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Ducks Quack, Eagles Soar

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A good while back, a good friend gave me a bit of advice after reading one of my blog posts. He said “Make it about what you love, not what you hate.” I don’t know if he was talking specifically about my blog, or just my general outlook on life. Either way, that was good advice. And with today’s post, I’m attempting to make a turn in that direction.

My brother David sent this to me today. I haven’t bothered to try to verify if it is true or not. I don’t really care if it’s true or not. Because it could be. And whether it’s true or not, it can still inspire me. And whether it’s true or not has no bearing on the fact that I can choose to learn from this lesson and make my life better, as well as the lives of those around me every day. I want to do that. Lord help me to do that.

There is an amazing lesson in this email. Enjoy and make up your mind to soar like eagles.
Ducks, Quack & Eagles Soar!

No one can make you serve customers well. That’s because great service is a choice.

Harvey Mackay, tells a wonderful story about a cab driver that proved this point.

He was waiting in line for a ride at the airport. When a cab pulled up, the first thing Harvey noticed was that the taxi was polished to a bright shine. Smartly dressed in a white shirt, black tie, and freshly pressed black slacks, the cab driver jumped out and rounded the car to open the back passenger door for Harvey .

He handed my friend a laminated card and said: “I’m Wally, your driver. While I’m loading your bags in the trunk I’d like you to read my mission statement.”

Taken aback, Harvey read the card. It said: Wally’s Mission Statement: To get my customers to their destination in the quickest, safest and cheapest way possible in a friendly environment.

This blew Harvey away. Especially when he noticed that the inside of the cab matched the outside. Spotlessly clean!
As he slid behind the wheel, Wally said, “Would you like a cup of coffee? I have a thermos of regular and one of decaf.” My friend said jokingly, “No, I’d prefer a soft drink.” Wally smiled and said, “No problem. I have a cooler up front with regular and Diet Coke, water and orange juice.” Almost stuttering, Harvey said, “I’ll take a Diet Coke.”

Handing him his drink, Wally said, “If you’d like something to read, I have The Wall Street Journal, Time, Sports Illustrated and USA Today.”

As they were pulling away, Wally handed my friend another laminated card, “These are the stations I get and the music they play, if you’d like to listen to the radio.”

And as if that weren’t enough, Wally told Harvey that he had the air conditioning on and asked if the temperature was comfortable for him. Then he advised Harvey of the best route to his destination for that time of day. He also let him know that he’d be happy to chat and tell him about some of the sights or, if Harvey preferred, to leave him with his own thoughts.

“Tell me, Wally,” my amazed friend asked the driver, “have you always served customers like this?”

Wally smiled into the rear view mirror. “No, not always. In fact, it’s only been in the last two years. My first five years driving, I spent most of my time complaining like all the rest of the cabbies do. Then I heard the personal growth guru, Wayne Dyer, on the radio one day.

“He had just written a book called You’ll See It When You Believe It. Dyer said that if you get up in the morning expecting to have a bad day, you’ll rarely disappoint yourself. He said, ‘Stop complaining! Differentiate yourself from your competition. Don’t be a duck. Be an eagle. Ducks quack and complain. Eagles soar above the crowd.’
That hit me right between the eyes,” said Wally. “Dyer was really talking about me. I was always quacking and complaining, so I decided to change my attitude and become an eagle. I looked around at the other cabs and their drivers.The cabs were dirty, the drivers were unfriendly, and the customers were unhappy. So I decided to make some changes. I put in a few at a time. When my customers responded well, I did more.”

“I take it that has paid off for you,” Harvey said.

“It sure has,” Wally replied. “My first year as an eagle, I doubled my income from the previous year. This year I’ll probably quadruple it. You were lucky to get me today. I don’t sit at cabstands anymore. My customers call me for appointments on my cell phone or leave a message on my answering machine. If I can’t pick them up myself, I get a reliable cabbie friend to do it and I take a piece of the action.”

Wally was phenomenal. He was running a limo service out of a Yellow Cab. I’ve probably told that story to more than fifty cab drivers over the years, and only two took the idea and ran with it. Whenever I go to their cities, I give them a call. The rest of the drivers quacked like ducks and told me all the reasons they couldn’t do any of what I was suggesting.

Wally the Cab Driver made a different choice. He decided to stop quacking like ducks and start soaring like eagles.

How about us? Smile, and the whole world smiles with you. The ball is in our hands!

A man reaps what he sows. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Let us do good to all people.

Ducks Quack, Eagles Soar.

