Sunday, December 25, 2005

Mac Maya - Some Good News

Mac Maya

The following describes how a friend of mine, with a little help from me, Got 300 plus Macintosh computers to a rural area of Guatemala (homeland of the Maya). After that bit of history, there is a letter and funding proposal to make the project even better and give many Mayan students access to computers and the internet to further their educaiton.

The History of the Mac Maya Project to Date...

Well, thanks to each one of you, the 370 computers have arrived in San Martin Jilotepeque, Guatemala, as of Monday the 4th of November. Unfortunately I was not here when they arrived, but they are safely stored in the house of the mayor. When I think of miracles and such, this whole operation fits into my definition. Some of you don´t know the whole story, so lets document it.

First Ned, you sent me a note written by Will asking if any ONG wanted 400 used Mac computers for the cost of warehousing and shipping. I went directly to the Mayor here and asked if he was interested. He was, and wanted to find out what it would cost, so he contacted Rudy Navas, who works with the Municipality of San Martin as a contractor, who got a ballpark figure. That came out to under $20 per computer, so we went with it.

I called Will to get more information and he explained the situation. The material came from a ¨well-to-do school district¨ (cover for Steve
Silvius of the Montogomery County School District in Maryland and Camita
who works with him) and was originally to go to New Vision for Africa (and somehow World Computer Exchange was involved.). There was a glitch and frankly, Will was trying to get rid of them because they were costing rental money for storage.

I called the Director of the Peace Corps in Guatemala, Cindy Threlkeld, and she referred me to Carlos Vasquez who handles such shipments. Carlos was very helpful. The material could come into the country tax free if sent to the Peace Corps in care of the American Embassy. So that hurdle was overcome. We wouldn´t have to pay taxes. (And then the director of SOSEP--the President´s wife´s social project fund--promised help getting them through if we had any problems.) But we needed an inventory to get
through customs. (In the end because of the state of emergency that was
declared after the effects of the hurricane, they could come in under that
umbrella too.)

Now the fun part. We didn´t know what was on the pallets, nor did we have anyone to count what was on them. All we knew was that we had roughly twenty pallets and probably near 400 computers but nothing more. After a number of false starts, Scott Gutowski and his wife offered to go to the warehouse and count them. By the way, he was contacted through some web site and is an expert on Macs, plus he and his wife speak Spanish. They did go and they developed a list. We had 316 computers and lots of other good stuff.

Will noticed that there are several pallets of peripherals, which could be put on top of other pallets and other machines added. But who could get them? Scott offered, and Steve agreed to supply them from the Montgomery County schools. But then Steve got caught up in the opening of schools an was absolutely overwhelmed. I frankly felt bad when I finally did get through to him in his rush time. We in San Martin decided to pay an extra month´s rental of $200 if it meant 40 to 50 other machines. So we waited for Steve´s work to calm down. Then Scott´s company lost an employee and he was absolutely overwhelmed with 60 hours of work a week. Now what
could we do. We could have the computers but there was no way to get them
to the warehouse.

Will called Reese, our contact at Overflo Warehouse, and he agreed to go
get them for $150. Whew. He did and rearranged the pallets, shrink
wrapped them, and got them into a container. He has been so very patient
and helpful as we struggled through the process. And now that part is

Our fun now is how to handle the container when it comes. There is doubt
that it can enter San Martin due to the sharp curves on the road in, but
it made it. So we were playing around with alternatives including
warehousing them in Guatemala City and transporting them to San Martin a
truckload at a time. The mayor was positive they would get in, and he was
right. The mayor is letting us use his old house which has offices, etc.,
because they could be under lock and key. We have to make sure they work,
etc., and put Spanish software on them. Again, this will be a lot of work. One of the volunteers here in San Martin works with a Healthy Schools program, so she is willing to help out during the next two months of school vacations.

That´s the story so far. I´ll keep you all updated about what happens next. But the real reason for this note, apart from documenting it so that you can all see what happened, was that I wanted to let each of you know how important your role was in the whole thing. Each of you has had a really pivotal influence on helping the students of San Martin get these new computers. Each one of you has been an important part of this miracle. From the bottom of my heart I say thank you to each and every one of you. I also know that the mayor and city council are very, very
grateful. City council members are awestruck as I update them on the progress. I think they thought it would all fade away. One asked me today if they were really coming. And two stopped me on the street yesterday after moving them in and they had great big grins on their faces.

