Sunday, April 7, 2024

Concord MA Prison to Close in 2024

Aerial view of MCI-prison, Route 2 rotary in front
Massachusetts officials are closing the men’s prison in Concord because of a decline in the number of men imprisoned in the state*, a long-term trend ongoing from a peak in 2012. For the ten-year span 2014-2023, the male prison population size fell by 42% to a total of 5,660. The decrease was much larger than the 25% decrease nationwide. One reason for the downward trend in MA is a 1/3 decrease in the number of released prisoners reincarcerated within three years of their release, i.e., fewer violation of parole or arrests for new crimes.

As mentioned in the title, one consequence of the downward trend is the decision to close MCI-Concord, the oldest currently operative prison in the state. The 350-400 men held there and some of the staff will be transferred to other medium-security facilities. According to Governor Healey, closing the facility will save $16 million dollars per year in operating expenses and avoid spending close to $200 million dollars on deferred maintenance and needed improvements to the facility. The closure, scheduled for summer 2024, follows the closing of the Cedar Junction/Walpole facility the year before.

Prisoners' advocates praised the move and said they hope some of the savings will be put back into programming, especially to help those incarcerated transition to life after prison. "The time is now to reduce our carceral footprint and invest in rehabilitation, re-entry, and community-based support systems," said Jesse White, policy director at Prisoners' Legal Services of Massachusetts.

Not entirely surprisingly, the Massachusetts Correction Officers Federated Union voiced opposition to the planned closure. Its stated reason was that transferring prisoners in large numbers will increase the risk of violence and other disruptive behavior at the new locations, placing officers’ safety at risk. Unspoken was a concern that consolidation of prisons would include staff layoffs, as had occurred with the previously year’s closure of Walpole.

As for the history of MCI-Concord, the original building at Concord opened in 1878 as the New State Prison, with Mexican War veteran General Chamberlain as its warden. Prior to that, state prisoners were housed at the Charlestown State Prison, which had become operative in 1803.  Massachusetts reversed itself in 1884, returning state prisoners to Charlestown and converting Concord to the “Massachusetts Reformatory" where young, male, first-time offenders would be held for their sentence but potentially released early to supervised parole. Around 1980 the reformatory designation was dropped and Concord became a medium security facility.

One of the inmates at Massachusetts Reformatory was Malcolm Little – 1947 and part of 1948 – in his early 20s at the time, who shortly afterwards converted to the Nation of Islam and took the name Malcolm X.

As for the future of MCI-Concord, the approximately 50 acres will be made available for development. The state will be meeting with community and other stakeholders about what will be done with the site. Concord officials are in a strategy stage. From The Concord Bridge, an independent newspaper started after the Gatehouse-owned Concord Journal ceased publication, “Housing? Commercial development? Municipal buildings? Are there historical preservation concerns? And what about doing something with that harrowing Route 2 rotary?”

At the state level, the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance will facilitate the sale, lease or transfer of the property, a process that is expected to take years. Issues include how the prison’s wastewater treatment facility might serve the town’s future needs. Select Board members have pointed out that Concord already has several sizeable housing projects in the development pipeline, including affordable housing, so the prison site – close to Route 2 – might be a better opportunity for business development. The Board voted unanimously to set up a local advisory committee “that will bring together some of the expertise that we have in town and kind of flesh out what [Concord wants] to see there.”

Concord is also host to a minimum-security facility on the north side of Route 2A - the Northeastern Correctional Center – which houses 175-200 men. It will remain open for the foreseeable future. NCC encompasses 300 acres of farmland and provides inmates with work opportunities prior to being released from prison. NCC work opportunities include the Fife and Drum Restaurant, which is open to the public for lunch, Tuesday-Friday. Meal cost is $3.21.

Maynard lock-up behind what is now
the Paper Store building (emply)
Maynard has its own history of a lock-up. The position of constable was created at the first town meeting. Shortly thereafter the Selectmen authorized construction of a brick lock-up, 14 x 14 feet, behind what is now No. 2 Railroad Street. In April 1894 a two-cell lock-up, again brick, was built behind the Nason Street fire station. Photos in the collection of the Maynard Historical Society show it as a one-story building with a chimney for a coal-burning stove. This was in use until 1934, then closed when the police offices more to a building on the west side of Town Hall (later the town library, currently the police station again). The Nason Street lock-up remained unoccupied until demolished in 1984 for construction of the Paper Store building (currently empty) that replaced the fire station. The present-day police station on Main Street has lock-up cells for short-term use – it is not a prison.

 *And imprisoned women. The women’s prison population for 2023 was 201, all housed at a facility in Framingham. The count is down from 792 in 2014.    

