Thursday, May 26, 2016

Paying Attention Along the Way


I have spent the last 14 years of my career in construction management, focusing on blue collar HR and construction safety.  I call it blue collar HR because the people I have the privilege of supporting on a daily basis are craftsmen who work with their hands while designing and building the infrastructure of this country.  They are, without a doubt, my people, even if I haven't always fit in.  They accepted me when I was green, defended me when necessary, and helped educate me in the construction realm.  These folks will always have my utmost respect.

On Monday, I begin a new challenge, however, focusing solely on environmental health and safety. While I am transitioning out of human resources, I take with me numerous lessons learned .  Here are just a few:

You can come to the correct conclusion.  You can implement it incorrectly.

When you have the opportunity, craft the narrative, otherwise it will be crafted for you.

When you have the chance to lead consider the type of leader you want to be; one who leads or one who tells others what to do.

If you've never gotten the opportunity to lead, ask yourself why not.  Leaders are needed in every vocation.  

Absent direction, hard work is chaos, accomplishing nothing.  In light of direction, hard work is focused, accomplishing anything.

Give others the credit.  Take none for yourself.

Work for employers who value people above any profit, success, or selfish motivation. Success is inevitable when you prioritize people.

Create relationships with people not businesses.  Have two contacts for every one aspect of work.  Resist the urge to develop a third. 

There are doers and there are conceivers.  There are doers who conceive and conceivers who do.  There seems to be a disproportionate number of conceivers who don't do however.  When in doubt, be a doer.

Set your sights on helping people.  You will create relationships that will survive the toughest times.

Respect is earned.  Job titles don't merit respect.  Job titles absent respect work in reverse.

You cannot move backwards in career or relationships.  Remember this.

Always point out the elephant in the room.  Failure to point out the elephant in the room creates a blue whale, not a hamster.  

Be the one to give the bad news.  It's best coming from someone who cares than someone who doesn't.  

I have more but I've learned the longer the prose, the less it is read.  Another philosophy I suppose.  Feel free to share some of yours.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

At Least I Can Whistle

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I don't write much anymore.  No reason, really.  The time is there.  I even feel as if I have less obligations since I can trust the children of the house to mostly self police themselves;  unless of course there is some sort of disagreement , or a hot stove.  Then the police (or the paramedics) become slightly necessary.  But for the most part, I just don't write.  I don't know why that is... 

In an awkward moment of honesty yesterday, my youngest looked me right in the face and said, "Daddy, if I lose any more teeth, I won't be able to whistle."  I thought to myself for a beat and replied, "Haegan, that's some funny stuff right there...but you're right...another tooth and whistling will have to wait for awhile." (a travesty in my household)   Then I thought to myself, where has all the time gone?

This morning I dropped the same little girl of for her second day of first grade.  Last year our routine consisted of a drive to school, a parked car, and a daddy/daughter walk up to the front door.  Today, I parked the car and my little girl bid me adieu some 300 yards from the school.  As I stood by the car and watched her grow smaller and smaller in the distance, I awaited the look.  You know "the look;" the moment when they turn and check that you're still spotting them from afar.  And roughly 20 yards from the door, she turned and peered down in my direction.  I felt affirmed, and sad all at the same time.

This isn't the first time I've felt this way.  My eldest now dreams of a day when she will soon drive.  A feat I find even more amazing considering Paige has no since of direction.  When she was her sister's age, she too would saunter up that same shaded sidewalk to school, at first with me watching, and then in routine hustle, barely getting the car door to latch before disappearing into the distance.  At this point, "the look" had all but faded, yet I still watched with wistful hesitancy as most parents do when traversing milestones.  And then we buy them a map (or an iPhone), put them in an automobile, and never stop worrying...if they will find their way around this great big world and out of the paper sack in which they've been hiding.  

