Monday, October 25, 1993

Feline Financial Planning

Max the Cat gets four scoops of Science Diet "Light" food every day. Meal time is of course, his favorite part of the day.

We have tried many different arrangements in how he gets his food. When I first got him, I used to feed him breakfast lunch and dinner. Three square meals a day. I would feed him after I had finished preparing my own food. This became a problem however, in that every time I went into the kitchen, Max thought it was time for food and his hopes would be dashed as I returned to the living room with a mere glass of water.

Later on we tried a different approach. I fed Max two scoops before bedtime, and two scoops when I got up in the morning. This however gave him the incentive to get me up in the morning. Just who among us can growl louder?

Now we are attempting to learn the art of saving, of planning ahead. I give Max his four scoops in the morning and it is up to him to ration them throughout the day. If he eats it all in the morning, he'll be hungry come night time. Max was slow to catch on to this philosphy. So I initiated a program of "forced savings". I separated the four scoops into different dishes, and put the dishes in various places around the apartment. (This also sharpens his instincts for hunting.)

Besides once again proving I'm a little goofy, I share this story because it is an example, a microcosm of a lesson that is a valuable one, yet difficult for many of us youngsters to grasp. Never let it be said I make my cat do something I wouldn't do myself.

I used to think the worst lyrics in any song were to Simon and Garfunkel's-Old Friends. "Can you imagine us years from today? Sharing a park bench quietly, how terribly strange to be 70." My friends and I used to sit around and ponder and philosophize but I doubt any of us ever thought about being an elderly citizen feeding the pigeons somewhere. Though the day will be here sooner than any of us want, there's no time like now to start planning. But why save for tomorrow when there's so much to do today?

That's why forcing yourself to save, to think about tomorrow is a prudent if not darn difficult course of action. By golly there's more than one type of CD out there, and it's time we all started thinking about that. Things don't just take care of themselves in the end. You have to plan.

In baseball some teams play it safe in the early innings, sacrificing an out for an early run and lead. Instead of waiting for a three run home run, some teams will "manufacture" a run or two and hope the pitching and defense can hold on. The other way to play of course, is to wait for the big inning, play it station to station until the big bopper comes through.

Financial planning can be a similar experience. But as long as you are aware of the different strategies, you are ahead of the crowd.

Monday, October 18, 1993

Career Evaluation Time

Being the editor of this publication, it is my job to know everything about the business. and when I say business, I mean the industry of course.

As those who know me can testify, nobody loves to share his insight more than I. Thus this week I thought I would pass along some knowledge gathered along the way.

Every so often it's an excellent idea to sit down and evaluate your career. What do you like about your job? What do you dislike? If the negatives outweigh the positives, perhaps it is time to consider making some changes.

A career rearrangement is a big step to take, not one to be taken lightly. Once you jump you can't go back. Directionless? Adrift? Just a change in scenery for a change in scenery's sake can sometimes be a mistake. You have to think about whether you are simply looking for something different than the status quo, or if a change will actually improve your situation. Consideration and feedback is sometimes prudent.

The first step to update a resume is like a visit to the dentist. No one enjoys it but it is sometimes a necessity. What about that five year gap?

Most of us have been to at least one interview; if not, how exactly did you land a job with this company? I've recently gone on a few so here are some tips:

Though you can never know what will be asked of you, you can anticipate the tone of the interview. In most interviews you will be asked some standard questions. For example, you will be asked what you consider to be your strengths, and what you thank are your weaknesses. You will also probably be asked what you would bring to the job. So, you can prepare for the experience/ordeal by anticipating what will be asked. For my last few interviews, I've studied hard by watching as many different TV talk shows as I could. (Paul Schaffer is not a dork- he just plays one on TV.)

Say you're interviewing for a position in the Department of Agriculture, where you would help in the regulation of weed control. You learn there are 10 "illegal" weeds in Minnesota. You've also learned more than you ever wanted to know about illegal weeds. Being a city person you wonder if your lack of knowledge of farm life will be a strike against you. No problem, just be honest but earnest; you've always wanted to regulate weeds, you've just never known how to go about it.

How to dress? You don't want to over dress. You don't want to show up in a suit or a dress if a suit or a dress will never be worn on the job. But you don't want to under dress either. Spandex probably isn't appropriate. YOu lso have to keep in mind while you don't exactly want to work for someone where appearances matter to such a degree, the company is probably going to interview several siimlar candidates and every little thing done to impress them will make a difference.

One thing I learned is to remember it is a business interview. Don't think the interviewer is oging to care one hoot about your personal life. Swapping recipes will not get you the job.

A job search is difficult. Eight hours a day for 50 years, what a cheery thought! Good luck!

Monday, October 11, 1993

MJ vs. KC

"Such a feeling's coming over me. There is wonder in most everything I see. Not a cloud in the sky, got the sun in my eyes and I won’t be surprised if it’s a dream.”

The Carpenters "Top of the World" is one explanation as to how we should approach our lives. For many people, it is the single philosophy they have been taught, and it is the only way they know how to proceed.

A little girl, who would later grow up to work for Cheapo Records for a while, used to perform her rendition of "Top of the World" for her family. She told me it was one of the fonder memories from her childhood. Singing and dancing, it would not be the last time she would entertain someone. She had a naturally nurturing spirit.

