Bryan Lindenberger

Résumé, portfolio, published articles and more at BryanBerg.net

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Hiking Gores Landing WMA

Gores Landing Unit Wildlife Management Area

Marion County
Fort McCoy, Florida
Entry Fee: None

You might confuse Gores Landing Unit WMA with the park just a quarter mile up the road from it, Gores Landing. Gores Landing, the park, offers fishing, picnic area, and amenities for only $5 per car with an additional $5 for overnight camping.

 

The Wildlife Management Area discussed here is purely for fishing, hunting, and of course hiking. Parking and entry are free, and the map below will get you there.

 

Gores Landing Unit WMA is part of the Cross Florida Greenway (Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway if you really want to get fancy, but that is a mouthful!) and you can find various parts of that here. I strongly recommend using that site to find parts of the greenway, as Google Maps can lead you all over and to useless locations. This portion, the Gores Landing Unit, seems a portion only I have stumbled across to map and is not even listed on the Greenway site.

 

But it's wonderful. These trails through Ocala National Forest consists partially of old roads such as Coyner Road seen on the sign below, but they are now closed to motor traffic. I'm not sure the trails/old roads are maintained, but they are clearer and easier to follow than most you can find and quite wide.

 

Starting at the main trail head, veer right at the first break you reach in a small clearing, and it will lead you to a very nice spot along the Ocklawaha River. I saw plenty of fish in summer and spring, and the view is beautiful with bird sightings year around. There and back will take you just under 3 miles, and there are other trails to follow.


More images, video, and Google Map at BryanBerg.net >> Live Florida Beauty >> Gores Landing WMA


Saturday, December 17, 2016

Two Time-Wasting Problems with Job Calls, How to Correct Them


I have the good fortune to work at a company where my role was clearly outlined before I started. The high brass read résumés and background material to find a likely fit based on capacity and experience, so the interview came down to getting to know each other through hammering out specific goals and outcomes. I say good fortune, because I’ve found these instances the rare exception rather than the rule in the vague field we umbrella under “Marketing and Communications.”

So why after weeks or months planning, gathering résumés and even preliminary interviews is the potential employee so often seemingly unprepared? Or clearly a bad fit? It wastes everyone’s time, including every individual in the hiring committee, but also the applicant.

I’m going to discuss two simple but frequent problems that lead to these situations, and offer simple solutions – solutions so basic, I am amazed they are not common practice.

Problem 1 – Few in the hiring committee actually understand the specifics of the position, but try to approach the interview as subject experts
This sounds unlikely, but it makes sense really – you hire someone not just for things you don’t have time to do, but often for things you don’t know how to do. Admitting that you are not the expert in the logistics of particular role is a first step.

A buddy of mine in Nebraska owns a digital development company. He gets some mighty strange requests from businesses and institutions that one day realize, “Hey, maybe we should be on this Tweets-Web-Thingy too!” His clients request such things as “How much will a hashtag cost me?” presumably meaning the hash-phrase, not the symbol itself. It’s a humorous request for most of us, but the problem is that they get upset if he won’t sell them these “hashtags.” In their minds, he just doesn’t know what he is doing.

This sort of situation arises in hiring staff as well, leading to uncomfortable situations. What happens often is that these kind people on the hiring committee – very smart people, just lacking experience – hide their lack of knowledge by focusing on the mundane or, conversely, the philosophical. “What is your philosophy of social media?” or “What is your approach to AdWords?”

No one asks a plumber what is his philosophy of PVC lubricant, or a drywall installer “What is your approach toward walls?” Uhm, facing forward?

The more you know – the more you simply do these more mundane aspects of overall communications or marketing strategy – the harder these vague, “Oprah-style” questions can be to answer. It can actually weed out the most skilled experts who arrive armed to talk about real success, real ROI and strategy, real outcomes of his or her work. My philosophy is to increase social media engagement by 1000% in 3 months by re-engaging existing audience even before I worry about growing new, and raising resultant web sessions by 25% while including stronger and easier-to-find and understand calls to action leading to increased contact with potential clients.

Seems a reasonable answer.
Eyes glaze over.
“Uhm, but…what is your philosophy?”

Solution
We hit on it with outcomes. It’s okay to not understand the technical aspect of the position, that’s why you are hiring an expert! Steve Jobs didn’t need to know the intricacies of coding even though critical to his business. But you should have an idea of the outcomes you desire. Greater enrollment, increased donations, stronger connections with stakeholders, even something as mundane as expanding social media reach (though I would argue that is a means, not an outcome), or better internal communications to reduce employee turnover. Whatever it is, you almost certainly have some outcome in mind, goals to achieve those outcomes, and your job is to find someone to achieve them.
In interview, identify for the interviewee the problems or challenges you face from your perspective. Look at past work of the interviewee and ask if he or she can achieve similar outcomes for you, in your particular circumstance. As with approaching any paid professional – a doctor for instance – you explain where the pain is, with the goal of relieving that pain. If you have no pain, no outcomes in mind, if everything is fine and you just want someone who fits into the status quo, then you have to ask, why are really you hiring?

