of popular mystery as light reading when compared to classics like War and Peace while I - an avid mystery buff - find a good mystery author like Dana Stabenow for example is just as accurate at covering the human condition as any "classic" author.

Perception is involved in nearly every decision we make and we need to be careful not to let a decision be unduly slanted by a preconceived notion - a perception.  Take your time and get the facts straight. Know the power of perception.

That's a quick take on perception. Please check Ramana's take over at Ramana's Musings


Friday, January 3, 2020

Passing the Buck 2 - on - 1 01/03/2020

Passing the buck - aka - the blame game is Ramana's choice for our first 2 - on - 1 blog in 2020. Be sure to see what he has to say by checking Ramana's Musings.

It is interesting to me how this seemingly innocuous phrase from poker playing has evolved to the level it has. Wikipedia says "
Passing the buck in international relations theory involves the tendency of nation-states to refuse to confront a growing threat in the hopes that another state will. The most notable example was the refusal of the United Kingdom, United States, France, or the Soviet Union to confront Nazi Germany effectively in the 1930s. With the Munich Agreement, France and the United Kingdom successfully avoided armed confrontation with Germany, passing the buck to the Soviet Union, which then passed the buck back to the western powers by signing the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact.

Russia has made passing the buck a generic catch all for drumming up "legitimate" reasons for nearly any action they choose to take in the international scene. Russia has been a master at buck passing ad lying about nearly everything and have had no serious rival until perhaps 2016.

Speaking of 2016 - there was some initial buck passing related to our choice of Presidents. For a while there was a cry of "don't blame me - I didn't vote for him. Alas that changed to a groundswell of those who truly love and support 45. Of course there are still a fair number of members of the GOP that pass the buck by saying they do not appreciate what he says but after all - he is a counter puncher and they support what he does regardless of what he says.

Seems to me that as the popular election was lost by 45 by around 3 million votes, the fault of our choice was the framers - they created this silly Republic wherein smaller states cannot be dictated to by the few very large states and their substantially larger populations. Nope - that is bad, good is allowing population centers and large states be dictated to by the smaller states. Apparently a family farmer's vote is worth much more than a business executive's vote. And, as a very close friend of mine said recently, with the deep division in our society these days she is happy to be on the side with the most guns.

So what happens when there are essentially only 2 sides to every discussion - at least publicly? The buck is constantly passed back and forth and nothing gets done.  The spin gets faster and faster and the lies come in waves. From both sides. Which makes me think of some lyrics in a popular song from a while back -

Now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I've changed
Well somethings lost, but somethings gained
In living every day

I've looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It's life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life
At all

These are, quite frankly, dire times we inhabit these days. At a time when our politicians cannot agree on simple facts and pass the buck on literally everything, our culture and society are in danger of becoming laughing stocks. Fairness and truth have seemingly left the building and gone on a vision quest with civility. As a member of the Baby Boomers generation, our pledge - or rather duty - to leave the world in better shape than it was when we inherited the leadership mantle is in serious jeopardy. There are times I fear for the future we are condemning our grand children to. Have we messed up the world so badly as to leave nothing but a bleak future for future generations? Or is it the fault of the generations we have raised to inherit leadership?If indeed those generations are not prepared to inherit the mantle what the hell is wrong with them? Or did we simply beat them into submission with our nonsense and blame the deplorables or the so - called progressive left for their inability to see clearly what is standing before them? Are those generations simply waiting fr we boomers to cross the River Styx and get out of the way so they can take over?

I've looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It's life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life
At all

It is time to wake up folks.

That is my quick shack-take on today's topic. Hopefully the sarcasm  won't be lost on everyone. I'll see ya next week, same bat time and same bat channel for the next installment of 2 - on - 1.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Recapping 2019 and looking ahead to 2020

It's that time again. That time when we look back at the year about to end and look ahead  to the new year about to dawn on us.

2019 has been an eventful year, full of ups and downs joy and laughter and all of the myriad other emotions we go through. Again I say - if I had known Oi would live this long I would have taken better care of myself. I truly never expected to make 70 years - and in that odd way things happen with dates, about to enter my 1th decade on this here third rock from the sun.

It has been a down year health wise, beginning with getting really sick when summer kicked in in North Carolina. It really wiped me out. And then, a sinus infection that is expected to last three weeks or so hammered us all here in Brentwood but we still had a fun Christmas. I watched three of my great nieces ripping through wrapping paper like the Tasmanian devil. A fun time was had by all here in nippy Brunted, CA.