I assure you, if anyone wants to visit us (especially if you want to take
your vacation helping to set up some Mac computers!), you will be most
warmly welcomed here. I have an extra bedroom in my house, and we would
work out whatever else was necessary. (Sorry, we can´t pay your way down!)
The mayor told me he would be delighted to have you here and he lives in a
gorgeous house with all the amenities you are used to.

Let me tell you who you helped. San Martin Jilotepeque is a typical
Guatemalan town in many ways. It´s 60,000 inhabitants are 90% indigenous
and very poor. The economy is based on agriculture. There is no possibility of any industry other than small shops due to the hilliness of the countryside and lack of available space in the urban area. The
community was badly hurt in the earthquake that hit Guatemala in the 70´s,
and was one of the most affected by the 30 year armed conflict that ended
in 1996. The current mayor and his city council are focused on
development of the community and have accomplished a lot. They see that
development as concrete—new roads, new schools, a new hospital, etc. The
city council has backed small ways of increasing the budget, like making
sure every store pays its Q10 license ($1.40) every month, etc. The goal
is to find more ways of steadying the income of the municipality rather
than relying on national income or project grants. With this money, they
can afford such projects as paying for the transport of the computers.

I have just worked up some figures on children in school. Although it is
the law that children attend school, there is no enforcement of this. It
is especially sad that the prevailing view is that many young girls are
not sent to school, and that many girls and boys drop out before the end
of primary school (6th grade.) Over half the population is under 18 years
of age. There are 13,950 students in 116 primary schools which amounts to 80% of the population eligible. I was shocked and surprised and delighted by this figure, because it means that there has been some success in getting kids in school and keeping them there. If you count those who leave in fifth or sixth grade (which happens to a good number) after learning to read and write, it seems from the figures that most students go to school for some time. That´s something, not great, but better than not going to school at all.

The municipality, especially with the help of national funds and foundations, is building schools as fast as it can. I just worked on the proposal for a secondary school using video tapes (and thus less work intensive for teachers) for one of the communities centrally located in the countryside. This will be the 9th of its kind for the 251 square kilometre municipality. (Altogether there are 33 secondary schools and 1,815 students.)

The schools have no room for the computers, so one of the things we are thinking about is building small new buildings for the computers. Simple structures with bars for security and a good door. If you want to see that proposal, let me know.

Another fact—schools are badly overcrowded. A friend of mine has a class of 48 students. That is typical. Also typical is having a teacher teach two, three or four grades all at once.

Well, again thank you so much from everyone here. When you are down, think you can´t do anything right, or are just plain sad, picture the people who look at me with incredulous faces when I tell them what´s coming to town. You helped them believe. You helped them be acknowledged by a great big world out there. And you will help their children become part of that world.

Grateful in this great dance of life,


Margaret Molinari

Peace Corps Volunteer

San Martin Jilotepeque


Guatemala, Central America

Tel 502-5527--5213

The Mac Maya Proposal Letter

Dear Sir,

San Martin Jilotepeque has a vision and needs help in implementing it. As
a third year Peace Corps Volunteer in San Martin, I am writing on their behalf. The mayor and city council don´t speak English. I would like to offer you the opportunity of adopting this community and aiding in their
economic and technological development.

We have acquired 350 computers and have a desire to put them in 15 simple
and secure computer centers in the city´s natural microregions where
community development councils exist and are functioning well. Through
their learning to use them, these centers will allow the rural, indigenous
adults and children of San Martin to grow, learn and become part of the
global network.

San Martin needs $40,000 to do this. San Martin has shown its commitment to its vision. The leadership is very aggressive at seeking support and funds for the many projects it sponsors. The mayor and city council have stretched their budget as far as they can but they cannot do this project a one. They have already paid over $20 per computer to have them shipped to Guatemala. The people of each community will provide the labor and local resources to construct the buildings.

Quite frankly, as a Peace Corps Volunteer, I have been very careful to not become a money raiser for the community. I will only ask for help when I know that the project is special and will have a long term effect. This project will open new doors to both the adults and children of a poor, rural indigenous community. It will answer San Martin´s basic needs and help it to improve its economy. This is different. These structures will house communications to the outside world that will link an old, traditional Mayan culture to the world at large.

