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Category Archives: Camping

Why Workers Need Vacation Every 2 Months

A recent study by prominent health experts has revealed that it is becoming necessary for workers to take more breaks. The increase of work hours and work loads has become so stressful it is becoming harmful to the mental and physical health of workers. While breaks throughout the day do help, they also need lengthier breaks from the entire atmosphere in order to reinvigorate themselves and return more productive.

The Post Office Travel Insurance performed a study that revealed the conclusion that workers need six holidays per year. This breaks down to a vacation every 62 days. By taking this breaks from the workplace, they returned fresh and focused, and they avoided potentially burning out.

In addition to increasing the positive attributes of the workers, it decreased the negative. Workers who waited longer than two months to take a break are more likely to display aggression in the workplace. They also report becoming anxious far more easily and get sick more frequently.

Cary Cooper, a professor of organizational psychology and health at Lancaster University, commented on the study. He believes that it is absolutely necessary for workers in every field to take these intermittent breaks. It prevents overworking which ultimately leads to burning out. While employers may cringe at the idea of letting their workers take these vacations, Cooper believes it is good for the business as well. The workers return with a better attitude and a willingness to do their best.

Cooper goes on to say that those who do not take regular vacations are at risk for becoming anxious and aggressive, but also withdrawn in both the work environment and their social life. Relationships will suffer, and communities as a whole will become less productive.

Overworking has been known to depress the immune system. Back pain is one of the most common ailments, but it often does not have a direct cause. The stress from not taking a break from work causes people to develop aches and pains. It also disrupts the sufferer’s sleep schedule which results in an inability for the body to energize itself. While many people experience this in the form of feeling drowsy throughout the day, it also prevents the body’s immune system from working at full speed. People who do not take vacations from work every two months put themselves at risk to catch a cold or the flu more than their counterparts who do give themselves a break.

Encouraging workers to take a vacation every two months promotes health for the individual and a more effective company for the employer.

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Goodbye My Friend: May the Streets of Heaven be Lined with Porterhouse for You!

You guessed it; another dog story.  I still haven’t gotten over Daisy Mae of the Redwoods leaving us, and that was in 1999.  Last night my good friends lost their boy Harley to cancer.  We just spent last weekend with him and his family in the El Dorado Hills, and knew that it would be the last time we saw him. I’m not sure if it is residual grief or that he was just that special of a dog, but it feels like someone kicked me in the chest.

It is an amazing phenomenon how attached we get to our pets, for me particularly dogs.  There is a sense of loyalty that you just can’t get from a cat, an unconditional love and acceptance that you can’t get from another person, and a wisdom that seems to come from something not earthly.  If one believes in such spiritual nonsense as re-incarnation or multiple lives, it seems possible that certain animals are just born with “old souls.”  They have been around for a while, and have certainly been here before.

 

Daisy (among her many attributes) was the one that was the most patient with my two daughters from when they were born,through their teens.  She let them dress her up, ride her around the house like a little horse, and pull and tug at her ears and tail without any sign of protest – ever.  It always seemed that the reason she endeared herself so much to me and the family was that she was such an integral part of the girl’s development.

Harley didn’t have to endure the physical abuse of my friend’s daughters growing up, but he was a special companion in other ways.  My buddy Dennis has his own business and is able to work from home much of the time.  Aside from his wife of 30 years, Harley was his best bud and constant companion.  Head constantly in the wind, the open water of the Delta was his domain.  The hours on the boat in silent communion evoke a bond that can’t really be written about, or explained by anyone that hasn’t felt that with a dog.  When the kids leave the house off to school, and the professional life winds down to fewer hours and meetings, when life slows down from the blur that had been the early yuppie “life in the fast lane,” it gives one time to truly appreciate an honest friendship.  A friendship like this with a dog (or anything else) just doesn’t happen all the time.  It is something that, if you are really lucky, you are able to earn once or twice in a lifetime.

It makes it hard to think about “getting” another animal.  Sure we can excuse the feeling by reminding ourselves that we have spent the last 30 years of our lives cleaning up dog poop.  We can trudge on with a stiff upper lip and act around our friends like it really doesn’t hurt all that much, that the dog was more trouble than it was worth.  A good stoic approach is probably advisable lest we fall into self pity. We may just get tired of going through this kind of loss every ten or so years, I’m not sure.  What I am sure of is that with the loss of a friend like that a little bit of us dies too.  It is imperceptible, but there is a tiny hole in the heart where Harley used to be.  There is nothing that can fill that, and that’s OK too.  He would want it that way.

