Carried by Angels

Carried by AngelsWhen I decided to read Carried by Angels by Phillip Hatfield I was not sure exactly what to expect. After finishing the book I no longer have to wonder.

A lot in common with the author

I knew he worked for the Ziglar Corporation and that is an endorsement that carries a lot of weight with me. Continue reading Carried by Angels

Take with food?

As the title of my blog states I often see things from a different angle than most and have a somewhat peculiar perspective. My family is well aware of this character trait or flaw; however you want to categorize it, so this will be nothing new to them. For the rest of you, welcome to my world.

I was reading the instructions on a medication label this morning and saw an instruction I have seen many times before, “Take with food.” I have often wondered exactly what that means.

I often take the literal interpretation as my career in computer programming requires. In programming a computer you have to tell it exactly what to do. You have to be specific and cannot generalize. That might explain my odd take on many things since they are not written in a manner that would work with computers.

Does “take with food” mean what it says? TakeWithFoodShould you put the medication in your next spoonful of cereal or mashed potatoes and really take it with the food? My man’s intuition, if there is such a thing, tells me that is not the intent but it probably would work.

Does “take with food” mean you should take it before you eat or could it mean you should take it after you eat or just at some point during your meal or snack? I have tried all of these options and none appear to be any more or less effective that I can tell.

The instruction is not clear to me. It does not compute.

What does it mean to you?

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Shadow of Doubt

We Are Enterprise LogoBeyond the shadow of a doubt is a standard of proof that is almost impossible to reach. Beyond a reasonable doubt is the standard needed in most litigation. Shadow of A Doubt is also a 1943 movie by director Alfred Hitchcock. Sadly, shadow of doubt is the cloud that now covers every action of the Enterprise City School Board.

When the news of the called board meeting for Monday at 3:00 PM was posted or learned last weekend, the first thought that I had and the first comment I heard from many who mentioned the meeting was, “I wonder why they scheduled it for that time?” Then there was either a snicker or a ‘wink wink’ because everyone knew what they were thinking. Some expressed the thought verbally, or in writing on social networks, “so the crowd at the meeting would be smaller since many people working would not be able to attend.”

I am not alleging that is the reason for the time of the meeting. There could be very valid reasons for scheduling the meeting at 3:00 in the afternoon and not at the normal evening time of 6:00 when the regular monthly board meeting is held. That is not the point I am trying to communicate.

The fact that that so many had a question or doubt or suspicion about the motive behind the timing of the meeting is the point.

Scrutiny is different than suspicion

Both scrutiny and suspicion start with an ‘s’ but that is where the similarities end. Scrutiny is defined as a searching study, inquiry, or inspection, a searching look, a close watch. Suspicion is defined as the act or an instance of suspecting something wrong without proof or on slight evidence – mistrust, a state of mental uneasiness and uncertainty – doubt.

We, as citizens and parents, should scrutinize the decisions of any school board through the lens of – is this decision, whatever it is, in the best interest of the students first, then the school system. If decisions are made with those criteria as guidelines then they will also be what are good for the city.

In case anyone is unaware, the school system is what draws many to the city of Enterprise which, in turn, adds to the city’s sales tax and property tax revenues.

However, we should not need to be suspicious of any decision the board makes because there is a reasonable level of doubt, whether we can prove the suspicion or not, that every decision was not made with these criteria as the filter.

Logic behind my perspective

I don’t pretend to speak for anyone but myself but do believe that my perspective on this situation is not uncommon. My opinion is derived from what I have read, seen, and heard regarding this situation over the past few weeks. Every decision this board makes is now looked on with suspicion as to the motives behind the decision because there is a definite lack of trust between many of the parents and citizens of Enterprise and the school board.

When I do not have first-hand knowledge about any issue I look to those who do have knowledge and “skin in the game” so to speak. Regarding the school board issue, I tend to agree more with those that have worked in the school system for many years that helped to make the Enterprise City School System one of the best in the state and have spoken out on these issues.

They have been directly involved with the school system and issues in question now and have more first-hand knowledge of the people involved and the situation than me. Their history and records validate their desire for only what is in the best interest of the students and school system going forward. They really have nothing to gain by speaking out except to try to ensure the school system they love keeps moving in the right direction – forward. That seems logical to me.

We all have skin in the game

However, just for clarification, every current student, former student, teacher, administrator, support staff, parent, and anyone who cares enough to show up at these board meetings has “skin in the game” too. My hope is that we all keep showing up to show our support for our school system.