I have enclosed a proposal, a list of some facts about San Martin Jilotepeque and some personal anecdotes. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. If you speak Spanish, give the mayor a call to get further information, but be persistent because he is always running around. If you get frustrated trying to reach him, try Otto Vielman from the Office of Municipal Planning where I work.

Thank you for your consideration of this project.

Margaret Molinari

Peace Corps Volunteer

San Martin Jilotepeque, Chimaltenango

Guatemala, Central America

520-319-5689 (In the US until 13 Jan. 06)

502-5527-5213 (My Cell Phone in Guatemala)

502-7883-0365 (Office of Municipal Planning, SMJ—They do not speak English)

502-7844-8053 (Phone and Fax of the municipal building and number for the

Mac Maya Funding Proposal

San Martin Jilotepeque

Chimaltenango, Guatemala


Municipal Vision--To make of San Martin Jilotepeque a municipality that is
more just, equitable, sustainable and human in an environment of peace and
respect for the cultural and biological diversity as well as providing integrated development for all of its people.

Municipal Mission—To organize and educate the community by providing and
promoting the conscious use of natural resources, facilitating technical, financial and human assistance, providing the basic and necessary infrastructure for each person to have the same opportunities for achievement.

San Martin Jilotepeque has a vision to become a model community in Guatemala by incorporating technology into its rural indigenous life. In fighting the many years of poverty and war that have affected the residents here, the mayor and city council have searched aggressively for new ways to answer old problems.

For example, based on a new national law, they have actively implemented a system of community development concils that identify community needs and prioritize them. They bought
an ecologically friendly incinerator to deal with the massive problems of garbage. They have lobbied and pushed the national government to build the first municipal hospital and birthing center. They have supported a municipality wide effort to use organic farming techniques to improve their traditional corn and bean as well as market crops.

And they have responded to an offer of 350 computers that were available from the Montgomery County Maryland school system paying only for their shipment to Guatemala. As a town of 60,000 people within 251 square kilometres, and with 116 primary schools, the security, distribution, and maintenance of these computers is daunting.

The first problem is finding secure space for the 15 centers of computation that are envisioned. This corresponds to the 15 regional community development councils that have been functioning productively for the past two years. (There are 141 village councils as well.) One solution might be the schools, but they are full because the people of San Martin value education. Just recently a community council leader expressed his gratitude for 4 new classrooms by saying that even though he never could attend school because he was a war orphan, his children all were there. (This school has 1500 students with 8 teachers. Next year they will get 5 more teachers!) Schools rarely have any extra space.

Rarely do any of the communities have any civic building either because their priorities lie in building roads to get their crops to market, clean water systems, schools andr health centers.

Fifteen simple but secure buildings are needed to fulfil the dream of bringing this technology to the people. They do not need to be fancy, just block buildings with secure metal lamina roofs. But they need security bars on the windows, strong metal doors and electric power. Roughly each would cost 20,000 Quetzales ($2666) with a total of 300,000 Quetzales ($40,000). The community would help by providing labor and locally available resources like wood and sand. The municipality would
help with supervision and architecture as well as furnishings.

Who will use these computer centers?

First are the students of the schools.

--They need to learn how to use the computer first, and then use it as a learning tool. Already a number of schools use a national program of video presentations as their basic form of instruction.

-- As soon as the children are competent to use the computers, they can begin to use didactic programming.

-- With the availability of the appropriate software such as encyclopaedias and atlases, students can do research on various topics. There is one library in town now with perhaps 3,000 books. In town there is also a store where you pay to use their unconnected computers that have encyclopaedias and atlases on them.

Adult programs will be highly encouraged to use the computers. Clearly many of the older and more traditional people will reject it, but others, younger and more comfortable with information can attend courses such as the following.

-- Use of the computer.

-- Coming to a central location, they will have the opportunity to learn how to use the internet to understand their agricultural and artisan markets. MAGA, the national department of agriculture has agreed to develop this course. This is especially needed with the coming of CAFTA.

-- Women who make fabric art can discover new marketing techniques.

-- There is a search on right now to see if simple literacy programs exist to help adults improve their reading and writing abilities.

