Do we have any secrets now?

what ifThe thing is, if i wrote down what i was really thinking i would get in trouble.  Well not trouble but it might  cause a stir.  Don’t get me wrong it is nothing untoward or vulgar, but it could affect my future.  But then again that could be a good thing, couldn’t it?  At least then it would all be out in the open.

I can relate to the late Steve Job’s quote – “I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would i want to do what i am about to do today?”  “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.”

So what have i got to lose?  It’s okay for him as when writing that quote, he was a billionaire and had no worries at all, really.  But what is life about, going with the flow or taking the occasional risk?  I like the thought of risk, but with a bit of calculation behind.

So the trouble with the internet is that if you really expressed yourself, it may go public and get into the wrong hands.  Or maybe the right hands?  It could have been the best thing you have done.  Oh and for the record i am not ‘coming out’.  It might have the opposite affect to what you were originally thinking and therefore the outcome may have been nothing to worry about after all.

It would seem that nowadays we have to ‘like’ something or comment on something all over the web, this then enables the ‘liked’ subject to spread, whether it is good or bad.  It may be good for the originator of the subject as they now have it spread over the world, even though it may be bad.  The liked subject also returns a response to the originator who can then flood you with more subjects.

We have friends and followers, many of them we don’t know, but then they know people who know us.  I don’t think there is an ‘unlike’ button.  There is a ‘block button’ so that you can share without certain people seeing.  But isn’t that just being weak, the problem we have is that blocked people have friends too that may know your friends and they could share what you are sharing and had planned for them not to see.

So why don’t i share my ‘pretend’ thoughts that i am not worried about people seeing and as a test and see how quick the word spreads.  Or is that just wrong and a waste of time?

Or should i just share what i am really thinking and wait for the reaction?  But then hold on why do i want to share this on the web, when i can just speak to the people it will affect, you know speak face to face.  Then if it goes to plan, i may share it with you.

“It would be great if after all this the outcome was what i wanted”, said the author…

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The push button sign industry

It is amazing how the industry and partners have changed over the years, one of my other blogs explains this in a lot more detail.  That aside it is interesting though nowadays how signs are perceived to be made from print and therefore quick to make; if only.

Yes of course visuals are created using various software and without these tools i wonder where we would be as these are a fantastic selling tool.  They are also a losing tool if a potential client takes your visual to someone else and places an order with them.  Only the sharper companies would charge for visuals, and we have all learnt by our mistakes.

This blog also relates to the ‘appreciation of a sign’ blog i did, where although it is on paper, just remember the work that goes into creating the sign from that visual.  Nowadays because digital printers are taking over the sign industry, there is an assumption that the rest of the process is as quick.  Yes we can print in shifts overnight but paint and glue still needs to dry.

We have all embraced the possibilities of printing, but for some of us old school, this does take the skill out of the trade.  I remember well when we used to apply vinyl lettering and hand-cut logos to a sign using a scale drawing.  Telling people about this process really does surprise people when they hear how long things took.  Recently i showed and explained how we used to make flex face sign skins and there were a lot of raised eyebrows especially after i mentioned eradicating pre-coated material using vinyl masks!

Recently it hit me when a print job went wrong and it was decided to quickly just print another and then another…


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My dog with God

Hearts skipped a beat at the sight of her, she was beautiful and just what we were looking for. Her parents were in good shape too and her human family where nice and wanted to make sure she was going to be looked after. So we took her home.

It was a long drive but we could all see she was just perfect. She wandered around the lounge and to our amazement went to her new bed and that was it, her safe place. Not old enough to be on her own for that long, over the coming weeks we shared our commitment by coming home at lunchtime to let her out. This time passed and she soon enjoyed the wait as she knew it would be worth the meet again.

We enjoyed many long walks discovering new places that we had never seen before and were amazed one day when she found a dead rabbit and then performed a burial. It was instinct at its very best, something we had never seen before and truly amazing.

One holiday she ran off thinking she was in heaven with all the animals about, the only way she came back was when she heard us talking to someone else’s dog, then jealousy set in, quick as a flash she returned.

Great times where had on day trips to Wittering in the camper, she travelled well and slept just like the kids did, especially after a day of running about. She was also just as sandy. She was a tease though as could run faster than most dogs and played on that and wore them out.

A the end of any day, she would show her loyalty by curling up on the sofa next to us. When we lived with her by the sea, she loved the beach walks but never really swam, she just dipped her toes in to cool off when running. She did watch other dogs fully submerge though, I would have loved to know what she was thinking.

Her railway walks were a real adventure, she would disappear up the bank and through the brambles and fields looking for a chase, then coming back for human reassurance. We spent many a time plucking all the thorns out of her when she got home.

It was never a chore to walk her, whatever time of day or night. She helped me solve problems, she listened and never answered back, she cleared my head and gave me direction and focus through difficult times.

Then one sunny day she never came back, she was in heaven before she got there, she was in her chasing mode and was going to get that rabbit no matter what, but sadly never did. With the terrible news we all cried from deep within, our loyal friend and soulmate was gone, never to return.

Time has healed our hearts, but not fully. God Bless you Jessie, we will always love you.