Maybe Haegan's concern for whistling involves my habit of constantly whistling around the house.  Perhaps she equates whistling with grownup behavior, or silly behavior, or annoying behavior (as my wife would attest) but nevertheless, for now, she fears the inability to whistle.  Perhaps in her eyes, growing up isn't quite what she had in mind, if she has to give up something she enjoys for something inescapable.  Or maybe she just loves to whistle.

Which brings me back to me in some odd sense.  If I were completely honest, I would say I fear no longer having to parent like I did when my kids were really little.  I would equate this feeling to Haegan's fear of whistle silence.  I know she will lose more teeth and perhaps lose her ability to whistle.  It's a foregone conclusion.  So, to, is my fear of not being needed I suppose.  They'll inevitably need less and less of me as they do more and more of their life.  I guess I'm okay with that. 

At least I can whistle...and write.  Maybe I should write more?  Just a thought! 


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Local Government


August 10, 2012


Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government

Mr. David Hollingsworth
Department of Public Safety
200 East Main Street
Lexington, KY 40507

C.C.:  Mayor Jim Gray, Commissioner Clay Mason, Councilwoman Peggy Henson

RE:  Sidewalk Repair Notice

Mr. Hollingsworth,

In early July, I noticed some markings on the sidewalk in front of my house on             .  An avid walker, I knew what these marks meant, as I'd seen them before on adjacent streets and the resulting new sidewalk installation shortly thereafter.  Thinking it a good thing at first, my jubilance was soon replaced with disdain when I realized I was the responsible party for making these repairs, and not the city, even though I neither own the easement or planted the tree responsible for slightly displacing the sidewalk. 

On top of that, a few days later, I received your citation in the mail giving me 60 days to make the repairs or be "subject to civil penalties or prosecution" under the city statute.  While I appreciate you calling this matter to my attention, I do admit that I was a little angry at first.  My anger stemmed from the fact that I was given a mere 60 days to repair a problem I neither created nor felt I was responsible to correct, and foot the bill to boot.  But alas, Section 17-152 clearly outlines my responsibility as a home owner to the sidewalk in front of my house.  And since I am the responsible party and rule follower, I am happy to report I have replaced the damaged portions of the sidewalk as evidenced in the photos below:

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 What once looked like this... (the neighbors sidewalk up the street):

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 ...is now corrected so there will be no need to subject me to civil penalty.  As a matter of fact, most of the sidewalks on my street "marked for death" are now in proper "legal" shape under the law.  While we can enjoy this newly laid smooth concrete, our pockets are quite a bit lighter as this type of work does not come cheap...but I imagine you are well versed in the cost per cubic yard of concrete installed.

 What's not corrected, however, is the street.  Having done my civic duty by replacing city-owned sidewalk, I now feel it my civic duty to point out your responsibility.  The marked sidewalk above is less than 10 feet from these potholes:

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 Up the street a little further, you'll find these potholes:

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And all the way at the end, this:

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Now I don't know about you, but if the aforementioned sidewalk posed a safety hazard, then conventional wisdom would suggest the same logic be used for the street.  Remarkably, upon further  inspection, I could not find any red X's or dots on the city-owned street indicating that they should be corrected or replaced within a specific time frame at the expense of the city, or in this case the taxpayer.

Perhaps this was an oversight but if not, I would like to suggest due diligence on your part when levying citations on taxpayers when similar matters exist within your realm of jurisdiction.

 If I am incorrect and you noted the potholes when citing the sidewalks, I apologize for my insinuations.  I would appreciate, however,  your follow up with streets and roads as the potholes on my street are still in the presented condition today.  It is only fair that they are remedied in the same 60 days I received for my sidewalks.

You have my sincerest appreciation and warmest regards for your follow through on this matter.

Respectfully,


Grant W. Frame

Friday, September 2, 2011

Idle Thoughts at the End of an Asphalt Yo-Yo

I have this habit of watching cars behind me as I meander along highways, byways, and rural routes, mostly as I make my way into work in the mornings and home in the evenings. It is a protective habit as much as anything else, a way to check to see if I am going to get hit from behind as traffic comes to a screeching halt, again and again, resulting in a proverbial caravan of cars on an asphalt yo-yo. It’s not that I would have time to avert disaster, mind you, if I were to see a car careening in my direction but more of an involuntary reflex when traffic tightens. More times than not, however, regardless of the driver behind me, the amount of traffic on the road, or the time of day, one thing is for certain, the person in my rear view mirror is distracted.