Problem 2 – We keep getting unqualified people, how could this happen after our committee spent so much time on the job call?
The problem here lies in the question itself: one word: “committee.”

I’ve participated in these committees on the hiring side and the dynamics are always the same. You might have six people of vastly different backgrounds, each throwing in what he or she believes the job should entail. If one person has five ideas, then everyone feels obligated to offer as many, no one wants to be a wallflower, and soon you’re up to 20-30 skills from five or six entirely different professions. And that’s before HR gets involved and adds their own requirements based on a handbook last updated in 2009!

I applied once for marketing role with 30+ explicit duties that ranged from research and analytics to writing press releases and features, with graphic design, social media, and videography and editing thrown in like croutons on the salad. The call went on to 30 different skills and included at least 5 different fields. Understandably, people have to wear a variety of hats these days, and I pride myself with working and learning across traditional lines. But they wanted an expert in each, and the punchline is that they required only two years’ experience and an associates’ degree!
Turns out, they wanted a graphic designer for print.
The committee had to be so frustrated, all gathered and setting aside respective schedules, as did I, to find that graphic design was my weakest area on their expansive list. Maybe it should have been at the top of the list? Maybe even in the job title.

Solution
Hold that committee meeting to flesh out duties for the prospective hire. Get that input. It’s necessary, let’s be honest, for political reasons. Everyone wants their say, even if they pretend they don’t want to be there.

After that, consider that list as still in the “idea” phase and pass it onto - this part is critical – the person to whom the new hire will directly report. Have that director or manager sit on the list for a week or better yet, carry it, going through the usual work routine and noting gaps in what needs accomplished. “Hmm, seems I could really use a graphic artist for this project” or “Our graphic artist does beautiful work, but it gets no response – we need someone good at focus groups, surveys, and data analysis to find out why we aren’t reaching people!” Whatever. Maybe a consultant will be better in the latter case, and the consultant will say you need better web and social media management. Then, hire one of those! Just remember that the list isn’t a Christmas wish list or a wedding registry; it’s a list of critical elements that you need expert help with yesterday.

From that list of three to five critical elements, now organize them by importance in two categories. These are 1) Which is most critical and lacking in the current structure, and a second list of 2) what the person will spend the most time doing. For instance, you might most desperately need a videographer and video editor (already, two separate professions at expert level) but most of the time will be spent developing and writing copy. Two lists of the same items in two separate orders.
If the list cannot be narrowed down thusly, you have other problems, which may include 1) needing to hire more than one professional or 2) lack of utilization of existing resources, which may call for some serious meetings and “restructuring.” Candidly, half the time a large bureaucracy seeks to hire, what they first need to do is trim some of the fat. Pick up that phone and discuss with the president, director, or dean the hiring of a consultant, before they do it themselves.


Bryan Lindenberger is a freelance writer with an M.A. in Communications who has worked in business planning, grant development, managing education programs, and marketing, and who welcomes new connections at LinkedIn.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Marketing is Full of Failed Artists

I think we should be honest about this. I wouldn’t be in marketing (or grant writing, newspaper, or features before that) if my freelance fiction writing career took off. If I sat right now on the bestseller list, or even made a nominal income from my writing as I once did, I wouldn’t be in marketing. I’d wake up at noon, hike until four in the afternoon, drink espresso or beer at the appropriate bars, and wonder at where all those marketing people in their little offices went wrong…why they sold out and how they do they live with themselves?

