Jan 25

Ride The Wave

If you are not busy right now, I think you need to stand in front of a clean mirror and ask yourself, “why not?” Everyone I talk to in every part of the country is looking for people and scrambling to keep up. Sure, there are a few pockets where it is slow, and certainly the winter weather is slowing site work in some areas, but my goodness, the work is almost overwhelming! I talked at length with a recruiting company late last week … they had called me looking for leads … and I was told that they can’t keep up with the demand in the construction segment. Pent-up demand, postponed repairs, an improving economy, or whatever it is, it is here and here in a big way. And hey, don’t you dare complain. You (we) have gotten exactly what we asked for. With the old “feast or famine” adage that most people think applies to the construction industry like it does to no other, we are definitely into the feast part … right now. The big question I think is, “how long will it last?” Based on the types of jobs I am seeing, I think it’s a two-year run for sure. Hopefully longer. So be happy, don’t sell yourself too cheaply and ride the wave while you can. Oh, and also … don’t work too hard!

I’m Innocent – Honestly!

Several weeks back I received a traffic citation and a “Payment Due Notice” from the Texas Women’s University, which is located in Denton, Texas. Not sure where Denton is but I’m sure it’s a beautiful place. The citation had my correct name, car type and referenced an Illinois license plate with a number on it that was exactly the same as mine with one exception. My plate number ends in a 4, and the alleged offender’s last number was apparently a 5. The odds of this are pretty slim, but apparently a person with a car like mine in the same color and style and with an Illinois plate just one number different than mine had broken the law in Denton, Texas, on the campus of the Texas Women’s University, where the enforcement officials really should be more careful about getting license plate numbers correctly recorded. I wrote them a very polite letter and explained the problem … that they had the wrong guy … my plate number was not the same as the one they were looking for. Very, very close, but not the same. And what happened next you might ask? I got yet additional citations and notices. I may even be a wanted man in the state of Texas by now. This is not good. This would bring the total to four states and one country that I can no longer visit … at least not comfortably. I’m starting to feel squeezed here! And honestly, I’m innocent I tell ya!

Just Wondering

I don’t buy glass products anymore. I am no longer in a position to buy anything although I certainly do a lot of product recommendation work. One of my biggest annoyances used to be the whole “energy surcharge” thing, which honestly never made any sense to me. I wrote about it several times over the years but nothing ever really changed … although I did come to learn and take advantage of the fact that even energy surcharges are negotiable. But now, I am just wondering, with a barrel of oil now selling at its lowest price in I believe the last 12 years, what’s happened to the energy surcharge thing? Has it gone away or just gotten down to almost nothing? Just curious!

I Don’t Get It

We are now being told (by the scientific community no less) that there is a ninth planet mysteriously lurking beyond Pluto. Apparently the astronomers telling us it is there have not actually seen it, but they know it is there based on gravitational pull calculations and certain light (or lack of light) sittings. I’m not sure why it has taken so long to discover it when we have been able to discover planets in other galaxies for years now. It’s cold and it’s dark but supposedly, it is there. These things confuse me … a few years ago we were told that Pluto was not a real planet, just an oversized asteroid of some kind that got into our solar system’s gravitational pull and can’t get out. But then they reversed themselves and said it was a planet after all. So I guess it is … at least for now.. In a way, maybe it’s like those energy surcharge things. It’s really a price increase but we call it a surcharge. Kinda dark and cold in its own way. So it’s there, but really not there. Or is it? And should it be? The whole thing kinda scares me, especially after all these years. No, not that energy surcharge thing … I’ve always understood that for what it is and I assumed once it made its appearance about 15 or so years ago that it was here to stay. I mean the planet that is there but nobody can really see it. Those things scare me.




