Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Email Etiquette

Well, I am cursed with the responsibility of creating and distributing minutes/updates and action item lists for each of my ~9 active projects.  The teams are ~7 people, the subject matter experts consist of another ~6 and the stakeholders add another ~15.  And of course there is only limited overlap, so the total number of unique names across these lists is ~177.

Of course there was always some Manager somewhere that thought their question was important enough to "Reply All".  Then of course this led to a geometric growth rate of Replies in all directions.  So I finally got smart and put a note in the email that said, "All Subject Matter Experts and Stakeholders are BCC only in order to reduce excess email responses." Not amazingly, the recipients and other Team Leads thought this was a great idea and were thankful not to hear from the one questioning Mgr...

So this article made me smile....  What do you think of politicians sending out to the State Mailing lists?  What humorous email stories do you have to share?  The cartoon at the bottom of the 2nd link is FUNNY...

Star Tribune Koch and Zeller's email

White Email Etiquette and Funny Cartoon

Thursday, June 23, 2011

RAS FAC Maintains Independence?

I looked through the Financial Advisory Council's year end presentation and found it a bit anemic.  Now I have not sat in on a mtg for over a year, so I really can not speak with authority on what they have been doing.  However I do know enough to question one of their suggested next steps:
  • Maintain Independence
I mean the Board seems to only pick members that are unlikely to rock their boat...  By this, I mean that I know some qualified boat rockers who are repeatedly turned down.  And I really don't see any communication from the FAC to to the Citizens, so they don't seem to be helping us understand how or what the District spends on. This is probably important considering the school closures, school renovations, potential sales, potential Magnets, Funding challenges, etc.  And almost half the attendees are Board Members and Administrators, so how can they be in anyway "independent"?

I guess I'd just say that they are a group of hand picked individuals that report directly to the Board with their thoughts regarding what is presented to them.  I am not sure if this qualifies as "independent", especially when you are in a room with School personnel.  It seems hard to believe that group think is not the rule. (G2A Group Think)  I still greatly appreciate the efforts of the citizens that do get involved, I just "independent" is a bit too strong of word.

A quick story: someone asked me to get more involved with a local Organization that has some pretty strong opinions regarding our schools.  I replied that it would be better if I stay on the fence on this one.  (ie independent)  They jokingly responded that "as long as it wasn't a picket fence..."

Speed once wrote about an Ombudsman being a good answer, but I just can't see how they would be independent if they report into the Public or the Org they are investigating... (ie FAC) Thus I will stay on my picket fence...  Anyone got a pillow?

By the way, there are also links to some interesting MAP and Enrollment presentations.

FAC Year End Report 20Jun11
Grade 3-5 MAP Analysis 20Jun11
End of Year Enrollment 20Jun11
Board Agenda 20Jun11
Board Summary 20Jun11
RAS Financial Web Page

Friday, June 17, 2011

Fund It All or Else !!!

I found this statement by Mary fairly amusing.  Apparently she believes Minnesotans will only be truly happy if "EVERYONE" gets as much money as they desire.  And she seems to see this as a very positive quality.  It is a fascinating, though very alarming, perspective... 
"While it is true that the GOP is sweetening the pie by adding dollars to the overall K12 budget, they are still refusing to consider increasing revenue. This means, the additional dollars for K12 will need to be taken from another part of the state budget. Their largesse in adding K12 funds is built on the premise that K12 advocates will grab the money and not care where it comes from. I have a much higher opinion of Minnesotans and simply don’t think that’s true! The Governor has certainly made it crystal clear that he will not sign a budget that pits Minnesotans against each other. So—the impasse continues."
Parents United 17Jun11 Update

Dayton Press Release via Parents United

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Dam Finally Breaks in Wisconsin

Finally, due process has prevailed...

First the Democrats unprofessionally left the State and their jobs to resist due process.  By this I mean that the Voters elected their political Representatives, who are the Democrats to decide they can take their toys and go to Illinois?

Then the Democrats file this silly charge to delay the due process further.  Like the Republicans would have had to be creative if the Democrats had come to work like any other employee would have been expected to !!!

Well thank heavens the Voter's representatives finally were able to do what they believe is correct.  And if their actions do not represent the wishes of their constituents, then God help them during the next election cycle.  The process works....


LA Times Court allows Wisconsin's union law
HP Wisconsin Union Law

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Education Updates

Parents United continues to push the spend more agenda and it looks like the RAS Board meeting agenda was rather calm.

Parents United 6/10/11
RAS Board Minutes 6/6/10

For your interest, someone sent me an email regarding this little problem that occurred in Kansas awhile back. Maybe following the rules and procedures all the time may be a bad thing in some cases.
Snopes - A Bridge Too Far

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Dayton Holds Strong and GOP Blinks?

This headline seems so misleading as to appear inaccurate or possibly politically motivated.(ie imply GOP blinked first) If someone tells me I can spend $110M in one place if I cut $110M in another, it seems we are no closer. Though I may be somewhat happier because my priorities are being valued.

It looks like Dayton is holding strong. Anyone that picked a quick resolution date in our pool was incorrect. Any updated prognostications?

Thankfully my 4th of July plans involve no State parks or services... (I hope...)

Star Trib GOP Moves $110M closer to Dayton
G2A This Could Take Awhile
G2A Mandates and Consequences

Sunday, June 5, 2011

No Money for Druggies...

Sometimes I agree with the ACLU, however many times I do not. In this case they are suing over mandatory drug testing, and thinking about suing because Florida has decided that it would prefer to ensure state funds intended for kids are not being given to an addict.

If they are an addict, the kids can still get state funds. However the recipient needs to be drug free. Seems pretty common sense to me... Thoughts?

CNN Florida Gov Defends Law

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Wind, Waves and Insurance?