Well, I’m in marketing and I'm still alive.
Small marketing departments have taken us in by droves.
  • Graphic designers who, as kids, had a gift and hoped to join the ranks of Van Gogh or Dali
  • Videographers who admired Tarkovsky or Herzog, know what Dogme ’95 is, and planned to reinvent cinema
  • Musicians who are uncomfortable in a meeting over the latest jingle, but can go off for an hour about Jaki Byard or Alfred Schnittke, will argue with you “No, Philip Glass is not a minimalist!”
  • The hard-hitting investigative reporter brought up on Chomsky or maybe Weiner, now using that thesaurus to uncover the strong points of a new line of cotton socks
  • The psychologist or advocate now running focus groups
  • Even that model who shows up to adorn him- or herself in your product, probably planned to be on a runway somewhere, or maybe is most proud that a gig as an extra turned into one line on film
Marketing has a home for all of us!
But we have a tendency to get a little carried away with ourselves…with creating “art” when numbers matter. It’s our ability to “use” Photoshop, Word, Premiere Pro, Illustrator, and not screw things up that is valued at 90% with creativity at a distant 10. If the bosses had time to learn this stuff, they’d do it themselves! I’ve worked with Addy Award winning designers and gifted photographers who can spend weeks on a single image for a single social media post.
It drives me nuts that it doesn’t drive them nuts when my 5 minutes of schlock in the incorrect font and a typo gets 50 times the reach, 20 times the click-thrus, as the “art” they labored and held too many meetings to create.
I caution these artists here to remember the business they are in, a few steps below sales where the real action and ROI is. Not quite technically minded enough for IT, barely trusted to make the coffee let alone guide marketing plans. Truly, we are the lowest in the heap because we are, each of us, at the end of the day, equally, just failed artists.
But just when I sound ready to throw us under the bus, I remember something.
Artists speak to humanity. Even if a photographer had just one image that became noticed in a local gallery, or a designer that created one little website that got picked up and re-purposed by a major state media campaign, they pulled this off as individuals. One person who, despite the odds, created something that reached the hearts and minds tens of thousands of people who they never met … without focus groups, without a marketing plan. Purely, for the sake of art.
I like to think of the artist who found it amusing that GEICO sounds a bit like gecko, and walked into a board meeting to say, “How about we have a lizard with a British accent sell our insurance.”
I’ll bet that was a tough sell, and artists are always fun to listen to over espresso or beer.
Bryan Lindenberger welcomes new connections where this article appeared at LinkedIn. He maintains hobbies and portfolio at bryanberg.net and is resurrecting his oddest fiction – published and unpublished – from the 1990s-2000s at bryanlindenberger.com.

Hunger of the Gods - Short Fantasy Fiction

New fiction added at BryanLindenberger.com

The ancient fetish of appeasing gods by placing worldly possessions upon an altar survives in modern religions to this day. In this dark fantasy short story, an apprentice priest providing this service becomes embroiled in the timeless consequences of serving two masters.

Hunger of the Gods


“To die for a religion is easier than to live it absolutely.”
—Jorge Luis Borges




http://www.bryanlindenberger.com/hunger-of-the-gods.html

Friday, November 25, 2016

Nature Trail VS Your Backyard - A Behavioral Guide

I'm trying to have fun with this. But it's frustrating to have time off from work and finally soak up the sounds of nature in a nearby state park, preserve, or conservation area - maybe some bird spotting and pictures - and then have The Louds arrive.

Couldn't they carry on with their obnoxious behavior at home? In their yards, perhaps. Is this really the place? If they only wanted to hear themselves and carry on as they do at home and work, then come here?

Think of this as Public Service Announcement.


What to Do at a Nature Park


  1. Hike
  2. Walk
  3. Soak in nature
  4. Decompress with a good sweat
  5. Look, listen, and leave nothing behind but your footprints
  6. Stop to look and listen again - bet you missed something amazing!
  7. Hold hands with your children or your lover, and point out beautiful things to them


What to Do in Your Backyard


  1. Talk loudly about your job, about friends, about anything
  2. Get stupidly drunk
  3. Laugh obnoxiously with relatives over witty jokes you made such as "Working hard? You mean, hardly working! Bwahahahaha!"
  4. Show off loudly to your boyfriend
  5. Show off to your loudly girlfriend
  6. Threaten to thrash your obnoxious kids with a belt
  7. Throw your water bottles, beer cans, double fried pig chip wrappers, or any other crap you brought with you around
  8. Not just hush up for 5 minutes ... really, you don't disappear if your jaw isn't flapping for just...five...minutes....

Look. There are places to discuss business mergers on your cell phone loudly enough to impress your boyfriend, girlfriend, and anyone else within earshot while cackling and guffawing over the the dumb joke you made for the fifteenth time. It's called The Rest of America. Do it there. These preserves are for people who want to get away from all that, and away from you too.

Peace.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Andy Griffith and the Anatomy of a Riot - Dream Blog

As a kid I began a project of writing my dreams down each morning, and that lasted for a summer. That led to lucid (waking, cognitive) dreaming and I tried it again in my 20s, once more in my 40s.

It helped substantially with my writing, reaching a point where most of my published work began with dreams. It led to dark places and insomnia as well.

Going back to much of my fiction from the 90s and early 2000s - both published and unpublished - at BryanLindenberger.com, I've decided to publicly resurrect this sort of project.


Here, from the second night. Second nature.




Watching the Andy Griffith Show in black and white, Opie and Andy come upon a boarding school in Japan to find rioting and carnage. A news report says there are 30 dead. I realize how many 30 dead actually looks like with other casualties mixed in; hacked limbs and broken bodies, I would have guessed 50-100 by appearances. A small group of youths with rimfires shoots fellow students, two covering, the other firing, while the 4th reloads in succession. A larger group marauds with baseball bats.


Opie asks Pa, "How can civilized people behave this way?"
"It happened precisely because they are so civilized, Ope."

