Posted tagged ‘business’

Monday Smiles – Airborne Edition

November 16, 2015

image I am flyng again.  At the moment, the interactive map on the video screen at my seat tells me I am over Juarez, New Mexico.  I am bound to the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, hoping to catch a tight connection to Huntville AL for a two day business meeting.   It looks like I land in one terminal and depart from another, so I may have some running through the airport to do.  Truth:  at my age, it will be fast walking, especially with my computer bag over my shoulder.   I’m on the aisle in the 13th row, not First Class but not the worst seat on the plane either.  Most of the passengers are reading or playing whatever on their assorted electronic devices, which is good … no loud talkers.   The only annoyance is the very large guy in front of me who keeps shifting  in his seat and pushing against the backrest so hard that he almost spills my Diet Coke.  Me?  I’m writing and listening to my jazz playlist in shuffle mode … Keiko Matsui Walls of Akendora, at the moment.   The Captain just said, We are beginning our descent into Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.  Please return to your seats and be sure your seatbelts are fastened, which means 40 more minutes in the air.   He says there are storms in the area so the descent could be bumpy.

I used to travel once or twice a month and I liked being in touch with my professional community.  I enjoyed working on teams addressing real technical problems and I enjoyed giving presentations on our work. image These days, the work is still interesting but I don’t need to be a shaker and a mover anymore.  It makes my bones rattle and my joints hurt.  But here I am at 34,000 feet, listening to the music I love, posting on my blog.  I’ll text Muri when I land and hook up with my colleagues for the flight to Huntsville.   We’ll finally get to see what our customer thinks of our work.  If I had my druthers, I would be at home.   As my wife Muri and I have grown older, we like to be in shouting distance of each other, not that we do much shouting.  We do occasionally text each other from or respective enclaves, hers the love seat in our bedroom and me in my recliner downstairs.  Yes, I’d rather be doing that.  But for a couple days I can pretend to move and shake like I used to.  I can even smile about it.  It is, after all, Monday.

Monday Smiles – 11/2/2015

November 2, 2015

A generalist is someone who learns less and less about more and more until he knows absolutely nothing about everything.  A specialist learns less and less about more and more until he knows absolutely everything about nothing – Unknown

ABFI like to think I walk the middle ground between knowing nothing about everything and everything about nothing but in my  vocation, I am definitely a specialist.  Starting out in what was already a specialized field, electrical engineering, almost 20 years of higher education has narrowed my field until it is likely that most people wouldn’t understand my resume.  Adaptive beamforming.  LMS noise cancellation.  Eigenvalue analysis. See?  But almost fifty years experience in those corners of the world make me valuable to others who use such things in their business.   Some years ago, when business with my company was slow, I registered with an expert placement company.  The company maintains a database of resumes across a wide range of fields on line.  Professionals needing the support of specialists they don’t need often enough to employ full time can find the professional support they need by searching the database using online tools.   The work is usually very interesting but it brings a degree of pressure with in that clients expect an expert to provide innovative solutions in a relatively short time.  I’ve supported attorneys in patent cases, evaluated products for potential buyers and applied some of the techniques I’ve learned in military systems to commercial products. (more…)

Monday Smiles – 6/15/2015

June 15, 2015

TECFOCUSAs 2014 was drawing to a close, the only job our company had was coming to an end.  It was awarded under the Small Business Administration’s Small Business Innovative Research program.  These contracts are reserved for small research companies, giving them an opportunity to compete for government contracts that address critical need of the various agencies.   The initial contracts are quite small, with only enough funding to show that a solution to a problem might work.   Based on the work done in this Phase 1, a few companies are awarded Phase 2, which brings enough funding for up to two years.   About one in ten companies go on to Phase 2, and sufficient time has passed that we had pretty much decided we weren’t one of them.  It was OK … my business partner (who is my age) had talked about fully retiring anyway. (more…)

Dr. Doctor

April 19, 2015

diplomaEven if you have been stopping by Older Eyes – Bud’s Blog for a very long time, I doubt that you would know that Older Eyes is Dr. Eyes.  He’s a doctor.  I don’t talk about it much, on my blog or in my life.  It is a title I use only in business, and even then, I prefer to be called Frank once a client is aware of my credentials.   However, I do use my title when making travel and restaurant reservations because I get somewhat better service that way.   Of course, there’s often the question, What kind of doctor are you?  … then a slight disappointment, a sense that I’ve somehow deceived when I say, I have a PhD in electrical engineering.   The academically aware may even say something like, Oh, Piled Higher and Deeper, huh?   Occasionally, someone will ask, What does a doctor in electrical engineering do?    Oh, I developpogo advanced algorithms for the extraction of weak signals in noise, is usually a conversation killer.  My ego is fine with that.  Earning my doctorate was one of the most interesting experiences of my life, one in which I learned the true meaning of Pogo’s declaration that We have met the enemy and he is us. The degree has opened professional doors and if it gives me some extra respect until people find out I’m not a neurosurgeon, that’s just frosting. (more…)