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With our unmitigated need for constant, fully-encompassing entertainment in full view, demographers continually create new and witty generational monikers to describe subsets of Americans more quickly than CBS cancels my favorite TV series in favor of another tenuous reality show featuring tattoos and toddlers, or some such thing. They have properly dubbed us the YouTube Generation, the 9/11 Generation, the Debt Generation, the MyPod Generation, etc., patching into patterns of behavior, societal norms, and other seemingly descriptive ways to define scores of people regardless of age. And suffice it to say…we are all these things, mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, sisters and brothers alike. We are described in light of our habits; whether they are in the form of texting, Facebooking, video game playing, etc. And while these habits may conveniently group scores of people in easily definable subsets in which marketers can target with relentless precision, they all share one common attribute; they are simple distractions masquerading as technological necessities.

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Of course it is easy for me to say that your iPhone is a distraction while I play my next word on Words with Friends, grab an email, Google an address while sitting at a red light, or comment on my wife’s Facebook status while she sits beside me. I’m as guilty as the next distracted member of the MyPod Generation, I surmise, as I offer my phone to my four year old to keep her quiet during the last half of America’s Got Talent…secretly hoping Professor Splash hits the bottom of the pool or at least catches a tag line as he plunges from his 40 foot rest. My hypocrisy aside, however, I’ll assure you of one thing; my distraction(s) won’t propel me into the back of your vehicle while cruising down the interstate at 70 miles per hour…or at least won’t anymore. I have seen the light, which, ironically enough, came to me in those few fleeting seconds, between my glance in the rear view mirror and the screeching brakes of the distracted driver behind me. He stopped in time, waved, and finished up his text message, as if to say, “My bad, traffic sure is heavy this time of day.”

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Inching forward, I felt a gentle pulsation on my hip…a text message…for me. Who could it be? I waited, however, until I reached a red light to respond, enacting my new found restraint of all things phone related so I wouldn’t endanger my fellow drivers. And while I typed some silly thing, a honk from the driver behind me was my cue that the light was yet again green. Wishing traffic lights were just a little longer, I put aside my phone and proceeded through the intersection. As is my habit, I peered into the rear view mirror and noticed the driver behind me didn’t make it though the light. And as she faded in the distance, I’m certain the person on the other side of her cell phone got to hear all about it. Just a thought!

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Friday, May 13, 2011

Twilight’s Overture; A Goonish Tale

“In the cold gray tomb, there was a gravestone and a black lagoon, and a picture of…(page flip) Martians taking over the moon” begins the storybook I endeavor to read to my insomniac three year old as we ready her for bed each night. It is on loan from the library, as are 15 other titles, but Goodnight Goon is my personal favorite as it aptly defines the active imagination of a child at bedtime. ..or at least mine.




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Our bedtime routine is gleefully void of adult stressors that often dominate one’s mindset. During these precious moments, we exist without the inclination of ridiculous rising gas prices, tyrannical terrorist masterminds, nautical natural disasters, weekly work-related ramblings, or soapbox socio-political anglings. For a mere moment in time, it is just a monster and his goon, a couple books, an imagination, and perhaps a magical moon (inhabited by Martians) …or something to that effect.

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Images of bedtime often evoke tranquil and serene imagery even if it is cloaked in monsters or other maniacal mischief makers. Like the nickelodeons of yesteryear, bedtime is a time to ignore, if not forget, the real world, altogether. It is freedom in the truest sense imaginable as simple physics cease to exist and one can take on the characteristics of a Lorax, an Oobleck, or even a Sneech successfully and with little condescension. The stories evolve from evening to evening until we tire of mummies rubbing their tummies, opting instead for a skull or a shoe or a pot full of goo or something along those lines!

