Saturday, June 26, 2010

Welcome to Utah and Bryce Canyon

We leave Lake Powell in Page, AZ and head up into Utah.  We make a stop (bathroom break) in Kanab where we find a complete movie set.  This is not something you see in Michigan.  I don't care how many movies they make here, Boyne Mt cannot compete.





Back in the coach and off to Bryce Canyon.  While the ideal time to be here would be sunrise (5:15 am), that ain't going to happen.  So, we arrive midday to view the what the NPS jokingly calls 'the world's biggest pothole'.  Formed by freeze-thaw cycles and not a river, it is truly a thing of beauty:



Several years ago at Arts, Beats, and Eats in Pontiac, I purchased a photo of Bryce Canyon called 'Could be Castles'  by Don Ament.  It hangs in my foyer and I have wanted to go to Bryce ever since I first saw the photo.  I was not disappointed when I got there.



Some things do get found

The story I read today is of a 112 year-old ship that was found at the bottom of Lake Michigan.  That means I still have hope for the earring I think I lost in my driveway.

Now this is not as crazy as it sounds.  In April of 2008 I met my sister and brother-in-law in Ann Arbor to go to the Antiques Show at the Fairgrounds.  I remember deciding when I got ready that Sunday morning not to wear my gold bracelet because I was having trouble with the clasp, even though it had recently been repaired.  We had a great time looking around and I got lucky and didn't buy anything.

When I was getting ready for work on Monday morning, I could not find my bracelet.  I was panicked.  I convinced myself that I must have put it on and lost it at the show.  I even sent an email to the show organizers in the hope that a good Samaritan might have found it and turned it in. 

When I told the staff at work about it, one of them told me not to worry, that it will show up someday.  Right.  I tore my house and car apart when I got home and then gave up looking.  After all, it was just a bracelet.

I am an avid gardener, as you may have discovered from my posts.  Imagine my surprise when I ventured into the garden in fall of 2009 and saw something shiny among the dying flowers.  I reached down and there was my gold bracelet.  Somehow it had lain there all during the prior year summer planting and clean-up in the fall and following spring. 

The clasp must have loosened while I was walking through the garden and I didn't notice that I wasn't wearing it when I took my jewelry off at bedtime.

So, it did miraculously show up.  And perhaps one day I will find my turquoise Zuni bear earring in the front garden some place.

Lake Powell, Glen Canyon Dam and Antelope Canyon

There are always places we hear about and never consider visiting.  The Lake Powell area was one of those places for me.  I had seen Hoover Dam years ago and my attitude was 'seen one, seen them all.'  But this was on the way to Bryce Canyon from Grand Canyon, past the Vermillion Cliffs and through the Navajo Reservation.  We would ascend to 8,400 feet in the staircase and then come back down to Zion.  It would also give us a chance to rest. 

The dam is rather controversial with environmental groups.  Due to the drought in the southwest, you can see the drop in the water level of over 70 feet in the picture below, taken from a boat on Lake Powell:


But the cruise around the lake to the Antelope Canyon gave us up-close views of the deposits made over millions of years to form these cliffs.  Sometimes so close we could almost reach out and touch them.  Well worth the time if you are in the area.







Upscale???

If you watched last Monday's Township Board meeting, you have my sympathies.   It is difficult, I know.  I mention it because during the meeting a trustee referred to West Bloomfield as an 'upscale community'. 

The definition of an 'upscale community' is one with high incomes.  The 2000 Census placed West Bloomfield at the top of communities of over 50,000 population with high incomes.  But really, what does it mean?

A lot of people here do not make a lot of money, balanced out by those two-income families who do.  But Upscale?  Drive through my subdivision and you will see homes that are not maintained.  I have neighbors who grow weeds for a lawn and store all sorts of junk in the yard instead of the garage.  Another looks like a good windstorm will rip the siding off.  It is not like West Bloomfield is akin to Beverly Hills, CA.

Nevertheless, many years ago the then Township Board told McDonald's that they could not put up the tall  'golden arches' if they wanted to locate on Orchard Lake Road.  (If you are newer to the community, they are gone, but I will explain.)  McDonald's agreed and used only a low sign.  Seems we were to 'hoity-toity' for fast food and symbols of same? 