Have a nice day, unless you already have other plans.

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

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Written by jb

June 26, 2010 at 10:38 pm

Less Talkin’, More Kickin’

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The Gulf oil spill tragedy. Government’s role in correcting it. The Administration’s approach so far has been totally bass-ackwards. Instead of looking for who to blame, “whose ass to kick,” FIRST let’s get this tragedy cleaned up, protect the People from the disaster that is unfolding upon us. That is government’s first responsibility. Then once that has been accomplished, there will be plenty of time to point fingers and hold responsible parties accountable. Instead, this Administration is engaging in fostering an ‘us against them’ mentality which is totally counter productive toward the goal of protecting the public and cleaning up the mess, and it renders efforts to combat the incredible tragedy completely ineffective.

Below is a reprint of Sara Palin’s post on the issue. Regardless of what you may think of her, I ask you to put politics aside for a few minutes and simply READ what she has to say. If it’s possible for you to actually consider what she’s saying without letting politics get in the way, I think you’ll have to realize that this is just Common Sense 101.

50 days in, and we’ve just learned another shocking revelation concerning the Obama administration’s response to the Gulf oil spill. In an interview aired this morning, President Obama admitted that he hasn’t met with or spoken directly to BP’s CEO Tony Hayward. His reasoning: “Because my experience is, when you talk to a guy like a BP CEO, he’s gonna say all the right things to me. I’m not interested in words. I’m interested in actions.”

First, to the “informed and enlightened” mainstream media: in all the discussions you’ve had with the White House about the spill, did it not occur to you before today to ask how the CEO-to-CEO level discussions were progressing to remedy this tragedy? You never cease to amaze. (Kind of reminds us of the months on end when you never bothered to ask if the President was meeting with General McChrystal to talk about our strategy in Afghanistan.)

Second, to fellow baffled Americans: this revelation is further proof that it bodes well to have some sort of executive experience before occupying the Oval Office (as if the painfully slow response to the oil spill, confusion of duties, finger-pointing, lack of preparedness, and inability to grant local government simple requests weren’t proof enough). The current administration may be unaware that it’s the President’s duty, meeting on a CEO-to-CEO level with Hayward, to verify what BP reports. In an interview a few weeks ago with Greta Van Susteren, I noted that based on my experience working with oil execs as an oil regulator and then as a Governor, you must verify what the oil companies claim – because their perception of circumstances and situations dealing with public resources and public trust is not necessarily shared by those who own America’s public resources and trust. I was about run out of town in Alaska for what critics decried at the time as my “playing hardball with Big Oil,” and those same adversaries (both shortsighted Repubs and Dems) continue to this day to try to discredit my administration’s efforts in holding Big Oil accountable to operate ethically and responsibly.

Mr. President: with all due respect, you have to get involved, sir. The priorities and timeline of an oil company are not the same as the public’s. You cannot outsource the cleanup and the responsibility and the trust to BP and expect that the legitimate interests of Americans adversely affected by this spill will somehow be met.

White House: have you read this morning’s Washington Post? Not to pile it on BP, but there’s an extensive report chronicling the company’s troubling history:

“BP has had more high-profile accidents than any other company in recent years. And now, with the disaster in the gulf, independent experts say the pervasiveness of the company’s problems, in multiple locales and different types of facilities, is striking.

‘They are a recurring environmental criminal and they do not follow U.S. health safety and environmental policy,’ said Jeanne Pascal, a former EPA lawyer who led its BP investigations.”

And yet just 10 days prior to the explosion, the Obama administration’s regulators gave the oil rig a pass, and last year the Obama administration granted BP a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) exemption for its drilling operation.

These decisions and the resulting spill have shaken the public’s confidence in the ability to safely drill. Unless government appropriately regulates oil developments and holds oil executives accountable, the public will not trust them to drill, baby, drill. And we must! Or we will be even more beholden to, and controlled by, dangerous foreign regimes that supply much of our energy. This has been a constant refrain from me. As Governor of Alaska, I did everything in my power to hold oil companies accountable in order to prove to the federal government and to the nation that Alaska could be trusted to further develop energy rich land like ANWR and NPR-A. I hired conscientious Democrats and Republicans (because this sure shouldn’t be a partisan issue) to provide me with the best advice on how we could deal with what was a corrupt system of some lawmakers and administrators who were hesitant to play hardball with some in the oil field business. (Remember the Alaska lawmakers, public decision-makers, and business executives who ended up going to jail as a result of the FBI’s investigations of oily corruption.)