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When I summon my own childhood, it is often bedtimes that I remember first. I recollect summer shadows dancing on the wall, fearsome creatures they were, continually created as the sun’s final light reflected off the slightly askew curtains dangling in the room. There were transcendent sounds there too, harrowing echoes and unrecognizable vibrations matching the crawling shadows in subtle synchronization. Clutching the sheet’s sheer edge, I derived comfort from the fortitude of my bed, imagining it a fort or castle, an object of great strength nonetheless, and often, sleep would come, disguised as a wayward drifter lurking just beyond twilight’s overture.

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With my memories firmly in tow, I often wonder why I cannot recollect the many ills that plagued society during my formidable years. I recall nothing of the crises in the Middle East all though there were many. No memories of natural disasters, plane crashes, or acts of terrorism either. What I do remember is a simple white and green dinosaur book my father read to me repeatedly and the effortless joy I found in our bedtime routine.

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I suppose I only have a precious few bedtimes left before my three year old grows out of our routine. A day will come, I fear, all too soon, when nightlights and baby dolls are no longer necessary and bedtime is just a matter of when one’s dreams might come. I will miss the stories, I admit, the cadence of rhymes, the ghouls and goblins, manifestations of the sublime filling our wistful minds. I will miss the cats and the hats and the load screechy bats. I will miss the brilliant butterflies, the cloudy blue skies, and all the wise guys with squinty eyes. I will miss the Sues and the Lous with tepid shoes, the Eds and the Freds with chandelier heads, and the Sams and the I Ams with…yeah…you guessed it...green eggs and ham.

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But mostly I will miss one little goon whose bedtime looms.

Who protests she can’t sleep… because monsters creep…because the ocean’s deep …because babies weep…and the chickens peep.

Because the hour’s late… because it’s only eight… no wait, oh great… it’s all ready too late…for my little goon has met a sleepy fate and alas her goonish dreamscape awaits.

Goodnight Goon…See you real soon!

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Debating the Facts: A Wall of Separation

“Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?” was the question uttered by Tea Party senatorial hopeful Christine O’Donnell in her most recent televised debate with rival Chris Coons, a Democrat in the heated Delaware race. After the laughter subsided by the mostly student audience, the debate continued.

The question above was asked by O’Donnell as the two candidates debated evolution and intelligent design and the public schools need to educate students on both theories; a debate that rages between secular society and evangelicals on a regular basis. Obviously, O’Donnell favors the inclusion of intelligent design in public school curriculum while Coons disagrees. See the video here:


O’Donnell is unintelligent, misguided, under-educated, etc., right? That is what the media, left-leaning liberals, and most of our secular society would have you believe. Their debate on the first amendment protection of religion exposes O’Donnell’s obvious ignorance of constitutional law and throngs of liberals and media zealots jump the bandwagon in the days following further extolling her buffoonery. Republicans and Libertarians scramble to justify her statements, making it clear that she is making a simple didactic point. Here is how CNN covered the matter:


Suffice it to say, the phraseology “separation of church and state” does not appear anywhere in the Constitution, first amendment or otherwise. The phrase comes from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists in 1802 in which Jefferson uses the phrase “a wall of separation of church and state” when speaking on matters of religion. His words clearly define a government aside from the church, a government which will not threaten the establishment of religion or prohibit the free exercise thereof. The letter addresses the protection of the church from the government, not the other way around, which is the intent of the establishment clause. Read the letter here:


So who’s right and who’s wrong? That is a matter of debate. O’Donnell is right to point out that the phrase separation of church and state does not exist in the first amendment because it doesn’t. Coons is correct in asserting that a separation of church and state is a settled piece of constitutional law because it is. Technically, both candidates make contentions of fact, yet one candidate is portrayed as a laughing stock. I wonder why that is? Debate open to public forum. What say you? Just a thought!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Why Technology is Killing You

Technological advances have set us back 50 years…at least.  Sound paradoxical?   It did to me the first time I stared at the black and white words on the paper beneath my pen.  My thoughts were in terms of what we have lost as a nation, as a people, with all we have gained with modern advances in technology.  Suffice it to say, simple physics tells us that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  With that in mind, by applying Newton’s third law of motion loosely and in relationship with technology, one could surmise that for every technological advance that moves us forward as a species, something is lost that moves us backward, maybe not equally, but backwards still. 