 

Saturday, March 23, 2024

How Maynard Became Maynard - April 6th lecture


"Hidden History of 
Maynard" (2014)
Local historian David Mark will present a talk on this topic at the Maynard Public Library on Saturday, April 6th, at 1:00-2:15 PM. After the talk he will be selling signed copies of his second history book, "Hidden History of Maynard" (2014) for $20 and ONLY IN MAYNARD mugs for $10.  

Maynard author and historian David Mark will speak about the 1871 proposal to create a new town and how the boundaries were set. Prior to Maynard becoming Maynard, land south of the Assabet River was part of Sudbury, north of the river, part of Stow. Growth of the woolen mill and other factories powered by the river resulted in a population explosion near the river and far from the churches and schools of the farmland towns. Petitions were submitted for (and against) creation of a new town. Compromises were made on size. The new town made compensation payments. Given that Amory Maynard owned much of the land and employed most of the people, the town naming vote was “unanimous.”

A reprint of a Beacon-Villager column from 2016: 

The inaugural celebrations marking the founding of Maynard, April 19, 1871, are described in great detail in the 1921 book "A Brief History of Maynard." Drawing on newspaper accounts of the time, the first town meeting, on April 27th, just eight days after the Commonwealth had granted the petition to create the town, met for the purpose of electing key officials, and then ended early, to turn to the celebrations.

The parade included the Eagle Cornet Band, IOGT (International Order of Good Templars), mill representatives, the Amateur Brass Band, St. Bridget Temperance and Benevolent Society, students, and town officials. A Revolutionary War cannon was borrowed from Concord. The Treasurer's Report recorded $13.50 spent on gunpowder.*   

David Griffin and Paul Boothroyd, members
of the Maynard Historical Society, holding the
original of the never-submitted petition.
A note here on the 'founders' of Maynard. Histories of the town list as founder the 71 men who signed a petition dated January 26, 1871. There is more history behind this history. Months earlier there had been a petition with 68 signees to create a town, name not yet selected, to encompass small parts of Acton and Concord in addition to larger portions of Sudbury and Stow. This was never submitted to the state legislature. The second petition gave up annexing the gunpowder mill land from the first two towns.

Subsequent to this official petition there were three additional supporting petitions with 76 more names. All tallied, minus a few who signed more than once. the count came to 211 men who favored the creation of a new town. (Women not achieving a right to vote until 1920.)

Stow and Sudbury were against the idea, as the proposed new town would take roughly 50 percent of their populations. Stow residents circulated three petitions which garnered about 140 signatures. Sudbury held a vote at Town Meeting, 183 against and 88 for. In disregard of this opposition (and perhaps influenced by some undocumented lobbying), the request to form a new town was granted. 

Amory Maynard was not among the signees although he was perhaps the largest landowner and also part owner and manager of the woolen mill. His sons Lorenzo and William signed, and Lorenzo became the town's first Treasurer and Tax Collector. An account of the day, in the Hudson newspaper, had this comment on how the town came to be named: "Mr. Maynard is the chief founder of the community now incorporated in his name. He is a taking man withal, and his personal christening of the new town is a popular acknowledgement of his agency in its birth and breeding."

Milestone anniversaries have been celebrated in various ways. There is no mention in the Town's Annual Report of 1896 about any events to mark the 25th anniversary. Nationally, there was a recession going on, and the mill would go bankrupt in 1898, so perhaps everyone was distracted.

The two major peaks in births represent the influx of young
adult immigrants to work at the expanding mill complex and
the post-WWII baby boom. Present population ~ 11,000.
The 50th anniversary was a huge event. According to the program, church observances on Sunday, April 17th, school observances on Monday, and on Tuesday morning a 50-gun salute and a parade of an estimated 1,000 people down Main, Nason and Summer Streets. Speeches by Governor Cox and Senator Gibbs followed. Local veterans of the Civil War (!), Spanish-American War and the Great War participated. Afternoon activities included Glee Club and choir singing, a band concert and ball game - Maynard versus Concord - at Crowe Park.

Likewise, the 100th anniversary was a huge event. Huge. Celebration was pushed to June, perhaps in hope of better weather? Ten days of celebrations included picnics, concerts and performances, capped by a parade and fireworks on July 4th.  

The book cover states
that the book was a
product of the Committee
but it was actually 
100% David Mark (me)
The 125th anniversary celebration, in 1996, appears to have been a subdued affair. The Maynard Historical Committee published a collection of essays on town history.

In 2016, Maynard celebrated its 145th anniversary as First Annual Founders' Day via various events to be held April 16 and 17, throughout the town. Much of the organizing was accomplished by Maynard High School student Haley Fritz as part of her Girl Scout Gold Award project, in collaboration with the Board of Selectmen, Maynard Business Alliance, and Maynard Historical Commission. Alas, Founders' Day did not become an annual celebration.