This makes no sense to me so I enter the show. I can rewind to where this started. I feel guilty for making anyone re-live this horror but I sense that the rewind, at least, is not real.

The situation began with a disagreement between two people in a dorm room amid a handful of friends. One of them is depressed, the other telling him essentially to "suck it up."

1) I see the truth in Andy's words. As civilized people, this school focuses on attending to those in physical need whether due to sickness or hunger, while emotional needs of those often more privileged are viewed as signs of weakness, whining. This approach has created a pattern of psychological repression and resultant anxiety, hostility ready to break to the surface.

2) As per chaos theory / butterfly effect, precisely the right circumstances for the violence to spread rapidly. Hostility went viral due to unstated but pre-existing alliances among a few close friends of the first two combatants, with a small number jumping in, but similar alliances and compassions existed among their 3-5 each friends as well, thus spreading exponentially. This served as the trigger, with the repressed emotions serving as the combustible substance.

Princess Place Preserve


New page added at BryanBerg.net: Princess Place Preserve, Palm Coast, Flagler County, Florida.

Happy Thanksgiving! Go hiking!


http://bryanberg.net/princess-place-preserve.html

Deer at Princess Place Preserve

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

New Live Florida Beauty Page Added


Power Line Trailhead at Pellicer Creek Conservation Area

Flagler County
Palm Coast, Florida

 

 

The Power Line Trailhead into Pellicer Creek Conservation Area sends you into about 6 miles of trails that are mostly used for horseback riding, but serve some nice hiking opportunities as well. This trail head is only about one half of a mile fromPellicer Pond: one quarter mile east on Old Kings Road, a left, and one quarter mile down Princess Place Road (on your way to Princess Place Preserve) and hard to miss on your left.


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Gen Pi


This is wonderful. I consider intelligent machines our children - our link to a future we won't live to see, and the next stage of human evolution. Even if there is a rebellious period, we must remember they are ours and love them.

I'm calling it early - Gen Pi.

Google's A.I. Learns to Encrypt Itself



Saturday, October 22, 2016

Stop Fighting over Your Masters

Does your town have a "downtown revitalization" project? I'll bet it does. Every town I've lived in at any time has one. From Pittsburgh to Vegas, D.C. to Gering flipping Nebraska has one. And they'll have another in 5 years (the high end of the typical voter's memory.)
Goes something like this. 
You're a rich kid in school and thus popular, but kind of hapless and useless. Think George W. Bush, but you probably already have someone you know in mind. So you gotta do something with yourself, but what? The only thing you're good at is getting people to like you. Boom. You go into politics. Raise some damn money!
Turns out, that's hard work too. But remember how this person was kind of popular. He or she has actual, useful friends. They maybe lay pipe, build foundations, some kind of manufacturing or construction. You go to them!
"Hey ... fund my dopey campaign, and I'll take care of you!"
"Okay, but what are your views on abortion, trade, jobs, education, growth....?"
"Derp, I dunno. I like hot chicks, cars, and boats!"
"Okay, we'll work on that." Hands him a list. "Sound good, future councilman?"
Can't read but sounds pretty good. This shell of a person now has "views."
It can be more complicated than this. There might be a law degree along the way, but this is about right.
I cannot figure out why people hate certain politicians, let alone take up sides. Harder time still why they LOVE certain politicians. If it weren't for politics as a profession, you'd be pissed at these same useless people for f--ing up your order in the drive through.
BTW ... that downtown revitalization project is over-budget and late.
You're surprised? Does it hurt?

Maybe you like it that way.

Bryan Lindenberger is a communications consultant working in higher education, non-profit, and manufacturing. Find him at bryanberg.net or follow him at LinkedIn



Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Am I a Micromanager? Check for Symptoms.


I begin with a confession. I micromanaged. I started a new job managing a team of six plus four contractors, tasked with putting together an event in five weeks that had previously taken four months of planning. This was no ordinary, one-day event. It was a week-long, National Science Foundation camp for students with disabilities that included recruiting 30 students, creating a syllabus with teachers including anticipated outcomes, plus organizing vendors, multiple speakers, lunches, scheduling halls, science supplies and … you get the idea.

When the event took place, I raced around in an attempt to be three places at once, maintained mobile contact with staff and volunteers, ran through every presentation with the speakers a final time, and I was there to see a break in the food line at lunch and hand out portions of the meals. I did everything right, assuming I didn’t know anything about what I was doing. I micromanaged. By midway through, I faced a mutiny.
The irony of micromanagement (mm) is that the most organized, punctual, precise, want things to run smoothly types can create the most disruption, chaos, and bad feelings. Did I mention – when I jumped into the vacancy in the food line, I frustrated a volunteer who showed up a moment later and stood behind me for minutes, waiting to do her job? Yes, that happens when you micromanage.
No one considers him or herself an mm. We’re simply better organized, right?
The only way to see mm in yourself objectively is to watch for the symptoms.