 

No Flock of Seagulls, Crows Descend of San Francisco

By: Kamala Kelkar 

Mike Koozmin/Special to the Examiner
Mike Koozmin/Special to the Examiner

Amid the dark skies on a rainy day when observers set out to count birds in San Francisco, there was an ominous sign — a flock of about 27 crows.

The Golden Gate Audubon Society for the last 28 years has documented the numbers and types of birds in The City and on the Peninsula.

In the 1980s, crows and ravens were not even on the checklist of about 50 types of birds that more than 100 observers saw during the count. The once-rare predators are known for sabotaging other birds’ eggs and chicks.

The American Crows on Tuesday hid in the tops of eucalyptus trees at Stern Grove and almost went unnoticed until their caws disrupted the stillness around Pine Lake.

Dan Murphy, who helped start the San Francisco chapter of the society, said last year the group documented 413 American Crows and 616 ravens, which also used to be uncommon.

“I’d say 27 at the least,” yelled a binocular-wearing Murphy, while the flock swarmed the sky. “They’re at the top of the food chain. … It might not be a good thing.”

As for the implications of the soaring number of crows, Murphy says he will leave that up to the experts.

He and his group of eight others — among 16 teams scattered throughout The City and a boat in the Bay — document everything they see.

In the afternoon, Murphy’s group was about halfway through their portion of the bird count and had seen species that ran the gamut. That’s when they spotted a White-Throated Sparrow, a bird that nests all over the East Coast but never on the West Coast.

“It’s been years since I’ve seen one of those,” said Tom Bacon, who was known among the group for hearing and naming the birds before he sees them.

The details of who saw what would be hashed out later during a dinner — inside a warm building, not out in the rain. The full tally from the annual count will be completed within a few weeks, Murphy said.

kkelkar@sfexaminer.com

Read more at the San Francisco Examiner: http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/bay-area/2011/01/no-flock-seagulls-crows-descend-sf#ixzz1OoocaOHi

 

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We Are So Spoiled It Makes Me Ill. Hooyah! Let us Give These Brave People a Moment of Consideration and Thanks.

