Sunday, December 28, 2008

Old Western Movies and TV Shows

Year’s End is traditionally a time of looking back, assessing not only the past year but the years of one’s life in general.

One of my favorite observations is that “Age doesn’t necessarily bring wisdom, but it does provide perspective.” The more years an individual has seen, the better viewpoint is available. Well, I perhaps have a few more years on me than most current bloggers. Okay, maybe a few more DECADES. I kind of enjoy it.

Old friend and coworker Robert Powell passed along a
flash movie file called Those Old Westerns which provides a fascinating look back along the happy trails of my youth. Watch it now, or read my scribbling and THEN take a look. Do yourself a favor and spend the few minutes to watch the entire presentation. And make sure your volume is set to hear the accompanying music.

Western movies were a BIG deal when I was a kid. I was just a touch too young to recall the first-run days of the Saturday afternoon matinees founded on the rush-produced two-reelers. Most of those, I saw on a series of old, snowy, black-and-white television screens. Oh, I saw my share of Saturday flicks, too, and was enthralled by them. In the ensuing few years, there were literally dozens of western-themed television series advancing the cowboy culture ideal over the then-new medium. But TV did NOT replace the western on the movie screen, but rather was a valuable adjunct.

I believe one of the main meanings behind the site linked above is the reminder of the core values of that simpler, happier era. It’s hard to say if those films were primarily responsible for instilling the basic principles of the age in my malleable mind. I think not entirely. I learned much -- often without being aware of it -- from my family. Rather, I think the movies provided a backdrop, a visual aid, illustrating how strength, self-reliance, honesty, and loyalty would see us through in the face of adversity. Those western guys INSPIRED us, as did the all-too-few staunch, strong-willed female stars alongside ’em.

Anyhow, without going TOO far into this hip-pocket philosophizing, I submit the presentation. It was a valuable reminder of the kinder, gentler days of yesteryear. I enjoyed the look at the names of the heroes and villains. Some of them are as well remembered and timeless as John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart. Others evoke a striking, “Oh yeah! I remember HIM.” And all too many were not recalled at all, simply providing a backdrop against which my favorites would perform.

Year-end nostalgia. Wallow in it. I did, and enjoyed every minute of it.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

More on the GM Bailout Program - - INTERESTING!

I received most of this in an e-mail from my good friend, Doug Smith. My efforts to verify authenticity are detailed below.

Can we elect this guy president? He seems to have a clue. [Mr. Knox, that is -- the person who wrote the open letter reply, below.] He seems to have a clue. Truly the first sane voice I've heard in a very long time. Too bad logic like this is completely lost on liberal democrats (unfortunately their are a lot of POLITICIANS of all stripes in that group!!). I hear now that the
SIPC is expected to pay out up to $500K each to the morons that lost their money in the Madoff ponzi scheme. How come no one wants to bail me out??? [I added the links to Doug’s e-mail.]

Abridged letter from Troy Clarke, President of General Motors. Please - - read through it and then carefully consider the response from Gregory Knox.

Dear Employee, next week, Congress and the current Administration will determine whether to provide immediate support to the domestic auto industry to help it through one of the most difficult economic times in our nation's history. Your elected officials must hear from all of us now on why this support is critical to our continuing the progress we began prior to the global financial crisis. As an employee, you have a lot at stake and continue to be one of our most effective and passionate voices. I know GM can count on you to have your voice heard.

Thank you for your urgent action and ongoing support.

Troy Clarke
General Motors North America

This open letter of reply is from Gregory Knox, President of Knox Machinery, a manufacturer of precision machine tools which supplies the auto industry.

In response to your request to call legislators and ask for a bailout for
the United States automakers please consider the following and please also pass this onto Troy Clark, the president of General Motors North America for me.

You are both infected with the same entitlement mentality that has bred like cancerous germs in UAW halls for the last countless decades and whose plague is now sweeping the nation, awaiting our new "messiah" to wave his magical wand and make all our problems go away, while at the same time allowing our once great nation to keep "living the dream."

The dream is over!

The dream that we can ignore the consumer for years while management myopically focuses on its personal rewards packages at the same time that our factories have been filled with the worlds most overpaid, arrogant, ignorant and laziest entitlement minded "laborers" without paying the price for these atrocities, and that still the masses will line up to buy our products.