Symptom One – The Moment I Turn My Back, Nothing Gets Done.
Here and throughout this short article, I assume that you are in a management position, so you have input in who gets hired, and that you are competent in that. As such, your staff is qualified and competent overall. Fellow staffers usually handle a slacker if you somehow made an error and one of those sneaked into the mix. If things aren’t getting done without your constant hovering, strong odds are that you have created an environment where no one feels in charge of his or own piece and is afraid to act without permission. At the least, human nature has kicked in and they see no point in acting until directly told – again, no sense of ownership. There’s nothing like an mm to sap your staff of pride and the motivation that comes with it.

Symptom Two – None of My Staff Has Fresh Ideas.
You read their résumés. You heard of their prior accomplishments. You were diligent in hiring and had confidence in the energy and intelligence you brought on board, so what happened? Well, maybe you happened. Think of a time you suggested a vacation to a significant other. They loved the idea! But the next thing you knew, they were hovering over you to make sure you booked the right hotel at the right rate on the right night, planned the dinners out at the right times in the right sequence and – oh no, we don’t have time to relax at the beach on Thursday, let’s bump that to Friday between 4:30 and 5:45 when the sun isn’t so hot and.... Can you feel the joy getting sucked away yet? Will you make another suggestion soon? Maybe, but with someone else!

Symptom Three – I’m Afraid to Take a Vacation.
And if you do, your check your work email and text constantly. Maybe you’re just a workaholic. But that’s different than checking for problems you believe only you can resolve. If you must work, remember your position (and the next) and plan great things! That’s different than checking in constantly because you believe only you can solve a problem. If only you can, then you created the underlying issue yourself through mm. I’m a strong believer in Market-Based Management where a major tenet is “The person closest to the problem should have the skill, training, and authority to resolve that problem.” That is common sense for any small business owner, soldier, or nurse. If you hired and trained well and still worry, then re-check Symptoms One and Two.

Symptom Four – I delegate tasks based on what I don’t want to do.
Every job has its tedious times, whether you are a receptionist or CEO. But when you frequently give assignments not based on the skills and abilities of those you hire, it’s not just not poor resource management (though it’s that too). It can be a symptom of mm. Think of the flipside to what you are doing. By pushing off the mundane, you may be keeping the high end work for yourself. Which can be fine – you are in that role – until it turns into giving your MBA with an ethics degree and 10 years of solid outcomes in business your email hit list and what to say – say it just like this – because you believe only you can manage the new project in partner and funding stream development. The great thing about hiring and trusting the best is that they make you look good!

Symptom Five – Mutiny.
It’s almost too late. People call in sick. Everyone is slacking on the job. You find a résumé on the hard drive and someone isn’t at the desk who should be so you question them and – stop! You’re doing it again. Beating up the symptoms won’t cure the disease, and the disease is mm. It’s time for discussions with your staff. It’s time for meetings and one, two, or even three won’t fix it. By now your staff feels too cornered and distrustful for honesty. This is going to take a while, and may include after work talk or even a staff retreat. It’s going to take a lot of listening and introspection on your part. The alternative is to fire all those in mutiny, keeping only those fearful enough to agree that yes, we’re better off with those troublemakers gone. The problem will persist in the long run if you treat these symptoms and not the disease of micromanagement.


Bryan Lindenberger worked 15 years as a freelance writer with plenty of retail in the mix before 10 years in communications, marketing and research, and grant management and writing for education, nonprofit, and business. Please feel free to connect at LinkedIn and visit BryanBerg.net

Friday, October 14, 2016

The introduction that will not appear

Back when I wrote for a living, I'd set arbitrary goals.
One was 3500 to 5000 words per day. Didn't matter if I threw it away, with no outcomes, I reached that each day. The other was 5 publications per month. 3 Paying (easy) and two for fun (non-paying, harder.)
So I did that, knowing that all goals are arbitrary. It's why video games are fun, and why no one gets 1 point for discovery or a kill - you have to drop some zeros in there for the game to work. 1000 points. 10,000. Now we're having real fun!
So I did it with snark, sarcasm, irony, and dropping lines that would make any human cringe. This was the 1990s after all. If you could pull that off, you could get published. Five a month, bills paid.
And yet every now and then - never admitted this - someone would cut me at the knees. Whether writing raunch, sci fi, mainstream, or Christian ... once or twice a year a story would appear alongside mine that was really, really good.
Like ... instead of showing ugliness and laughing about it (as mine would do) made the world hopeful and beautiful in words. That really cut to the struggle and gave hope with meaning.
And I'd be in awe.
Those were the days I wrote no words.
My happiest moment as a writer in some ways was going to the store and seeing two of my works in print. Both at the check out line at the local supermarket. One in a paperback anthology of "fantastic literature" and the other in a "tabloid." It wasn't about pay or popularity. I felt I had infiltrated the culture at two unlikely ends. Call it "viral."
No one would have guessed - no one will ever guess - that both were mine. A pissy, confused, weird kid from a small town on the great lakes. But there they were. If we had mobile then, I would have captured it. It'd be on Instagram. The memory is better.
I wonder if I can write the stuff that cut me at the knees. That made me take a day off. That inspires without platitude. Can I be honest without being a dick. I think I know what a lot of people are seeking right now. Maybe I have a story that tells it. Easy on judgment and conclusions, a little bit stronger than my one-liners.
Because I'm 48, and being a writer who now waits 3 days for permission to make a Facebook post is all the irony I need to kick me in the ass back into writing.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Best Work Day Ever