Not exactly the most ambitious type, what were her dreams? During the time our paths crossed, she encouraged me to look forward to was ahead, the potential of things, rather than back at the past to the way things used to be. I never did figure out her philosophies, the way she lived her life, the decisions she made. Somehow I always thought she could just tell what I was thinking and feeling, yet the more I think about it, the more I doubt that was true. Dreams can be wishes, desires, fantasies; they can also be rooted in reality-the road we wish our lives to follow. They can keep us going in difficult times, or delude us into following a dead end route.

“Everything I want the world to be. Is now coming true especially for me. And the reason is clear, it’s because you are near. You’re the nearest thing to heaven that I’ve seen.”

A new acquaintance, a new business associate, a new friend, told me she, unlike her husband, is not a dreamer. She has, at least in my mind. been blessed with the ability to approach things with a more practical point of view, looking at things rooted in day to day realities. This has its advantage or not allowing the mind to become distracted and discouraged by things that may or may not happen.

After a nice conversation with her, I thought back to what I had learned, or what she was trying to tell me. Among many topics we discussed was how a gate will sometimes swing open, and an opportunity will present itself in disguise, in a fashion that we are leery of, and the skepticism prevents us from moving. Instead we merely react to circumstances and it all passes us by.

Last week Michael Jordan joined B.B King and myself in losing the thrill. But in that very admission, the burden of something he's held close for a long time could finally be let go That freedom can be very uplifting. Michael showed us another way to approach life. Despite losing the passion for what he has done so well for so long, the decision walk away was a noble one. And not one that many people could have made.

"I'm on the top of the world, looking down on creation, and the only explanation I can find, is the love that I've found ever since you've been around. Your love's put me at the top of the world. "

One of the best feelings in the world is to control your own destiny. To have the choice of whether to stay or walk away, may or may not matter when the final polka is played, but it's better than having someone else make the decision for us.

But most people do need the crutch of a second opinion. Most people do need to be reassured that what they are doing is OK with somebody else. It may only be a myth, but it is a comforting one-something we all need.

"Something in the wind has learned my name. And it's telling me that things are not the same. In the leaves on the trees and the touch of the breeze, there's a place and sense of happiness for me. There is only one thing on my mind. When this day is through I hope that I will find, that tomorrow will be just the same for you and me, all I need will be mine if you are here. "

Next Week: Hippocrates vs. Johnny Cash

Monday, October 4, 1993

H.E.L.P. is on the Way

"Stark naked in front of the mirror, an ugly person did appear."
-Brian Wilson

Hey Pat Nistler, new local celebrity extraordinaire, and all you other aspiring writers, singers, performers, artists out there- I've got a question for you: What makes you do it'? What is the purpose behind your creativity'?

One of our favorite rock stars once said, "We got in it for the girls and money." Another said, "I did it because no one told me I couldn't." Those are as good of explanations as I've heard, but I still want to know what drives so many people to put their insides, their neurosis, on display for all to dissect and judge.

I ask this question after having submerged myself these past few weeks in the new Beach Boys' box set, "Good Vibrations." The most intriguing thing about the collection is being able to hear and understand how one man has used his talents, his unequaled voice, as a release from some of his darker demons.

One aspect of the beach Boys' appeal is the contradiction, the duality, between their music and their image. The vast majority of the public probably sees the group as the fun loving, surf crazy, conservative, California crew with those sunny harmonies. But as you delve deeper into Brian's music (for he was the creative force, the genius behind the music), you begin to see a different, darker picture.

As simple as some of the songs seem, the melodies and song structures are almost always complex. One could argue there has never been as ambitious a group. As infectious as the harmonies are, the lyrics more often than not are brooding and self searching. Much has been written about Brian's decline from being eccentric to being emotionally disturbed. As the box set proves, it isn't as simple as that.

Many artists collapse under the weight of their own achievements, from F. Scott Fitzgerald to Orson Welles, from Wendell Anderson to Tiffany-but Brian's obsession with creating the ultimate song is as entertaining as it is disturbing. What is impressive is the amount of brilliant work he has achieved. His contributions as chronicled in the set, are truly remarkable.

My favorite disc out of the five, is number three which contains some of the group's lesser known work. In "Ti1 I Die" from Surf's Up, the writer questions his direction, comparing his condition with a cork on the ocean, a rolling stone, a blowing leaf, and comes up with the affirmation that being adrift and full of uncertainty is what makes life so intriguing and rich.

In "Busy Doin' Nothing" from Friends Brian's wit is in full force-"I wrote her number down, but I lost it so I searched through my pockets but I couldn't find it, so I sat and concentrated on the number, and slowly it came to me so I dialed it, and I let it ring a few times but there was no answer, so I let it ring a little more, still no answer so I hung up the telephone. got some paper and sharpened up my pencil and wrote a letter to my friend." OK on the surface those are rather mundane lyrics, hardly stuff for a classic song, yet the way they are presented is brilliant; both funny and uncomfortable. Quintessential Brian Wilson. Is this guy for real?

From start to finish, "Good Vibrations" is an outstanding collection. Although it doesn't contain my favorite two Beach Boy songs, "Solar System" from Love You and "Here Today" from Pet Sounds, I've already listened to this set more than any other I have purchased. The music is deep and rich, simple and inspiring; and it makes one want to go out and create something. Or at the very least, go to the beach.

What does it mean when I don't even understand the graffiti spray painted on our walls? Am I totally out of the loop?

BOB'S Quote of the Week: "Bill Monroe once said he got his best thinking done while other people were talking. I always liked that. "