Life in the West

Photo break

Time for a Friday photo break. Regular programming will resume soon.

Effective communications with Congress (and others)

I've recently been doing some letter writing. Though I'm still far behind on my emails and correspondence with friends there are some issues that require the attention of our elected officials and government agencies. As a part of this process looking at how to be most effective has been important. Fortunately the Congressional Management Foundation has done research on this very topic and can help show us how to make letters more effective.

A few points jump out immediately:

  • Personalized letters have more impact than form letters
  • Shorter is better
  • Grassroots groups can gain from understanding the process

None of these should be barriers. It is far better to write a long windy letter than none at all. While understanding the process and getting the timing right is great perfect timing doesn't do anything if the message isn't delivered.

Curbing the mob mentality

Small town meetings can be a tough place to be. Often issues are of great concern to those in the room and since whatever the topic it has a greater impact on each resident of a small town tempers flare. Even when they do not flare so visibly there is all too often a kill the messenger mentality. We take leave of our senses, manners and all that we know about being professional and accomplished only to berate someone who has come to address the town. Frequently we do this in the name of speaking truth to power. In the long view it looks far more like lining up with a shotgun and taking aim at one's own foot - I can tell you it will hurt but can't stop you from pulling the trigger.

So what do we do to prevent this? One of the biggest things would be to come with a written list of questions one intends to ask. If others ask the questions then cross them off the list. If new ideas come out of the conversation then write them down and ask them.

Long weekend

This was a long weekend. Simple fact about even minor accidents: It doesn't matter how nice or sorry the very polite person who rear-ends you is, the amount of work to get the damage repaired is still a major pain and takes hours and days away from your coming weeks. Fortunately the injuries appear to be minor but it is a hassle and a major addition to a schedule that was already over capacity.

Las Vegas gets negative press

The magazine Fast Company has a list in their July issue of fast cities around the globe. "We scoured the globe in search of placed that best embody economic innovation and opportunity. We found creative-class meccas, R&D hot spots, even cities so fast they're scary. Is your hometown on the list?" says the table of contents page. Unfortunately for the people of Nevada the magazine hits the nail on the head in calling Las Vegas a too fast city and suggests that Vegas is "An environmental pileup in the making. Can the casinos find enough water to fill all those pools?"

It's 11 AM do you know where your thermometer is?

Summer is definitely upon the southwest. Not quite 11 AM and the thermometer is already crawling past the 100-degree mark. Some will hit eject to get to a cooler place. There seem, however, to be plenty of people who are happy with the heat. Phoenix, described earlier this year as a place where"the heat is intolerable in the summer, and the city has no defining cultural tradition or obvious reason for existence" just bumped off the city of brotherly love as the 5th largest city in the country. They must sell a lot of real estate in January when it's only 90-degrees outside.


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