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Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Steve Cole muses: Just thinking to himself.

1. Speaker Boehner's plan to cut $51 billion from the budget for this year includes the $1 billion allocated to prepare state guard armories for the inevitable zombie apocalypse.

2. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimates that around 600 kilometers (375 miles) of the U.S.-Mexico border is insufficiently monitored (i.e., not adequately protected) in order to stop drug smuggling and human trafficking. That is about 19% of the length of the entire border. The GAO estimates that the U.S. Border Patrol has what it calls operational control sufficient to stop smuggling activities along about 45% of the some 3,200-kilometer (2,000 mile) long border.

3. I own a car, and now and then it needs work. When you go to the local dealer, the manufacturer sends you a survey form to fill out and mail back. What upsets me is that there is a copy of this form taped to the sign-in booth marked, with big red marker, indicating that "completely satisfied" is "pass" while anything from "satisfied" on down is "fail." It gets worse. About the time I get the survey, I get a phone call from the service department asking me "Are you going to be able to mark the survey 'completely satisfied'?" I have gotten to the point of mailing them back not filled out with a letter explaining why, and telling the nice lady from the dealership why. First, I find it intimidating to be told that if I do not check the box "completely satisfied" that it is considered to be a "fail" grade. It makes me feel like I am the one who failed, or that if I don't give them super-excellent marks that one of them is getting fired. I feel like I am being pressured to give them the highest mark no matter what I really feel. Second, I think that this is a bad way to manage your employees, to say that satisfying the customer is "failing" in some way. I grade my employees to the standard of excellence, not perfection, since perfection is impossible. I would, using the same form, tell any employee who got a "satisfied" rating that he had done just fine, and anyone who occasionally got a "completely satisfied" mark on one of the ten questions might get a pat on the back. Without the form taped to the sign-in booth, I probably would mark "satisfied" instead of "completely satisfied" because I regard the visit as "no big deal." Is there anything I am unhappy about? No! I'm fine. I'm satisfied. I just think that you should not automatically give anyone the highest mark. If you want that highest mark from me, do something extra, something beyond your duties, beyond what you get paid for. I want the flexibility to note that question 4 (explaining what's going on) was completed to a higher standard than question 9. (Did my invoice look like a fair price for the service? Dude, you're not getting a top mark for that one unless you give me the service for free.) As I write this, I wonder if the nice lady who called to remind me how to fill out the survey is having an uncomfortable meeting with her boss. I told her that the public should never see the "how to fill out the form" sign as it insults the customers, and that it's wrong to grade employees on perfection.

4. I am starting to suspect that television military history professor Aryeh Nusbacher and television paleontology professor Tom Holtz are the same guy. Google some photos or film clips and see what YOU think.

5. Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did, and she did it backwards wearing high heels.

6. Few people realize that "Dead Reckoning" is actually a corruption of "Ded Reckoning" which is short for "Deduced Reckoning". Any or all of them are a method of navigation in which one says: "I know that I started HERE and that my compass said THIS bearing and that my speed was THAT fast and that if went for THIS period of time and (do the math) that puts me HERE." Dead Reckoning often doesn't work, because it doesn't account for air or water currents (or wandering around rocks and bushes if you're walking).

Ok, six items this time, and I have filled up the blank on the form, so that's all the randomness you get today.