-- There are Kaqchiquel programs available.

And lest we forget, the teachers will benefit

-- They will learn how to use a computer.

-- They will have available access to the Internet in the municipal center for research.

-- They will learn how to use the didactic programs to help their students learn.

-- They can use the computer for developing their own didactic materials.

How will the centers be maintained?

-- Current thoughts are that each regional community development committee will take responsibility for running the center, including asking parents and users to contribute to the costs. It is normal for local development groups to raise money for schools and other social needs.

-- One idea circulating is to “charge” students, especially those who are poor, with some article, like a glass jar or tin can that can be recycled. These can then be sold to provide income to maintain the centers. (It will also help the environment.)

The future has many possibilities including the following—

-- When the technology is available, it will be beneficial to hook up each of the 15 centers to the internet. Given the mountainous nature of San Martin, this means using technology that is not cost effective today.

-- Farmers can have direct relations with their international markets.

-- Artisans can establish new markets.

-- When there are enough students familiar with the use of the computer, the community can begin searching for work that can be done within San Martin. This to me is very important that there is concern for future work possibilities. The municipality of San Martin was helped greatly by USAID to update its systems and has digitalized its births and death records, its finances and the office of the Municipal Secretary. The national identification certificate, the cedula, will be digitalized next.

Chimaltenango, Guatemala


-- Mayor Don Nery Ruano Galve (second 4 year term of office)

-- City council of 2 trustees and 7 council persons

-- Community mayors in villages

-- 12 aldeas or micro regions plus the urban area.


-- 59,578 (as of the year 2000)

-- Rural Area 49,796, Urban Area 8,782

-- Growth rate between 3 and 4% a year (190 births and 30 deaths per month)

-- 40% very poor (live on less that $1 a day) and 20% poor

-- 89% Indigenous Kaqchiquel Maya. Kaqchiquel is still spoken by many inhabitants

-- Over 10,000 people are working in the United States

-- A large percentage of men work in Chimaltenango or Guatemala City
-- Over 50% of the population is under 18 years of age


1. Agriculture—corn, beans, coffee, fruits and vegetables

2. Livestock—cows, horses, pigs

3. Craft and Artisan Work—weaving, woodworking

4. Communication/Transportation—buses to the capital and local transportation


-- Money sent from relatives working in the US comprises a large percentage of the income of the town, especially the rural area.

-- There are two cooperatives exporting to the US—One agricultural and one making wooden objects.

-- Market days are Sunday, Thursday and to a lesser extent Tuesday


-- 18.5 kilometers from Chimaltenango, the department capital

-- 72 kilometers from Guatemala City, the national capital

-- 251 square kilometres in the northeast corner of the department of Chimaltenango

-- 1755.55 meters above sea level


-- The rural roads are paved with stones

-- The urban roads are paved with stone, concrete, cobblestone and paving blocks.

-- The topography is irregular with flat sections, rugged areas and foothills with ravines and hills


-- 56 pre-primary programs with 1,517 students

-- 116 primary schools with 13,950 students

-- 33 Basico or middle schools with 1,815 students

-- 4 Diversificado or secondary schools with 528 students.

-- Best Guess is that 1% of the population is at the University = 600

-- More and more schools are bilingual—Kaqchiquel and Spanish and some schools graduate bilingual Spanish/English secretaries.


-- 90% of houses have electricity

-- Cell phone service exists in town and in much of the countryside


-- Predominantly Catholic with a strong Evangelical community as well

-- Churches and festivals are a large part of social life of the community


-- One Health Center in the urban area

-- 8 Health Posts in the aldeas

-- 50 Convergence Centers in villages

-- Being built—1 hospital and 1 birthing center

-- Most frequent illnesses—Respiratory infections, diarrhea, measles,

whooping cough, mumps, tonsillitis, smallpox, urinary infections, skin diseases, parasites and rheumatism

-- Dentists are in the urban area only


Don Nery, the mayor, looked at me with faraway eyes, and said that he wants to be the first municipality where all students, no matter their background, have access to computer technology. There are no communities in Guatemala where this exists. The city council continued to ask me during the long drawn out process of getting the computers shipped if it was really happening. And the day they arrived two of them stopped me on the street and were almost giggling in their excitement.