The year 2021, in honor of Maynard's 150th anniversary, saw many events organized by a Sesquicentennial Steering Committee, including a parade attended by several descendants of Amory and Mary Maynard, a monthly lecture series and a book "MAYNARD MASSACHUSETTS: A Brief History". 

 

Friday, March 22, 2024

Trail of Flowers - First Daffodils 2024

 

First daffodils at Marble Farm
The first daffodils in bloom at Marble Farm Historic Site, appeared March 19, 2024. Looking back to previous years, starting with 2019 (first planting having been fall of 2018), first bloomings have ranged from March 21 to as late as April 10. Timing much depends on how long winter snow cover persisted and extent of warm spells.

The plantings at the Marble Farm site - more added each year - are of early- mid- and late-blooming varieties so as to prolong as much as possible the spring blooming season. Daffodils will still be in bloom well into May. In the fall of 2023 a planting of tulip bulbs was made inside the fence that surrounds the stone foundation that is all that remains of the Marble family home (built 1705, burned 1924). The site was selected to prevent deer from eating the tulips. (Deer don't eat daffodils.)  

To be installed once the 
tulips are blooming
The spring of 2023 had a remarkably poor showing of blooming for several perennial plant species. This was attributed to there having been an extended warm interval in March, causing 'bud break', i.e., initiation of bud opening, followed by a period of hard freeze night temperatures. Throughout eastern Massachusetts there were poor-to-no bloomings for forsythia, azalea, wisteria and other spring-blooming plants. March 2024 has been unseasonably warm and without snow cover, but did experience a night temperature of 20 degrees the night of March 21, followed by snow, freezing rain and rain March 22-23, so the effects of this harsh weather on the daffodils and other plants remains to be seen.

FIRST UPDATE: Late March and early April saw more snow, freezing rain and rain. Daffodils already blooming were knocked down, but most recovered after everything thawed/melted. The Trail of Flowers daffodil plantings in Acton and Maynard are planned to have a mix of  early- mid- and late-blooming varieties in order to stretch the blooming season into May. Unlike last year, forsythia are having a good bloom year. Max blooming appears to be week of April 14-20. 

Interestingly (and sadly), although forsythia is a popular early spring blooming plant, it is not pollinator friendly, as it has minimal nectar and pollen. Likewise, daffodils and tulips - popular spring-blooming bulbs - contribute nothing to pollinators, and thus can be derogatorily be referred to as 'eye candy'. Trail of Flowers (www.trailofflowers.com) has had donating town garden clubs request that future plantings include more of a mix of pollinator-friendly plants, with a preference for those native to New England versus overseas imports.   The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources has developed this list of native plant species commonly available at local nurseries:  https://www.mass.gov/doc/creating-pollinator-friendly-gardens-with-native-plants-locally-available-options/download


More to be added as Spring progresses

 

Saturday, March 2, 2024

"Water Always Wins" a book review

 Water Always Wins Erica Gies (2022)

Water Always Wins (327 pages, 290 references) is a treatise on how water behaves and misbehaves on our planet, and how our human attempts to control water via dams, channeling rivers, dikes, draining of wetlands, shoreline management, and so on, and so on, fail. The subtitle: "Thriving on an age of drought and deluge" points toward how human-caused climate change has exacerbated the problems we have with out-of-control water. 

The overlying theme of the book is "slow water," meaning that in a nature-pristine state there are mechanisms such as plant cover, porous soil, drainage obstructions (including beaver dams) and so on that slow drainage, and that by doing so lessen flooding in times of heavy rain or snow melt, and also recharge the local and regional surface water and ground water, lessening the impact of drought.

Beaver skull: see that the gnawing teeth are 
separate from the eating teeth, and that the former
have an orange enamel on the outside surface. 
These teeth grow throughout the animal's 10-12
year lifespan. The orange enamel is harder than
the white, so these teeth are self-sharpening. The 
bite force is twice that of a human, but much less
than that of large dogs.
Chapter 4: "Beavers - the original water engineers" describes the impact this species had on North America prior to European colonization and fur trapping, and how the more recent recovery from extirpation (regional extinction) is being accomplished. A rough estimate of 60 to 400 million beavers population North America prior to arrival of the Europeans. Trapping for the fur trade reduced the numbers to an estimate 100,000 mostly in Canada. With government protection, the beaver population has recovered to an estimated 10-15 million.This includes live-trapping of beavers in areas where their activity infringes on human habitat - flooded farm fields and suburban lawns plus gnawed trees - for relocation to ideal habitant is empty. Beaver dams slow water from headland tributaries, and be doing so, mute floods and maintain water flow in times of drought. The water impoundments also stongly support biodiverisity.