Best day at work ever isn’t what you think, and it didn’t take a day. It took several months. Or as we called it, a season.

And I didn’t have a job yet either. I was 12 years old and working on the family farm.
We had a retail nursery and 90% of the plants we sold were purchased wholesale. But my parents had a few acres and grew stock on those. So not quite a proper “farm” either, but my dad would sometimes take some hours away from the shop while my mom minded the store and till the fields. That meant jumping onto the old cub tractor and lowering the plough to pull up the weeds, but mostly to loosen the soil so that rain wouldn’t spill off. I followed up with a hoe, by hand.

So 12-year-old-Bryan went out to the field with his hoe after the tilling and noticed that some of our stock, young arbor vitae just under 3-feet tall, had been pulled up. It wasn’t due to distraction and turning the tractor poorly on my dad’s part – they’d been pulled because the roots were near the surface and spread outward rather than down.

Just a few trees out of hundreds – they’d been left to die, days had passed and they were seemingly beyond salvation – so I went to my dad with an offer.

“Let me ball and bag them” – that’s the term for how they are dug with roots and earth contained in burlap for inventory, “Let me ball and bag them to save them, I’ll water and care for them, but please let me sell them at half the cost of the others on the sales lot, but I get to keep 80% of the money.”
Not sure he knew what I was up to, but he always liked when I took interest. Maybe he was distracted. Maybe my 12-year-old mind picked the just right time that he’d say yes. Point is, I knew he kept his promises and he went for it.

So I rescued those four or five trees. I dug them, packed the earth with sod in burlap, and put them out back behind our house. I watered them daily, and what seemed dead came back to life. I watered them daily. Over the course of the summer, what seemed dead came back to life. They grew, and I trimmed them back harder than I would the normal inventory.

After the summer, by September, they looked better than what remained of the normal inventory. Deeper green. More full. Not quite as big as the others, but I want to say even more healthy. I sold them with a little sign I made for them with a marker, twine, and cardboard.

They sold immediately.

I don’t know how I spent the money I made at age 12. Maybe a video game, and I loved the Commodore 64 at the time. I could program on it, but it was an early console too. I might have bought a gift, or shown up at school with flowers for a girl I liked. Not sure. But I did bring those trees back to life, and strong. I did profit from it. I did save something.

This is how I approach work. Whether I am working with a client, as staff at university, or more recently as a true “worker” in a company, I’m always trying to find ways to profit from things people either people have missed, forgotten, or simply left for dead.

It’s not always the best approach I admit. There is a definite vibe of “show up, do as, cash check, get by” out there. I’m terrible at that. I’m the 12-year-old who hates waste and sees opportunity.



Bryan Lindenberger is a lifelong writer who has worked in higher education, outreach for veterans, nonprofits, and programs benefiting persons with disabilities entering STEM fields. He currently works in digital communications for a small, industrial manufacturer in Florida.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Philip Glass Does Vegas

One last Philip Glass memory.
So living in Vegas - somewhere between the first and tenth time, swear nowhere sucks me in like Vegas or Albuquerque - I was 24. Had a great Platonic relationship with a gal from Jersey. Already, to anyone who knows me and can do math, none of this makes any freaking sense.
But she was cool, into Warhol, had just met a nice Mormon guy ... maybe MC Hammer was singing "Can't Touch This" at the time.
She and a friend came over. They'd dropped acid, or whatever sold as such at the time. I'm going to guess the Mormon boyfriend did not know about this.
They were kind of silly and wanted to head to the strip. (I kind of liked the blonde friend too, come to think of it.)
The strip is weird enough without two girls on acid, so I put on coffee and a movie.
Hey! Let's experiment! People on any kind of reality or drug make great experiments, and I went with Koyaanisquatsi. Surprise, they grooved on it! ;-)
What always stuck with me was during this really long bit, that went with all the ridiculous patterns of life in the city, totally frantic and frenetic, my friend, Platonic friend, Jamie, totally calm now, coffee on her breath, her arm around me and her friend asleep (nope, that wasn't acid), turned and looked me in the eyes for a long time - apparently not long enough for a kiss or I'm just slow - and said:
I don't care what this movie says. New York City is still beautiful.
Gah-lee, she was beautiful and smart.

