Wednesday, January 27, 2010


If I owned or managed an office supply store in one of Northeast Nebraskas larger towns. And if I had 3 aisles of high end office machines selling for between $100 and $500 each.
And if there were say six people all about 40 to 60 year old and standing and reading tags in those aisles and more or less looking lost. I would assume that because of their age they probably could afford any machine they were looking at and that they couldn't get all of the info they need from a little tag that has 4 lines of writing on it and a sticky note on the front that proclaimed 'Out of Stock!' Therefore I would assume people browsing in the pencil aisle could wait and I'd have someone trained to "LEARN ALL YOU CAN ABOUT EACH OF THOSE MACHINES AND IF YOU SEE ANYONE OVER THERE GO SEE IF YOU CAN SELL THEM A MACHINE."
I'd also go to the two young men leaning on the counter and talking to the pretty customer service girl and say something like, "Here, let me lean on this counter and stare at this lovely thing, that should free you two guys up to go help customers." (said thru clenched teeth)
And if I were the manager I'd be in the store to see that it was accomplished.
Now excuse me, I need to get busy online to buy a new printer.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Conflict Resolution

So. I've been to a 'conflict resolution' training class in my capacity as a county Supervisor. It's designed to be used in thngs like contentuous hearings, employee strife and or negotiations and stuff like that.It was in Lincoln.  It was taught by a Prof from the U.of N.
Also, Silly me, taking a class like this  AFTER already having been married for nearly 40 years.
It has already come in handy. I left for Lincoln on Wednesday afternoon, We had lost our power (ice storm) on Tuesday nite. We went to a funeral on Wednesday morning and since there was no wind and it was 31 degrees, I felt safe taking off for  the State Capital secure in the belief that the power would be back on before sunset. I was right. It came back on before, Friday. Marilyn was home alone without power Thursday night but was able to work at the kennel all day Thursday and Friday as the power was still on there. The problem was using a candle for entertainment while at home.
The way I handled this was to get the generator out of the shed one more time and hook it up at about sundown yesterday. The good news there is that I found out it will run for at least 5 hours on a fill of gas. I've always wondered that. The bad news is that when I shut it down about noon today it was leaking enough oil to be a concern. Unattended motors shouldn't be allowed to leak oil.
Did I mention our phone is also out? It is. The good news is that we have forwarded the home phone into my cell phone. The bad news is that my cell just barely works here at home.  I may have to tavel to and spend time in Cabelas or Pro Bass Shop in Omaha to answer our home phone. Bummer.
The frozen snow packed roads that are now melting to a depth of about 1 inch are more or less a watery mixture of mud.  The south winds will cover the car with a dark brown frosting everytime we hit a watery mudhole.  For a brief moment it turns the van into an unlit cave. It is our version of the Califonia 'brown outs' of several years ago.
All of these problems have folks around this farm a bit on edge and so I've decided to resolve this conflict by trying to keep my mouth shut for a few days. I know I'm not able to do that but I don't think Marilyn's interested in hearing about  seperating 'Positions' from 'Interests' in a conflict. At least not yet.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Winter Time Diversions

Cliff Morrow
My wife has been a lifelong ardent lover of horses. She grew up in Denver and had spent much of her childhood free time and money by renting and riding horses. That is up until she received a horse for a birthday gift when she was 12. That ownership led to a lifelong attraction to the hairy beasts.
Most of my childhood horse experience was gained in front of a black and white television, watching the Lone Ranger and Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. Not a lot of practical experience was gained from observing the Lone Ranger unless of course you think horses should be at a full gallop, all of the time. I think "Silver" was an old barrel horse.
At our farm, we ran out of Dad's work horses in the early 1950s. The last two horses spent their final days here on this farm doing what horses do best, converting hay into fertilizer.
We did 'winter' a horse for a man for a few years back in my middle school days. Uh, middle school would have been the middle two rows of desks in our first through eighth grade country school.
Back then you could get a free horse to use doing your cattle chores in the wintertime so long as you fed and watered the mare from fall through late spring. (Incidentally I would now make that same offer to someone else who needed a horse to look at in the winter time.)
These horses were broodmares and expecting young ones, so they became too wide to ride by about April. Those few years were the extent of my horse experience. It did prove successful in getting me over the "romantic" notion in my mind of being able to ride into the sunset strumming my guitar while singing Happy Trails in two-part harmony. The main reason for my lack of continued enthusiasm is that I didn't know what I was doing, and the horse did know what she was doing. And besides, neither one of us could play a guitar.
Case in point is the day I was at a full gallop in a field of cornstalks and heading to look at the cattle on the east side of the 160 acres. I noticed that the cinch was flapping in the wind on the south side of the horse and that the big leather cinch strap was doing the same on the north side of the horse. I felt like the coyote on the Road Runner cartoons who always looked straight into the camera lens after accidentally running out into mid-air, on a chase.
I really didn't know how to ride but I gained valuable experience that day. I knew I could ride that horse at a gallop without a cinch, and that I could ride her at a walk without a cinch. I had my doubts about the 'trot' one must go through between the two. My doubts were well founded.
As my stunt riding career came to a close, my future bride was in Denver becoming proficient at riding hunters and jumpers. After we met and married, it was my desire to try to impress her with the idea of something that I had seen in a Courier and Ives painting. I was going to make a sleigh, and I would have her buy a single harness and train one of our horses to pull it. I did build the sleigh. It was sturdy and very, very heavy. I had welded it together. Farmers shouldn't build sleighs. It turned into what a training sleigh for an elephant might look like.
Marilyn was successful with her part of the bargain and the big day arrived. We harnessed the horse, placed a set of sleigh bells on the harness, put on all of the clothes we owned, (it was about zero out) and started over to the neighbors to say "Hi neighbors!" Then we answered some of their questions, "Oh sure, the sleigh, yeah we thought we'd save some money and come visit under horsepower." "Well, we were walking because the mare can't pull the sleigh with people in it, it's too heavy." "Yep, she is a stout sled." "Thanks."
As it turned out we had lunch with the neighbors and the horse then had more than enough power to pull both the sleigh and my wife and I, after we had made the turn toward home. Horses are like that. By the end of that frosty trip, I also learned that as romantic as riding in the fresh air on a sleigh might sound, it isn't. Horses constantly shed hair in the wintertime, and they don't have catalytic converters on their exhaust systems and it's so cold that the word "survival" begins to have clear meaning.
If you want to try this yourself, pick a really cold day, put on all the clothes you own, then roll the window down on your pickup for the next 20 miles. Don't forget the bells. Quite romantic, eh?

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Out For A Drive

We went for a drive the other morning. Marilyn took the Canon along and snapped a few shots.  The temperature was a minus twenty two degrees and it was foggy, mostly because of the still open Missouri river just a short distance away. The fog and temps account for the frost on the lone pine tree along the road to town.  The neighbors grain bin is backlit by the sun. 

The shot above is taken on our lane looking south toward home.  This last one is a pic of our main road toward town.

Monday, January 04, 2010

They Can't Scare Me

The local radio stations are trying to unnerve those of us living in Nebraska. But I'm not blinking. This morning as I drove Marilyn all over eastern Burt County helping her to pick up dogs to be groomed, the radio kept warning of impending wind chills nearing 30 degrees below zero with the upcoming wind and cold. I wasn't shaken because the temperature read-out on our van stayed right at a -27 everytime we ventured away from the towns and out into the bottom grounds east of US Highway 75.
By my calculations you won't need much wind added to 27 below temps to make it 'feel like' it was 30 below.
I'm sure glad I didn't move south for the winter. I could have missed out on this.