Chapters 5, 6, 7 and 8 are in-depth case studies of how water was and is and will be managed in various countries, specifically India, Peru, US and China, and Kenya. The common theme across all of these chapters is that deforestation and urban sprawl are contrary to the concept of slow water, and need to be addressed by plans to support slow water, and to also plan for space within and adjacent to cities that are allowed to flood in times of excessive water. The chapters also address that while reforestation in theory can be beneficial, planting the wrong types of trees or only a few species of trees, i.e., monoculture, can be counterproductive. 

Chapter 9: "Sedimental Journey",  describes the best and worst ways to manage the land/ocean interface in these times of rising ocean level. Worldwide, our current practices are mainly the worst. By building to the water's edge, and in places trying to defend that edge with seawalls, we have removed all of the natural coastal ecosystems - salt water marshes, mud flats, mangrove forests, coral reefs, barrier islands, sand dunes, kelp forests - that when in place blunt storm damage and coastal erosion. The chapter adds that building dams on rivers compounds the problem by preventing river sediment from restoring and actually increasing the land height of marshes, beaches and river deltas. Efforts to restore natural waters' edge barriers to San Francisco Bay are described in great detail.

Chapter 10: "Our Shared Future", loops back to the concept first broached in the title "Water Always Wins", To wit,  stop fighting and adapt. Towns, even cities that have a frequent history of flooding have been abandoned, or even moved. Sometimes the catalyst is a refusal by insurance companies to provide flood insurance. Efforts at rewilding coastland and river valleys provides space for water. On the drought side of the equation, limits on development recognize the fatal flaw in allowing population growth in places where water cannot be guarenteed, neither by reservoirs nor pumping ground water in excess of what can be replenished by rain and snow melt. Ditto on water-intensive crop choices in areas with water limits. If water always wins, make peace, not war. 



Thursday, February 22, 2024

Consultant and Consulting Jokes (3)

If you know any consultants, please mention these postings to them.

Back when I was a self-employed consultant I started to collect consultant jokes, with the half-baked idea of self-publishing and selling a paperback book of jokes and cartoons. Below, the first part of what I had collected.

For people who are seriously considering a career in consulting, I strongly recommend buying a copy of Alan Weiss' book, Getting Started in Consulting. When I was getting started, I would read the entire book every few weeks. It help tremendously in understanding how to establish visibility, 'gravitas', reputation, etc. as means of rising above the competition. 

I also remember being asked and answering two key questions about becoming a self-employed consultant: Separate from your credentials, experience and knowledge, "Are you comfortable talking to strangers? Are you comfortable talking to no one?" Because if you cannot do the first, you won't find clients, and if you cannot do the second, sitting home alone in your office with the phone not ringing an no one to have coffee with will be depressing.

MORE CONSULTANT JOKES

Consultant or Prostitute? 

   1. You work very odd hours.
2. You are paid a lot of money to keep your client happy.
3. You are paid well but your pimp gets most of the money.
4. You spend a majority of your time in a hotel room.
5. You charge by the hour but your time can be extended.
6. You are not proud of what you do.
7. Creating fantasies for your clients is rewarded.
8. It's difficult to have a family.
9. You have no job satisfaction.
10. If a client beats you up, the pimp just sends you to another client.
11. You are embarrassed to tell people what you do for a living.
12. People ask you, "What do you do?" and you can't explain it.
13. Your client pays for your hotel room plus your hourly rate.
14. Your client always wants to know how much you charge and what they get for the money.
15. You know the pimp is charging more than you are worth but if the client is foolish enough to pay it's not your problem.
16. When you leave to go see a client, you look great, but return looking like hell (compare your appearance on Monday AM to Friday PM).
17. You are rated on your "performance" in an excruciating ordeal.
18. Even though you might get paid the big bucks, it's the client who walks away smiling.
19. The client always thinks your "cut" of your billing rate is higher than it actually is, and in turn, expects miracles from you.
20. When you deduct your "take" from your billing rate, you constantly wonder if you could get a better deal with another pimp. 

THE SHEPHERD JOKE

 A shepherd was tending his flock in a remote pasture when suddenly a dust cloud approached at high speed, out of which emerged a brand new BMW. The driver, a young man in an Armani suit, Ferragamo shoes, the latest Polarized sunglasses and a tightly knotted power tie, poked his head out the window and asked the shepherd, "Hey! If I can tell you how many sheep you have in your flock, will you give me one?"

The shepherd looked at the man, then glanced at his peacefully grazing flock and answered, "Sure."

The driver parked his car, turned on his Blackberry, surfed to a GPS satellite navigation system on the Internet and initiated a remote body-heat scan of the area. He printed the results on the laser printer in his glove compartment, subtracted three (for himself, the shepherd and the car), and pronounced “You have exactly 1,586 sheep."