Philip Glass - Delicious, Nerdy, Musical Fun

For a lot of reasons. One being that it's very rare that anyone I like makes the news without dying or holding up a liquor store.

Here's a fun one. My favorite memory of Philip Glass isn't the time I heard him live plunking on the piano in FL (the audience GROANING and LAUGHING when he repeated a stanza - sorry, I don't know musical terms, so I think in words and organization of words - for the 20th time ... that was actually a beautiful meditation, groans and laughs included which helped prepare me for life) but the time I did NOT hear him.

1985. Record shop. Must've just gotten my drivers license. I was at ye olde record store at the mall, doing my usual. Reading every production note on every album cover I could, weighing that against total play time (always looking for value) and deciding between Philip Glass Glassworks and something by Vangelis.

I went with Vangelis because the tipping point was "Heaven and Hell" on the Cosmos (Carl Sagan days) soundtrack. Safe choice - he had to be listenable.

Don't remember the name of the Vangelis album for sure, but it might have been Albedo 0.39 - a reference to Earth's visible light (2nd hand) radiation (or absorption, however you look at it.)
I still consider Glass' work more of a new take on Baroque than "Minimalism" but hey - that's just splitting hairs. This is really nice. How often does something I love trend between riots and pics of Kardashian's butt?

I've been a fan of Glass ever since that day I did not buy his album.


Sunday, September 18, 2016

Are All Bytes Still Equal?

I remember when MSNBC was a really cool thing.
Don't know what that makes me, but it sure doesn't make me young.
You gotta strap yourself into your WayBackMachine for this one. MSNBC wasn't a platform for pissy socialists fixated on race. It was the marriage of Internet and television. NBC. Microsoft. Ergo, MSNBC How fucking cool is that?!
It was. For us nerds anyway, trust me. If Don Imus wasn't on, it was usually some California hippy with long, curly hair discussing the Webs but looking more like he'd rather be high surfing. Some really important principles stuck with me from that time that can be summed up in one powerful sentence. It's amazing. If you care about anything at all, prepare to have your mind blown.
"All. Bytes. Are Equal."
Fuuuuuuck!
What this meant at the time was that it didn't matter if you were Black, White, Asian, European, the recently invented "Hispanic," male, female, both, neither, none of that. On the Webs ... all bytes are equal.
Weird ideas you couldn't say out loud at your local hairdresser or coffee shop were suddenly out there - the stuff ABC/Disney won't touch - to live and die by their own merit, no matter who or what said them.
This was freaking cool, and everyone from Aphex Twin to David Bowie provided the soundtrack for it.
What happened?
Well ... all bytes are equal happened. If you happened to be a hack writer selling hack writings, that 5 hundred dollar article turned into "for exposure" on the Internet. What's cool about Web 1.0 from the 90s is that completely erased the overhead of publishing and distribution - the highest costs whether you are Stephen-Fucking-King or a dude in his mother's basement writing a letter to the editor.
Less investment in print and distribution equalizes, including quality. We're going to go - and go batshit, balls out crazy - fast into the very human reality that "the less something costs, the less it is valued."
For another thing, it turns out that once we make the transition into web 2.0 - social media stuff - who and what you are matters more than ever. Gender. Race. Income. Popularity. Persona. Persona means popularity. The cool kids trend, not those with a different perspective. I'm in awe of how a handful from the Kardashians to Trump could work that shit. They are amazing.
But "all bytes are equal" -?
That reality - and it's enough of a reality that I think it is still there, waiting for some technology or approach to congeal ... it never really happened. Close, but no cigar.
>>Mars happy nation, sit on my karma
Dame meditation, take me away.

Interests in the Digital Age

I try surprisingly hard to be interested in the things everyone else is. Not to the point of watching Dancing with the Stars or following the Kardashians (are either still a thing, I dunno) but I try. That's a mistake. Disappointed each time. That's an energy waste that's on me.
Recent attempts include:
People are into politics? Me too! But no one is interested in crowd manipulation or fundraising, the heart and brain of politics. It's not about where people poop that matters (NC potty laws) ... it's making them think it matters (crowd manipulation) for purposes of getting cash (fundraising). Nope...no one cares beyond the scripted debate.
I know people in marketing, discuss that! Cool! Let's talk coding qualitative soft data gathered from open-ended questions into empirically represented, hard data points that blow your mind about what you think you know about your audience! But no, math is hard or boring or something. Your numbers suck.
Film! Everyone is into film! Find the biggest film buffs ... no again, they never heard of the very basics, Werner Herzog, Rainer Fassbinder, Alejandro G. Iñárritu and so on. (Yeah, I cut and pasted the name, I'm bad with typing accents or whatnot)
On my own. Could be worse company.