Well, I spent Saturday and Sunday preparing Mom and Dad's lake home for a Summer of family fun and bonding. I was very happy that everything seemed to be in good shape and that I would not be spending a lot of time fixing things like usual... (rare if you use/rent/own lake property...) The docks went in, the lifts were good, and the boat & jet ski were running. Life was GREAT when I came back Monday !!!

Oh what a difference a day makes !!! About noon on Tuesday, the folks call me to say that the wind is severe and coming straight down the lake. (~40 mph w/ near 50 mph gusts) About 3 PM they call and say that I should run out there because the front cross beam on the lift broke and dropped the front of my boat into the water/whitecaps. And worse yet, the jet ski dock caught the boat rub rail on the way down and peeled the top of the hull away from the bottom.

I got there around 7:30 PM to find my boat like the pictures below. Somewhat worse than I imagined... The upside was that the electrical, engine, battery and stern drive seemed pretty safe, secure and relatively dry. I was surprised but not dismayed. (ie my pragmatic just fix it self...) My parents, my friend (Tim) and I got to work. (thanks for the help !!!) We turned on the bilge pump, lowered the back end, bailed with a bucket and thankfully the boat started up and was operational!!! We put it on the trailer and I was back in the cities by 12:30 in the morning.

Now... In general, this post is just an interesting story. Yet there is a topic involved. On Wednesday I spent a few hours agonizing over whether to call my insurance agent and claim the damage. I know it is strange, but the potential for increased premiums made me stop and think. Is it really worth it? I mean I can fix it with some pop rivets, fiberglass, resin, gelcoat paint, sand paper, etc.

I finally did decide to claim it due to the extensive nature of the body damage. Now I am waiting to see what the Adjuster thinks, and to see if it negatively impacts any of my premiums? (hopefully not) Now isn't it odd that we buy insurance to handle accidents like this, yet we have to be concerned that some actuary is going to jack our rates for claiming our rightful portion of the insurance pool? Thoughts?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Marbles in a Jar

I am reading "The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player" by John Maxwell. Often I find him annoying, but so far this book is pretty good. In the chapter regarding living an intentional life, he referenced this very interesting story. It resonated with me because I often refer to "How many years until a parent is an empty nester" as a reminder that the kids will be gone all too soon. So you'd better stay involved with and make time for the kids.

By the way, I am ~8.3 yrs from being in the empty nest category. Though most older adults tease that it will be longer than that given the rash of adult kids that keep returning home for short or extended stays.

Finally, my other favorite saying is that we have ~2.3 years to develop my oldest teenager into a capable independent adult. You know that gets me some good eye rolls and head shakes... Enjoy !!!

1000 Marbles !
The older I get, the more I enjoy Saturday mornings. Perhaps it's the quiet solitude that comes with being the first to rise, or maybe it's the unbounded joy of not having to be at work. Either way, the first few hours of a Saturday morning are most enjoyable. A few weeks ago, I was shuffling toward the basement shack with a steaming cup of coffee in one hand and the morning paper in the other. What began as a typical Saturday morning, turned into one of those lessons that life seems to hand you from time to time.

Let me tell you about it.

I turned the dial up into the phone portion of the band on my ham radio in order to listen to a Saturday morning swap net. Along the way, I came across an older sounding chap, with a tremendous signal and a golden voice. You know the kind, he sounded like he should be in the broadcasting business. He was telling whoever he was talking with something about "a thousand marbles".

I was intrigued and stopped to listen to what he had to say. "Well, Tom, it sure sounds like you're busy with your job. I'm sure they pay you well but it's a shame you have to be away from home and your family so much. Hard to believe a young fellow should have to work sixty or seventy hours a week to make ends meet. Too bad you missed your daughter's dance recital."

He continued, "let me tell you something Tom, something that has helped me keep a good perspective on my own priorities."

And that's when he began to explain his theory of a "thousand marbles."

"You see, I sat down one day and did a little arithmetic. The average person lives about seventy-five years. I know, some live more and some live less, but on average, folks live about seventy-five years."

"Now then, I multiplied 75 times 52 and I came up with 3900 which is the number of Saturdays that the average person has in their entire lifetime. Now stick with me Tom, I'm getting to the important part."

"It took me until I was fifty-five years old to think about all this in any detail", he went on, "and by that time I had lived through over twenty-eight hundred Saturdays. I got to thinking that if I lived to be seventy-five, I only had about a thousand of them left to enjoy."

"So I went to a toy store and bought every single marble they had. I ended up having to visit three toy stores to round-up 1000 marbles. I took them home and put them inside of a large, clear plastic container right here in the shack next to my gear."

"Every Saturday since then, I have taken one marble out and thrown it away."

"I found that by watching the marbles diminish, I focused more on the really important things in life. There is nothing like watching your time here on this earth run out to help get your priorities straight."

"Now let me tell you one last thing before I sign-off with you and take my lovely wife out for breakfast. This morning, I took the very last marble out of the container. I figure if I make it until next Saturday then I have been given a little extra time. And the one thing we can all use is a little more time."

"It was nice to meet you Tom, I hope you spend more time with your family, and I hope to meet you again here on the band. 73 Old Man, this is K9NZQ, clear and going QRT, good morning!"

You could have heard a pin drop on the band when this fellow signed off. I guess he gave us all a lot to think about.

I had planned to work on the antenna that morning, and then I was going to meet up with a few hams to work on the next club newsletter.

Instead, I went upstairs and woke my wife up with a kiss. "C'mon honey, I'm taking you and the kids to breakfast."

"What brought this on?" she asked with a smile.

"Oh, nothing special, it's just been a long time since we spent a Saturday together with the kids. Hey, can we stop at a toy store while we're out? I need to buy some marbles."

Jeffrey Davis