Don't tell me I'm wrong. Don't accuse me of not knowing of what I speak. I have called on Ford, GM , Chrysler, TRW, Delphi, Kelsey Hayes, American Axle and countless other automotive OEM's and Tier ones for 3 decades now throughout the Midwest and what I've seen over the years in these union shops can only be described as disgusting.

Mr. Clark, the president of General Motors, states:
"There is widespread sentiment in this country, our government and especially in the media that the current crisis is completely the result of bad management. It is not."

You're right - it's not JUST management. How about the electricians who walk around the plants like lords in feudal times, making people wait on them for countless hours while they drag Ass, so they can come in on the weekend and make double and triple time -- for a job they easily could have done within their normal 40 hour week.

How about the line workers who threaten newbies with all kinds of scare
tactics for putting out too many parts on a shift...and for being too productive (mustn't expose the lazy bums who have been getting overpaid for decades for their horrific underproduction, must we?!?) Do you really not know about this stuff?!?

How about this great sentiment abridged from Mr. Clarke's sad plea:
“ . . . over the last few years we have closed the quality and efficiency gaps with our competitors.”

What the hell has Detroit been doing for the last 40 years?!?

Did we really JUST wake up to the gaps in quality and efficiency between us and them?

The K car vs. the Accord?

The Pinto vs. the Civic?!?

Do I need to go on?

We are living through the inevitable outcome of the actions of the United States auto industry for decades.

Time to pay for your sins, Detroit.

I attended an economic summit last week where a brilliant economist, Alan Beaulieu, surprised the crowd when he said he would not have given the banks a penny of "bailout money." Yes, he said, this would cause short term problems, but despite what people like George Bush and Troy Clark would have us believe, the sun would in fact rise the next day and something else would happen. Where there had been greedy and sloppy banks new efficient ones would pop up. That is how a free market system works. It does work, if we would let it work.

But for some reason we are now deciding that the rest of the world is right and that capitalism doesn't work - that we need the government to step in and "save us." Save us, hell! We're nationalizing and unfortunately too many of this once fine nations citizens don't even have a clue that this is what's really happening ... but they sure can tell you the stats on their favorite sports teams. Yeah, THAT'S important!

Does it occur to ANYONE that the "competition" has been producing vehicles, EXTREMELY PROFITABLY, for decades now in this country?

How can that be???

Let's see. . .

Fuel efficient . . .

Listening to customers. . .

Investing in the proper tooling and automation for the long haul . . .

Not being too complacent or arrogant to listen to Dr. W. Edwards Deming, four decades ago . . .

Ever increased productivity through quality, lean and six sigma plans . . .

Treating vendors like strategic partners, rather than like "the enemy" . . .

Efficient front and back offices . . .

Non union environment!

Again, I could go on and on, but I really wouldn't be telling anyone anything they really don't already know in their hearts.

I have six children, so I am not unfamiliar with the concept of wanting someone to bail you out of a mess that you have gotten yourself into. My children do this on a weekly, if not daily basis, as I did at their age. I do for them what my parents did for me (one of their greatest gifts, by the way,) I
make them stand on their own two feet and accept the consequences of their actions and work them through.

Radical concept, huh?

Am I there for them in the wings? Of course - but only until such time as they need to be fully on their own as adults.

I don't want to oversimplify a complex situation, but there certainly are unmistakable parallels here between the proper role of parenting and government.

Detroit and the United States need to pay for their sins.

Bad news people - it's coming whether we like it or not.

The newly elected Messiah really doesn't have a magic wand big enough to "make it all go away" I laughed as I heard Obama "reeling it back in" almost immediately after the vote count was tallied. "We might not do it in a year or in four." Where was that kind of talk when he was RUNNING for the office?

Stop trying to put off the inevitable.

That house in Florida really isn't worth $750,000.

People who jump across a border really don't deserve free health care benefits.

That job driving that forklift for the big 3 really isn't worth $85,000 a year.

We really shouldn't allow Wal-Mart to stock their shelves with products acquired from a country that unfairly manipulates their currency and has the most atrocious human rights infractions on the face of the globe.

That couple whose combined income is less than $50,000 really shouldn't be living in that $485,000 home.

