The shrimp boats don’t go out as much

While we have made lots of advances in being able to grow seafood in ponds, some of us think seafood from the sea still tastes the best.

The trouble is that catching seafood from the sea has gotten very expensive.  With diesel fuel near five dollars per gallon this past summer, some boats had to change the way that they operated.

One boat that I know ended up staying closer to the early summer shrimp grounds, and then having the shrimp trucked back to their market.

When the catches are small it does not make sense to run the boats.  With prices under pressure from imported shrimp and fuel costs through the roof, it has been a challenge for our area shrimpers this year.

If you throw in a little bad weather and fluctuating demand from roadside customers who have stayed home because of high gas prices, you can start to imagine how hard it is to keep shrimping in these times.

it comes as no surprise that a few times this summer, fresh shrimp were unavailable.  I wonder if this will perhaps open a window of opportunity for smaller shrimp boats that don’t have to catch as many to be profitable.  It will be interesting to watch.

All I can say is that “Friends don’t let friends eat imported shrimp.”  I would rather have fewer shrimp but better ones, so I will stick to local NC shrimp which make the best appetizer ever.

The operating system lock

Fall on the coastSometimes our technology decisions keep us on a certain path that is hard to leave.

Most of the world uses Microsoft operating systems.

There are some significant minorities out there.

That would include those using Linux and Apple’s OS X along with those who don’t use technology at all.

So I wonder how does going down one operating system path impact the rest of your life.

I once penned a post, The liberal Mac and the conservative PC. In the post I guessed that people who bought PCs bought them for a specific task while Mac users purchased their computers for what they might do.

I think there are very few PC people who fall in love with their computers. There are a number of Mac users who find computing close to a religious experience.

I recently bought a PC for a specific use, to handle the real estate forms that I need in my career as a real estate agent.

I don’t feel any different from buying a PC except maybe I am very happy to have some a significant chunk of change.

Admittedly this isn’t my first PC, I have a Dell desktop that I bought three years ago, and on which I ran Linux off of one hard drive while running Windows XP on the main drive.

I don’t get too excited about computers since they are everywhere.

I do wonder if never having left your operating system is something akin to never having left your hometown or traveled overseas.

If you haven’t enjoyed the agony of viruses or the ecstasy of a Steve Jobs keynote is your life somehow incomplete?

Does that operating system lock prevent one from seeing the big picture. There are plenty of people who have used multiple operating systems, do we occupy a special space as the gurus who which path someone should follow?

Actually, I think a case could be made that operating systems are so similar today and so much happens in the world of Google, including their applications, that there is very little difference in the capabilities of computers or their users.

The information glut

Just right beachThere is something interesting that can happen if you write a lot on the web on specific topics.

You can end up being your own expert. That’s fine in theory but has some problems if you want to expand your knowledge.

Sometimes the web can be a crude tool when you used for search. Most books aren’t on the web, and we end up being reciprocal experts.

I provide you with information for the area you’re interested in, and you provide what I am looking for today.

We can do little more than hope that each of us is doing a good job. Considering it is hard enough to get anyone to proof your free writing for spelling errors, I seriously doubt that we will have much luck finding folks with the time to start checking for accuracy.

I hope we can keep ourselves from one hundred percent reliance on the web.

The reality is  that much of the web information is never validated. We have more information than we could ever hope to grasp, yet much of it means little.  We should be careful what we believe.

Maybe one of these days all those old encyclopedias will be worth something, or we will get some web sources that we can count on for accuracy.

The fine art of ignoring a phone call

Raymond's GutThere are places that phone calls should be ignored. This quiet spot near the White Oak River is one of them.

There are lots of other places also where phones are out of place. No one likes a phone in a restaurant, or at meal in your home.

We all fear the cellphone-using driver of a car when we see one making a turn or talking on the phone in heavy traffic.

Considering there isn’t a big difference in immediately taking a call and calling back when you are in safes spot, you wonder why taking or making the call now is so important. Even responding to the voice mail as quickly as possible is pefectly acceptable to most folks.

Some people have to catch the call at all costs, some let it mellow as a voicemail before responding, and then there is the group that doesn’t want to do either.

As technology has given us more tools to be connected, it has also given us more tools to choose the person with whom we might want to have a conversation.

I’m not sure that is good, but it is probably no different than hiding behind your secretary in the old days.

I take pride in returning my phone calls. Some I don’t want to make, but years of experience have taught me that it is better to get involved early in problems and to take the hits up front than to let trouble build.

It is strange though to see some of the Blackberry toting executives of today be just as disconnected from the real world as their predecessors in the sixties who relied on dragon-tongued secretaries.

We’re almost taking communications intravenously, yet some folks seem to be allergic to it.

Reinventing business knowledge

Roanoke Valley Before SunriseThe last four years since I left Apple’s sales team have been interesting.

I have worked for a couple of other technology related companies.

One was full of youngsters who were determined to learn everything the hard way.

I have also done technology consulting, writing, photography, and I am now a Realtor® on the Southern Outer Banks of North Carolina.

I ended up in real estate mostly because you can work a lot on your own, and there are plenty of older people already working in real estate. Still now is not an easy time to be in real estate.

