Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Casualties of Technology

One of my first editors was a wizened veteran of business to business publishing, who never got technology. And I don’t mean writing algorithms, but even using Microsoft Word on a PC. Instead, he would employ a rustic Corona manual typewriter to draft his stories and columns - using only his two index fingers at warp speed- and then instruct his exasperated assistant to re-key the stories on her computer.

Nevertheless, he would occasionally attempt to make the switch to his computer, but after a few minutes, he would frustratingly bellow for help, a cry that was heard clearly around the newsroom.

Not surprisingly when a new publisher came on board bringing with him a plan to modernize the news and sales departments, it was clear that the editor was going to be one of the first casualties of the new regime.

He hung on for nearly a year before the inevitable axe fell and was summarily replaced by someone nearly 30 years younger and far more familiar with technology and its future in publishing.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The Dangers of Listening to the Wrong People

I once knew a plumbing contractor who had overseen a thriving business since the early 1960s. His company serviced both residential and commercial properties including many of the HVAC projects among New York’s three major area airports.

But along the way, he placed far too much trust in his office manager who for years and unbeknownst to him, had miscalculated the payroll tax deductions and a resulting audit revealed the company was in arrears for six figures.

So, despite his family’s urging to go see a well-known local tax attorney who specialized in such matters, he foolishly entrusted a lawyer friend to oversee the matter whose solution was to have the company declare bankruptcy.

It was all downhill from there. His family went from a comfortable suburban sprawl to a box-sized condo with a lot of collections notices piling up in the mailbox.

After decades of hard work, he and his wife were relegated to subsisting on their Social Security payments as retirement income.

Had he not listened to an unqualified hack, things might have been very different.

Fast forward several years and much closer to home.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Nothing is Forever – Nothing

The fact that I’m now solidly ensconced into my golden years is reinforced each Sunday during football season when I hear a player with a familiar name and realize that I recognize it only because I watched his father or uncle play. Or in the case of Los Angeles Rams’ dynamic 32-year old head coach Sean McVay – I remember when his grandfather – yes with a “G” - John McVay – coached the New York Giants.

I prefer to think of myself as experienced, as opposed to old. But with age comes the inevitable current of change – or in some cases a tidal wave.

I read with some sadness this week about the umpteenth bankruptcy filing of Sears and its decision to shutter 142 stores. Growing up, it was unthinkable that the company with the annual catalog the thickness of the New York City White Pages would ever disappear from the country’s retail landscape.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Sorry, No One is That Busy

Every three months or so, my health club sends out an online survey asking that its members rate the facility on several fronts – cleanliness, condition and availability of equipment, quality of staff assistance and the like. It also leaves a comment box at the end for whatever is top of mind in terms of complaints.

In the five years that I’ve belonged there, my comments/objections have never wavered from the initial poll – curtail the use of cell phones on the exercise floor and certainly in the individual conditioning classes.

They once tried placing a sign at the welcoming desk that asked that cellphones not be used on the main floor, but that had about as much effect as a no smoking sign in a longshoreman’s lounge. 

Unless you’re a trauma surgeon on call, work for the Department of Defense, or are a 911 first responder, there’s no reason you need to be talking on a phone while on the treadmill or exercise bike.


I’m sorry, no one is that busy. No one.

I was once training with someone when a chatty member began yammering away on her phone and I told her that she obviously mistook the room for the teacher’s lounge. I received a look like I had just handed her a $150 speeding ticket.

I guess the same logic can be applied to the 9-15 and 10-15 deadlines.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

At Least They Get an “A” for Effort

You know how some parents of Little Leaguers rail against kids receiving those “participation” trophies at the end of the year? Their complaint – and it’s not without some merit – is that it detracts from the other more deserving team awards such as Most Valuable Player.

Why bother giving trophies at all if everyone gets one?

Think of how the kid who bats .450, hits 12 home runs and steals 20 bases feels if Joe Benchwarmer receives a shiny statuette at the end of the year as well.

However, there are times I feel that awards absolutely should be given for effort and persistence.

And my 2018 Achievement/Participation Award goes to those overseas scammers who call and pretend to be from the Internal Revenue Service.