BARRY’S BLOG Tuesday 10-29-13

The City of Auburn’s City Council made their decision last night on selecting a plot of land that would get a zone change to allow for a homeless, emergency shelter within the city limits. The state had mandated that political entities, such as cities, must have land that was zoned to accommodate an emergency shelter by the end of October.

This process has been going on for a couple of years.Several hearings have been held to get plenty of public input to the process. This is a style of our local government that all should appreciate. Getting all the input possible is the way all our governments should work but seldom do.

As the state mandated deadline drew close, the process of examination then elimination of parcels that would not fit the criteria worked very well by narrowing down the targets to only two. The state sets many of these rules, and the city must follow. If you question the power the state has to get it’s policies to be adhered to, consider that Auburn City would not be able to issue building permits if they did not meet the deadline of the end of October.

Now the question is what next? Will some private or public entity come forth and pledge several hundred thousand dollars of investment and negotiate with the land owner to build a shelter that is heavily burdened with rules and regulations, and with no revenue income to sustain the daily operating expenses of staff and expense? The structure would require a Hotel type building allowing guests to come in and check out daily. Also there needs to be provisions for security and sanitation. Also it needs to be in operation 24 by 7. A big hurdle at best.

Can all this happen? Sure! Will it happen? Probably not! Oh well, we re-zoned and that is that. Now lets get on with the next challenge…..Panhandling, loss of water resources, the next release of state prisoners on the local systems, winter….etc. etc.

Have a great day, be kind to your self and be happy!

BARRY’S BLOG FRIDAY 10-25-13

Living in a small town is so very comfortable. You get involved in the daily activities, and there are unlimited opportunities to serve and help others, which is the most rewarding of all the things we do. This week in Auburn, we watch local citizens, including City Councilman Mike Holmes rehearse for their live performance at our performing theatre the “War of the Worlds” radio show. He plays Orson Wells, the bigger than life producer/actor who’s creativity almost caused riots when he announced on the radio that aliens from outer space had landed in New Jersey.

We also heard from our City Manager Bob Richardson and a team of people that are involved with dealing with “Panhandling” which is becoming more and more a nuisance in our city. Bob and our Police Chief, John Ruffcorn have developed a program attempting to educate the general public that panhandlers are not homeless and unfortunate, but business people that have found a “Soft touch” in Auburn. Some of these panhandlers make as much as $25 per hour, and up to $50 thousand a year, tax free. Bob and John are speaking at local clubs and meeting helping to explain the difference between panhandlers and the “Homeless” who really do need help and several agencies are available to provide it. Giving cash to panhandlers only feeds typical drug and alcohol addictions, and cheats the people that really need help. This program is gaining national attention because every city has the same problem.

We look forward to November as we watch an army of volunteers getting ready for the Veterans Day Parade and celebration and on with the Fall and Skiing. Definitely a busy time for everyone and great to be a part of it all. Big City people really don’t know what they are missing!

Have a great weekend, be kind to yourself and be happy!

BARRY’S BLOG THURSDAY 10-24-13

Blame it on the computer! As we started into the computer age and companies gave us all these great little desktops so we could electronically do spreadsheets and become our own secretaries with word processors, there has been an epidemic of “the computer made an error” !

Truth is people make the error, the computer only makes it for you at the speed of light.

As we watch the hearings at Washington on the problems Obama Care is having getting fired up, to the EDD in California plagued with computer problems for several weeks in issuing unemployment checks to california’s unemployed, the only common thread here is that both are Government agencies.

If GOOGLE or AMAZON have a computer glitch it lasts for a few minutes, and we all panic believing China is attacking our banking system. So the obvious question is if EDS, Amazon, GOOGLE, FACEBOOK and other private companies can process millions of hits per seconds, why can’t the Government get it right?

Well is appears to be at the basic belief that Government can do everything better than private enterprise. It also follows the same pattern that companies that are hired to do Government work usually are politically wired and often major contributors to the power party in charge at the time, not necessarily the most qualified.

The other missing piece this time is what I call “Failure to design”. A design is the most important part of the system. In other words the end result must be fully defined and then managed to conclusion. Quite often design is victim to programmers or technicians who go off on their own way, or incompetent contractors that do not follow the rules and it is not discovered until the system is put on line and fails. Think if we designed airplanes this way…..fix it after we leave the runway!

We will continue to monitor the hearings, and enjoy the squirm which will subside in a week or so, and in the meantime hopefully some genus 20 year olds will pull this disaster out so we can proceed ahead.

Thank god for 20 year olds…….

Have a great day, be kind to yourself and be happy today!