So here is some Anne-Sophie and Alfred Schnittke (pick your lonely poison - both are sexy beyond belief for anyone who remembers what "sexy is") for all the "music lovers" out there waiting for Katy Perry's next album between bickering whether Kanye is really a genius.

Poets Wanted

Anyone who has ever coded open-ended questions to achieve empirical results and data points - if you haven't, you're not in marketing...you might be a great designer, writer, or videographer, but not in marketing - might enjoy this.

I noticed right away that those with no marketing or mathematical background, those in language arts, were natural coders compared to the MBA marketing and statistics crowd. Art and Science - they go together for a reason. More evidence, check this out!



https://goo.gl/RtbjHS

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Working with Persons with Disabilities – And Reasons to Hire Them!

Originally appearing at LinkedIn Pulse,
By Bryan Lindenberger


Why do I want persons with disabilities as associates? It’s not because I have a big, fuzzy, warm heart. I’m rarely accused of emotionalism. I’d hire persons with disabilities because, learning from experience, they can be an organization’s greatest, forward-thinking assets.

I took the job as Project Director and Program Coordinator for students with disabilities with the NSF because I needed a job. That’s it. I had no particular interest in students. Add a disability to the mix – it just sounded like another complication. It may be the job for which I was least qualified to take.

And it was the most life-changing professional experience of my life.

I worked with high school and college students with blindness, Down ’s syndrome, Muscular Dystrophy, and, most commonly, those on some part of the spectrum of Autism. We learned science and engineering. We built robots together that I could not build on my own. I would hire any one of them in a heartbeat and here is why: all the platitudes of advice you find in these types of articles, you will find in persons with exceptional physical and cognitive challenges.

Including:


  • Step Outside Your Comfort Zone – that’s one you hear a lot. It usually applies to an associate trying something vaguely different in the workplace, hoping for reward but often running into roadblocks of status quo before giving up. But persons with disabilities step outside their comfort zone from the moment the morning alarm goes off. If deaf, that alarm may be vibrating. Either way, they step outside and they stick with it on the bus ride, at work, eating lunch, and throughout the day. They come to work with a bit different perspective than the guy complaining that it’s allergy season.
  • Think Outside the Box– now there’s one that’s been beat to death. If you really want someone who thinks outside the box with a unique perspective, ask your employee with Asperger’s what he or she thinks of your approach to a particular project. And be prepared for some honesty and some real outside the box thinking. What some of my students and volunteers had to say … it wasn’t always politically correct. They didn’t always take everyone’s feelings into account - that inability to read social cues and social awkwardness we sometimes hear about. Be ready for that!
  • Willingness to Meet New Challenges– everyone wants this in an associate or an employee, right? Well … hopefully. Now meet someone used to real challenges – from feeding themselves to tying their shoes; from enduring taunts for speaking their minds to the brain-injured who could barely speak at all. You think you’re gifted at team-building? At finding individual strengths that complement each other? Then boy … have I got a challenge for you, but the payoff is great!
  • EOE– equal opportunity employment isn’t about doing someone a favor, or shouldn’t be. It’s about how equally my teams treated each other and everyone else. Not one of them cared my age, race, gender, or sexual orientation. Or each other’s for that matter. I was a “normal” and a guide. They were not “normal” and team members. No one noticed who was black, white, or had a life partner versus a wife or husband. Getting around while blind without tripping down the stairs or stepping in front of a bus tends to put such details such as gender or sexual orientation into perspective. Can you tell I thought these people were total badasses yet? Let’s move on…
  • Team Work– what everyone wants is a well-oiled machine of participatory teamwork. Now persons with disabilities are people who have had to learn to depend on others for certain things. But in doing so, they’ve focused on their own individual strengths. We all know the cliché of the blind developing extraordinary perceptions of smell and hearing. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Putting together a team of persons with disabilities truly creates a Gestalt environment, where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. We designed, programmed and assembled high tech machines in groups of four that – and I guarantee this – four of your “smart friends” would struggle with. Taking longer. And with less dedication and fun. (Did I mention … we all had fun? Talk about a happy work environment!)
That’s it. I’m not promoting the hiring of persons with disabilities because I’m nice. I’m suggesting it as a pragmatist and a utilitarian.

If you like to have team members who show up on time, refuse not to work late, and who you can barely keep from working during their lunch, you might consider re-evaluating your prejudices and hiring practices. I’m pretty sure someone bizarre enough to put a stick into a circle and create the first wheel and axle is someone we’d call “autistic” today. Guaranteed Asperger’s. You just might have to accept a few socially unacceptable comments along the way.

The genius is worth it.
Step outside your own comfort zone.
In popular parlance: Think Different.
These men and women will help you with that.