Yes the rode to Brentwood was fraught with action and adventure, Zombies and a very interesting young guy in Cleveland - a waiter in a place called The Chocolate Bar  that knows as much about our music as I do - and my eventual return home to California, Boy what a 70th Birthday Party my friends and I had in Sacramento last August at our 52nd year reunion from high school. There was a room full of people that has gotten to connect/reconnect through Facebook and then kick the tires and light the fires at a great party. A grand time was had by all.
Leave us not forget the grand adventure crossing the US via train chronicled by Jim Furr and his iPhone. While the romance of train travel by coach has been debunked, it was still a grand time. The best part was reconnecting with Jim Furr - my travel mate, pusher and photographer. Of course the entire trip was the idea of Brian Scott - who was ultimately unable to travel with us due to family duty but thanks anyway BS - for getting me to agree to the trip in the first place.

And then there was a connection made with someone who has shared classes with me since 7th grade - she even posted the class pic. Vicki Martinez aka Lee has become one of my closest and best friends. It has been a kick getting to know Vicki. And to the lady who sat next to me and said I would not recognize her and pointed to her picture - I simply said oh come on  Indiana Newman - I have seen the Facebook pics. Who woulda thunk Debbie Newman would be our own version of Indiana Jones. Once again, thanks to Betty, Mary, Joyce, and everyone else responsible for that great time. 

There was one more reconnection - my old friend KT and I reconnected after 50 plus years. Lots of catching up to do and the process is well under way.

All in all,  2019 was a very good year - getting back to CA was worth every bit of the effort.

And now we look ahead to 2020 - a year that is critical to our survival as a society. One can only hope the deep divide that we have created is somehow reversed.We are better than this - we have to be.

That is it for 2-on-1 blogs this year and we are working on expanding a bit in 2020 so everyone have a safe and happy new year, see you next week.

Thursday, December 19, 2019


For this week's topic Ramana picked Tradition. Be sure to check out his take at Ramana's Musings.
 Merriam Webster (online) says "

1a : an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior (such as a religious practice or a social custom)

b : a belief or story or a body of beliefs or stories relating to the past that are commonly accepted as historical though not verifiable … the bulk of traditions attributed to the Prophet …— J. L. Esposito

2 : the handing down of information, beliefs, and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another without written instruction

3 : cultural continuity in social attitudes, customs, and institutions

4 : characteristic manner, method, or style in the best liberal tradition  A culture's traditions, customs and institutions combine to define cultural continuity for that society. For example, we traditionally for years the US established a 5 day work week with weekends off. Union organizers fought hard to establish that tradition. Recently that tradition has come under attack as businesses claim they cannot be competitive in the world market with that restriction.  Traditionally, health insurance in the USA is offered to a large percentage of American workers through their place of employment, with the remainder acquiring insurance directly through health insurance providers. That led to the  creation of  the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare - a seriously flawed attempt to provide healthcare to the balance of Americans. To date (per Google) 44 million Americans remain uninsured while 33 million have inadequate health insurance. It appears our tradition of a deeply flawed health insurance  system is unchanged. Some traditions become laws - such as we drive on the right side of the street, Other traditions are created by the repetitive nature of the activity that becomes a de facto tradition. Think Black Friday sales. In the same vein, most Baby Boomers can remember a time when many if not most businesses were closed on Sunday. Sundays were days for families and spiritual fulfillment. That tradition has also given way to businesses remaining open 7 days per week. Profit margins demanded the change, according to business owners. Then there was the tradition of marriage. The traditional marriage was one male and one female. Now we have same sex marriages in many places meant to include homosexuals in the same benefit pool as heterosexual couples. This means they are protecting the rights of same-sex couples, Each state will determine their own rules regarding same-sex marriage so the tradition will vary by state. Many families have established their own traditions. My family does not happen to be one but traditions can be as simple as having someone read Twas the Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve. In fact, holidays are a common time for families to establish traditions.  Many families attend midnight services on Christmas Eve, I know families that name their children with names all  beginning with the same letter - I once worked for a fellow named Roger who was married to Rita and  their boys were named Raymond and Russell. Traditions add shape and shade to our culture and our families and ourselves. Of course not all traditions are positive. Negative traditions are lurking everywhere and with a bit of effort they can be changed or eliminated. Children seem to have taken the bullying tradition to far and it needs to be addressed. And there is the new tradition of not holding children responsible for themselves and their efforts. Life is a collection of wins and losses. Kids must be taught how to accept the losses along with the wins - just participating is not enough. Goals and the effort required to achieve those goals must be explained. Progress  and advancement must be earned. Those are the traditionsthat will matter most. This is the last 2-on-1 blog before Christmas so to all of my readers that celebrate Christmas, Merry Christmas - to my Jewish friends Happy Hanukkah and to the others Happy Holidays. 

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Yes, I had one! 2-on-1 Dec 13

 Image result for peabody and sherman

This week's topic was suggested by me after reading a post with a similar title. It allows a bit of fun as we cruise through the holiday season. And what, pray tell, did I have? Well that depends on the time period in question so lets step into the Way Back Machine with Mr. Peabody and Sherman and have a look.

