Oh So Very Subtle

First posted here almost three years ago and it turns out it’s still timely.

Earlier today I had a long and spirited conversation with my boss about my need to spend a small amount to better support my organization. Any budget requests are generally rejected, no matter how small. So he and I plotted ways we could still accurately categorize the costs, but make the request seem palatable.

That ability to make it subtle is harder than it looks.


From a high level meeting I attended at work, during which we had an hour long debate about a difficult and political situation regarding budgets (if you haven’t done the corporate thang, then know that nothing gets hackles raised like budget conversations).

At the end of the meeting, the Financial Analyst said to the Senior Director,

“So, do I make it so?”

“No.” He replied, sternly. “Make it subtle.”

I had to write it down, it was just too good.

Jean Luc Picard facepalm found all over the ‘net. Let me know if this photo belongs to you and I’ll add attribution or remove.

Wanted: Three Pips, Immediate Hire, Reasonable Rates

This morning my eyes fluttered open around 6am. My alarm wasn’t due to go off for another hour and a half. I had a raging headache and my body decided I should get the full experience of the pain instead of sleeping through it all.

Since sleep was no longer within my grasp, but in no way did I want to get out of bed, I grabbed my trusty old iPod that I keep by the bed, clapped on the headphones and set my Pod for shuffle.

An Elton John and a couple Merle Haggards went by. A Harry Connick crooner about nightingales and London-town was certainly relaxing.

Then the opening strains of Midnight Train To Georgia filled my ears. Ah Gladys. Such a powerful voice. It’s been a while since this one made it’s way to the top of my shuffle list, and it was like visiting with an old friend.

I turned up the sound to hear every word, every note.

And that’s when I made a decision. I need some Pips.

They provide such great affirmation.

Gladys: He’s leaving/On that midnight train to Georgia
Pips: …leaving on that midnight train….whoot whoo!


Gladys: And I’m gonna be with him/On that midnight train to Georgia
Pips: I know you will….leaving on that midnight train to Georgia…whoot whoo!

The Pips provide emphatic punctuation to what Gladys is saying. She’s tormented. Her man is heading out of town. But her Pips back her play. They underscore her words. They give her power.

I need this. I need Pips. Three of ’em. Right away.

Can you imagine how empowering this would be?

Karen: Hey boss, we need to chat
Pips: bossMAN…gotta have a chat…

Karen: I think I need a raise
Pip: You *know* she needs that cash…whoot wooo!

Yeah, I mean how could I get a no to my request with the power of the Pips behind me?

Or in a very important negotiation:

Karen: So Supplier, your pricing is too high, we need to cut 20% out of the quote
Pips: You know that quote’s to high…twenty percent…oh no!

Or employee relations:

Karen: So, I noticed you’ve been missing deadlines lately
Pips: …Missing them deadlines…
Karen: That’s not good
Pips: …Not good!…

See what I’m saying? I think you do.

So now, next steps. Where does one go to hire a set of Pips?

Monster? LinkedIn? Maybe Craigslist.

Wanted: Three Pips. Must enthusiastically support everything I say. In harmony. Multiple woot wooos acceptable. Must provide own wide lapel leisure suits. Please apply via email. Provide references.

Photo found on this blog without attribution. If this image belongs to you, please contact me and I will gladly remove image or add proper attribution.

A Party For A Glass

There are a lot of adjectives that can be used to describe the City of San Francisco. Some flattering, some less so.

One word that always leaps to my mind is nostalgic. For a big bustling city, on the forefront of technology and food and lifestyle, the town can get really bundled up about the past.

From toppled clocks to fiberglass dog heads to the preservation of graffiti, the town will vehemently unite around a little quirky slice of the past. After the lamenting and handwringing, people will unite to lobby government, business owners and each other to put things back to right.

The latest example? Glasses. Plain ol’ glasses manufactured by the Libby Glass Co. of Toledo, Ohio.

But a special glass that oh so perfectly fits the town’s specialty of Irish Coffee. I, myself, have held onto many a glass of the type and shape that makes a perfect warm beverage. The same glass that the manufacturer decided to stop producing.

The City’s biggest purveyor of Irish coffee, the iconic Buena Vista at Fisherman’s Wharf, had stopped buying from the Toledo company and moved over to a Chinese manufacturer. With such a huge drop in business, the Libby Co. didn’t see why they should keep cranking them out. It just made good business sense.

Enter the tenacity of a nostalgic people. There was an outcry! There was vocal frustations. Pleading, begging and enough of a ruckus was made that the story hit the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle.

When the company read about the good people of San Francisco mourning the loss of the right glass, they made the decision to swallow some not-insignificant costs to resuscitate the glass mold and do a new run. If this stack of inventory sells well, they’ll consider doing another run.

And Irish Coffee drinkers rejoiced!

From the article in the SFGate:

“The queenly, petite glass…allows for just enough whiskey and not too much coffee, with barely room for three C&H sugar cubes at the bottom and aged whipping cream that floats like a halo on the top.”

Indeed. It’s another cool foggy summer evening in the City. Tourists and locals alike seem to get along pretty darn well over a perfectly poured Irish Coffee in the beautifully shaped, heat retaining glass.