Let the market correct itself people - it will. Yes it will be painful, but it's gonna be painful either way, and the bright side of my proposal is that on the other side of it is a nation that appreciates what is has and doesn't live beyond its means. Gets back to basics, and redevelops the work ethic that made it the greatest nation in the history of the world and probably turns back to God.

Sorry - don't cut my head off, I'm just the messenger sharing with you the "bad news."

Gregory J Knox
Knox Machinery, Inc.
Franklin, Ohio 45005

Frankly, I’m usually a little leery of internet schtuph like this, with little or dubious attribution. A great majority of the writings that appear “too good to be true” are exactly that. In this case, however, when I ran a Google search on Gregory J. Knox, I found him: a real person, with a real company. Then I went to the Urban Legends page and found that the whole thing is properly attributed. There are even a couple of good quotes by Mr. Knox himself. Read it for yourownself. I know I enjoyed seeing it.

Hope everyone's enjoying the run up to the holidays.


Friday, December 05, 2008

Things I've Done, Places I've Been

During the past week or so, I’ve seen this meme on some of the blogs I regularly read. Can’t recall where I saw it first, so I really can’t give proper credit ( - - or assign blame - -) for the idea. Still, it's sorta fun.

Here’s my list. Stuff I’ve personally experienced is shown in Bold, with explanations where needed.

1. Started your own blog.
2. Slept under the stars.
3. Played in a band.
4. Visited Hawaii.
5. Watched a meteor shower.
6. Given more than you can afford to charity.
7. Been to Disneyland.
8. Climbed a mountain.
9. Held a praying mantis.
10. Sang a solo.
11. Bungee jumped.
12. Visited Paris.

13. Watched a lightning storm at sea.
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch.
15. Adopted a child.
16. Had food poisoning.
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty.
18. Grown your own vegetables.
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France.
20. Slept on an overnight train.
21. Had a pillow fight.
22. Hitch hiked.
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill.

24. Built a snow fort.
25. Held a lamb.
26. Gone skinny dipping.
27. Run a Marathon.
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice.-
29. Seen a total eclipse. (Lunar, not solar)
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset.
31. Hit a home run. (If pickup games after grade school count.)
32. Been on a cruise.
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person.
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors. (A short stopover at Llandrindod Wells, Wales; A drive through the North Carolina mountains.)
35. Seen an Amish community. Not a real visit - - Drove through a couple on my travels.)

36. Taught yourself a new language.
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied.
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person.

39. Gone rock climbing.
40. Seen Michelangelo's David.
41. Sung karaoke.
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt.
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant.
44. Visited Africa.
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight.
46. Been transported in an ambulance.
47. Had your portrait painted (drawn.)
48. Gone deep sea fishing.
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person.
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling.
52. Kissed in the rain.
53. Played in the mud.
54. Gone to a drive-in theater.
55. Been in a movie. (Low budget, made by a pal.)
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business. (It lasted about four weeks.)
58. Taken a martial arts class.
59. Visited Russia.
60. Served at a soup kitchen.
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies.
62. Gone whale watching.
63. Got flowers for no reason.
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma.
65. Gone sky diving.
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp.
67. Bounced a check.
68. Flown in a helicopter.
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial.
71. Eaten Caviar.
72. Pieced a quilt.
73. Stood in Times Square.
74. Toured the Everglades. Only from the air. That was plenty.
75. Been fired from a job.
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London.
77. Broken a bone.
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle.
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person.
80. Published a book.
81. Visited the Vatican.
82. Bought a brand new car.
83. Walked in Jerusalem.
84. Had your picture in the newspaper.
85. Read the entire Bible.
86. Visited the White House.
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating.
88. Had chickenpox.
89. Saved someone’s life.
90. Sat on a jury.
91. Met someone famous.
92. Joined a book club.
93. Lost a loved one.
94. Had a baby. Did my part, anyway - - x2
95. Seen the Alamo in person.
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake.
97. Been involved in a law suit.
98. Owned a cell phone.
99. Been stung by a bee.
100. Read an entire book in one day.

If you have a blog, you are hereby invited to adopt and modify this one. It’s a way for us to know a bit more about one another.