Don Flaviano came to me one day to ask how he could get email messages. He is one of the directors of Stancia, a cooperative that raises green beans and exports them to the US. They have been having to pay someone outside the community to receive email messages concerning their shipments from one of their suppliers. He wanted to avoid that. What could he do?

A young man approached me on the bus—actually, he offered me his middle seat which is almost unheard of on the crowded chicken buses of Guatemala. He works at the school supervisory office and has been studying on weekends for his degree in computers, with an eventual goal of becoming a graphic artist. He wanted to know what ideas I had for how he could stay in San Martin and use his skills.

Guatecompras is a new program of the Guatemalan government requiring that all improvement projects done by a municipality over 30,000 Quetzales must be advertised on the internet for open bidding from any company that would like to bid. San Martin has two internet cafes operational and no access in the municipal building.

I was circulating some information about scholarships when a father and son came to visit me about them. Both are teachers and very excited about the computers with dreams of a computer academy in the urban area. They told me of a young man who travels to Guatemala City every day for his job inputting data for a computer company. He makes very good money by local standards. He earns 4,000 Quetzales or $533 per month. (By the way, that´s a lot more than I live on!)

An indigenous woman who is a university graduate in Social Work was telling me the other day that when she purchased her computer she had no idea how to operate it. She asked a friend to just show her how to turn it on and off. From that little training she has become very adept at its use. We co-trained the city council and the municipal development council together using many documents she produced from our municipal computers. And she wrote her thesis on one.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Stand Up 4 Cincinnati

Rosa Parks made her mark in life by sitting down and refusing to move.

People in Cincinnati, OH have been witnessing a most blatant race-baiting campaign for Mayor in Cincinnati between two Democrats: Mark Mallory and David Pepper.

Pepper is the one using the race-baiting tactics -- demanding that Mallory repudiate the public support of a small radical Black-American group.

David Pepper's demands are pretty much cut and paste changes from old and worn out tactics used by politicians who tried to defeat their opponent by accusations that they were, "soft" on crime or commies/Reds, or would not repudiate support of radical blacks or Jews.

It's time now for Cincinnati to make their Mark - Mayor by supporting and voting for Mallory on November 8th.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Mississippi Gov. to Big Easy Katrina Evacuees: 'Get Outta Town!'

Can You Believe How Low Some Can Go?

"Some Miss. hotels tell Katrina evacuees to move
BROOKHAVEN, Miss. (AP) — Hilton Hotels, the parent company of Hampton Inn and other brands, is trying to find other rooms for the evacuees. However, the company says it warned evacuees when they checked in that their stays would be limited by room availability.

A Hampton Inn in Brookhaven, about two hours north of where Katrina struck, asked Barbara Perry of Folsom, La., to move out last week. She was living in the hotel with her parents and her three young children, and she was driving almost 90 miles a day to work.

"They told me if I didn't pick my clothes up, they were going to call the police," Perry said.

Her mother, who uses a wheelchair, and her father, who is blind, were also told to check out, but they were granted an extension after a Red Cross volunteer intervened, said Perry's mother, Betty Myers.

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood has asked hotel managers to let evacuees stay longer, but they aren't required to do so. Gov. Haley Barbour "has decided to let the private sector handle those issues without government intervention," said his spokesman, Pete Smith."

I suppose you could say that the former head of the Republican Party fund raising is just being true to his beliefs and ethics, eh? Which include naming his nephew to his state's commission of rebuilding Mississippi and making sure that FEMA gives a firm that he used to go to for big contributions, a huge contract for debris removal.

Gov. Barbour has installed his nephew, Henry Barbour, as executive director for the 40-member Katrina recovery commission he had appointed two weeks ago.

AshBrit, according to the Times, paid $40,000 in the first half of 2004 to Barbour, Griffith and Rogers, the Mississippi governor’s old lobbying firm, which he had founded after leaving the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee. They have been given a $568 million no-bid contract by FEMA for debris removal.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Katrina and Rita Greatest Double Disaster of Decade -- Line Up Everyone; Time to Cash In!

Everyone except the dead, casualties and survivors it seems, loves a big disaster; it gives everyone something common to talk about and best of all it provides a focus for everyone's favorite solution, crisis, bias, or wannabe behavior.