While the newsreels play out a perfect scenario of success, we sit back on our couches and pat each other on the backs for what “we” just did in Pakistan.  We all have the images in our heads (myself included) that Navy SEALs are invincible; highly trained and disciplined young men and women that somehow through deification become invincible the second they pass BUD/S INDOC.  Not to mention things like that if you fail the OC (obstacle course) twice you are out.  Contrary to the “GI Jane” opinion, you don’t necessarily have to ring “the bell” yourself.
In truth it takes a SEAL 30 months of training before they are ready for deployment.  The SEALs that emerge are ready to handle pretty much any task called on including diving, combat swimming, navigation, demolitions, weapons, and parachuting. The training pushes them to the limit both mentally and physically but that doesn’t make them invincible.
These young warriors aren’t anything like our wonderful Hollywood caricatures.  A model SEAL is 5’10” and 175 pounds, about the only similarity to the Charlie Sheen, Sylvester Stallone, and Keifer Southerland avatars we watch boldly walking down mud streets or wading in rice patties, guns blazing, as the venerable enemy drops silently in droves at either side.  Obviously these made up lipstick wearing Adonis’s wouldn’t last 5 seconds in an actual fire-fight, but that’s not the point.
As we sip our white wine with our fat asses on that couch, congratulating ourselves for a job well done (and for those of you who have been and done, this obviously does not apply to you) let us take pause to reflect upon just how “easy” it was to kill bin Laden.  We get a picture of the Spec-Ops guys gearing up for the pre-op briefing, huddled around Dennis Haysbert and the rest of The Unit, casually leaving their all very attractive wives for another mysterious little “outing.”  Every now and then one of them might be injured, but there is very seldom any wholesale gore, and it is very easy for them to “leave no man behind.”  We also have a tendency to look at the statistics of that particular (bin Laden) mission and have it validate our Jack Bauer image of what Spec-Ops duty is like:  build a practice scenario, shoot at some dummies, get briefed, get on a plane, get on a Blackhawk, insertion, recon, flash-bang, fire a few quick shots, egress, extraction, and appearance with the President.
http://www.cnn.com/2011/POLITICS/05/06/bin.laden.obama/index.html?eref=mrss_igoogle_cnn
I t would be fine if life were so simple.
We can all mouth the words “war is hell.”  Very few of us can appreciate how true that is.  Sure we’ve all seen Ben Hur , Apocalypse Now and Saving Private Ryan but the familiarity of the stars, the surreal nature of the sets and the dislocation of the context makes it beyond our sensibilities to comprehend or relate to.  It becomes as abstract as a computer game where the figures just disappear when you kill them or the car always returns to the track no matter how many times you crash.  A more true representation of “war” can be found in BBC History of World War II if you have the time, and the stomach to sit through it.  It would change your life.*
We have so much to be thankful for, and so much to regret.  Joseph Schumpeter (economist)  was correct in his publication of 1942 (Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy) in asserting that the success of capitalism will lead to a form of corporatism and a fostering of values hostile to capitalism, especially among intellectuals. The intellectual and social climate needed to allow entrepreneurship to thrive will not exist in advanced capitalism; it will be replaced by socialism in some form.   (Does this sound like anything we have been hearing lately in political debate?)
The end result of this is that we Americans have spent beyond our means, that stockholder equity has dictated that we ship our jobs offshore, that our past industrial success has left us with an abnormal dependency on foreign oil, and that the greed, arrogance and ignorance of our people has left our country gasping and vulnerable.  Can we get it back? Hell yes, but not without hard work and sacrifice.  Corporate bail-outs and pork-barrel legislation should be punishable by death.
So we got ourselves in a bit of a jam.  There are people out there that hate us:  Shiites, Sunnis, Cripps, Bloods, you name it.  In some part we have to be aware of the disparity that our opulence has caused, and the result of our largely Christian Evangelistic society and the push-back it can instigate.  We have been fortunate and not always particularly diplomatic about it.  We have all experienced the “Ugly American” at some point in our foreign travels, and I have had the good fortune to be able to travel extensively and hear what some extremely intelligent people actually think about us and our politics.  Since that experience it has been a comfort to watch BBC News more often than FOX, if you know what I mean.
The “war” on terrorism didn’t start on September 11, 2001.  It did not end on May 2, 2011.  How ironic it would have been if they could have negotiated the operation one day earlier.  “Bin Laden comes to infamy on 9/11 and is executed on May Day,”
* If you want just one example of what kind of hell a SEAL operation can actually endure I encourage you to read the story at the following link.  It is not my liberty or bandwidth to articulate how many stories there are like this, or how many young heroes have given their lives in the service of their country, and the pursuit of this threat.  Suffice it to say that the administrations statement of “no casualties” on this operation makes me sick.  This was part of a huge global operation that eventually culminated in a victory.  No victory for American service men and women comes cheap, nor should their sacrifices be overlooked.  Hooyah!
Please note that they had it right, even then. This Op was in Asadabad, where we finally caught him. They opened the door.  They did NOT die in vain.
http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=37856
This Op stared out with a crew of 4 SEALs.  Take a look at how “Jack Bauer” this turned out:
11 Navy SEALs and 8 Army Task Force 160 aircrew died in the battle.
 Marcus Luttrell, Matt Axelson, and Danny Dietz each received the Navy Cross, the second-highest decoration for valor in the military.
For his actions, Michael Murphy received the Medal of Honor on October 22, 2007.
The men who gave their lives on the helicopter are:
Staff Sgt. Shamus Goare, 29, Danville, Ohio.
Chief Warrant Officer Corey Goodnature, 35, Clarks Grove, Minn.
Sgt. Kip Jacoby, 21, Pompano Beach, Fla.
Sgt. 1st Class Marcus Muralles, 33, Shelbyville, Ind.
Major Stephen Reich, 34, Washington Depot, Conn.
Sgt. 1st Class Michael Russell, 31, Stafford, Va.
Chief Warrant Officer Chris Scherkenbach, 40, Jacksonville, Fla..
Master Sgt, James Ponder III, 36, Franklin, Tenn.
Chief Petty Officer Jacques Fontan, 36, New Orleans, La.
Lt. Cmdr. Erik Ristensen, 33, San Diego, Calif.
Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffrey Lucas, 33, Corbett, Ore.
Lt. Michael McGreevy, Jr., 30, Portville, N.Y..
Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffery Taylor, 30, Midway, W. Va.
Senior Chief Petty Officer Daniel Healy, 36, Exeter, N.H.
Petty Officer 2nd Class James Suh, 28, Deerfield Beach, Fla.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric Patton, 22, Boulder City, Nev.

 

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Learning from Others: Finding Influential People When You Are On Your Own

My early years were blessed with always having owned a boat.  These were the frolicking years just after grad school with all the single folks jamming a deserted beach on a far away lake.  Naked waterskiing on a full moonlit night, was followed by running out of gas in the middle of the lake and paddling to shore with a water ski.   Ah, youth.