BARRY’S BLOG TUESDAY 10-22-13

Major disasters because an executive or group of management types will not accept warnings from those that know a process is not ready, litter our history books. Today we seem to be experiencing another page in that book with the Obama-care collapse on their web page and software packages that were to make this all simple and easy.

I have studied these decisions over several years, and marvel at how they happen. There is a wonderful book about these disasters that is worth the read. My favorite occurred in New York City many years ago when city fathers decided to put an underground highway between the up and downtown streets on Park Avenue. The underground highway had bridges on the cross streets over the underground highway. As it was built, the transportation management decided to buy all new buses. They didn’t check at the hight of the bridges above the highway, and on opening day, a city bus with all officials on board took of on the new highway and the top of the bus hit the first bridge and sheared it off, making a convertible out of the bus and embarrassing all the political bosses with looking up at the sky in surprise. Someone obviously forgot to check.

There have been some disastrous decisions like the “O” ring problem that blew up the Challenger space craft on assent out of Florida carrying Christa McAuliffe, an American School Teacher from Concord, New Hampshire. She and the entire crew were killed as the spaceship fell from the sky into the ocean. They were warned and went ahead anyway. Terrible price to pay!

In my many years of executive leadership, I followed the Eisenhower theory of assembling all the facts, listen to all levels of people around you, and try to satisfy the rule of understanding the “Impact of your decision” before execution. Not always right, but the odd’s favor you.

By the way on the opening of Obama Care…..it appeared they were warned!

BARRY’S BLOG THURSDAY OCTOBER 17, 2013

Back to normal today, or are we? The 16 day power struggle came to an end late yesterday as the elders in Washington took charge and cut a deal that everyone could live with. This will go down in history as classic political science, and will probably go into the college text books for future generations to study.

Was this 16 day period a true test of our constitution or the peak of power brokering to gain control of our future? Only history will bear out the truth. It certainly appears that the power struggle in Washington brought the worst out in public statements of meanness by those that were threatened. It did appear to be “Backed into a corner” reaction from those of us outside of the beltway. Notice how it all changed to “My fellow members total cooperation bringing this to a close” statements. A real about face in a few seconds. From bum ti hero in nano-seconds.

The President spoke to the nation this morning and spent considerable time scolding the opposition and used the words “Manufactured Crisis” several times. He strongly made the point that there are 4 major issues that the Democrat controlled Senate has already passed and are stalled by the Republican House of Representatives: Immigration, Tax revision, Budget and a revised Farm Bill. Obviously the President is saying that the Democratic plan is being obstructed by the Republicans. He also said many times that he wants open discussion and debate and move these major items along. Of course the Republicans say the Democrats refuse their efforts to negotiate.

We will talk about this for a few days, then get on with the next crisis in January. Has anything changed….probably not, but lets hope.

Well it is time to tee off…….at last peace in the woods…..

Have a great day and be kind to yourself! Be Happy today!

BARRY’S BLOG MONDAY 10-14-13

Like most of you, I am tired of the politics and media coverage of Washington, DC. I turned my thoughts to Fall and the wonderful change of colors that occurs about this time every year. It brings back wonderful memories of childhood years when families and neighbors got together, made cider, maple sugar, pies, sweet potato specials, quilting by the Mom’s and Grandma’s at the local grange. There was always a smell of BBQ in the air along with the beginning of drawing maple sap from the trees, and the boiling of it to make syrup and sugar. Ratios were amazing, like 100 gallons of sap to get one gallon or syrup, etc.

The later years when I had a pilots license and could fly, the yearly trip from the Berkshire mountains in Massachusetts to Vermont, New Hampshire, to the coast of Maine, then back down the coast to Boston, and back across the state of Mass. to Pittsfield was a “Look forward to” event each year. Taking friends and neighbors on these trips was always a delight.

Then there was the yearly trek to Vermont to get apples, pumpkins, maple sugars and syrups. Kids always loved that because they got lots of samples. A pancake breakfast and rib lunch always topped off a great day in New England.

Sometimes a little trip down memory lane is in order. Yesterday was one of those days.

Have a great day and be kind to yourself!

BARRY’S BLOG FRIDAY OCTOBER 11, 2013

Well, it has been some week. Here we are, 11 days of partial shut-down government, rude and almost criminal treatment of our former military, shut-down of money for the most recent of our killed military so their families can receive their bodies when they arrive in the USA from the Far East War Theatre. Then we witnessed the unbelievable transformation of “Smokey The Bear” type park rangers becoming mad jackals and treating some very normal citizens and foreign visitors like war prisoners, or passing out Hundred and 250 dollars fines for being in one of our parks. This one surprised me and I don’t think in my lifetime have I seen this type of transformation from what I have always admired at their helpfulness and kindness to visitors of our park system. Wow, out of left field. I would have expected understanding….not fines. And who set the amounts??