"Impressive. One of my sheep is yours." said the shepherd. He watched the young man select an animal and bundle it into his car. Then the shepherd said: "If I can tell you exactly what your business is, will you reverse the bet?"

Pleased to meet a fellow sportsman, the young man replied “You’re on.”

"You are a consultant." said the shepherd without hesitation.

"That's correct," said the young man, impressed. "How ever did you guess?"

"It wasn’t a guess," replied the shepherd. "You drive into my field uninvited. You ask me to pay you for information I already know, answer questions I haven’t asked, and you know nothing about my business.”

 Now give me my back my dog."

 THE RESTAURANT JOKE

A customer at a fancy restaurant noticed during the salad course that each of the waiters had a spoon in his jacket pocket. He asked his waiter, “What gives with the spoon?”

The waiter replied, “The owner brought in a time efficiency expert who discovered that the utensil people dropped most often was a spoon. If we all carry replacement spoons we improve service speed by 3.4%.”

During dinner the same customer noticed that that his waiter had a string hanging out from his pants zipper. And so did all the other waiters. He asked, “And what’s with the string?”

The waiter replied, “The same consultant observed that we were using too much time to wash our hands after going to the bathroom. Now I just pull down my zipper, tug on the string, and I can manage my business without dirtying my hands.” With that, the waiter bustled off to another table.

Over dessert the customer stopped the waiter one more time. He said, “OK, I can see how you get started, but how do you put everything away without using your hands?”

The waiter leaned over and softly said, “I don’t know about the other guys, but I use the spoon.”

DEFINITIONS OF CONSULTING TERMS

 Consluting/Conslutant:  A search on any decent Internet search engine will garner many hits for consulting or consultant, but also a fair number for consulting or conslutant.  Either a small percentage of consultants are dyslexic, or ‘consluting’ is a rare subspecialty of consulting.  Possible definitions:

-          Someone who gives away for free what others charge for

-          working for competing clients – and providing the same answers to both

-          propositioning your friends’ clients and promising more for less

-          submitting reports without checking your outgoing material for viruses

-          decorating your website with gaudy gifs, clip-art, sound effects and backgrounds

-          invoicing twice for the same work and hoping to get lucky


Bozone: The substance surrounding stupid people which stops bright ideas from penetrating.

Dopeler effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when coming at you rapidly.

Contruck: Is a contract with a small-print clause that makes you feel like you were run over by a truck when it is invoked.

Ignoranus: A person who's both stupid and an asshole.

Invice: Is an invoice with a criminally high total considering how little work was actually completed.

Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.


A doctor, lawyer and a consultant were discussing whether to have a wife or a mistress.

The doctor said he enjoyed time with his wife, building a solid foundation for an enduring relationship.

The lawyer said he enjoyed time with his mistress, because of the passion and mystery he found there.

The consultant said, "I like both."

"Both?" asked the doctor and lawyer in unison.

The consultant replied, "Yeah. If you have a wife AND a mistress, they will each assume that you are spending time with the other woman, so you can go to the office and get some work done." 

 A time management consultant dies and goes to Hell. On arrival the Devil says, "I'm going to give you three choices, which is more than you ever gave your clients. Whichever room you choose will be how you'll spend eternity."

So the consultant opens the first door and sees a mob of people sitting on a floor covered with spikes. He goes to the next door and sees a humongous crowd of sinners lying down in spoiled food and maggots. At the third door, there is a throng of people talking and drinking coffee, although they are up to their knees in pig manure.

"Thank God," he exalts, "It smells terrible, but at least I could drink all the coffee I want and be able to talk to people."

He enters and joins the group. He is about to sip his first coffee when a loudspeaker announces, "Coffee break is over.  Back to standing on your heads!"

  

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Consultant and Consulting Jokes (2)

If you know any consultants, please mention these postings to them.

Back when I was a self-employed consultant I started to collect consultant jokes, with the half-baked idea of self-publishing and selling a paperback book of jokes and cartoons. Below, the first part of what I had collected.

For people who are seriously considering a career in consulting, I strongly recommend buying a copy of Alan Weiss' book, Getting Started in Consulting. When I was getting started, I would read the entire book every few weeks. It help tremendously in understanding how to establish visibility, 'gravitas', reputation, etc. as means of rising above the competition. 

I also remember being asked and answering two key questions about becoming a self-employed consultant: Separate from your credentials, experience and knowledge, "Are you comfortable talking to strangers? Are you comfortable talking to no one?" Because if you cannot do the first, you won't find clients, and if you cannot do the second, sitting home alone in your office with the phone not ringing an no one to have coffee with will be depressing.