As the years passed, and children grew the excitement of the boat began to give way to other family responsibilities, and differed maintenance began to accrue.  Time was spent loading the thing with groceries and camping supplies for two weeks in the mountains, feeding 12 kids and 8 adults.  The yearly “tune-up” was accomplished, but little things piled up.  After about 15 years of this, it had come to a point of catharsis.  I was no longer motivated to keep the boat up, the kids were gone, and it seemed to be reasonable to give the thing up and move on.

This is where the power of the pen turned my life around.  In blogging about marketing, it seems to serve well to include a personal story and this was such a time.  Publishing the lament felt as a result of this dilemma yielded an unexpected, but welcomed response.  A good friend read the post and responded with a question as to my willingness to take a partner.

The attraction was immediate, and for a different reason than was later revealed.  It was attractive to have someone else to share the work load, to share in the cost, and to provide some renewed energy towards the project.   What was not yet apparent to me was that this person was my perfect complement.  He has an attention to detail that I don’t exercise.  If asked the proper way to accomplish something it is usually quite simple for me to utter a detailed step-by-step procedure of the correct sequence of activities.  Does this mean that this is the way I would ever proceed?  Hell no!

A good example is the boat trailer.  It has been rusted from salt water, the lights were almost all out, and the surge breaks hadn’t worked in years.  My new partner Scott looked at it and made some comments regarding an obvious course of action.  The wheels needed to be taken off and greased, the wiring repaired, the boat taken off, and the trailer ground, sanded, and sandblasted down to bare metal before priming and re-panting.

Well duh.  I knew that!  Why then was my first conclusion that the most logical course of action was to either buy a new trailer or just scrap the thing?  The most amazing thing happened when we dug into the work.  At first Scott did everything.  Finally the shame was too great and I picked up the wire cutters and pitched in.  Within a couple of hours we were working along side-by-side like the pit crew at an Indy race.  Wheels were coming off, bolts greased, tires changed, new lights installed, road test successful;  all things that I knew how to do, but would never have taken the time to do by myself.

That boat is like a business.  All it took was a fresh perspective to make it feel new again.  If circumstances are such that a “partner” is not the solution, there are alternatives.  I belong to several “success” groups and “Meet-up’s” where we get together with other professionals and share perspectives.  Many ides and disciplines come from these meetings, and they help me not only to see things differently, but to focus on the actions that are agreeably correct, but might not have been my intuitive course of action.  Webinars, podcasts, and YouTube videos are also great sources of educational and inspirational material. I try to schedule at least 2 hours a week in these activities, and then make sure that I document what they taught.

There are several ways to take advantage of the knowledge and inspiration of others.  We don’t have to do this all alone!

 

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There is Nothing Like a Good Long Storm to Make You Appreciate The Sunshine

Joni Mitchell was right; you don’t know what you have till it’s gone.  The past couple of weeks it has rained pretty much nonstop.  I feel like we’re back in my wife’s hometown of Hazel Dell, a suburb of Portland.  Never knew how people could live there, too freeking rainy.  The big difference between here (San Francisco area) and there is that we get breaks between showers.  They can go for literally weeks without seeing the sun.

Today we had a break for a couple of hours and I took a walk.  There were kids out playing on their skateboards, women washing dogs, others taking walks or riding bikes.  It was like the old Chicago song:  Saturday, in the park… It felt just like the 4th of July.  All that was missing were the Mexican vendors with their push-carts full of ice cream.  It was T-shirt weather for that hour, even though the temperature read 49’.  In the sun it felt like we were back in Cabo San Lucas.  Funny, when we were down there I didn’t even go for a walk last time.  It seems as though we appreciate things when they are scarce, as the sun was today.

There is much to the texture thing.  Humans often don’t appreciate things without it.  Three years ago who would have thought that we would be ecstatic that the market was back up over 12,000?  When the Silicon Valley was in its “heyday”, a thousand dollar lunch bill just went into the Advertising and Entertainment budget.  Now Mary and I get excited by a free vendor dinner at the Fairmont.  There used to be secretaries and admins to do things like typing and filing.  The internet was a tool and emails were a means of communication, not a burdensome task to filter through in the morning.

Belt tightening can be a good thing.  People learn to do their own typing, publishing, and organizing.  It is a better head space for most of us to be responsible for all of our own actions instead of blustering through the day only to dump the follow-up on someone else’s desk.

Cigarettes used to be 50 cents, gas 29 cents a gallon and what did we do as a country?  More people died from tobacco than anything else, and the average car was a V-8 that got 8 miles to the gallon.  There was no concern for health, carbon footprint, global warming, or anything other than how much steak and potatoes we could fit into our bloated bodies.  Our businesses were every bit as bad.