Honest disagreements with common goals and motives are good

We can and will have honest disagreements with how to achieve a goal but if our motives and goals are the same, those disagreements and discussion will be constructive and lead to the best decision instead of just a good decision. It doesn’t appear the motives and goals are in sync now between the board and the citizens so these type discussions cannot even occur.

July 8, 2013 School Board Meeting

This meeting was no more than going through the motions, literally and figuratively. There was no information shared with the public regarding how the interim superintendent and attorney were selected or about the process the board plans to follow to find a new superintendent. It seems to me that would have been reasonable information to share unless there is some reason not to share it. The school board chose not to share.

Sharing information “could” help

Information like this shared freely with the public “could” have an impact on the rumors that continue to surround the board and could, over time, build trust where none exists now. The best way to squelch rumors is to provide factual information that refutes or negates the rumors. If those facts “hurt someone’s feelings” then so be it.

Failure to share is a choice this board continues to make. Failure to share more information about these appointments, the search for a new superintendent, as well as the events that led to the need to appoint an interim superintendent and attorney just continues to perpetuate the rumors and distrust. The school board has chosen not to share.

As long as the school board continues to make the choice not to share they will continue to serve under a shadow of doubt. It puzzles me as to why they would want to serve under this cloud and choose not to be more forthcoming with information. They do have choices.

Until next time…

Originally posted on Peculiar Perspective on 7/12/2013

 

 

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It was all started by a…rabbit?

You may or may not have heard that quote. If you are a Disney fan as I am I suspect you have. I happen to be wearing a shirt with that quote as I write this. Walt Disney did say that and it is true but is it really the whole truth?

It all depends on what you use as the starting point in time. Mickey Mouse is the character that allowed Walt and Roy Disney to jump start the Walt Disney Company in 1928 and is still one of the most recognizable corporate icons in existence today. Practically everyone has heard of Mickey Mouse and that speaks to the impact that Walt Disney has made in our culture and our world today.

English: Portrait of Walt Disney, 1 January 19...
English: Portrait of Walt Disney, 1 January 1954 Here is a picture of Walter Disney cropped from a NASA photograph. Deutsch: Walt Disney, 1954 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

There is no doubt about that. However, if you backtrack just a little from that point in time, there is another story that many may not know. To borrow a phrase from Paul Harvey, here is “the rest of the story.”

 

 

The Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio was a partnership started by Roy and Walt Disney in 1923. They created cartoons but to get those cartoons distributed to an audience where they could be seen, and produce income, they had to work with other companies, such as Universal Studios. Oswald The Lucky Rabbit was a character created by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks and several Oswald cartoons were produced in 1927 and 1928. Oswald was the first character that also generated merchandising income for the company with an Oswald candy bar, stencil set, and pinback button.

They were producing the cartoons ahead of schedule, one every 16 days when the contract only required one every three weeks. As he was always striving to produce a better product the cost of the Oswald cartoons was increasing and his current contract to produce the cartoons would be ending soon Walt and his wife, Lillian, traveled to New York to talk with Disney’s distributor at Universal, Charles Mintz, about the new contract.

Negotiations did not go well

During these meetings he learned that Mintz was in the process of hiring his animators, was offering a reduction in the price currently being paid for the cartoons and ultimately wanted to take over the Disney company and have Walt and Roy work for him. He had believed that Walt, since he was not actually doing the animation any more, was expendable.  Walt tried to negotiate a new contract with another distributor but learned since he did not own the rights to Oswald he could not take him to a new distributor. So, as he and Lillian left New York for the long train ride back to California, he had no character to draw when his current contract ended, only a few employees left, who had not deserted him for Universal, and a very uncertain future.

What Next?

As he left New York in March 1928 Walt Disney had made a vow to himself to never work for anyone again and in the future he would have complete control over his work, which, in his line of work was his characters. His problem was he had no character he could call his own. He was 23 years old, recently married, July 13, 1925, and without a job for the most part, and had been deserted by what he had thought were loyal employees.

What happened next changed the world(s) as we know it.

There are different versions of the story of how Mickey Mouse came to be Mickey Mouse. The most common is that during the cross country train ride west, Walt, trying to create a new character, began drawing a mouse. When Lillian saw the sketches she asked him what he was going to name it and he said Mortimer. While working in Kansas City he had caught several mice in the animation studio there and had one that would even run around on his drawing table that he fed and had given the name Mortimer. She did not like that name and suggested Mickey.

Concept art of Mickey from early 1928; the ske...
Concept art of Mickey from early 1928; the sketches are the earliest known drawings of the character. From the collection of The Walt Disney Family Museum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Ub Iwerks was one of the animators that stuck with the Disneys and would become the animator for Mickey Mouse. He drew more than 700 drawing per day working on the first Mickey Mouse cartoon. This also had to be done in secret since the animators leaving were still there finishing their contracts for the Oswald cartoons.