The people, talk show hosts, politicians, and journalists who don't generally live in the devastated area think its the perfect time to have a discussion about what should or should not be done in the area devastated.

And there is a whole bevy of experts who want to be and sometimes actually are "go-to experts" seek out a way to sell/share their "insider knowledge" or are sought out by reporters and politicians.

Among the "experts" in an Oct. 4, 2005 NYT article by Cornelia Dean, one is quoted in a story titled "some experts say it's time to evacuate the coast (for good)" as saying: "Even the fate of New Orleans should be open to discussion, Dr. Schrag said. "Spending hundreds of millions of dollars to rebuild a city that puts it in harm's way once again and relying on technology such as higher dikes and levees seems to me a very dangerous strategy," the more so in an era of global warming. " The article was not just about New Orleans, they were talking about the Gulf Coast:

"As the Gulf Coast reels from two catastrophic storms in a month, and the Carolinas and Florida deal with damage and debris from hurricanes this year and last, even some supporters of coastal development are starting to ask a previously unthinkable question: is it time to consider retreat from the coast?"

I have this photo passed down to me from my mother of one of the main streets in Providence, RI from September, 1938 , the sign on the theater says, Boys Town with Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney! You can see a row boat in the middle of the street left by the 12-15 foot storm surge that came up Narragansett Bay when the "Long Island Express" Hurricane hit Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts after ravaging Long Island.

The experts conveniently focus on the most recent storms that hit the Gulf and make little on no mention about all the coastal cities stretching from the Carolinas to Cape Cod that are subject to the same damage.

I don't hear them suggesting that all American cities on a coast subject to devastating natural disasters be abandoned. The reason you don't hear them saying that Miami, New York City, Boston or Long Island should be phased out? Too many people would say, "That's nuts!" It's also the reason they are not talking about all those cities on the West Coast which are not only all at risk from devastating earthquakes but from tsunami's as well. Not everyone can click their heels and transport themselves to Kansas.

And the talk show hosts, politicians and others talking trash about whether to rebuild the Ninth Ward of New Orleans at the same time they "feel" for the victims of Katrina?

Well it's a little bit the same as the "go-to expert wannabes" and more racism and elitism than can be swept aside under the guise of "thinking outside of the box," being cutting edge, or "Gee, we're just thinking about what we could do with a clean slate."

Why don't we try this: Let the good people of New Orleans, Biloxie, Bay St. Louis, Western Louisiana and Northeast Texas where Rita did her thing decide what they want to do with "their" cities that they and their families built over the past 150-300 years. Then let's help them do just that. Why?

They deserve our support, not meddling. Look at the facts and figure out how much fuel comes from them to power the rest of us and how much moves through their ports to bring profits all the way back to Kansas City.

If I were down there with them, I think about now I'd start thinking about suing two thirds of the nation for polluting the Gulf (it drains 2/3s of the nation's waterways) if they don't want to treat us as family.

Get real folks or go back to numbing your mind watching fake reality shows and living their lives instead of those in New Orleans or Biloxi.

Go here to see that most of the big storms hit the East Coast and not the Gulf.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Latest Clueless CEO Scam? Healthcare Costs

The Latest Clueless CEO Scam?

CEOs at General Motors and Delta Airlines say: 'If we could just get our workers and retirees to make concessions (pay more or give up contracted benefits) on our healthcare costs, we could be more competitive.'

The whiners are saying that '"so and so" competitor only has $20 of healthcare costs in their cars and we have $125.' Oh woe are we with greedy workers and retirees.

GM is looking at its bottomline and over its shoulder and what does it see? Toyota getting ready to become Number One in North America and Internationally.

Is Toyota's success due to some mythical lower healthcare costs?

Toyota's formula for success is simple:

1. Our job is to get butts in seats - seats of Toyota products.
2. To get butts in seats, Toyota listens to what customers say they want and we give it to them. And their customers say that regardless of which particular product we want, we want a quality product at a reasonable cost.
3. To give their customers quality products at reasonable costs, they continuously focus on improving the quality (effectiveness and efficiency) of the processes used to design and produce their vehicles.
4. To give their customers quality products at reasonable costs, they continuously focus on improving the quality (effectiveness and efficiency) of their workers with training and involvement in improving the quality of their work.