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When Henry Ford pioneered the assembly line and made it possible for most Americans to own their very own “motorized car” much was gained that moved us forward as a people.  Travel times were improved, mass transit became a possibility, and people and materials began to move about the country in ways never before perceived in the modern age.  Consequently, pollution increased, motorists died in car crashes, traffic blighted cityscapes, and those who once walked now rode, thus forfeiting the exercise benefit that walking once provided. 



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The reactions that emanate from new technologies are hardly anything new.  Thankfully, most advances are for the good of mankind and harm us very little when introduced to society.  Without modern medicine, many people would die from senseless diseases and treatable ailments.  With future advances, we hope to find cures for cancer, genetic and neurological disorders, and maladies that still boggle the most relevant medical minds.  The same can be said for technologies that revolutionize food supply, communication, defense mechanisms, and many other processes that advance our world into future realms unfathomable at this point in time. 



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All of these advances have paved the way to longer, more beneficial life spans over time and while medical advances have shown an ability to lengthen one’s life by treating and curing myriad diseases, at what point does lifespan stagnate, and perhaps decline, due to negative reactions created by gains in other technological spheres; gains in which modern medicine can’t keep pace?    



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To date, modern medicine and other technologies have kept mankind advancing in average age with each passing era.  With our transformation from predominantly agrarian vocations to industrialized ones, occupational exertions have slowly faded in many industries while technological pursuits have rendered a once dynamic citizenry static. New inventions launched daily in America achieve the same results as older, more physical processes, but in half the time or better, often with negative side effects.  This is basically the inventor’s creed:  Improve daily life by creating a product or service that increases results ten-fold while decreasing time 100-fold.  Today we have faster food, faster transportation, better communication devices, etc. all bent at increasing our time and lessening our load.

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A snapshot of an 18th century farmer illustrates a lifestyle devoid of modern technology yet ripe with bygone era pursuits lending themselves to systemic heath and well being.  This farmer might have had a shorter lifespan due to medical constraints, however, what he did have was an exercise program built into his vocation, a food supply lacking modern processing and chemicals, living in a world where patience and forethought were deemed virtues.  While a gas-powered tractor might have increased his yield 10-fold, his health benefited from his lack of said tractor.



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Today, many of us benefit from gains in technology, but without a measured effort to offset the ills brought about by these same technological gains, human lifespan and quality of life will stagnate, if not recede in the years to come.  What does that mean?  It’s simple.  Modern medicine will not continue to cure conditions and diseases brought about by chemical-laden foods, static lifestyles, and hyper-stressors created by progressive technologies deemed necessary to advance society at the same rate it has in the past.  It can’t.  If we don’t make changes to how we eat, what we eat, employ exercise regimens to offset unhealthy idleness, periodically disconnect from the digital realm, and reduce stressors generated by the digital age; we will enter, for the first time in history, a phase of decline in quality of life and human life span. 



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So what can you do?  Read food labels, cut back on excessive sugars, hydrogenated oils, chemical sweeteners, corn syrup, enriched flour, and overly processed foods not suitable for a dog to eat.  Eliminate sodas from your diet all together even diet sodas in favor of water.  Turn off the TV.  Find ways to reintroduce physical activity into your life whether through vocation, exercise, or both.  Choose to walk instead of ride, start a garden at home, read an actual book with real pages, get some extra sleep, and teach your children the benefits of wellness at an early age.  Rise early to watch the sunrise, make jokes at your own expense, loosen up and laugh a little.  Whatever you do, do something.  Otherwise, new technologies might take us backwards another 50 years.  Just a thought!



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