Mickey Mouse made his debut in Plane Crazy on May 15, 1928, less than two months after the meeting in New York and the defection of his animators.

 

Walt Disney with a collection of Charlotte Cla...
Walt Disney with a collection of Charlotte Clark Mickey Mouse dolls (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The rest, as they say, is history. Walt Disney had learned from his experience with Oswald and Universal and would not make those mistakes again. He did control all rights to Mickey Mouse and he parlayed that into a merchandising success that was as innovative as it was successful and still is today. We have in the past and still do enjoy  in that success. See Disney…Is It Worth The Cost if you want to know more about that.

What would you do?

What do you do when you face a failure or roadblock in your life or career? Do you throw your hands up in despair and hold your own pity party? Walt Disney was able to take this major setback and, at the ripe young age of 23, employ his vision and perseverance to create what is arguably the most recognizable character and franchise in the world. Most of us will not duplicate that feat but we can learn from his experience and apply it in our own lives. His ‘never give up’ spirit propelled him to the next leg of his journey in his career and that did literally change the world and is still changing people’s lives today. This was just one hurdle he faced in building the company many of us love today.

Walt Disney express his thoughts on failures and setbacks seem applicable here to me.

“It is good to have a failure while you’re young because it teaches you so much. For one thing it makes you aware that such a thing can happen to anybody, and once you’ve lived through the worst, you’re never quite as vulnerable afterward.”

“You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”

I believe we do learn best from our own mistakes and failures but if we can also learn from someone else’s experiences that can help us move down the path toward our goals too. It might help us to avoid a few hurdles and might also save a tooth or two.

Oswald is back home now

As a postscript to the Oswald dilemma, although he did not live to see it, the Walt Disney Company did acquire the licensing rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in 2006 in a deal with NBC that included a trade for Al Michaels to be able to do sports broadcasting on NBC. That seems fitting to me and just to show my support I bought my first Oswald The Lucky Rabbit cap this week.

IMG_20130705_162706

I hope you enjoyed the Disney history and the life lesson we all need from time to time to never give up, regardless of the circumstances.

 

 

 

 

Until next time…as Mickey would say, “See ya real soon! heh heh”

Until next time…

Originally posted on Peculiar Perspective on 7/7/2013

 

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A City Divided

We Are Enterprise“A house divided against itself cannot stand.” I have heard that quoted at least twice in the last two weeks the Enterprise City School Board meeting on June 25, 2013 and again at the Enterprise City Council meeting on July 2, 2013 regarding the divided house that is now Enterprise, Alabama, a city divided.

That is a reference to a scripture verse and a quote from a speech by Abraham Lincoln. In Mark 3:25 in the English Standard Version Jesus says, “And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.” The speech by Abraham Lincoln was given on June 16, 1858 at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, IL upon acceptance of the Republican nomination for that state’s U.S. Senator when he said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

Begging is not productive

I have also heard the mayor of Enterprise begging at both meetings for the citizens of Enterprise to come together and, for some reason I am yet to understand, magically start to trust members of the school board whom many believe have not dealt honestly, fairly, or even legally with the former Superintendent of Enterprise City Schools as well as the people of Enterprise.

Rumors, Accusations

Many accusations and rumors have circulated around Enterprise regarding this situation. I know people involved on both sides of the issue, went to school with some of them, go to church with some of them. Some were my teachers or administrators when I was in school here many years ago. Those rumors and accusations will continue to circulate and grow I suspect until these issues are addressed and resolved. It would do me or anyone else no good to repeat those here so I will refrain from doing so. When I do add my comments within this section they will look like this.

I believe the facts do bring up some interesting and pretty obvious questions.  Until these questions are answered satisfactorily for the citizens of Enterprise in some of these meetings, or, if need be, in a court of law, the city will remain divided. When there is as much distrust between one group of people and those that are charged with making decisions in their best interest as there is here now a change has to occur to start down the road of rebuilding the trust that has been lost.

Facts

What I would like to provide first are the facts that are undisputed and then what I believe needs to be done for the city of Enterprise to have any chance at coming together and moving forward. You can see the minutes of these meetings at the Board of Education’s web site and videos at Southeast Sun’s YouTube channel.

May 28, 2013 School Board Meeting

In the May 28, 2013 school board meeting the results of a an evaluation by Dr. James Wright with Professional Services, LLC on the performance of Dr. Milner, the now former Superintendent of Enterprise City Schools. Dr. Wright said this was one of the strongest evaluation results he had seen. He said these strong results were an indication of Dr. Milner’s ability and efforts to work with the board.