Last week in Sedona, I saw this:

Cool, huh!  Sedona requires that all buildings have colors compatible with the desert colors.  Yes, turquoise is the color of the arches.  Just like the Little Colorado River.  And it reminded me of the West Bloomfield restaurant which is no more.

In thinking that we are so 'upscale' we can't have arches, the Township also decided at some point that we were too 'upscale' for drive-through restaurants.  Seems like us 'upscale' folks do not eat in our cars or even drop by for a cool Frosty.  I disagree, but again, majority rules, and I do not know that residents were ever asked to weigh-in on this decision. 

Anyway, McDonald's eventually relocated down the road to Farmington Hills with, Tada!, a drive-through.  So now us 'upper-class upscale' folks who want a cool drink in our cars can spend our resources driving to other communities to get one.  But, hey, we are so 'upscale' we don't care, right?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Not Just another Hole in the Ground

We leave Sedona early in the morning and head up Oak Creek Canyon toward Flagstaff before we turn west and then north to get up to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.  On the way we see the thin plumes of the Eagle Rock fire which has started the night before and will eventually destroy over 3400 acres.  We know starting the trip that the entire tri-state area is in red fire alert status due to dry air and high winds. 
This is the first picture I take from the south rim:
The view is massive and incredible.  It is hard to fathom how big it is even standing there looking at it.  All the videos I have watched do not prepare me for this 'up close and personal view'.  As we move along the rim, I look for something besides the rock to photograph and choose an old tree:



I am already thanking myself for purchasing the 4 GB photo chip for the camera.  We walk, ride the bus, and sweat.  It is in the 90's with a low expected of 32 the next morning.  I can't wait.  Tomorrow morning I will ride the Eco-star helicopter over the canyon, winds permitting.  Winds are above 30 miles per hour today, but expected to diminish overnight. 
Here she is:

What can I say to describe the experience of flying over the ponderosa pine and watching the land drop away at your feet.  If you have done this yourself, you know the feeling of awe that it inspires.  The turquoise water of the Little Colorado does not seem real.  It kinda has the color you see on one of those old paint-by-number sets.  We marvel at the Painted Desert and ooh-aah our way to the North Rim.

The show is over much too soon and we are back on solid ground.  Next is a stop at the Watchtower at Desert View, which is currently being renovated.  Now, see all the people in the fenced in look-out area?  And see all the people who have wandered over rails, in their flip-flops no less, to take pictures:               



Starting at the bottom of the Grand Staircase, our day will end up at Lake Powell.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A slight detour

No trip news today.  Rather this is about the absentee ballot I received yesterday. 

Just last week I was discussing politics with some of my fellow travelers from Puerto Rico and Miami (by way of Cuba).  Seems we all felt the same:  Where is the party and the candidates who think like we do?  Are they all retired and travelling too?

I looked at my absentee ballot and found not one person who I was excited or even interested in voting for.  In either party.  I feel like I am truly in the forgotten middle.  I know I am not the only one who feels this way.  It seems to be pretty widespread.

I have lots of family who live in Canada.  One Canadian cousin used to go on and on about the ills of America until he was ready to retire and moved to the states.  I am not surprised when I hear folks talk about moving to Canada.  I already have cousins who have left the states and now live in Switzerland, Wales, and France.  Considering that all my ancestors were from Italy or Poland, and many still live there, it makes us pretty 'wide-spread' around the world.  But from what I hear, everyone has something to complain about.

There is one item on the ballot I will be voting on:  VOTE YES for the WEST BLOOMFIELD LIBRARY.  Something I can believe in.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Of critters and cacti


Hello stranger.  Cute, isn't he.  Above is Clark's spiny lizard, the male of the species, recognized by the blue throat.  He was busy doing push-ups on the wall.  When I asked the Park Ranger about him, I was told he does that to show off for the females.  Must be a universal 'guy thing'.