The new era has brought about many changes:  My car is a Prius that gets 50 miles to the gallon, my office is a converted bedroom in my house, that (the house) is a tremendously downsized version of the one where my kids were raised (but it’s paid for), my business is on the internet helping other folks sell what they do, and my sirloin habit has been cut down from three days a week to once a month.

I actually appreciate it all now.  The walk in the sun, the occasional steak, that I can now type 50 words a minute, all came from necessity.  The contrast in life is what makes us appreciate what we have.

 

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Puddle Stompin’ in the Rain

I have always been a California boy.  I was born here, went to school here, worked here, and will most likely die here unless I am traveling at the time.

For some reason the women I have attracted have never been from California.  My first two wives were from Michigan and my current (and last) was raised in Oregon/Washington.   My sensibilities tend to gravitate towards football games, hot buttered rum drinks, and over-eating when the rains come.  This is obviously not too healthy, but the “rainy days” are few and far enough between that the lifestyle never gets too sedentary.  Of course ski trips and other “outward bound” trips break up the winter.  My skiing career started when I was 5, walking up the hills and skiing down.  The thing I never really embraced was the all day, grey day in March when there is no Football, Baseball is just in training, and BasetBall and  Hockey are not my favorites.

The  mother of my children, although we split up 7 years ago she is still a dear friend, was one of the Michi’ganders.  She was born in Kalamazoo, which is a name I have always loved just for the sound of it. “Tippy-canoe-and-Kalamazoo-Too.”

We had kidz.  We had great kidz; they were into everything.  They attended Adalante Spanish immersion school, the both got their kiddy black belts in Okinawa Karate, they played some music, held interests in teaching and journalism, partied like their parents, loved and helped people like their pastors, and were generally just great kidz.

This happens to be a very rainy day.  It somehow reminded me of some of the most wonderful things that my Michigan wife and I did with our Kidz.

There was an area down from where we lived in the hills, down by Middlefield “Little Mexico” where the fields were not as well grated, and there were big depressions in the turf, where huge lakes (at least 8”deep) would accumulate during a good rainfall. Kip (Mom) would dress the girls all up in their finest Muck-luk attire (boots, hoods, slickers, goggles, astro-hand-warmers, etc…) and we would head for the puddles.  It didn’t matter if it was raining 1” an hour at the time.  It also didn’t really matter how cold it was outside, but being California, it was usually still mid ‘60’s when we were out.

The real game plan was to totally drench everybody around you.  It didn’t matter that it was cold and wet, the action of the competition and play was such that nobody was ever cold.  There would be the unsuspecting girl (or Black Lab) standing way too close to a 6” puddle, and it was irresistible to jump in with both feet and splash the heck our of everything..   As the exhaustion became an aphrodisiac and the endorphins mixed with the lack of sensitivity to the cold, we became a bit bolder.  What were at first “foot- stomps” denigrated into full body slams into the cold rainwater.  When the splashes were insufficient, there was indeed (hate to say it as a dad) dunking involved.  There were side splashes, back splashes,   back lashes and amazing crashes.  There were times we brought our bikes, walked with spikes, floated tikes, it was all good.

The inevitable end to the day was to throw all the clothes (down to the undies) into a huge garbage bag, pile into the Astro Van (the best family vehicle we were ever exposed to until my wife decided we needed a leather lined Tahoe that got half the mileage and cost twice as much) and as hypothermia was beginning to take control, rolled back into the driveway of our Upland home.

Decontamination was efficient, concise, and incredibly poorly received.   Upon return home after this afternoon of excess mud and clayurnal bliss, the clean-up process at home was not popular.  There was the garden hose for the bulk of the mud, then the total strip search on the porch for the remainder of the mud.  Tubs were simultaneously run, and by the time the girls had recovered from the shock of the hoses and subsequent stripping, and were ready for the hot tub.  Not like we had a “HotTub” but the tub in their bathroom was by then, pretty inviting,

An hour later, dressed in their “onesies” or whatever attire was appropriate for their age, we were all snuggled in front of the fireplace.  We were always resplendent with the memories of the day, the wonderful feeling of having an athletic “outdoor” day, enjoying the contrasts in temperature,  the sheer excitement of the splashing and wallowing, and sharing the “Aprè” experience with our family.

Every time I see a puddle on the side of the road, I have to drive through it or stomp on it.

I love you, my girls!  Kayla, Kelsey, and Kippy

 

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