Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Right Way to do Business vs the Wrong Way

The trucking company that Jean and Char own has been involved over the years with what are called Factor Companies. One of the problems with a trucking company is cash flow. When a load is hauled an invoice is sent to the broker or shipper and if you are fortunate you will be paid within 45 days of the invoice. If you have a large reserve, this is not a problem, but for small struggling outfits it can mean the end of your company. So, a group of folks with a big pot of money will buy your receipts from you for a percentage discount. The amount varies, often in line with the gross amount that you factor. The first factoring company that the ladies signed up with, on their banker's recommendation, were out and out thieves. They screwed the trucking company out of $14,000 over a period of a couple of years. Not an awful lot, but for a struggling company it meant the difference between a profit and a loss.

About a year ago they moved to a different company and the difference was as different as night and day. The new company's factor fee was less and it was easier to get your funds and make funds available for fuel for the trucks. But, after a year or so, they became harder to work with and their fees were a hardship on the truckers and the trucking company. So some searching led to the discovery of a new factoring company in a neighboring community. When the old factor company heard that we were leaving they refused to let us go by refusing to sign a release form and cutting us out of the web site we used to get funds, both actions a clear violation for our contract with them. We had to threaten a lawsuit before they honored the contract.

Today Jean and I went to see our new factor company and to sell our first loads to them. We handed the the invoice and they said, "If you can wait a bit we will have your check for you. While you are waiting you can join us for lunch." So we had lunch and walked out with a check. Their percentage is lower and the fees they charge for various services are also lower. Plus the truckers can sent their paper work directly to the Factor company and they are funded within a couple of hours. The process they use is much simpler and quicker than the others, so we feel we have found the right factoring company. They know how to treat their customers.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Onion Skin Players

Yesterday evening we had an outing with Char and Chuck and Chuck's aunt Char. We started with dinner at a Chinese Restaurant and finished at the Star Theater in Weiser, Idaho. The production was a Melodrama presented by the Onion Skin Players entitled "Ruckus at Cowboy U or Who's Hugh". It was an old fashioned Melodrama with boos for the villain, hisses for his female accomplice and cheers for the hero and sighs for his lady. The Onion Skin Players are a group of amateurs who have been putting on shows for 23 years. The shows are written by cast members and feature old songs for all to sing although the lyrics have been tweaked to fit the show. We had a fantastic time leaving at the end of the show hoarse from booing, hissing, cheering, sighing and singing.
The theater is a long narrow former movie theater built in the late teens of the past century. Art Deco design is everywhere especially the lighting sconces. They are probably worth a lot of money from a designer or collector.
The cast wanders among the crowd as they find their seats. I was met by a buxom dance hall girl who could not resist my bald head so she planted a kiss on the shiny dome of my head. A grand time was had by all. Yes, I washed it off when we got home.

Friday, March 13, 2009


Paul (my next door neighbor) and I took a little drive yesterday. We went south of town on the Dry Creek Road. The country out there is typical High Desert, sage and grasses and in late May or early June, wildflowers. I was curious about the condition of the road, much of it is just dirt with no gravel. In rainy weather it can get really greasy and we had a fair (for Eastern Oregon) amount of rain last weekend, so I wanted to see how muddy it was. Surprise! There was only one wet spot and it was easy to go around. It had been muddy you could see and feel the ruts made by the mudders. That's my name for those guys who have four wheel drive and see how much mud they can get on their trucks. It really messes up the road and it will stay that way until it gets graded, probably next Fall.

The hills are already greening up following the rain. Even though it has been cold at night it warms up to the 50's during the day, and that's enough to get the grasses growing. That is a serious sign of Spring. dry roads and green grass. But, I bought some bare root rose bushes last weekend and I'm not ready to put them in the ground. I'll wait until the nights are a little warmer.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Health Care

This morning while working on my elliptical glider I got to thinking of the fantastic things that have been developed in my lifetime. Our world has completely changed in the past 50 years. One of the areas that has changed probably more than any other is the area of health care.

We often complain about the cost of health care, and it is high, but think of the lives that have been saved. I went to summer school in 1965 at North Dakota State University in Fargo, ND. We had a futurist speak about what changes we might see in health care. He predicted that organ donations would become commonplace. In fact he foresaw organ banks filled with all sorts of organs including skin and bones as well as the vital organs so that when a body part was needed for a transplant it would be available from the organ bank. I believe that organ banks are now feasible except the rate of donation lags far behind medicine's ability to use them.

I have been the recipient of some of the life giving wonders of medicine at least twice. The first was when a cancerous tumor was found on my kidney with an MRI.
A few years later a cancerous polyp was found and removed in my colon with a colonoscope. In 1968 my dad died of colon cancer that wasn't discovered until it had invaded other organs.

I have been thinking about my fight against kidney cancer since it was 10 years ago that I was told I only had six months left to live because the cancer had metastisized. Modern medicine missed on that one and I'm glad. I attribute my recovery to prayer and a positive outlook which can sometimes trump medicine.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Bishop Elect Thew-Forrester

Kevin Thew-Forrester was elected the Bishop of Northern Michigan a week ago in a somewhat unusual manner. The search committee went through the process and narrowed the field to 5 finalists, 2 of whom had served together in the Diocese of Eastern Oregon. Both left the Diocese following the election of Bill Gregg as the new Bishop of Eastern Oregon. Both were active in what we called Mutual Ministry wherein the laity were enfranchised in worship teams using what were then called Canon 9 deacons and priests along with lay leaders in many of the positions formerly occupied by church rectors. This way of doing ministry was copied after Jim Kelsey's Green Country Ministry and his later work in Northern Michigan. The election of Bishop Gregg put a crimp in the ministry of all the baptized, partly I think, because he felt the lay people weren't well enough trained and especially so in the case of Canon 9 folks.

Kevin left soon after Bill's election and went to Northern Michigan to work with then Bishop Kelsey. To those of us who were familiar with both Jim and Kevin felt it was a match made in heaven. Bishop Kelsey's tragic death left a large void among those committed to Mutual Ministry and most of us felt that Kevin was the right person to fill that void. Consequently, it was no surprise that the Search Committee presented only one name for the election, Kevin Thew-Forrester. Those of us who followed the process thought the election was a normal, for Northern Michigan, thing to do.

We were surprised at the negative response to Kevin's election. I can only assume that folks outside the diocese felt that the election was rigged somehow by Kevin. In truth, the election was held to satisfy national canons. My impression is that the laity felt the election was done just the way they wanted and that Kevin was Jim's anointed one. The hew and cry has just about disappeared, so I'm hoping that the consent process will go smoothly.