We saw lots of Prickly Pear cactus and even had salad dressing with prickly pear reduction.  Some plants were in bloom:



We also saw soap plant yucca in bloom, really quite impressive.
 

And these folks love seeing cottonwood trees, which I personally detest.  Seems these trees only grow where water is present and use lots of it.  Seems to me you would find the water and get rid of the water hog in the desert, but what do I know.

We also saw desert agave, below with its tall spike.  No, this is not the same plant that we get agave nectar from.  For those of you wondering what agave nectar is - well, you are probably not.  The blooms were quite spectacular. 
And then there was 'sacred datura', which is related to the night-shade that grows in Michigan, which is poisonous and not anywhere near as pretty.  Actually, here it is an ugly, smelly vine, IMHO.

I saw more wildlife on this trip than on any other I have ever taken.  Pronghorn sheep, elk, bison, mule deer (eating plants in the parking lot at Zion, of course), turkey vultures, red-tailed hawks, and the usual assortment of squirrels and chipmunks.  Unfortunately, the animals were a little harder to take pictures of since we were usually travelling when we saw them.  Not like in my back yard where the deer stop for a Kodak moment.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

On the way to The Big Ditch

I had never seen it except in pictures and videos.  Everyone said it was more than a big hole in the ground.  I'd had the opportunity a few times on trips to Arizona and Vegas, but I always opted not to go.  Now was the time.  I really wanted to see Bryce and Zion and this could be part of the trip.  So, off to the Grand Canyon.  TA DA!  Starting on the Spanish National Historic Trail: 


We stopped in Williams on the way so everyone could see the Route 66 sign.  I actually drove this from LA to St. Louis back in the 70's.  A really cool trip.


Of course, the song got stuck in my head for days afterwards.  'Flagstaff, Arizona, don't forget Winona, Kingman, Barstow, San Bernadino'.  Listen to Nat King Cole sing it.



The Grand Canyon train runs from Williams up to the canyon, but we would be driving up from Sedona, after a detour to Montezuma Castle National Monument.



Gaze through the windows of the past into one of the best preserved cliff dwellings in North America. This 20 room high-rise apartment, nestled into a towering limestone cliff, tells a 1,000 year-old story of ingenuity and survival in an unforgiving desert landscape.
Marveling at this enduring legacy of the Sinagua culture reveals a people surprisingly similar to ourselves.  NPS

Then on up to Sedona for a pleasant stay at the Poco Diablo Resort, owned and operated by the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation.  If you click on the photo and see it full size on your screen, look closely and you will see a sign for a roundabout.  They have them at every street crossing the highway.  They did it to improve traffic flow on the road.  Everyone says it would work if the drivers only knew what to do.  At least they only have one lane going around, so it is much easier than here.

We rode jeeps out into the back country and visited the homestead of Sedona's only unsolved murder.


Overall, the views in Sedona really are rather grand:


And if the views look familiar, you probably saw them in a movie.

Tomorrow, the big ditch itself, from the air, no less.

Days one and two


What's not to like about Las Vegas, except maybe the heat. Even dry, it is still pretty, darn hot. Beautiful scenery, lights, water everywhere, (they even mist the sidewalks), and entertainment.



I don't gamble, but I do sight-see.  And I could easily find myself in a food coma there with so many great places to eat.

After a very bumpy ride getting there, I was happy to be on solid ground, just relaxing.

So how did I spend my time when not vegetating?  Well, I rode the monorail (bottom of pic) down to MGM Grand since I had not been there before.  It was certainly too hot to walk anyplace.




I found the hotel to be very nice.  I spent some of my time at the CSI Experience.  It was a fun adventure, except for the two couples who were over-analyzing all the clues.  The cases were based on actual programs seen on TV.  I was successful despite having missed noticing a critical piece of evidence.

I also had to walk through the Grand Canal shops in the Venetian, my favorite hotel.  Who's to know you were not spending an evening walking in Venice?  And no pigeon poop!



Unfortunately, I had seen just about every interesting show or performer that was on the Sunday and Monday schedule.  So that meant I got to chill by the pool and wait for the real adventure to start on day three.  More tomorrow.