As a boy in the fifties it was natural for me to be a cowboy fan, and I was. I had just about every toy gun offered including a Rifleman rifle and a hog leg as carried by Steve McQueen in Wanted, Dead or Alive. I was the rootin tootinest kid in the neighborhood, surely destined for NRA membership.

Advancing the timeline a bit, high school days were a fun time and yes I had a car to get around in. My folks bought the very first Mustang convertible supposedly to hit the SF Bay Area. It was silver smoke gray (auto company 
code for light gray) with a red interior and a white rag top. I used to take it on

rallys on Friday nights. They were great fun -something like scavenger hut in your car. Pie plates with things of numeric value written on them placed hither and yon - and you get a set of instructions which if followed correctly would take you to the next pie plate which had a clue to the next pie plate, eventually leading you to a finish line. In our case we then adjourned to a Straw Hat Pizza place to total our scores, eat pizza and maybe win a trophy. We actually did place in several.
 Yes -I had a sports car. That is always good for a laugh as I am a rather large fellow.My first car was a 1956 red MGA. My friends also had sports cars - we were the anti-hot rodders - none of that Detroit slag for  us. There was an  
MGB, a Sunbeam Alpine, a Triumph Spitfire GT6  and another MGA. A few years back my friend Mark was car shopping and a friend of mt stap-dad had an MGB he had restored - so he brought it over so Mark could test drive it/ Mark was convinced I'd never get in and his jaw thudded on the ground he sure got a kick out of the test drive. Those MGA days were what I consider the good old days.

Yes, I had a student loan. Now I have to admit - I did not really need a student loan as my college education was dirt cheap. Tuition and books each quarter at then Cal-State University rarely surpassed $200 or so. But I needed a new stereo so I got a student loan on a Friday and on Saturday left the local Pacific Stereo with a dynamite stereo system. Ironically, years later when managing a RadioShack store in Oakland one of my customers was a gentleman named Ed Long - the guy that designed the speakers I bought and the designer of Time Aligned speakers and PZM microphones which were designed using microphone elements Ed purchased from me.m And yes I did pay my student loan back on time.

When it comes to friends, I have  some spectacular ones. One played in the NFL for 7 years but the one with the largest impact on life as we know it is my pal Stuarts from Rego Park, Queens  NY. He went to Forest Hills High - the same as Paul Simon and Art Garfunkle. When he had secured his Masters Degree in engineering from NYU he went to work at Bell Labs. At one tine he was in charge of the AT&T PC business but his favorite job was in the development of cellular communications. Stu led the team that deigned the switching systems  that make cell phones work. One afternoon I got a call from Stu - not unique in and of itself. I asked him  where he was - Chicago n a taxi testing our new communication stuff - how do I sound? Needless to say I was flabbergasted. He also had some interesting tales to tell about the PC business and how Olivetti did business but those are for a different day.

That concludes my run through the "I had one of those" things Of course there were others - a hula hoop which I never did get the hang of, a male cat named Susie - a Main Coon that was bigger than a bobcat. Susie looked just like this

and ruled the neighborhood. He was a very cool cat. He could also be kinda scary LOL. 

Enjoy those unique moments and people in your life. They keep things interesting and that helps keep you going when you can look back and enjoy those mom get lucky

That is it for this weeks 2-on-1 blog. Be sure to see what Ramana has to say over at Ramana]s Musings

PS - I never did join the NRA. 

Friday, December 6, 2019

Older and Wiser

Older and wiser - that is Ramana's choice for our topic this week. Be sure to see what he has to say at Ramana's Musings.

The assumption here is that with age comes wisdom. Though there is a definite link between age and wisdom, not all old people are wise and not all wise people are old. One who cannot listen cannot grow so the odds are that person will never be wise. What is wisdom? Merriam Webster (online) says "sense, common sense, judgment, wisdom mean ability to reach intelligent conclusions. sense implies a reliable ability to judge and decide with soundness, prudence, and intelligence. a choice showing good sense common sense suggests an average degree of such ability without sophistication or special knowledge. 

Many folks are afraid of making mistakes. Mistakes are great learning experiences and the primary take away should be - IMHO - not repeating them. Think about the world of science - scientific discoveries come from experimentation, failures and learning from those failures. 

We all experience a bit of heartache in life - it is just part of life - and again just learn from the experience, and keep moving forward.

My all time fave  basketball player, Julius Erving, got it right when he said "
The key to success is to keep growing in all areas of life - mental, emotional, spiritual, as well as physical."

It strikes me as rather odd that we here in the United States do not seem to offer the proper respect to our senior citizens. Consider the ages of some of our senior politicians and it is even odder but here it seems older people are shuffled off to retirement homes and ignored except for holidays. Ironic then that we elect septuagenarians President.

One thing is certain - e all reach the end of the line. One can only hope we are wiser than when we started.

That's my quick shack take  on older wiser. Stop by next week for another 2-on-2 blog where my blog mate Ramana and I tackle the  same subject.