MORE CONSULTING JOKES

A doctor, an engineer, and a consultant were arguing about what was the oldest profession in the world.

The doctor remarked, "Well, in the Bible, it says that God created Eve from a rib taken out of Adam. This clearly required surgery, and so I can rightly claim that mine is the oldest profession in the world."

The engineer interrupted, and said, "But even earlier in the book of Genesis, it states that God created the order of the heavens and the earth from out of the chaos. This was the first and certainly the most spectacular application of civil engineering. Therefore, mine is the oldest profession in the world."

The consultant leaned back in her chair, smiled, and then said confidently, "Ah, but who do you think created the chaos?"


An efficiency expert concluded his lecture with a note of caution. "Don't try these techniques at home."

"Why not?" asked somebody from the audience.

"I watched my wife's routine at breakfast for years," the expert explained. "She made lots of trips between the fridge, stove, table and cabinets, often carrying a single item at a time. One day I told her, "You're wasting too much time. Why don't you try carrying several things at once?"

"Did it save time?" the guy in the audience asked.

"Actually, yes," replied the expert. "It used to take her twenty minutes to make breakfast. Now I do it in ten."


The classified ad said, "Wanted: CEO needs a one-armed consultant, with a social sciences degree and five years of experience."

The man who won the job asked, "I understand most of the qualifications you required, but why 'one-armed'?"

The CEO answered, "I have had many consultants, and I am tired of hearing with each advice the phrase 'On the other hand…'."


A man had a male cat that howled all night, every night. The sleepless man concluded that the cat has too much testosterone and took him to the vet to be castrated. To his great surprise, the cat continued howling.
"Why are you doing it now?" he asked the cat.
"The other cats hired me as a consultant."


There’s a glass of water on the table...
First consultant says, "It's half full." That’s an optimist.
Second consultant says, "It's half empty." That’s a pessimist.
The Human Resources consultant says, “You have too much glass there.”


A consultant is ...

  • Someone who takes the watch off your wrist and tells you the time
  • A person who in theory knows 99 ways to make love, but doesn't have any actual experience
  • Someone who is called in at the last moment and paid enormous amounts of money to assign the blame

Consulting Revisited

Good advice is something a man gives when he is too old to set a bad example.

It takes two things to be a consultant - grey hair and hemorrhoids. The grey hair makes you look distinguished and the hemorrhoids make you look concerned.

An expert is one who knows more and more about less and less, until he knows absolutely everything about nothing.

To spot the expert, pick the one who predicts the job will take the longest and cost the most.

After all is said and done, a hell of a lot more is said than done.

If you consult enough experts, you can confirm any opinion.

Hiring consultants to conduct studies can be an excellent means of turning problems into gold (your problems into their gold).

LIGHT BULB JOKES

 How many consultants does it take to change a light bulb?

  • We don't know. They never get past the feasibility study
  • Two. One to change the bulb and one to speculate how Tom Peters would have done it
  • That depends - how much money is in your budget...?
  • None. Time to buy a new fixture - with a service contract. For a reasonable fee we can survey light fixture suppliers, conduct on-site examinations of the finalists, and make a recommendation
  • That's difficult to say. First, we need to do a major study to see if you really need light in that area, determine historically why the light burned out, and conduct an analysis to determine whether it's the right kind of light. We may need to survey employees for risk of light sensitivity. After that, we can: develop RFPs and RFQs, evaluate the abilities of various maintenance workers to perform the task, recommend personnel selection, and supervise the activity.

  A consultant who came upon hard times and had lost quite a few clients was forced to have a serious economic discussion with his wife and told her that they would simply have to cut back. "If you can learn to cook, we can get rid of the cook," to which the wife replied "Yes, dear, and if you can learn how to make love we can get rid of the gardener too."

A consultant is an ordinary person 50 miles from home with a PowerPoint presentation.

A consultant is someone who comes in to solve a problem and stays around long enough to become part of it.

One consultant, told he was a pain in the neck, said he was glad to have been moved up.

A client with one consultant knows what to do. A client with two consultants is never sure.

 A consultant is someone who…

 …spends weeks asking you about your job, then tells you how to do it better.

 …solves a problem you did not know you had, in a way you don’t understand.

 …think a half-day means leaving at 5 o'clock.

 …knows the people at airport security better than the next door neighbors.

…borrows your watch, then charges you to find out the time.

 …has room service on speed dial.

 …is on a first-name basis with the dry cleaner at O’Hare.

 A consultant died and went to heaven. There were thousands of people ahead of him in line to see St. Peter. To his surprise, St. Peter left his desk at the gate and came down the long line to where the consultant was, and greeted him warmly. St. Peter took the consultant up to the front of the line, and into a comfortable chair by his desk. The consultant said, "I like all this attention, but what makes me so special?" St. Peter replied, "Well, I've added up all the hours for which you billed your clients, and by my calculation you're 193 years old!"


Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Consultant and Consulting Jokes (1)

If you know any consultants, mention these postings to them.

Back when I was a self-employed consultant I started to collect consultant jokes, with the half-baked idea of self-publishing and selling a paperback book of jokes and cartoons. Below, the first part of what I had collected.

For people who are seriously considering a career in consulting, I strongly recommend buying a copy of Alan Weiss' book, Getting Started in Consulting. When I was getting started, I would read the entire book every few weeks. It help tremendously in understanding how to establish visibility, 'gravitas', reputation, etc. as means of rising above the competition. 

I also remember being asked and answering two key questions about becoming a self-employed consultant: Separate from your credentials, experience and knowledge, "Are you comfortable talking to strangers? Are you comfortable talking to no one?" Because if you cannot do the first, you won't find clients, and if you cannot do the second, sitting home alone in your office with the phone not ringing an no one to have coffee with will be depressing.

YOU MIGHT BE A CONSULTANT IF...

PRIVATE LIFE

  • Ha! Like you have a private life
  • You refer to dating as test marketing
  • Your love letters have executive summaries
  • You refer to your significant other as "my co-CEO”
  • You decide to reorganize your family into a "team-based organization"
  • Your "deliverable" for Sunday evening is clean laundry and paid bills
  • You start doing your kid's math equations in reverse Polish notation
  • You insist that you do some more market research before you and your spouse produce another child
  • You believe you never have any problems in your life, just "issues" and "improvement opportunities"
  • At your last family reunion, you wanted to have an emergency meeting about their brand equity
  •  You believe that e-mail between you and your spouse is enough to keep your marriage strong
  • You refer to divorce as "divestiture"
  • You refer to your previous life as "my sunk cost"
  • You insist that your friends submit time sheets at the end of the month so you can see what you missed

TRAVELING

  • You are upset when you come home late at night and the lights aren't on, the bed isn't turned down, and there are no chocolates on your pillow
  • You can tell the hotel staff what their room-rate policy is
  • You also understand airline fare structure
  • In fact, writers for the OAG call you to verify flight numbers and times
  • You have seen more movies at 35,000 feet than you have at a movie theater
  • You ask the car rental agent if the car comes with an Internet connection
  • You like both types of sandwiches: ham and turkey
  • A good lunch consists of vending machine snacks
  • A good dinner consists of vending machine snacks
  • You feel naked without a laptop hanging from your left shoulder
  • You've been staying in the same hotel so long you instinctively call it "home"
  • Your spouse flies “home” (to your hotel) for the weekend
  • You can call room service and order multiple entrees without looking at the menu
  • The hotel staff recognizes you and gives you the same room every week
  • You know the valet parking guys by first name
  • You get more calls from the hotel staff to see if you're OK than you do from your friends
  • Then you realize the hotel staff are your only friends

 ON SITE

  • You use the term "value-added" without falling down laughing
  • You believe it's efficient to write a ten page work-plan with six people you’ve never met before
  • You can explain the difference between "down-sizing," "right-sizing," and "firing people's asses," and you actually believe your explanation
  • You believe every company is "a traditional functional organization, with promotion based on tenure, but one that needs to change as it is facing ever increasing competition..."
  • You know every single piece of clip art in PowerPoint
  • Your favorite stories begin "Bob Jones, VP of marketing, sat at his desk and stared out his window..."
  • You believe the best tables and graphs take an hour to comprehend
  • The new client staff come to you for information on how to start the coffee machine
  • You can tell the copier repair person at the client site exactly what's wrong with the machine and what parts need to be replaced
  • You cry when your PC won't start (you have a name for your PC. It’s a secret)
  • Someone mentions a 7:00 meeting and you say, "AM or PM?"
  • New staff point at you and say, "... that's him, that's the old guy ... "

JARGON RULES YOUR LIFE

  • You use the word "paradigm" in a sentence
  • You use the word "granularity" in a sentence
  • You use the word "robust" in a sentence
  • You can spell “paradigm”
  • You believe CAPM is just as important as the Theory of Relativity
  • You believe CAPM
  • You carry on a 5 minute conversation about data warehousing (encryption, search engine optimization, web usability guidelines, etc.), then you ask what it means

  

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

History of maynardlifeoutdoors.com

 www.maynardlifeoutdoors.com actually a blog, not a website, was started January 2010 as a place to post the columns I was writing for the Beacon-Villager, the weekly newspaper put out by Gatehouse Media for the towns of Maynard and Stow.  The paper ceased publication in May 2022. After letting this lie fallow for months, I decided to resume posting new and recycled content on a not quite weekly basis.