Monday, June 21, 2010

Random Thoughts

1.  If I Ruled the Airlines

I would guess that every third trip I make, I am chosen to be pulled out and scanned at security in the airport.  Usually this happens in Detroit, but not always.  Last week the zippers on my cargo pants set off the alarms.  I had to step aside and wait to be screened.  The full body search.  Do I look that dangerous?

I have set off alarms for buttons on my dress, my underwire bra, and mascara in my purse.  You think the system might be a little too sensitive? 

Since we all have to take off our shoes after the 'shoe bomber' incident, I am surprised that we are not all required to remove our pants along with our jackets after the moron who set his pants on fire.  Then again, I guess I was lucky to have kept my pants on during the screening last week.

As for the airlines, kudos to the TSA at McCarran.  Everyone one of them was pleasant and friendly.  Not so at McNamara.  You think it might be the weather?

2.  Where were the Fashion Police?

I do not normally spend much time 'people watching'.  Usually if I am out eating alone, I take a book along.  While having lunch in the MGM Grand in Vegas, I sat and watched the parade.  OMG. 

I wish I had one of those hidden cameras.  I mean, I could hardly sit and take pictures of the casino over and over again with my regular camera.  What a show!

What was the young man wearing the blue and white plaid shirt with the brown and white pinto pony shorts thinking when he got dressed?  Or was it because he'd had a really good time the night before?  Then there was the young girl (20ish), about a size 18, wearing bright yellow hot pants.  Really, no one needs to see butt cheeks like that, even at a pool.  Another had on white knit pants that were so tight you could see the cellulite dimples.  Some folks looked like they had gone dumpster diving for clothes.  Maybe they really did lose the shirts off their backs. 

BTW, we watched an Elvis video on the bus ride back into Vegas from Utah.  They were showing an early (read as 'censored') performance on the Ed Sullivan Show.  We all laughed at Elvis's plaid jacket.  I asked if he had mugged a horse.  Then we noticed the polka-dot shirt that went along with it.  No idea what the pants looked like, stripes?  As I said, he was censored.  His clothes would have fit right in with this crowd.

3.  Look ma, no hands....

Last week I toured Grand Canyon, Montezuma's Castle, Lake Powell, Bryce Canyon and Zion Canyon.  We were warned by our tour guide at each stop we made about the dangers of falling, dehydrating, suffering altitude sickness, etc.  So I had lots of questions as we went along.

What possesses parents to take children and babies under the age of four hiking in 90 degree plus heat at elevations exceeding 8000 feet?  And not hold their hands!  Allowing them to run on trails that do not always have barriers.  What are they thinking?

Then there were the women who were walking on rocks at Bryce and the Grand Canyon in their flip-flops on loose, sandstone trails.  And, if they wanted you to be out on that ledge, they probably would not have put up the fence.  Duh!  Here is a book that our tour guide recommended about deaths in the canyon.  I love the description as to why these disasters happen.

4.  Look out, I'm Comin' Through

Whoa!  What is this world coming to?  Who is raising our children?  While walking to the Zion Shuttle at one of the many stops, I was nearly run over by four teenage girls racing to get in front of me and my friend.  I made a loud comment to just push the seniors out of the way or knock them down.  It reminded me of the 'marble rye' episode on Seinfeld.  They must have been related to the young people sitting on the Grand Canyon shuttle and trying to cover up the sign that said Federal Law requires that the seats be vacated for seniors and the handicapped.  Well, not that day.

More on the trip and some of the gorgeous scenery when I get around to downloading my photos.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

No where to go but Up

I sat here at my computer yesterday to write a piece about Emergency Financial Managers (EFM).  I got distracted with something else and decided to wait for another day.  Well, that day is here.

Some background.  I chair the Legislative Committee for the Michigan Government Officers Association (MGFOA).  In 2004, after two years of study, we recommended changes to the Department of Treasury for a new Fiscal Responsibility Act (PA 72).  It got drafted and introduced and went - nowhere.  Treasury would not support the changes.