For reference, in the photo below, the one on the left is all wrong. The glass on the right is our little beauty.

Photo credit: Susana Bates / Special to The Chronicle

Side note: A few years ago, the Buena Vista also changed their whiskey brand in favor of a private label. It was a shocking transition and the purists were not pleased, including me. The new whiskey isn’t as smooth as the other variety. Doesn’t keep me from drinking it, but it gives me something to complain about.

On A Mission

At the end of last week, my Big Boss (the boss who begat boss who begat boss) gave a presentation to us troops. An “All Hands” is what they call these events. “Quarterly state of the department” and stuff like that.

We have a new Very Big Boss and so Big Boss had just given him an overview of who and what we are about. The All Hands was scheduled so that Big Boss could show us what he presented. This was so we could, you know, live up to all of his promises.

As part of the presentation, Big Boss unveiled our new mission statement.

I hate mission statements. I really do.

But to his credit, Big Boss was able to take our former three paragraph run on sentence and bring it to a few lines. The lines still say meaningless things, but it’s at least easier to read.

So thinking about mission statements and writing mission statements and the sort of language mission statements use, I figured there had to be someone out there who created an online mission statement generator.

I was right. Many are actually serious affairs, trying to genuinely help business people crank out something useful. I didn’t want that. Then I stumbled across this Mission Statement Generator. It uses a slot machine interface.

Now we’re speaking my language.

First pull:

We probably should be hindering a high level of employee dignity by dedication to bribery discarding all principles.

Oooh. Bribery. I do like the idea of a mission statement that fully owns up to the magic of kickbacks in the business environment.

But then again, Mr Sarbanes and Mr Oxley to tend to frown upon such things.

Time to pull the lever again:

We are committed to providing unquestionable investor return with quality products and integrity of the highest integrity.

Ah yes, investor return always a popular phrase. And throwing quality and integrity in there….good stuff. Integrity with integrity? Sure!

Pull three:

We are dedicated to challenging world-class dynamic metamorphosis by expansion through personal goals at the highest level.

Ok, now we’re talking. “World class”…a full bag of yes! Metamorphosis! Good, good. Expansion? Who can argue with that? We’re getting close, but I think we can do better.

Last pull:

We are committed to generating the full range of our staff development with expansion through added value from the lowest level.

Ok, that’s just downright scary. I think our actual mission statement says something almost exactly like that.

Creepy when comedy blurs the line into reality.

: shudder :

Image from the fabulous Rob Cottingham and his Noise to Signal cartoons. This particular panel couldn’t be more perfect! Used under a creative commons license.

There’s Good News and there’s Worrisome News

From the Monday Las Cruces Sun-News:

New Mexico’s pecan industry posted its largest-ever production for a low-bearing year and raked in the most money – some $186.8 million – in the nation last year, according to a recent official report.

That’s good news! That’s very good news! For my farmer friends who haven’t either sold their farm or converted to corn, pecans are an excellent way to keep the land and make good income. It’s a proud New Mexico tradition.

In the past few years, China has developed a taste for pecans, so global demand is high, which also means the prices paid the highest ever.

So yes. I’m happy to hear this. A tip of the cap to the Mesilla Valley farmers.

But there’s a little bit more to the story than just a fabulous year with a bumper crop.

Earlier this year, I was in Las Cruces and noted to my best friend and her husband that I was surprised to see so many farms around where they live were planting pecan trees. I’m enchanted by pecan groves with rows and rows of tree soldiers standing firm in very straight lines. I’m fascinated by the process of picking pecans using a machine that shakes the tree and a raker to pull all the ripe nuts out of the soil.

So I wasn’t too upset to see new pecan groves going in. That’s when my best friend’s husband gave me a little insight.

The word is: Water.

Southern New Mexico land owners are fighting with their local water district and the state for irrigation rights. My friend used to be able to order up water and flood his acre with regularity. Now he has to wait and sometimes isn’t allowed to get water. To top it off, his costs for irrigating have nearly tripled.

But, he told me, there’s a loop hole. If you have pecans on your land, you have better access to water rights due to a court case and adjudication between the New Mexico Pecan Growers Associationand the Elephant Butte Irrigation District. So everybody and their brother are rushing to plant even a few pecan trees so that they can continue to irrigate their land. There was a rush on pecan saplings, in fact, they actually ran out in many stores.

But this is a convoluted story…because pecan trees are water hogs. By encouraging people to plant more pecans, they are using up ever more of the already precious resource.

So we’ve got all of these people with pecans on their land. Even a few trees can produce a lot of pecans. It’s pretty easy to pick your own pecans and sell them in town (mostly to the Salopek operation) and pick up a few extra dollars. Plus you still irrigate your land. All in all, that’s a pretty good deal.

So again…I’m happy about the fact that the Mesilla Valley had a banner year and that farmers are making money on pecan and people are still able to access water for irrigation.

But I’m worried.

Here’s an older post in my ongoing musings about Southern New Mexico and water.

Photo Credit: Robin Zielinski/Sun-News