As the aforementioned article notes, BP’s operation in Alaska would hurt our state and waste public resources if allowed to continue. That’s why my administration created the Petroleum Systems Integrity Office (PSIO) when we saw proof of improper maintenance of oil infrastructure in our state. We had to verify. And that’s why we instituted new oversight and held BP and other oil companies financially accountable for poor maintenance practices. We knew we could partner with them to develop resources without pussyfooting around with them. As a CEO, it was my job to look out for the interests of Alaskans with the same intensity and action as the oil company CEOs looked out for the interests of their shareholders.

I learned firsthand the way these companies operate when I served as chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (AOGCC). I ended up resigning in protest because my bosses (the Governor and his chief of staff at the time) wouldn’t support efforts to clean up the corruption involving improper conflicts of interest with energy companies that the state was supposed to be watching. (I wrote about this valuable learning experience in my book, “Going Rogue”.) I felt guilty taking home a big paycheck while being reduced to sitting on my thumbs – essentially rendered ineffective as a supervisor of a regulatory agency in charge of nearly 20% of the U.S. domestic supply of energy.

My experience (though, granted, I got the message loud and clear during the campaign that my executive experience managing the fastest growing community in the state, and then running the largest state in the union, was nothing compared to the experiences of a community organizer) showed me how government officials and oil execs could scratch each others’ backs to the detriment of the public, and it made me ill. I ran for Governor to fight such practices. So, as a former chief executive, I humbly offer this advice to the President: you must verify. That means you must meet with Hayward. Demand answers.

In the interview today, the President said: “I don’t sit around just talking to experts because this is a college seminar. We talk to these folks because they potentially have the best answers, so I know whose ass to kick.”

Please, sir, for the sake of the Gulf residents, reach out to experts who have experience holding oil companies accountable. I suggested a few weeks ago that you start with Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources, led by Commissioner Tom Irwin. Having worked with Tom and his DNR and AGIA team led by Marty Rutherford, I can vouch for their integrity and expertise in dealing with Big Oil and overseeing its developments. We’ve all lived and worked through the Exxon-Valdez spill. They can help you. Give them a call. Or, what the heck, give me a call.

And, finally, Mr. President, please do not punish the American public with any new energy tax in response to this tragedy. Just because BP and federal regulators screwed up that doesn’t mean the rest of us should get punished with higher taxes at the pump and attached to everything petroleum products touch.

– Sarah Palin

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Written by jb

June 9, 2010 at 12:30 pm

The Green Machine

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The Green Machine. I’ll be upfront and honest by stating that I’ve always been skeptical about the whole push to move us into Green mode. And I’m finally posting a look at just how this Green Machine works. Since Cap and Trade would be such a huge change in the way we use and pay for energy in all segments of our economy, and because it appears to be (like it or not) on our horizon, let’s take a look at just one real-world example of the way this Green Agenda plays out, shall we?

Ok, I’m all in favor of conserving our natural resources whenever possible and not doing unnecessary harm to our planet, but tell me if this seems just a wee bit wacky to you.

The good people who host my domain just sent notice that they’ve gone totally green! And they tell me that because of that my hosted site qualifies to display certification as an eco-friendly site. Woo-hoo!! They explain:

We are green, so you are green. Our offices and our data centers are all powered by 100% wind energy. You can be proud that the machines hosting your website and email are eco-friendly, which makes you eligible for our Green Certificate.

BUT… here’s where it starts to get wacky… in the ‘fine print,’ they further state:

Since generating wind energy on site isn’t feasible, we’re offsetting all of our electricity use with wind-generated Renewable Energy Certificates, which prevent the release of 2,660 metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere each year.

Here’s my certificate. Pretty cool, eh?

So let me get this straight: They’re claiming that they are totally green, “all powered by 100% wind energy,” and even providing certification to that fact, yet they aren’t actually USING wind energy because it would be unfeasible for them to generate it? They simply pay good money to purchase a piece of paper that SAYS they’re using wind energy, when they really aren’t? The energy they actually use in powering their offices and the servers that host my domain still comes from the same old “traditional” sources, meaning that it’s probably generated by burning coal. If it comes from a coal burning plant, then 2,660 metric tons of carbon dioxide are STILL being produced to meet their energy requirements. Yet they can now claim that they are “powered by 100% wind energy.” And they can feel really good while bragging about it. Wow. That’s messed up!

