Rainy season

Posted by Richard Moran.

Anyone who owns a place in wine country is asked very predictable questions like, “Do they charge for tasting at (fill in the blank) Winery?” Or, “Do you know how to get us into the French Laundry?” Or, “How many grapes in a bottle of wine?”

I don’t know the answer to any of these questions but there is one question we are asked often that I can answer. The question is “What is your favorite season in wine country?” The answer is, whatever season we are in at the time.This happens to be the rainy season. So let me explain some of the features of rainy season that are so special they are worth noting, and make it my favorite season for right now.There are adventures during rainy season like rock slides, overflowing creeks and gushing broken gutters. We are lucky to have a basement and when it filled with two feet of water after the rain storm the kids reminded me there was no need to try to bail it out. The water table had reached the level of our basement. It was an adventure and a science project.

Rainy season brings employment. Our building contractor always told us that with this much rain we should expect leaks. He was right, which means jobs for all contractors, roofers and gutter installers.A sense of wonder is easily developed this time of year. I wonder why the pool is a foot deeper than it is supposed to be and overflowing. I am sure there is a dead mouse or larger animal blocking the overflow drain and I wonder how to get it out. I wonder also where all the frogs come from that now seem to be everywhere including inside my boots.Since it is so nasty out, the mice have moved inside and built a nest under the gas pedal in the pickup truck. No one is sure if there are babies in there or if there are even mice in there, but the truck will sit until the weather changes or the nest disappears. Not driving the old pickup is another way to save the environment and eliminate greenhouse gases — a benefit of rainy season.In this weather the barn cats are not inclined to go outside. They don’t like rain so they haven’t left the barn in weeks and have created their own litter boxes. We just can’t find the cat-made litter boxes, but for obvious reasons, we know they are there. While I sniff and look I have found tools that I thought were lost. Thank you, rainy season.Ants don’t like rain either so they move into the house. We are fascinated during this special time by how long they can make their parades and how little food it takes to bring them inside and how they can work together. Those ants are quite the engineers.Rainy season brings mushrooms. They are everywhere. Since I learned long ago, based on reading obituaries, to never trust a wild mushroom, they get squished instead of picked. Currently they are growing all over the lawn, in the gardens and in the bedrooms. We feel like we have a winter garden with the mushrooms.In general, rainy season is a lot more relaxing. I tend not to work as hard because there is so little daylight and who wants to go out and rake the creekside garden when there are flash flood warnings?A little rain now takes a lot of pressure off of us down the road and we are all measuring the water level in the wheelbarrows. The rain is welcome and so is the rainy season. It’s my favorite season in wine country, until spring.

 

On Typos

Posted by Richard Moran.

When the UPS Guy rang the doorbell with the stack of big boxes I was excited and happy but I didn’t open them right away. The boxes contained three hundred copies of my latest book, Nuts, Bolts and Jolts. The publisher sent them to me so that I could send them to my friends in large organizations in the hopes that my friends would buy a few thousand copies.  It was my fifth book.  Had the boxes contained my first book I would have torn them open and run through the neighborhood screaming and giving the book to strangers.

Some of my earlier books had grown to be best sellers based on the bulk purchases of large corporations so it was not a pipe dream to try again with book five.  Dutifully, and with the help of some friends, we mailed out a batch of books with a personal note and encouragement that when employees read this book, they will be transformed and all will be well.  One of the pieces of advice in the book is to pay attention to the small things that can make one’s life miserable or great.

A few days later I started receiving messages with statements like, “Your new book is fundamental!  LOL.”  Another one proclaimed, “Moran, you are a fundamental guy.”

Finally, a friend called and asked, “Did you see the typo?”  I admitted I hadn’t even looked and waited with dread for the worst.   It was the worst.

The subtitle of Nuts, Bolts and Jolts is Fundamental Business and Life Lessons You Must Know. In the very first edition, the word fundamental was misspelled.   Right there on the cover in glaring large font was the word Fundemental.  Maybe proof readers don’t pay attention to the covers.

Lots of red faced back tracking later, all is well.  A company in China just bought five hundred copies.  I am glad they will see the correct spelling of a fundamental word.

There remains in my garage a bunch of boxes, unopened, that the UPS Guy delivered one day.

 

The New Universal Language

Posted by Richard Moran.

There is a new universal language. It crept in sometime between the advent of the first fax machine and the death of the pager that we wore on our belts.  A quick quiz of most people about the universal language will generate responses like:·      A kiss.  It is the global signal of love, although there are very few with whom I want to communicate with this language.·      The middle finger.  Everyone knows what it means and it is not good to be the recipient of the message so this language carries some unfortunate baggage.  It is a language that almost always makes someone feel really bad.·      English.  Since most Americans speak no other language, we have imposed this language on the rest of the universe.·      Music.  A preferred language by all but now that MySpace has bazillions of bands and artists on it, there are too many dialects of the language.  Which is better, Bach or Beastie Boys?·      Food.  Before salmonella, South Beach Diet and going vegan, this was a good language.  Now it seems cluttered with too many celebrity chefs telling you how to communicate in this language·      Money.  Once the banks, the dollar, the stock market and the price of oil recover, this could be a good language again.  In the meantime, money is an inconsistent language. All the communication turmoil, leaves just one universal language – PowerPoint. Bill Gates may go down in history for his riches and for eliminating malaria and solving so many world problems, but his real contribution will be the creation of PowerPoint as the universal language. Wikipedia says that “a universal language is a hypothetical, historical or mythical language said to be spoken and understood by all or most of the world’s population.  … it may be the primary language of all speakers, or the only existing language; in others, it is a fluent secondary language used for communication between groups speaking different primary languages. Some mythological or religious traditions state that there was once a single universal language among all people, or shared by humans and supernatural beings; this is not supported by historical evidence.” The historical evidence is now all around us.

  • We speak in headlines backed up by a few bullets
  • Entire books are written of just bullets.  (See Nuts, Bolts and Jolts)
  • My children use PowerPoint in their grammar school everyday.
  • Meetings will not start until the projector warms up to show the PowerPoint presentation.
  • The three letters PPT are as well known as FYI, and IBM, LOL.
  • The phrase “Next Steps” is now as welcome as “Free” or “This is Not A Bill”.
  • Companies are being formed to distribute PPT presentations.

Next StepsThe good news about PPT is that it is efficient.  The bad news is that it is often not effective unless accompanied by a non-virtual person.  As a communication tool it needs to tell a story.  That’s all.  As the new universal language PowerPoint needs to tell as story.