As of January 2024, there have been roughly 500 postings, 30-40 per year. Cumulatively, the postings have accrued 919,000 views. The total should top one million in a couple of years. The chart provided by the blog server shows a gradual increase from 2010 until reaching a plateau of 5,000-10,000 per month from 2015 onward. The top four:

Luna Moth: Photos, Symbolism and a Poem (May 28, 2013; 106,000 views)

Calories in Human Blood (September 15, 2010; 40,300 views)

Wild Cucumber - Annoying Native Plant (August 20, 2013; 21,900 views)

Recovery from Donating Blood (March 5, 2011; 10,500 views)

All the others are in the broad range of under 100 views to low thousands.

Thus, hundreds of thousands of views, yet fewer than 300 comments over all that time. The golden era of blogging - posting and following - was in the early 2000's, when popular bloggers would have thousands of followers and many had monetized their blog on Blogger - a free service owned by Google - by allowing advertising to appear on their blog. From the beginning, I doubted I could ever have that sort of following - no going 'viral' - and so chose not to monetize. I figured a non-cluttered site would promote repeat visitors. My expectations held true. As of 2024, I have 24 people who signed on to see my blog whenever they logged on and I had posted something new. I guess that all the other visitors are people who stumbled across my site from having it turn up from an internet search on a topic. 

Long-since the golden era of blogging, "going viral" applies to Facebook (already fading), YouTube, Instagram, Twitter (now X) and TikTok. People aspire to millions of views. 'Influencer' has become a status to achieve, and for a few, a profession. 

MAYNARD MASSACUSETTS: A Brief History
was written for Maynard's 150 anniversary (2021)
The majority of my 500+ postings (that includes ~50 column repeats) have to do with Maynard's history. Many were collected into three books which are described in the About Me content at the top of the blog. There is also a chronological listing of columns separated by topic: History, Nature Observations, Recreational Opportunities, and Health.  

this is a work in progress 

Saturday, January 13, 2024

The Operation Generation

Baby Boomers – men and women of a certain age – can also be thought of as members of an operation generation. Their grandparents were extremely unlikely to have undergone surgery for any condition. The odds their parents had surgery were much higher, but mostly for life saving and life prolonging procedures. For those earlier generations an osteoarthritic knee or a ligament tear were more likely to put a person on a cane for the rest of their life rather than the operating table.

Today, we the aging have higher expectations for surgery as a means of repairing damage and restoring mobility in order to sustain an active lifestyle later in life Be it hips, knees, ankles or feet, we are damaging ourselves more often than our parents did, and we want stuff fixed.

X-ray of knees showing thinning of cartilage 
between the bones (dark space) and mis-alignment
of bones in right knee (left side of image)
According to the American College of Rheumatology, each year there are close to 800,000 knee replacement surgeries in the United States. The number of hip replacements is a bit more than half that of knees, with the number of knee replacements per year is growing at a faster rate than hip replacements. The prime age for both procedures is 60-80 years, with the major cause being osteoarthritis.

Ligament and tendon surgeries are also trending up, and represent more evidence that we expect to stay physically active despite the betrayals of our bodies. Passage of Title IX in 1972 led to a ten-fold increase in the number of female students participating in competitive sports. One consequence has been an increase in knee surgeries to repair tears to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Estimates are that there are more than 200,000 ACL surgeries per year, mostly associated with high school and college basketball, soccer and football teams. Not counting foorball, girls outnumber boys by about 3X.

Exact numbers are hard to come by, but Achilles tendon injuries are not so much the downfall of the active young athlete as they are of the somewhat older person, more likely male, who is living a sedentary life yet at times participates in recreational sports. The high risk age is 30-40, when the mind remembers how do to what the body has forgotten. This weekend warrior lifestyle leads to “Snap, Cripple and Pop!” Post-surgery recovery involves weeks in a cast, months in an adjustable boot, followed by more months of physical therapy exercises.

Knee replacement
The next generation will surely utilize surgery to improve on the human condition vis-à-vis performance. The concept was humorously presaged by Ray Bradbury’s 1954 story “The Watchful Poker Chip of H. Matisse.” His protagonist says “If somehow my leg was severed accidentally, I wouldn’t wear a wooden leg, no! I’d have a gold leg crusted with precious stones made, and part of the leg would be golden cage in which a bluebird would sing as I walked or sat talking to friends.”

More to the point, professional athletes are already having their vision laser-surgery modified to improve vision to 20/10. Gene modification theoretically could increase testosterone synthesis,  make muscles respond better to exercise, or permanently increase red blood cell production, thus carrying more oxygen. Only time will tell if our bones, cartilage and tendons (or our surgeons) can keep up with our muscles.