In all fairness, there really are people generating clean wind energy. But what happens to that energy once it is created? And how does it get used (consumed)? Here’s an oversimplified look in layman’s terms. A large wind farm will SELL the energy it produces to a power company. The power company buys the energy and routes it into their power grid, which is like a pool of energy that has been produced by a number of different possible methods. This pool can be made up of energy which was produced by coal burning energy plants, by nuclear energy plants, from solar production, from wind farms, and perhaps other means as well. The power company then delivers energy from this pool to all their customers, down the power lines that come into your house or business. So customers who choose NOT to buy Renewable Energy Certificates are actually consuming just as much wind-generated energy as a customer like my webhost who HAVE thrown good money into purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates. Remember that the wind farm was paid for their product – “green power” – by the power company which purchased it from them. So who gets the money from the sale of these Renewable Energy Certificates? Someone does. But it’s not necessarily the people who produce the green energy. It’s a shell game.

And that, my friends, gives us a glimpse into how I think this whole green thing is going to operate in our future. It’s nothing more than a feel-good with no real substance, except that the real substance of it is that someone stands to make tremendous profit while we continue business as usual. It’s smoke and mirrors. It means paying a whole lot more for something new and (supposedly) ‘better,’ while we still get the same old product. The urgent need to get us away from burning coal is somehow met if we simply purchase “certificates” which state that we’re using new renewable energy, even as the old coal burning power plant continues to produce and deliver the same juice we’ve always used.

Once we’re all required by future legislation to be using green power (see that coming?) and we’re paying exorbitant rates for it (but hey, isn’t the wind free?), how can we know we aren’t being subjected to the same kind of bait and switch scheme my webhost has fallen prey to? With electricity, how can you tell where it came from? It would be one thing if clean wind generated power LOOKED different in some way from dirty old coal generated power. If that were the case, we could LOOK at our power and confirm that we’re actually being delivered green energy for the significantly higher rates we’ll all be paying for it. But with electricity you can’t tell that way. We’ll have to trust someone… blindly.

SOMEone is going to make an insanely huge amount of money off of all this. And we’re supposed to feel really good about having to pay it, because we’ll be saving the planet, after all. But I’ll bet we’ll still be getting the same old product. Just like my webhost… “totally certifiably green,” while at the same time they admit oh by the way, we’re still actually using the same old completely un-green energy we always did. But we’re paying so much more for it!! Isn’t that great??!

Cap and Trade works in much the same way, as far as I can tell. Industries and individual customers are assigned a base level of ‘allowances’ to emit a determined amount of greenhouse gasses. If, in the course of doing business, they need to generate more greenhouse gasses than they are allowed under the guidelines, they simply purchase Carbon Credits from another customer who isn’t using all of their allocation. But the bottom line is that the same amount of greenhouse gasses will be produced, either way. The only difference is that under the Green scenario, massive amounts of money have exchanged hands, and consequently we’ll ALL be paying far more not only for our own electricity use, but also for each and every item we buy which uses energy in its production or delivery (and what doesn’t fall into that category?). Does this make sense? Does this sound like the direction we need to be headed in?

Former Vice President Al Gore has a major financial stake in foisting the Green Agenda on us. His investment firm, Generation Investment Management, owns shares in Camco International Ltd, a carbon asset developer. Camco is a company which deals in the sale of carbon credits. This obviously means that Gore stands to make substantial income from the trading of carbon credits. This may provide a look into one of the main reasons Gore is so much in favor of seeing that Congress passes Cap and Trade legislation. It’s obvious that without regulation and legislation, the Green Agenda would be totally unsustainable in a free market economy (since all customers of the power company get the same juice delivered to them, whether they’ve bought Renewable Energy Certificates or not). So just how noble is the Nobel laureate in all of this? Does the term ‘appearance of impropriety’ come to mind? If he truly were interested in protecting the environment, and he really does believe that man’s production of greenhouse gasses is the number one contributor to the evil of global warming, then why is he making certain that he’s positioned to make obscene profits from enacting the Green Agenda? Wouldn’t the noble thing for him to do be to ‘do it for free?’ For the people. For the planet. For our survival. Not for his own financial gain. It certainly should call into question the real reasons behind his ardent fervor in promoting the Green Agenda.

This whole Green thing, if Cap and Trade becomes law, would be ripe for abuse and manipulation and fraud. It’s hard to imagine that there could ever be a bigger opportunity for bribery and massive corruption, when you consider that in order to implement this, a huge new federal bureaucracy will have to be created to police enforcement and structure guidelines, and to monitor the purchase and distribution of these goofy carbon credits. Talk about the king of all cesspools for corporate lobbying and corruption – this is it.