Mind you, while things were difficult in 2002 following 9-11, they seem rosy compared to where we are today.  And seems like a day does not go by without a story about Pontiac and their EFM.

Our Legislative Committee, IMHO, is like a brain trust of local government.  When the Pontiac EFM got appointed, we were like, WHO?  Where did he come from and what municipal experience did he have?

Granted, every year some community elects a bunch of people with no experience and no clue about how government is supposed to run.  Reading the state laws and local ordinances would help, but, hey, that takes precious time out of campaigning.  The electorate doesn't want to spend a lot of time making a decision as to who is more qualified as long as the right party designation is behind the name.  And I guess that is why so many communities end up in the mess they are in. 

So now we have three new bills introduced in the House to amend the current Public Act 72.  The first of these, HB 6253, would require the EFM to have the approval of the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) of the community to create a new position or fill existing vacancies and remove department heads or the clerk.  The CAO would retain the authority to hire and fire department heads and the EFM would have limited abiltiy to sell assests or enter into contracts exceeding one year.

Well, it seems obvious where this is coming from and seems like a solution to one issue in one municipality.  But I can think of another where the former finance director of a community in receivership was hired by the Mayor in a community that eventually went into receivership, thanks in part to the finance director.  If the CAO is part of the problem, how does this change help?

HB 6254 would require that an EFM 'shall have knowledge, skill, and experience in managing a local government and shall be chosen based solely on competence'.  WOW.  Maybe we should make that a qualification for getting elected.  Government positions that are administrative in nature should not be like kids at a playground where everyone has a turn on the swing set.

HB 6255 would require a written financial plan within 180 days.  Well, gee, if communities passed realistic budgets, stuck to them by making hard choices, and had qualified people in positions of authority to begin with, they may not be in receivership.  The knowledge base might just be there to deal with the issues that arise.

How about everyone have a financial plan?  How about changes to existing laws regarding Urban Cooperation?  And consolidation of schools, communities, and services.

I guess the answers are because we are an imperfect world.  And we resist change.

The Legislative Committee of MGFOA submitted a list of potential EFMs to the Department of Treasury last year.  Some of our suggested people are on the Department's list of Local Unit Financial Advisors.  Some others, like myself, have yet to send in an application.  (who needs the aggravation?)

I, along with my committee members, will be following these bills.  While not perfect, they do point out that we have lots of problems in managing local government finances.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Like a root canal with no anesthetic

Though I have attended a few, I do not usually go to township board meetings. I do not watch them on TV. I do not read the minutes of meetings. I do not need to because others call or email me about what is going on. And then there is the newspaper coverage.

I receive an email whenever there is a meeting and I usually do review the agenda.  The agenda for this last meeting showed that the Police Chief would be giving an update on his 'investigation' of Trustee Brown.  That was the subject of a headline in the Oakland Press a few weeks back.  There was also the issue of the FOIA coordinator which was written about in the newspaper that morning.  Then there were the phone calls from folks wondering if I was going.  Well, no.  I would watch on TV.

So, I was outside cutting my lawn and it was 6:57 when I turned on the TV.  There was a discussion about going into closed session.  The first motion failed.  The second motion passed.  Off they went and I hit 'mute' and continued reading my book.  They're back.  Another discussion.  Another vote.  And off they go to another closed session which sounds to us who didn't have all the facts in front of us that they just did that.  The audience was laughing.  So was I .  'Been there, done that.'

Back again to discuss an offer of retirement from the Police Chief.  Well, as I recall, you decide to retire, you turn in your letter, and you are gone.  What settlement or negotiation are we talking about?  Why is the township attorney required to negotiate with the Chief's attorney?  We are paying our attorney with my tax dollars to work out a retirement?  We have qualifications for retiring.  No answer from what I could see.

Then a slight diversion from the agenda while the Supervisor asked who was there with a camera.  Turned out to be someone from the Oakland Press.  Note:  She did not look happy.

Public comment:  Clue - No one cares how long you have lived in the township.  It does not make you more important than the 'newbie'. 

