Sunday, July 29, 2012


I was perusing the Kindle store when the title Slammed caught my eye. I saw a documentary last year about poetry slams: people writing poetry and performing them on stage.  Mostly kids, putting their feelings, emotions and selves out there.  It was so raw.  I was in awe.

I downloaded the ebook by Colleen Hoover and started reading.  I didn't stop throughout the day, except for the dogs.  A brief synopsis: Late teenage Girl's dad dies and mom must uproot Girl and brother from Texas to Michigan.  As they are moving in to new home Boy (early 20's) who lives across the street spots girl.  The rest you will have to read about.

What I loved about this book is that it isn't pretty - it is life.  Down and dirty.  Most of us didn't have to learn about the down and dirty part in our late teens/early 20's but the characters in this book did.  I have written before that my mom died when I was 21.  This book almost stopped me in my tracks but it was so beautifully written I kept going.  To use Oprah's phrase I went to the ugly cry place.

I finished the book but it stayed in my head.  I looked up the author's name and found that there was a sequel - I love when that happens! (Remember Outlander A?)   I downloaded it immediately and started to read A Point of Retreat

It picks up with the same Boy and Girl and continues on with their lives.  As the story progresses other characters are introduced including a neighbor girl, Kiersten, who at 11, in my opinion, has an old soul.  She is being bullied by kids at her school and the brothers of the Boy and Girl stick up for her.  When she is introduced to slam poetry she decides to write and perform a poem for talent night. With the horrible and sad suicides of teenagers around the globe due to bullying, this resonated.

The one thing you need to know is butterfly is a euphemism for cuss words - any and all.

A slam poem by Kiersten, a character written by Colleen Hoover

What a beautiful word.
What a delicate creature.

  Delicate like the cruel words
that flow right out of your mouths
and the food that flies right out
of your hands.
  Does it make you feel better?
  Does it make you feel good?
Does picking on a girl make you 
more of a man?

  I'm standing up for myself
Like I should have done before.
I'm not putting up with your 
butterfly anymore."

"I'd like to extend to others 
what others have extended to 
"Butterfly you, Mrs Brill." (hands principal a hand made butterfly)
"Butterfly you, Mark.
Butterfly you, Brendan.
Butterfly you, Colby."

"I have something to say to you.
I'm not referring to the bullies
Or the ones they pursue.

I'm referring to those of you
that just stand by.
The ones who don't take up for
those of us that cry.
Those of you who just...turn a
blind eye.

After all it's not you it's 
happening to.
You aren't the one being bullied.
And you aren't the one being
It isn't your hand that's
throwing the food. is your mouth not
speaking up.
It is your feet not taking a stand.
It is your arm not lending a 
It is your heart
Not giving a damn.

So take up for yourself.
Take up for your friends.
I challenge you to be someone
Who doesn't give in.
Don't give in.
Don't let them win.

In the next paragraph Mrs. Brill is moving to the stage as soon as damn comes out of Kiersten's mouth.  SERIOUSLY!  Please tell me there aren't principals like Mrs. Brill in charge of our schools.

I loved this book series for so many reasons.  I loved it because we, all of us, struggle with our selves at different points in our lives.  I know as a teenager I only ever wanted to fit in but as an adult I have come to realize it is our differences that make us unique.  Our strengths and weaknesses make us unique.

Right now there are a lot of people converging on London.  A lot of people competing, in the spirit of sport.  A lot of different people.  

Being different is cool.  

Be cool.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Always learning

Hillsborough County schools open in 3 weeks.  I don't have children but I know this because I provided doors, frames and hardware to two Charter Schools that are almost at the end of the construction process.   Most of my work is done except for the occasional phone call from the job superintendent about something that has gone missing.  Happens at the end of every project.  

Both jobs went smoothly but one ended up being a big learning lesson for me and I wanted to share it in case anyone else runs into this. 

I was bidding 4 schools at one time but there were only two floor plan prototypes.  All four projects were being built by the same General Contractor, who is one of my favorite companies to work with.  I had been part of two other charter school builds the previous year so everything was pretty standard.  I was awarded two of the schools and they happened to have different floor plans.  Both were being built at the same time so I wanted to make sure I kept all the paperwork and communication separate.  I didn't want maple doors showing up at the school that was supposed to get birch!

All the hollow metal frames, wood doors and hardware had been delivered and installed at one of the schools when I had a call from the project manager. They were seeing an potential issue and wanted to see if I could come up with a solution.  The issue was that the corridor doors were designed to open almost back to back leaving a small wall between them.  

It was impossible to use a wall or floor stop to stop the doors from hitting one another when opened.  And lets be honest - kids barrel through classroom doors when they hear the bell. (Is there even a bell anymore?).  The architect didn't notice it during the design process, the GC didn't notice it when reviewing the plans and I didn't catch it either.  The fix was relatively easy.  I supplied stop closer arms for all the classroom doors and this solved the issue. 

In my humble opinion this wasn't any one person's fault and hopefully all of us involved learned a lesson that will be applied to future projects.  I am glad I was able to come up with a solution that didn't cost a lot in either time or expense.

One thing about this job is I am always learning something new!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I Need An Analogy

Last evening I was measuring doors at a hospital for a 2nd shift customer.  When walking these types of facilities I always look for door educational opportunities to share with my customer.  I know doors isn't exactly on the top of  most folks list of what they want to learn about.

My customer walked me up to a restroom wood door and said we need to replace this.  I recognized this door and knew we had replaced it within the last 2 years so I asked why.  He opened the door and it was evident, the door was split on the door edge by the top hinge.  I knew exactly what happened.  The door has a closer on it and the cleaning crew used a broom handle or some object to prop the door open time and time again.  While that may be good for my sales it is definitely not good for my customer.  As I was measuring the door I offered several suggestions on ways to educate the staff to treat the doors and hardware properly in order to get full use out of the material.  My customer shook his head and said nothing will work. 

As I was driving home I wondered how could I reach an employee who probably makes minimum wage at a thankless job.  Ultimately the replacement door or any other material that doesn't last its normal lifetime comes out of an employees paycheck by not receiving raises due to ever escalating operating costs.  I wondered if an analogy would work but so far haven't been able to come up with one.

Thoughts, comments and suggestions are welcome in the comment section below.

Thanks very much for reading!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Red White and Blue

I have learned how to celebrate Fourth of July differently since my current two dogs joined my household.  I have never had dogs afraid of loud noises before but these two are and my heart just broke the first July 4th they spent at my house seven years ago.  They trembled, panted and barked for hours.  So today my sole job is to keep them happy and exercised in order that tonight they will sleep (with some help) through all the noise makers who live in my neighborhood as I watch Sherlock Holmes on my DVD turned up to full volume.  

I did buy some red white and blue food today however for my quiet celebration.

With some stars thrown in!

Thank you to all the men and women, past and present, who with their families keep this country and it's citizens safe and more importantly free.  

Happy Fourth of July!