As we chronicle these actions, are we learning anything about the attitude of people when the Government goes into chaos? Are we losing that deep down kindness we have had between each other for the last many centuries?

I have also noticed this week an measurable increase in aggression by drivers on the highways and streets. I have witnessed passing on the right, cutting in front and across lanes at changing red lights, and tailgating. I have seen this before and it signifies that people are getting anxious about everything.

Maybe we have reached that emotional level of “I’m Mad as Hell, and not going to take it anymore”. Recommend not drinking the cool aid and maybe go to church on Sunday.

Have a great weekend, and be kind to yourself!

BARRY’S BLOG, THURSDAY OCTOBER 3, 2013

So let me understand:

Our country has established a memorial in DC to honor the WW II Vets and is open to the public, as the other memorials are in DC. Yearly, local citizens and business’s contribute money and time to take living vets from WW II back to Washington, DC so they can see this memorial. These trips take all year to plan, and volunteers make it happen for these elderly citizens that hit Normandy, were part of the Berlin Air Lift, Parachuted into France and Italy, Flew with Doolittle into Japan, Sailed the Pacific and Atlantic, drove tanks in Africa and fought hand to hand all over the world, to defend Freedom for us Americans.

So this week, the hundreds of WW II Vets arrive in Washington, DC to visit the “Open to the public” memorial, placed there in their honor. What they were met with was iron barriers and police tapes locking them out of this normal open place. These memorials are not staffed with park employees, so why the barriers? In addition to this, one congressman asked theWhite House to have the barriers removed and were refused. The barriers were supposedly put there because of the partial shut down of the Government because of the stand-off occurring between the Democrats and Republicans.

So let me understand: A public place, containing a memorial to the freedom fighters of WW II with no park employees stationed there, had barriers placed to keep citizens out.

The obvious question we need answered is: Why and what person or group made this ridiculous, mean spirited and disrespectful decision?

I am a tax payer too, and I would like to know.

Have a great day and be kind to yourself!

BARRY’S BLOG WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 2, 2013

Computer glitch, overload of Internet traffic, WEB page overwhelmed! All these phrases were used yesterday to explain the chaos at the Obama Care service centers as the official start of the Affordable Care Act.

The world of computers and introduction of new software has been around for 50 or 60 years starting when the computer industry started to take over millions of mundane tasks like payroll, bookkeeping, and the start of the data gathering era we all live with today.

So what happened? Having worked in the industry for a few years, I was fortunate to have been associated with some real experienced and professional programmers and architects who designed software. They followed a regimentation that made their programs safe and worked the first time. First, they wrote their routines three times. First two were thrown away. Theory was by the third time you had the best of the best, and efficient. Boss used to say: Third swing gets a home run”. Another theory was to set up a test environment that ran every routine to prove it worked. Analysis’s was performed by separate programmers. Failure was very rare, and the company was very successful.

Now another company I worked for had a different approach….upgrade and install software when 90% ready and then repair under crisis. This was scary and failure was predictable. Theory was programmers will fix problems faster when under crisis.

My question about yesterday’s failure is who did the planning and analysis of activity over the last two years which is the time they had to get this ready?

Maybe the theory they used will show today after 24 hours to fix the problem.

Computers, can’t live with them, can’t live without them. Time to wind my wristwatch!

Have a great day, and be kind to yourself!

BARRY’S BLOG TUESDAY 10-1-13

One republican representative was quoted on TV this morning saying: ” Since the republicans are getting blamed for the partial Gov. shut-down, we might as well hang in there until we get our way with this situation”.

My reaction was: “This may be the most brilliant thing said in Washington this week”.

These shut-down’s are painful, a disturbance and inconvenience to say the least. On the other hand, if a party has the courage of their convictions, then they should take the grief, and force change, and hopefully be right. Only history can validate these actions because the future is difficult to predict.

Political parties fighting over power and control is normal, and our constitution recognizes that and always has. The Press over time has become more bias but the Constitution also recognizes that. Since “We the people” have the ultimate power by electing our representatives, it then becomes time and patience. If we vote in the wrong party, then it becomes our fault.

So, as long as the bus’s run today, restaurants and coffee shops are open, Hospital’s and Dr’s are working, The Newspapers, Radio and TV stations are on the air, and we report to our jobs and have a paycheck on Friday….the shutdown is just a frustration for the gov. workers who are affected.

Lets hope cool heads prevail and the best for all concerned is the result. In the meantime I need to get my tires rotated!

Have a great day and be kind to yourself!