The Sports Thing

According to a recent report in the Chicago Tribune, the city of St. Louis spent $16.2 million to try to keep the Rams in St. Louis by building a new riverfront stadium for the team. Of course that effort failed, and now the taxpayers of that fine city are pretty much left on the hook for the debt. The St. Louis Post- Dispatch reported that most of the money went to an assortment of lawyers and a local architectural firms. You know, it makes me feel just a little queasy to mention lawyers and architects in the same sentence. Anyhow, I have long wondered why governmental agencies of any size or type feel a need to subsidize pro sports teams. These teams bring in millions and they are “for profit” entities. Did anyone ever stop to think that if all of these politicians exercised a little intelligence and just decided to say “no” that these teams would probably all end up exactly where they are anyway??? Oh wait, I just used the words politicians and intelligence in the same sentence, and that for sure makes me feel VERY queasy.

The Quotable Thing

We need to thank Ira M. Warren for this week’s quote. I really like it. Thanks Ira!

“Fear is the darkroom where negatives are developed”   … author unknown.


Jan 11

Words of the Wise

My father, Lyle Alvin, was a man of few words. So when he did speak, people in general, and me in particular, were inclined to listen. Being Irish, he was prone to use oft repeated sayings and quotations that he had collected through the years. Two of his favorites (and I  heard these dozens upon dozens of times growing up) were “You can only coast when you are going downhill” and “The proof is in the pudding.”

I once debated with him at some length about the coasting thing because it is possible to coast for a while (you know, the old a body in motion tends to stay in motion thing), but he finally countered with “I really worry about you kid,” so I dropped the argument. He had enough to worry about and I didn’t want to add to the list. Now the “pudding” thing, on the other hand, was hard to argue with. My mother was a good cook and made a number of fine puddings and other delicacies, as well. On those rare occasions when something was left out or a detail was not properly dealt with, the pudding (or pie or cake or whatever) did not come out so well and, of course, disappoint prevailed.

And this brings to mind one of my favorite sayings (I am Irish too and we love our little sayings); “The devil is in the detail.” Now I cannot say that I have actually met the devil … although I am quite convinced that I have met and worked with some of his representatives, but I think you get the idea. Inattention to the details, whether you are making pudding or anything else, can destroy the end results. And no matter how much you advertise, promote, or talk about how good your pudding is, if it is bad, no one wants it. And most will not want to try it again.

I used to love Chipotle …

… the food was great, the service was good, and the prices were reasonable. If I had a complaint, it was that the chairs were not very comfortable, but that was a minor irritant because I really liked their food and averaged at least one visit a week. I was not alone either. They were a real success story. But now they are losing customers by the hundreds and are being investigated by the government while being sued by people who have become ill after eating their food. Apparently somebody forgot to properly wash the salad components … or something of that ilk … and it will be a very long time until I visit one of their locations again. A small detail perhaps, but that’s where the devil in business often resides, and that’s why someone has to be paying attention to them.

I Had Hoped …

…. but I guess it was not to be. A La Nina winter in Chicago that is. The weather had been so nice in my area that I had hopes of going right from fall to spring with a little cold rain in between. But now, winter is settling in and temperatures have plummeted and the snow is falling. But at least December was pleasant and maybe spring will come early. Oh, who am I kidding? Here we go again. Oh well …

It's back!!!

It’s back!!!

Now This Is A Real Improvement …

According to recent reports, nationally, 5-Year CDs are now yielding an average of .86 percent… up a whopping .03 percent from a year ago. Tell your banker Lyle sent you!

The Sports Thing …

Just a couple of quick items here and, as can sometimes be expected of me, they are a bit personal. First, how about those Chicago Blackhawks? Seven in a row! After the team had to dump a lot of its stars after winning the Stanley Cup last year because of salary cap issues, I thought they were going to struggle to compete this season … several new faces and a lot of rookies … but now I honestly believe they have a shot at repeating (Stanley Cup Championship) again this year if they stay healthy. So is it a dynasty or what???

Second Sports Thing …

My granddaughter Sydney Marie Hill was just named “Girl Athlete of the Month” by Buffalo Wild Wings (in the Chicago west suburban area) for her incredible gymnastic achievements while competing for the York High School girls gymnastic team. Sydney is a freshman! The following picture is from the Elmhurst Independent News.

Sydney in action.

Sydney in action.

The Quotable Thing …

This week’s quote was submitted by a former co-worker of mine who for now would like to remain anonymous. He claims he was actually told this by his current boss …
“I didn’t say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you!”

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