Then we had someone who voiced his opinion that you cannot sue the township and be on the board.  Well, the former clerk sued the township and we never asked her to resign.  I threatened to sue a trustee for comments made about me at a meeting, but that trustee had enough sense to back off.  And since when is public comment a time for the board to discuss issues not on the agenda? I.E. Access by trustees to accounting information.  Can the Supervisor not call trustees and ask questions?  Obviously not.  Talk about dysfunctional.  Perhaps next time the trustees will have to put in a FOIA request for info as I once did in the past under a different Supervisor.

Back to discussion of the lawsuit.  The attorney didn't know about it, but the guy from public comment said his subdivision knew.  Good for Trustee Rosenberg for finally pointing out that they were 'out of order' under Public Comment. 

Township cars.  I thought this was settled.  Obviously not.  Seems our old board had agreed that certain officers needed to be protected from the public knowing where they live.  But first we have another interruption on whether or not Trustee Brown should vote.  Seems like this Supervisor has tried everything to get Mr. Brown off the Board.  Attorney:  Mr. Brown has a statutory duty to vote.

Before we can finish we have an attack on the Clerk.  I don't know what is going on, so I can't give you any information.  Does the Clerk have a township car?  Clerk:  No.  Supervisor: Yes.   Me:  Huh?

Then it was time to discuss the investigation of Trustee Brown.  The Chief reads a letter basically saying he found nothing wrong or criminal regarding the trustee.  Neither did the Oakland County Prosecutor.  There is a letter from the Attorney General, but that is not read into the record.  It essentially accepts the decision of the Prosecutor.

Now apparently, the Police Department has the lawsuit, but the township attorney does not know about it.  Trustee Kaplan is busy letting the public know that the lawsuit and any settlement will be paid by the taxpayer.  Oh, surprise.  The Clerk indicates that the Police were served on May 27, but the lawsuit was not given to the Clerk until June 4.

So now we have an eloquent speech by Trustee Brown.  Good for him.  It is long overdue.  I keep hearing the Supervisor say she is doing an 'internal audit'.  What is she 'internally' auditing?  Trustee Brown has a business that does not involve the township.  When I was Treasurer, I did employ Mr. Brown's credit card processing company to handle charges for the Parks and Recreation Department.  But no one is forced to use a credit card for payment, so there is nothing criminal in his being on the board and having his company, or one owned by a business partner, providing a service to the township or an outside company.

Clue to the Supervisor:  Apologize for going to the press.  Admit that you made a mistake.  No one cares what you did at your previous job.  We only care what you are doing at the job you were elected to do, now.  Also, almost EVERYTHING is available under FOIA.  If you don't like it, get out of government.

Until the Supervisor went to the press, I never heard anyone asking what was going on.  At the meeting I attended, Mr. Brown stated that the township attorney told him there was no conflict.  So, why did there need to be an audit?  Can you spell P-O-L-I-T-I-C-S?

So, two hours into the meeting, we finally get to the consent agenda.  Another hour later a young Eagle Scout candidate is introduced.  Poor kid sat there through all that.  Hope he doesn't think all governments are run this way.

FOIA.  Again.  What I see - the Supervisor wants control.  The Supervisor does not like being supervised, i.e. someone asking questions about what she is doing.  Trustee Kaplan is right there to jump up and support her.  Yes, there were times when the former Clerk received a FOIA request regarding my expenses.  They were all answered.  Sometimes I didn't even know about them.  So what?  EVERYTHING I created as a document or spent from my budget is subject to FOIA.  WHAT IS THE PROBLEM NOW?

Now, if the Supervisor has nothing to hide, why is she asking to have a change? Clue: We do not care about your decorating or note pads.

I regret supporting some of these people for election.  Unfortunately, they were better 'at the time' than the alternatives.   I hope people are watching.  If you wish to watch for yourself, the video is available for 30 days.

As I said, it was like a root canal without anesthetic.  Just shoot me now.

P.S.  All my shouting at the screen was no help at all.  Good thing I stayed home.  I might have exploded if I was there and had to keep my mouth shut.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

They are sometimes nothing more

Gone are the days (I hope) when young women went off to college to get their MRS degree.  Or Mrs. degree if you prefer.  Credit it to the Women's movement of the 60's and 70's or just reality of life, but young women today seem pretty self-sufficient and career minded.