May 22, 2014

bid no bidMy day started today at almost nine a.m., something that would have been inconceivable only a few years ago.   Three days of grandkids and one of Disneyland left me pleasurably exhausted and last night I went to bed early (for me) and slept as well as I’ve slept in months.   At ten o’clock, I had a conference call with three associates to decide whether or not to bid a job that’s similar to some other work we’ve done.  We have been making these bid-no bid decisions together for so long that the process is familiar if exhausting.  Usually one of us is most positive about the prospect of bidding, and he puts forth his notion of what the proposal might look like.   It is important to ask Why Us? … what parts of the job fit our expertise and why would the customer want to choose us?   This job was what I would call a reach … we have some expertise in the area, but no experience.   As the call went on, our positions shifted.  We took turns offering new approaches to the proposal or arguing against them.  After an hour, the conference line went silent … it was a place we’d reached many times.  With no one as a proponent for bidding, we decided, no bid.   I always feel a mix of relief and disappointment when we no-bid a job … writing proposals has always been one of my strengths, but even when they go well, they are draining. (more…)

Monday Smiles – 4/28/2014

April 28, 2014

toastedSometimes, we smile because we’re happy.  Sometimes we smile because we’re cheerful.  Cheerful is very different than happy, don’t you agree?  We can be miserable on the inside and still reflect willingness and good humor (Mirram Webster’s definition).  Are you old enough, by the way, to remember Good Humor Ice Cream trucks?  Toasted almond ice cream bars … to die for.  Or smile about.   There is 12-Step saying:  If I can’t be happy, I will at least be cheerful, a sort of acting as if that makes everyone one around us happier and surprisingly often, lifts our own spirits, too.  Then there is the smile of relief, a wan sort of affair that will never be mistaken for cheerfulness.   Stand at the finish line of a marathon, not when the winners speed in but about two and a half hours later when Mr. and Mrs. Everyman stagger in … you’ll get to what I’m talking about.  So, it’s two in the afternoon and I’m wearing one of those smiles as I post the latest Monday Smiles ever.   Nope.  I didn’t run a marathon … these days, rigor mortis would be more likely than smiles if I did that.  No, this was a mental marathon requiring not so much brilliance as ingenuity and patience.  Yes, bullheadness, too. (more…)


April 5, 2014

taxes1When this posts … at least if you are one of the first few readers of the day … I will be in my accountant’s office going through the paperwork he needs to do my 2013 taxes.  Bob has been my accountant since I formed my own consulting company back in 1999 and paying quarterly estimated taxes brought the possibility of the IRS’s punitive underpayment penalties.  Bob is an excellent accountant … he’s saved my britches on several occasions when peculiar situations turned up in my tax records and he’s advised me well on business tax matters … and he’s a very nice man.  None-the-less, the week leading up to my meeting with him is my least favorite times of the year because with my income varying from year to year, I’m always uncertain how much I’ll owe.  No, I won’t be getting any money back … I’m not in the business of giving Uncle Sam no-interest loans.  I pay the amount that Bob tells me will avoid penalties and nothing more. (more…)

Monday Smiles – 3/17/2014

March 17, 2014

Mondays have a terrible reputation … just Google hate Mondays then click on images and you’ll see.  But chances are, you already know that from personal experience.


And Monday mornings, as the nexus between the freedom of the weekend and the responsibilities of the workplace, are even more hated.  According to the U.K.’s Daily Mail, More than half of us will spend the day complaining, particularly in the morning and One in three people said they hated Monday more than any other day of the week.  Some of the most common reasons include dreading the working week ahead, over-indulging over the weekend or having a mountain of emails to catch up with.  I’ve been lucky, I suppose. (more…)

Keeping Secrets

June 8, 2013

ideaBack in April, I posted Trolls, which talked about Patent Trolls, companies that buy up patents not to build new and innovative products but to sue other innovative companies, seeking lucrative settlements.  The costs of patent litigation has become so high that in most cases, companies settle rater than fighting the Trolls in court.   For large companies,  this an economic expense and a nuisance.  For small businesses, it can spell ruin.  The patent system, which was designed to encourage innovation by protecting proprietary developments, is doing exactly the opposite.  Of course, there are other drawbacks to using patents to protect secrets.  For one, a patent application includes a complete disclosure of the innovation being patented and is made public as soon as the patent is granted.   The secrets are protected from use by others by law for the duration of the patent, twenty years from the date the application was filed for so-called utility patents.  Of course, exercising the patent rights against other companies and defending them against challengers usually requires litigation.  And at the end of the patent term, anyone can use the information disclosed in the patent. (more…)


April 13, 2013

imagesDo you know that there are real Trolls living in the United States?  No, they are not hiding under bridges, frightening children on their way to school.  And although someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as a forum, chat room, or blog, is often termed an Internet Troll, they are actually rodents of the species, Dontus Havalifus.  No, I’m talking about Patent TrollsPatent Trolls are companies whose only means of income is the aggressive litigation for patent infringement in hopes of receiving lucrative settlements from companies that actually produce something.  Technology companies often settle out of court because of the prohibitive cost of patent litigation (approximately $2.5M if the case goes to trial) and the risk of a negative verdict, particularly if the case goes to jury trial.  Patent Trolls have no intention of ever using the patents they own, which are often purchased from companies going through bankruptcy proceedings.  You’re probably wondering, Why should I care?   You should care because Patent Trolls are stifling innovation in this country, which threatens our ability to compete in the world economy. Small companies are particularly affected because litigation is not an option due to cost.   Recently, a small company owned by a friend won a job under the Small Business Administration’s Small Business Innovative Research Program.  Within one day of the announcement, my friend received a call from a Patent Troll telling him that whatever they came up with would violate a patent the Troll held. (more…)