Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving.... and men of a certain age

I guess I could blame Dimly....but that would be pointless.  He has been a good friend for almost the last 40 years and I can honestly say, with good pride and pleasure, that I have never been mad at him a day since we met.  Course, the same cannot be said of his twin brother, Dumly...and he is dear to me as well...but him and I are another story altogether and it ain't no deal now and if I do not write this immediately I am sure to be distracted, distraction being a hobby I do well.  So...this is what happened and I will not edit this crap or it will just sit there unwritten and unread.
Now....see, it is a beautiful day.  Sunny, clean.fresh and the Holiday tomorrow should show temperatures up close to the sixties.  Maybe it is Indian Summer, though I am more inclined to call it Polack Spring as in when most of the white men around here totally forget what season it is and put there shorts back on.  They say you can fool anyone once, but sure as I still like a good beer, the weather in Wisconsin can fool you ALL the time. But that is no never mind,see, and has only a passing role in what happened. Not so much that ANYTHING was just an email,see, but it offers a quality to my feelings and those are precious if you want them to be and I sure enough do.
So, as is my habit of morings, I check the email on my phone, I do it on the phone cause not only is it handier, but I do not have an internet connection at home.  Now, I need to do this becasue, gosh, I may have won the Nigerian Lottery or something, but, as per usual I didn't and there was no notice that the rainbow got stuck outside my back door and all I have to do is go out and get that pot-o-gold.  Nope, nonesuch.  What he had sent was a chain email of sorts...forwarded from someone else...the gist of it was that on such and such time we should all raise a glass in memory of LT.  If you want to participate send your phone number back and it will be blind CC'd to the others on the list and you can make a phone call or two or so and share LT stories, of which there are many, most intricate and ludicrous.  Now, that did not strike me as such a bad idea.  LT has been dead just a few years and it would be good to hear from some of those was a strange collective of strange guys, the mid-70's being what they were and all and I think I am in on this.

But it got me in a mood.  I just found out that Burkie died a few days back.  I missed the news and the funeral and wake. Now, he was not a close friend, but I had hoisted a few with him over the years and shared some laughs.   Sharing a laugh with Burkie was like sharing a ride in an old beat up car running down a gravel road on the way to a beer party.  You never knew what was going to come out of his mouth....but it always seemed to make you grin with him.

So Burkie is now just like LT...dead and gone and here with us forever. And so is Bruiser and Spare Wheels, Kid Curry, Wolfgang, Red Fred, Mad Dog, Sweet Rohl, aw, shit..... it pains me.  And that ain't no never mind either, I guess.  The real deal is..... that you knew these men...and they were the fabricate of life that you wore, the wind that sailed around you and you always know that you were blessed to have know them.  I am thankful for that.  I guess that is what Thanksgiving is to me......just a goddam feeling in the bottom of my poscket that I can always reach into and grab and for that, I can never be broke.

So I went out today with a bit of a funk feeling.  Thanksgiving had always been one of my favorite days in the past; the groaining board of food my mother and grandmother would assemble...the Packer-Lion game on TV...sitting in the leaf pile with Nancy in the moonlight under the oak tree..the arrivals and departures of family and friends who had gathered together to was   ....well it was and there ain't no mone to it than that.  Now...well, things are different.  Pretty much by choice I do not go anywhere.  I'll make myself a bit of supper and watch football.  The weather is expected to be good and perhaps I will fit in a bike ride or so.  It ain't no deal.  I talked with Billa Lang a day or so past...and the nub of that is, well...remember not what favors you have given to others, but all the good stuff that has been given, unasked for, to you.  Not a bad way to think of things.

The days go on and we get old.  There will be more family and friends that will pass away in the coming year....and I now resolve never to regret their passing as much as I will give thanks and joy for their 'forever presence. That would not be shabby.  I got to thinking of a song my old buddy Lightning Dot used to love....a song written as a condensation of the Rip van Winkel story.  Had not thought of it for years.  Still good.

 Ya'll be good...and remember phone calls from the heart, in the heart....are cheap and valuable.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

You are what (& where) you eat...

So of late, or of lately, or maybe later than you think.... The owners of Papa John's Pizza and a large franchisee owner of some Denny's restaurants are blowing their nose all over the place saying, "oh, oh...Obamacare is gonna put me outa business!  I will have to lay off people!  I will have to cut wages!  Hours will be cut!"  Well, the long distance past I will admit to having eaten at a Denny's and have had Papa John's Pizza.  And I now avoid both places....because...well... the food really really sucks.