I find myself at 58 years old more skilled than ever. I feel more knowledgeable than at any time in the past. I know more about technology than when I worked at Apple. I have learned Linux and Windows along with ultra high speed networking for research labs. I also sold email services.

With real estate, I went back to the classroom, and now I understand settlement statements and a host of other things.

I have written an article for pay for the Guardian newspaper in London. I have consulted on a couple of articles for the WSJ. I have even written well over 1,500 posts on the Internet.

I have sold prints as far away as Texas. My travel guides for Emerald Isle, Swansboro, and Beaufort, NC, all towns along the Southern Outer Banks, are highly ranked in Google search.

My websites get very good reviews, and in the last month four potential buyers from out of state have shown up to look at property. In today’s real estate market that is a near miracle.

The websites I create for my listings have everything from podcasts to movies. I have listed property and sold property.

The other day, I had some customers ready to give up on our area. I completely turned them around in a few minutes.

A lot of years in the trenches has taught me leadership and of necessity sales.

I think that I am pretty close to the top of my game, but in our world which increasingly values youth over experience, I find myself wondering why it is so hard to find a place to be really successful. You would think up and coming companies would want to suck my brain and those of others like me dry before they put us out to pasture.

Yet I have learned from experience that most companies would rather learn the hard way than listen to the experiences of others.

It is almost like we have created a class of individuals who are so sure they are right, that the only way they can learn is when they really screw up.

It is a hard way to do business, but it is becoming the American way as much of the talent and business knowledge retires. It is especially difficult for good customers.

Few companies have cultivated a strong relationship with more experienced employees. In high tech companies have been pushing older employees out the doors for years and replacing them with less expensive young employees who get no knowledge transfer from the older employees. The best new employees are sometimes the ones who can put on the best appearance of pretending to know what they are doing.

It seems to be the new mantra is don’t worry about not knowing how to do your job. We have plenty of customers for you to practice on over the next few years while you are figuring it out. It might be a way to save some dollars in the short term, but it is a foolish way to keep your business humming.

I guess it is good thing I have little at stake in these businesses. I can stick to my own business.

And in that there is always the satisfaction of mastering my new field and doing my job really well.

A box that we don’t understand

Gabrielle SunsetI once wrote a post, Our technological infirmity. It has the same title as I have chosen for this blog.

The post worries about all the great technology that we have which often no longer works without increasingly scarce expert help.

We might have more expert help to solve our problems, but we have decided we want that help for free or built into the cost of the products.

The products of course have become so inexpensive that the companies cannot afford to support them. Many companies assume there are so many customers they can afford to lose a few disgruntled ones.

Here in this blog, I am worried about something far worse. It hit me yesterday as I was waiting out Gabrielle on North Carolina’s Southern Outer Banks. Our information has become even cheaper and possibly less reliable than our Chinese built products.

We have many people who have become so dependent on the views and experiences of others that they cannot tell the truth from hype or fiction. They have lost those skills. Technology might have contributed to their demise. On top of that we have no accountability for those publish shoddy information or lead people down the garden path with their rosy scenarios.

As the Weather Channel was trying to wish Gabrielle into a hurricane I had to smile at the Mayor of North Topsail beach as he ended his TV career by saying that the high water the reporter was trying to hype was no worse than what the area sees after a good thunderstorm. Yet people depend on this garbage.

It is not just television that fails to deliver accurate pictures of what is happening. Much of the print media cannot get it straight either. Add in reliance on a few experts who have little inclination to share their professional evaluations, and we have a soup of misinformation.

Then there is the whole world of advertising. No one seems to care when products don’t match the hyped advertising.

Our local paper had the Monday headline “Carteret get light rains, wind from storm.” Gabrielle had passed through on Sunday afternoon. It was gone by 7 pm. Perhaps some would excuse the paper because they had to publish early, but it appears to me they published a story that was written before the story was over.

At four pm yesterday, which we can at least hope was after this story was written, the skies opened and Carteret County got much more rain than even our weather experts were calling for in their late Sunday forecasts which went something like this.

…the rainfall total wasn’t expected to exceed one inch in Carteret County.

As I was reading that online, water was flooding down my driveway. We ended up with an additional one and one half inches of rain to bring our total to two inches which pales in comparison to Morehead City which got over three inches and Beaufort which got almost 8 inches.

We have become so accustomed to being entertained or even excited by our news that we have created a vicious circle of having to get news that meets that criteria of entertainment even if it is off the mark on credibility.

We have become consumers of headlines without really pondering the details below the headline.

Our local paper also had a headline today, “Whale shot with machine gun, harpoon off the coast of Washington state, survives.”

Unfortunately the first line of the story under the headline was the following.

A California gray whale that was harpooned and shot with a machine gun off the western tip of Washington state has died, officials said.

I guess the revised headline made for a better story than the real story. That’s not too different from the Weather Channel trying to make North Topsail Beach’s ongoing erosion problem a result of Gabrielle which wasn’t even as strong as the nor’easter we had last spring.

I don’t know where to put the weathermen who send us forecasts which are debunked by looking into our driveway. Weather is hard to forecast, but surely someone can tell when eight inches of rain is on the way. It would be nice if our news was as easy to verify as our local weather reports.

The only technology required for that verification is standing on your porch and looking. A computer doesn’t have to be involved at all. I can trust my eyes and my senses. I am glad they still work.