Southwest Airlines uses a similar formula to succeed as an airline -- Some thing that Delta used to do but has forgotten how to do.

The most important part of the success formula?

Your job is to get butts into seats by offfering customers services and products of quality and good value.

Got it?

Or are you too addicted to finding something other than your own cluelessness to blame your woes on?

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Corporate and City Summer Reruns

Re: Cincinnati Teen Homicide, GM, Delta, and Cincinnati Reds Crises

Summer Reruns - Again!
"Press, Leaders and People React"

Have you noticed how hard it seems for people to get a new idea or face the fact that they need to do something really different?

Look at Tuesday's headlines and you begin to get the idea that react means just that re-act, or play the same role or scene again and even though we know the movie will likely have the same ending, we can pretend that this time there will be a different ending.

Teen Turf War Turns Deadly
Press, Leaders, People React
Community meetings, crisis experts walk and talk,
Get Tough, Care More, Why Can't Things Be Like They Used to Be?

GM Loses One Billion, Market Share Still Sliding, 25,000 to Lose Jobs
Press, Leaders, Shareholders React
GM CEO: 'We Have a Plan: Downsize, Control Costs, Get Concessions from Employees and Retirees.'

Delta Chiefs Cite Cost Crisis; May Go Chapter 11 in Fall
Press, Leaders, People React
"We will wrestle with the problem, We Have a Plan: Control Costs, Get Concessions from Employees and Retirees.'

Reds Run Pitiful:
Press, Leaders and Fans React --
Fire Manager, Trade Loyal Team Star, Get Tough, Try Harder, Why Can't Things Be Like They Used to Be?

Cincinnati Ride By Homicide: React. Rerun the crisis movie, quick!
When local homicides shot up to more than 50 a year in 2001 and stayed there, we as a community "decided" to get used to it as if the deaths were like weekly variations in the price of regular gas. Getting a new idea was too hard and facing the fact that something was terribly wrong and needed the whole community's effort was too much for a city used to letting the"experts, the professionals, the business and community leaders" take care of things.

Corporate CEOs in Crisis React Too, or should we say: "Corporate CEOs React II."

Hey folks, you media, government, civic leaders -- the answer is the same to all four problems: Face Facts, You Need a New Way to Get Butts into Seats

Kids, parents, relatives, government and school leaders all need to figure out how to get their respective butts into seats talking and working together until they re-write the script for being a successful young man in Cincinnati today.

GM and Delta may need to control some costs and share the pain but what they really need to do is figure out how to get new and old customers into their "vehicles."

The answer to getting a new idea and approach to winning for the Reds may also be an answer to the Cincinnati homicide crisis, as well as Delta's and GM's profit crisis:

Take advantage of the University of Cincinnati's Re-Action to not being a "classy" campus (they want Basketball Coach Bob Huggins to leave... because he and "his" players, although winners, are not "classy"): Hire Coach Huggins to work with you on how to create a competitive winning strategy based on teamwork, working on achieving your personal best, and recruiting people who want to win.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Two Small Tragedies

Two Small Tragedies Can Lead To...

The first tragedy -- A couple of weeks ago, we had a big rain that dumped nearly two inches in less than twelve hours. There were a number of traffic accidents, people were hurt and there were also a number of homes with flooded basements. All tragedies of a sort to those involved but not the one that effected me.

There is a "walk about" pond next to a major highway in my neighborhood that I include it in my daily walks on urban streets. I love to see the redwing black birds there in the spring, a few turtles that sun themselves, a musk rat or two and a pair of Canadian Geese who annually nest on a small "islet." In the week before the big rain, they had built their nest, a clutch of eggs were laid and the month or so of sitting had begun.

I walked by the afternoon after the rain had subsided and saw the the whole pond was flooded higher than I had ever seen it. I quickly noticed that the "islet" was under water and the geese were nowhere to be seen. The next morning, I visited early and saw that enough water had run off that the "islet" was reemerging. The geese were there and seemingly looking for their clutch of eggs and nest. Both were gone. That was the first small tragedy for me. No goslings to see in a month or two or finally figuring out how the mother goose gets her goslings across the highway before they can fly.

The pair is still in residence, feeding every day but there is no nest this year.