When I graduated from college, I had the initials BSMT after my name.  A few months later, I added ASCP.  The initials meant that I had a Bachelor of Science degree, with a specialty in Medical Technology, and had completed a 12-month internship at an accredited hospital.  After I passed a rather rigorous exam covering all aspects of laboratory medicine, I received my ASCP initials from the American Society for Clinical Pathology.  I could now call myself a Registered Medical Technologist.

It was a pretty big deal because I could now work in any medical facility in the country (except California who made you pass a state exam in addition).  Without the certification, I was just a lab tech doing more simplified tasks.  With the certification, I was working in a teaching hospital, eventually instructing interns in clinical enzymology.

After a ten-year career, I left work to start my family.  Nine years later I started back to college to get an MBA in finance and business economics.  I graduated and added MBA, and BGS (Beta Gamma Sigma is the Business School equivalent of Phi Beta Kappa).

Once in the municipal and financial field, initials seemed to rule the day.  Everyone wanted to be a 'certified' something.  Of course, we all have heard of CPAs, who must have a Bachelor's degree in accounting, experience in public or governmental accounting, and pass a state exam.  They also must continue their professional education each year in order to maintain their license.

The Association of Finance Professionals offers a CCM and CTP, both of which require rigorous examinations and continuing education.  The Government Finance Officers offer a CPFO, requiring a degree, experience, and five exams.  The Association of Government Accountants offers a CGFM, requiring a degree, experience, exams and continuing education (I have the CGFM).  The Association of Public Treasurers (APT) offers a CPFA that does not require a degree or an exam. 

Let me make it clear that I do have a gripe with the APT.  My MBA was worth five points, the same number of points I received if I went to one of their annual conferences.  Huh?  Also, when I applied, they initially refused to honor my 40 hours of study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the Advanced Government Finance Institute.  I appealed and accused them of only wanting my money for attending their events and not being concerned with my knowledge.  I won the certification.  Big deal.

My point of this rant is that sometimes initials are just that.  The MRS degree of the 50's basically said you were a stay-at-home mom.  Don't get me wrong.  My years at home were just as rigorous, if not more so, as my years at work.  But the 'degree' only required a marriage license. 

In our quest to put initials after our name in the finance profession, we have varying degrees of qualifications to get there.  If it is nothing more than being around a long time and showing up when need be, then all of us seniors should all put the initials CLS after our name.  That's Certified Life Survivor, unless you have a better suggestion.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Technology

When I set off for Europe in 1969, I was going to be gone for a full three months.  Since I was always going to be moving, I gave my friends and family my itinerary with addresses where they could send mail for pick-up.  So it was that I arrived in Madrid three weeks into my trip to find out that my sister was engaged.  Several weeks later, in Vienna, Austria, my friend and I learned of her father's death, which had occurred two weeks earlier.  The 'instant' information age was so far into our future we were not even imagining it.

Thirty years later on a cruise ship in the Caribbean Ocean I kept in contact with my staff via email.  And the next year, armed with a shared phone card number, my staff and I communicated with voice mails between West Bloomfield and Melbourne, Australia.  The VMs were as a result of a one-day and 14 hour time difference.

Now, everything is instantaneous.  When I couldn't reach my oldest son on his cell phone, I sent an email.  Within seemingly minutes, he replied that he did not know why his cell did not go to VM, but that he was in Hong Kong on his way to Thailand and would call later.  I wished him well and said we would talk when he was back stateside.

A month later, trying to call him again, he picked up while on a train outside London, England.  And last weekend when I sent an email to another son regarding my holiday barbecue (a last minute idea), he immediately replied that he was camping in Kentucky.

As much as this amazes me, I cannot imagine what my grandparents would think.  These immigrants who sent letters, clothes and money back to the 'old country' and patiently waited for a reply could now keep in touch instantly.

We may not be the 'Jetsons', but we've come a long, long way since the 'Pony Express' delivered mail.