But, I do like Pizza...and my section of beautiful downtown Wisconsin is blessed with a good half dozen 'non-franchise' places to get a good pie.  Ain't no deal, really...but it got me to thinking a bit of a Pizza place down in Madison, WI.....Ian's
They hit the news...NEWS almost two years ago...during protests at the State Capital when Scott Walker was doing his Draconian measures to destroy teachers unions.  It started when someone asked, at the end of the night, if there were any left=over pizzas they could take up to the capital to feed some of the folks doing an all night vigil/protest inside the capital building.  Ian's said, "sure". And then..... on twitter, FB, emails the word spread.  And phone orders started pouring in.. eventually folks from all 50 states and some 60 foreign countries using credit cards to donate pizzas to the protesters.  And... Ian's delivered.  Now...there are two Ian's pizzas in Madison, one in Milwaukee and one in Chicago.  The guy worked hard...had a business model he wanted to work with...and paid off.  And this is not a 'usual pizza the clip.

and so it went.  Ian's worked around the clock.  Employees worked double shifts.  Their dough machine broke down.  At the time there were numerous stories on the net, Youtube, in the print media.
Anywayz..... So the CEO of Papa John's....The Dude from Denny's... they are gnashing their teeth and flapping their gums...because...oh oh oh...treating people like people is SO UNFAIR and gosh....would COST ME MONEY......

AND, the founder of Ian's sticks with what he wants to do... and writes his philsophy up in a little newslateer on there web page....check this out...
Dear You,
The ongoing political events here in Madison have been nothing short of historic for the people of Wisconsin and, on a much smaller scale, Ian’s Pizza. Starting on February 16th, Ian’s Pizza was entrusted with delivering pizzas to demonstrators on behalf of people from all 50 states, over 60 countries and Antarctica. Media coverage soon followed with articles mentioning us by name in newspapers all around the world. The following on Ian’s Pizza on State’s Facebook page alone grew from 3,900 to almost 15,000 fans in one week. Given all of the media scrutiny, not surprisingly, many people have asked what Ian’s Pizza stands for.

When I founded Ian’s Pizza 10 years ago, I wanted to create a business that could make a positive difference in the lives of our employees and customers. I wasn’t convinced I could change the world, but within the confines of the four orange walls in our original store I was confident Ian’s could be a force for good. Over the past decade Ian’s Pizza has grown to four stores, yet the values, which were so important to me in beginning, persist throughout our company today.
One of the greatest contributions we can make to our community is to be a good employer. We believe being a good employer means, above all, treating people with dignity. We don’t believe yelling is an effective means of communicating with each other. We cherish greeting our co-workers with a smile and sharing a beer after work. Disagreements are okay, demeaning comments are not.
We realize that you have many choices when you want to go out for pizza. While we work very hard to serve you the best pizza we know possible, what makes Ian’s Pizza unique and what truly is our greatest asset, is the people who work with us. Simply stated, our goal as a business is to continually humanize our work environment and personalize your customer experience.
In addition to treating our staff with dignity, our leaders are also expected to practice Servant Leadership. The practice of Servant Leadership, which was coined by Robert Greenleaf in a book of the same name, simply states that the job of the leader is to serve the organization and not the other way around. I understand Servant Leadership to mean that ultimately, as a leader at Ian’s, it’s my job to help our staff be successful in theirs.
The tangible employee benefits we believe in include the practice of paying good wages, providing generous vacation time (long-time employees receive one month paid vacation each year), and matching employee’s 401K contributions. We also offer 100% employer-paid health insurance to full-time employees. Health insurance is an issue which resonates very strongly with me. My dad was involved in various entrepreneurial activities while I was growing up and for most of my adolescence we only had catastrophic medical insurance. The lack of adequate health insurance was a concern my parents passed on to me. In April of 2002 we began offering 100% company paid health insurance for our staff and have done so ever since.
We are an open book management company. Staff are required to know and report on company financials during staff meetings. Bonuses, based on the company’s profitability, were first paid at our original store on a trimester basis in 2005. Our other stores have paid bonuses on an annual basis, when possible. Although many small businesses might be leery of disclosing their finances, we’ve found that operating in a system of total financial transparency results in better productivity and financial performance.
Lastly, we believe in providing a path to ownership for qualified staff. Initially, I was very cautious and even skeptical about growing the company beyond one store. Ultimately I reached the conclusion that expanding Ian’s would create opportunities for staff to remain working with us and still grow professionally. Today, our Chicago location is owned by a UW history major who worked with us through school, while our stores in Milwaukee and State St. are owned by several long-time employees.
For the sake of brevity I have not described our philosophies on food or customer service. (Please know that we have strong opinions on both subjects!) For now, let me conclude by stating what will come across as obvious to everyone, but during these heated times, might be forgotten by some: Ian’s Pizza is not a political party.
We stand in solidarity with anyone who shares our company’s values, but we don’t believe it’s our job to endorse a specific political entity. Despite the highly polarized political climate we live in, we feel food (especially pizza!) is something that brings us together regardless of political orientation. When you choose to order a pizza with us you are also supporting the practices I outline above.
This years marks our 10 year anniversary and I’d like to thank not only all of those who supported us these past several weeks but also over the past decade.
With love and appreciation,
Ian Wisconsin is not just a Bat shit crazy Governor,,,,, a moron VP candidate.....and Madison is NOT a typical city.....a former Governor, A decent Republican, once described Madison as, "a few square miles of insanity surrounded by the rest of the State"  which is about right.

Anywayz...maybe the point is that life is just stuff.... but we still choose, whether you are a customer or an owner....what you put on your pizza

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