The second tragedy -- Last week, I was out and about early; walking swiftly and then stopped dead in my tracks. On the shoulder of the street next to me, I looked down at a bit of "road kill" a mostly flattened Peregrine Falcon. The sudden sadness and anger I felt was not just because these Falcons are rare in this area and endangered, I could still see the beauty of this "jet fighter" predator -- its swept back wings, and simply but elegantly designed talons and beak but I would never see it in action, I could only imagine it in flight.

I took it out of the street, went back home and returned with a plastic bag to put it in. I took it home, reported the death to those keeping track of the few in our area and then buried it in our back yard -- in an area where we "intern" family pets that have left us.

Both small tragedies saddened me but also got me to thinking about the beauty of the geese, the goslings, and the falcon. Their beauty is in part just an expression of their life force but in large part for us, it is in their form, coloring, grace while flying.

Yesterday, I was thinking about both small tragedies, the beauty of the geese and the falcon, and then about human beauty. What are the most beautiful, most expressive aspects or "parts" of the human animal.

The eyes, definitely -- the eyes. My father had taught me early to just look into people's eyes rather than how they dressed, how they spoke, their shape, color or anything else we often resort to in making judgments about people. And hands! People's hands are what they use to create all sorts of external beauty and often express -- as much as the eyes do -- the state of their spirit. The mouth, especially when it is formed into a smile. Somehow, I think they are all connected, aren't they.

If someone is really happy or filled with joy and spirit, their eyes, mouth and hands are all "smiling!" The phony smile is easy for most to see because you can see no "smile" in their eyes.

Smiles make us all beautiful - no? And they really are contagious, aren't they?

So just in case you need one just now because -- well just because -- I want to share with you my collection of smiles of a variety of people who put their smiles up on the web.

And if these aren't enough - go to Google or Yahoo search and under an image search, type smile and then sit back for a page full of them.

April 14, 2005, 8:45 P.M.

An added note: Just returned from another round about the local pond. I did not mention before that earlier this week, the pair of geese which had lost its eggs during the recent storm, "invited" another mating pair to the pond (they had earlier chased off all interlopers). The "invited" pair stayed and a nest was built on the "islet" today and this evening, one is sitting on a new clutch of eggs -- hooray!

Ned Hamson

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Second 25,000 Miles

Had some losses over last few days.

Lost a friend (40 years old) who knew he had to change but didn't, or thought he still had time. He didn't.

I'll miss him, I'm sad he's gone, I'm pissed at him for not changing and myself for not being able to find a way to move him.

May well lose an organization friend, the Symphony Orchestra Institute ( which has worked hard for nearly ten years, I think, to help symphony orchestras rethink and reinvent themselves into positive futures for the people in them and their audiences.

So I am sure that its founder Paul Judy of Chicago, must feel somewhat the same as I do about my friend and myself -- a mixture of sadness and being pissed off at those who know they should change but don't and at our own efforts to help them change.
I like symphony music (not to the exclusion of other types of music -- I bleed blues.) and I think society in general will lose something when more symphonies close or shrink because they cannot get "out of their box," or the way they do business and
the way they see their possible futures.

They have "boxed" themselves into being more and more dependent on corporate funding and a shrinking number of well-to-do patrons. They are trapped into working harder at doing the things the way they always have rather than working smarter and in ways that will enable them to live on, grow, learn, innovate.

They cannot "see" themselves as an entertainment and cultural destination competing for a family's discretionary spending -- and that they are competing with destinations as varied as casino resorts, entertainment parks like Kings Island or Seven Flags, and events like NASCAR, the NFL or even major league baseball. The funny and sad part is that even if not structured for the whole family as yet, they are the "best buy" because it costs less for a family of four to go to the symphony for an evening or afternoon than it would cost the same family to go to any of the destinations noted above.

Instead, some - most - see themselves as competing with the theater, opera, and ballet for a fixed or shrinking "fine arts" marketplace.

I could BLOG-on but I think you get the idea -- a little clearer view of where they really are and a willingness to get an expanded view and do something about it could change the situation.

The same applies to my friend who is now gone.

I suppose my hope is that in reading or hearing about processes that work and people and organizations that have changed will help them change.

But. I can't count on it, so I will keep rethinking and working at getting out of my own boxes to find better ways to help people and organizations change.
I'll miss you buddy -- more than you knew.