Background Noise

It’s a fairly long drive from Western Washington and down the Columbia River Gorge east through Eastern Oregon and into Idaho but the window of time (mid-summer before full-fledged fire season) was right so away we went on the nine-hour drive though the both beautiful and scenically diverse country to the final destination of Council, Idaho, about two hours or so north of Boise.

The cost of gasoline may be high, but it’s done little to change the driving habits at least on those freeways. We drive at 70 mph on most the interstates, and were passed repeatedly by vehicles of all makes and sizes, once again finding that Toyota Prius’ being recognizable mostly from the back as they went blowing by me. The cost of political correctness comes with considerable doses of smug hypocrisy, as they passed at well over 80 most of the time, a touching reminder that political elitism remains a citadel build primarily of image rather than substance.

The scenic Columbia River Gorge has been enhanced the past few years by the arrival of wind turbines which dot the both sides of the gorge in clusters, certainly a good choice as the area is windy most of the year. The towers are a few hundred feet high and massive structures that support both the generators and forces that drive the three-propeller rotor blades, all erected with government subsides, and subsidized even when they are not generating power (we kid you not). Certainly the “green” energy these highly visible towers produce have generated a good cash stream to the early adopters, recognizing a steady cash cow when they see it.

Perhaps the unintended most exciting part of the east-side trip was the stretch between Council, Idaho and Joseph, Oregon, which presented two options, going over the highway, or taking a route that shaved nearly three hours off of driving time. Those I talked with noted the route through Hell’s Canyon saved a lot of time, and with the GPS route in hand that looked good to me so away we went.

The drive was indeed as scenic as one could imagine dropping from roughly 4,000 feet down into Hell’s Canyon on Hwy. 71, and crossing the bridge over the Snake River into Oregon onto the Oxbow Highway. We had never been to Hells Canyon, and the GPS did ask if I minded being on gravel roads, not really an issue here, thus when pavement gave way to gravel was not a surprise on the six miles or so down the Snake until we took a left turn into the mountains on the Oregon side of the canyon where the gravel vanished but a recently traveled trail about 1 1/2 lanes wide appeared, and we began to climb. If you’ve used a GPS you soon realize every so often they will lead you down a real goat trail of a route. But we trudged on, in spite of this and continued climbing, no signs, no traffic, no gravel, just a trail. Faith is a wonderful thing. For the next several miles we continued the lengthy climb with sharp switch-backs, not really unusual in a forest setting, but a bit unnerving when you’re on essentially bare ground and climbing 4,000 ft. on the other side of Hell’s Canyon. As we labored away on the route the thought came to mind I should track down whomever was connected with TomTom GPS manufacturing that sent me on this perilous path and beat them senseless, but at doing an average of 10-15 mph and continuing to climb I was ever vigilant for where the Trailblazer could be turned around if (or when) we finally encountered the gate or sheer drop to oblivion that would end this route. Fortunately we finally reached the top, the trail was still there, and ultimately led into the Wallowa-Whitman forest and onto Joesph.

Knowing what we’ve learned, I’m less than certain this was the best of choices, but it made for an interesting trip. I’m very grateful I didn’t have to back down the trail on the Oregon side of Hell’s Canyon.

Staying on track

One of the great challenges we face living at this point in time is sifting through the enormous amount of information thrown at us each day, what we also refer to as “background noise.” Information is critical in any job, any competitive situation, and life in general: the more you know is to your advantage. In today’s world the issue is not collecting information as much as filtering the information available to you.
All too frequently the inexperienced hand can be overwhelmed with the sheer volume of information overload coming their way, not only from TV, radio, and newspaper, but emails, web sites, mail, assaulting us at every turn. The real skills comes not from gathering information but sifting through the background noise, making judgments on what is worthwhile and what is not relevant, and maintaining focus on the task at hand.

All too frequently the glitz and glitter approach is alluring, stealing time and taking one off course. Time and experience teaches you to recognize what is of value and provides rewards by seeking efficiencies and staying on the task at hand.

In the real world, performance is what counts, and that counts not only in business but in those things associated with business, that includes the political world we no longer can afford to ignore.

Especially with national politics effect on our industry we need to be mindful that performance counts far more than bluster, although the national media, who exist in a fantasyland of glitz and glitter are easily distracted and more drawn to glitz, glitter, and the promise of the illusive “free lunch” than literal performance.

On a measure of sheer performance, the current administration is an ongoing disaster, whose goal is to talk about anything BUT performance, and not remotely interested in talking about the economy they’ve been meddling with and mucking up now approaching four years. The pending shift in taxes alone, if allowed to stand, will not help the economy either, short of more fully funding an already bloated bureaucracy and further stifling private enterprise.

All things considered, this administration proves time and time again through their own record they have no grasp whatsoever of business, or of private enterprise, beyond the scope of labor unions, period.

The election is about past, and future performance, and an economy that makes progress, in spite of the uncertainty this administration demonstrates time and time again a desire to maintain. The talk is about more jobs, the policies are about stifling business. Words have meaning, and this president’s words must be understood not by what is said but what has been done.

The other side of the coin, the Republican side has its own challenge in defining a message rather than the media’s heavily slanted point of view.

All this is being thrown at us with a huge amount of background noise, and clutter, encouraging people to be lose focus on the issue at hand: performance, past, present and most important... the future.

Regardless of who we elect, we will survive. The difference will help define our children’s future as one of deep indebtedness, run over by larger government, and the constant promise of a free lunch as the bait, or one that believes in what has built our country as the economic wonder of the world.

Strangely enough I saw a news clip the other night with the President campaigning where he asked (we paraphrase) the crowd, “Do we want to go back to the past or get on with the future?” Frankly, full employment, low inflation, honoring the Constitution and following all the laws (rather than ignoring those portions you disagree with), and removing the 37 Obama appointed Czars (never confirmed by congress in any way), would be a step back to the future we could all live with.