June 18, 2013

Dr. Milner resigned as Superintendent of Enterprise City Schools and gave a 30 day notice in an email to the school board.

June 19, 2013 Special Called Board Meeting

School Board Vice President Joe Paul Stewart and School Board attorney J. P. Sawyer resigned. Ross Cotter was elected President of the School Board and Gloria Jones vice president by acclamation as no second to the nominations were given.

June 25, 2013 School Board Meeting

I attended this meeting along with several hundred other local citizens and news media. What I learned at this meeting from at least two of the existing board members if we, the citizens, had been at prior meetings then we would not have the situation we have now.

What this says to me is they believe they need to be watched and monitored so they do not make unwise or even illegal decisions. I can remember a time when the people chosen to serve in the capacity of school board member were expected to be of good character and to make wise decisions whether anyone was there to watch them or not.

Several former school teachers, administrators and citizens spoke at the meeting and members Cotter, Jones and Brown were asked to resign, which did receive much applause unlike when the mayor spoke and there was silence.

What I also noticed at this meeting is the board members were asked specific and direct questions and chose to not answer many of them. This would have been an opportunity for them to respond and try to set the record straight from their perspective but choosing not to do so says something altogether different. 

July 2, 2013 City Council Meeting

I also attended this meeting, which was standing room only, but the room is much smaller than the one used for the school board meetings. Local news media was in attendance at this meeting as well. The mayor covered the agreement made between the city and the school board that is one of the areas of concern for the citizens and school system. The agreement was made and approved by both the city council and school board so it does exist. The disposition of that agreement and what will happen when the $550,000 payments are supposed to start in 2016 does appear to be in the hands of the city. They do claim they will review the agreement and economic condition of the city and the school system at that time and determine if the payments will be required or not.

There were also statements made by the city attorney, Rainer Cotter, who is the son of the current President of the School Board, Ross Cotter, Joe Paul Stewart, former School Board Vice-President, Perry Vickers, former principal of Dauphin Junior High, and Dr. Jim Reese, former Superintendent of Schools.

My Questions

The summary above is just that, a summary, and is not intended to be all-inclusive. I do believe there is enough information provided for anyone to be read-in on the situation and able to form their own opinions on these events. Here are some questions that seem rather obvious to me and remain unanswered.

1) What happened to cause the Superintendent of Schools, who was well respected in Enterprise and just rated one of the best in the state of Alabama, the School Board Vice President and the School Board attorney to all resign within 16 hours? Did they all just decide it was time for a change  coincidentally at the same time or was something else going on to cause these mass resignations?

2) Since it is the belief of many in Enterprise the three members of the school board asked to resign in the June 25th meeting were planning to vote to fire the superintendent and not accept his resignation, how can this same group of people be expected to select a qualified candidate as the new superintendent? How can anyone they select not be seen as just a figurehead? I don’t believe they can. Why would anyone want to be hired into this situation?

3) Could there be a conflict of interest in any discussions between the school board and city council regarding the disposition of $32,000,000 since the school board members are appointed by the city council?

4) Would it be better for all concerned if the school board members were elected?

 My Suggestions

My suggestion as to what has to be done for any healing, coming together or moving forward to occur in Enterprise is for Mr. Cotter to resign his position as school board member. It would be better if we started with a clean slate of board members and members Brown and Jones were to resign as well. If they do really want to do what is best for the Enterprise City School System and the city of Enterprise that is what they would do.

As I mentioned earlier, the begging for us to come together and move forward and repeating the “house divided” quote without any changes is not working and will not work. There need to be changes made to show the citizens of Enterprise there is a reason for us to believe we can come together and move forward. There is no trust to build on now between the citizens of Enterprise and the School Board.

This would allow new members to be appointed (still not the best way to do this in my opinion – see question 4 above) to join the two members recently added and then some level of trust can be restored and the city can begin to heal, come together and move forward. If they choose not to do this and believe they can serve with any support from the citizens of Enterprise I believe this is a gross miscalculation on their part and just shows their resolve to hold on to their position or power and will confirm the accusations many have made. They would not have to admit they have done anything wrong, which they may not have, and just state they are doing this for the good of the school system and the city of Enterprise. This, however, would be doing something right.

With the current system of school board members being appointed by the City Council there does need to be some way the citizens can have input as to who these appointees are. If not, we could be back in the same situation again.

What are your thoughts? Please click the ‘Leave a reply’ link under the title of the post above.

Until next time…

Originally posted on Peculiar Perspective on 7/05/2013

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