Forget about the fact that the whole Green agenda is based on what is increasingly being shown to be ‘junk science’ and fraud and intimidation. It is certainly not based in ‘settled science’ as we continue to hear. Just consider the way it plays out in the example of my webhosting company. It’s completely preposterous. But there are those who stand to make huge profits from it, just to continue to do things the way they’ve always been done. Smoke and mirrors. Shell game. A government-run Bernie Madoff scam on steroids which will financially effect every single element of our economy and society. Is that what we need?

Remember what the frog said:

It’s not easy, being green.

We’re all going to find out very soon just how right he was.

Written by jb

March 19, 2010 at 12:15 pm

So let me get this straight…

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On Friday, President Obama announced his proposal for a new tax on banks. He is indignant that the banks which took bailout funds (which his administration forced many of them to accept, by the way) have not paid back the government but yet are paying bonuses to some of their executives.

“We want our money back, and we’re going to get it,” he said in his announcement. But wait… most of the banks have returned the money they borrowed, and Obama said that was “good news.” “But as far as I’m concerned, it’s not good enough,” he said. “We want the taxpayers’ money back, and we’re going to collect every dime.”

He’s upset that “every dime” has not been paid back, and he’s determined to recover all of it (for the benefit of the taxpayers, of course). So he proposes a tax on the banks to collect. But you must note that there is an exemption in his proposal for certain specific recipients of the bailout funds, most notably two which were the biggest recipients who also happen to be two of those which were probably most responsible for the crisis which brought about the need for the whole bailout in the first place – Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. And those institutions are among those which have NOT paid back the funds they received.

So let me get this straight…

  • he proposes a tax to recover the funds which have not been repaid
  • many of the banks which have already repaid the funds they received will be taxed in order to recover funds which have yet to be repaid by other institutions
  • while he exempts specific institutions which have NOT paid back the funds they received.

So, the funds which have not been repaid are going to be ‘confiscated’ from institutions which have already repaid their share, while other institutions get to skate on their responsibility? How is that ‘American?’

Does any of this make sense? No. Not a bit. Until you realize that this isn’t about a feigned indignation over the fact that the taxpayers’ investment has not been repaid. If it were, the plan would go after those who have failed to pay back what they received. What’s it about then? It’s about a bold, up-front Administration-wide agenda to redistribute wealth… it has to be. Remember the interchange between the Candidate and Joe the Plumber? Candidate Obama was pretty clear that this would be his agenda once elected, and ‘we’ elected him anyway, so this should come as no real surprise. This entire goofy proposal makes that abundantly clear to anyone who will take an objective look at it.

Written by jb

January 16, 2010 at 9:31 am

And the Recommendation Goes To…

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If you live in or around Nashville, I’ve got a recommendation for any of you who ever have need of a good plumbing/heating/cooling service. Go with Hiller Plumbing Heating & Cooling. Here are two specific reasons WHY I recommend you use them.

1). My personal experience
The last time I need a plumbing job done, I called a number of reputable Nashville plumbing companies. At least one of them never returned my call. One told me they did not want the job. Another one made an appointment but never showed up for it (?!). Hiller made the appointment, phoned in advance to confirm, phoned on the day of the appointment to let me know when they were on their way, arrived EARLY for the appointment, and sent two men which made the repair go quicker and more efficiently than it would have with only one person. They did the repair in a very professional manner, took great care to ensure that they did not leave my house in a mess, and were more than fair in their pricing.

But wait… there’s MORE.

2). This is what spurred me to post this recommendation.
They are a responsible company which believes in using their resources to give back to their community. Recently they began a program called Hiller Helping Hands in order to help needy people who can not afford their particular skills and services. Anyone may go to http://hillerhelpinghands.com and nominate someone (even yourself) who needs their services but can not afford them. Each month they select a number of recipients they consider to be most in need, and they perform their service at no cost.

In the recent months, they have helped an elderly woman who hadn’t had running water in over four years. They installed a water heater for an elderly man. They provided central heat and air for a needy family with premature twin babies who had special medical needs.

This is a good and noteworthy example of a private commercial business acting responsibly in their community. It is an honorable practice, it is rare, it is highly commendable, it is NOT a government program (which would use your tax dollars and mine), and it deserves recognition, which is WHY it earns them my highest recommendation.

Written by jb

November 11, 2009 at 12:04 pm