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I didn’t know you did that…

exclamation markBusy busy busy is the general description of offices nowadays. Phones ringing, people talking and the continuous tap tap tap of emails destined to get to the client seconds after they landed in your inbox.  Processing of orders, communicating with clients, printing and generally making things happen to meet the clients somewhat unreasonable (but not all the time) deadline.

So a new enquiry comes in.  You email the details to your supplier, obtain prices, generate the quotation and sent to your client.  You receive the order from your client, so you complete all the paperwork, place the order, process the order, deal with any issues that arise send and receive the emails to generally service the client.

You raise the dispatch sheet and sent the order out, unfortunately on this order, the specification was not suitable and there were many issues and delays.  These problems have caused problems from your client and the relationship you had built.  The dispatch sheet is returned so you collate all the paperwork and invoice the client.  Job done, or is it?

Your line manager calls you in for a chat the next day.  Unknown to you he had received a phone call from the client  saying how disappointed they were……

So how could this process be made easier.  The answer is simple, talk, ask, question, shout, cry.  By doing any of these things you will spread the load and halve the problem, if it actually is a problem.  You may have just supplied a product that the person next to you recently supplied and knew all about the problems as they had experienced them before.

It’s all about communication, yes emails do work but do they have the same effect as talking, at least when you speak to someone they have your attention and will give the answer there and then if possible.  If something is emailed then it might be looked at when the sender wants or more that likely when the recipient wants; later and then may get mixed up with other works less important.

Recently a colleague asked me about a project they were involved in and wanted to involve others.  I suggested to them not to email but to go and talk with the office, just for 10 minutes to get their full attention.  My colleague didn’t take my advice and emailed instead, now none of them are involved as they didn’t read/understand the email.

Communication by speaking also brings a group together and creates a more involved team. Instructions by email might be read but is the importance of the content understood?

It’s good to talk as you can get much more out of people than you realise.

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The Power of Good

So just why is it i well up and hold back a tear while watching some tv programmes? And why, when there is a standing ovation and real visible appreciation of something or someones achievement is emotion related to this.  Is it that these people are experiencing ‘good’? I have to be honest when i watch some of these xfactor type programmes and I see someone do really well, i do feel emotion and sometimes even at the ripe old age of 43 just could have a good cry.  Is this just me or do others feel the same way? Or even watching DIY SOS and seeing how people are feeling when they see what people have done for them and what a difference it makes to their lives brings out emotion in people.

So what is good? I was once told that God is all that is good, is this right?  If so then what and who is bad as some people have enjoyment from doing bad things and that makes them feel good. So are these goods related, after all enjoyment is a good thing, yes? If God is all that is good how do we decide and what do we do about the bad good that is in this world? Do we just ignore this and continue to spread the real good and hope this slowly out performs the bad, i think we should, do you agree?

So how is good made and what training is there to give this good out to people without the good being bad? Perhaps we just show real appreciation when someone does something kind and make a fuss; they do say that a child that is criticised will learn to condemn, so perhaps this is something that has to start early in life.

On the other end of the scale there is a lot of bad in the world of which people think is good, shootings, murder etc.  Perhaps this is all these people know and have never experienced the real good.  Would they change if they did?

A while back there was a website called ARK, this stood for ‘act of random kindness’ and was a site where you could tell the world what kind of random kind thing you have done. There was an example where 2 guys in a McDonald’s drive-thru also paid for the person’s food that were behind them, even though they didn’t know them, this gesture repeated itself a couple of times with the cars behind.  Good doesn’t have to cost, just  opening a door for someone or letting a car out when it is exiting a junction is a gesture that many people appreciate and is very simple.

So i think we should spread the good, by just doing good and even if we make a few people think, they in turn could make other see good and it goes on and one day we could change the world.

Why not try to perform a good gesture each day and see what reaction you get from people.

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The appreciation of a sign

Nowadays we have so much at our fingertips that we are completely spoilt. I truly believe that a lot of new people entering the industry may think that it has always been this way and that we have always had routers, font finders, colour matching systems, rolls rollers and digital printers, just to name but a few. If only this was the case.

I refer to recently when on twitter someone was asking what the name of a particular font was. I had a look and after a few moments i remembered back to my sign writing days and recognised the font as Modern No20. Then i thought i wonder how many other people could recognise fonts. Different when in the design industry as you are using them to create the design. But in the sign industry nowadays you see them every day, but do you know what they are. In fact with the speed of works going through on a daily basis, do people really care?

I remember in the late 80’s looking back through a letraset book to find a font, sometimes this would take an hour or more just so we could then draw it up, by hand of course or but in some letraset and enlarge with an epidiascope. After speaking with some colleagues, not quite as old as me the other day, we said that it would be interesting if you demonstrated how signs used to have lettering applied. Not going back to signwriting but applying vinyl lettering using a scaled drawing that was done off the vinyl machine software or off the clients artwork using a scaled ruler or working out the factor. I am sure they would be amazed at how long this would take compared to applying a digital print with a rolls roller.

So that also made me think of how we make signs, flat panels easy, if you have the appropriate wall saw or flatbed saw. I do remember cutting many a foamex panel by hand and have the scars to prove this. But again with the introduction of routers for cutting letters and shapes and now the amazing and extremely fast cutting tables, this enables extremely quick turnaround of products with excellent edge finishes.

3 dimensional signs have also come on with the introduction of automatic letter builders for  3 dimensional letters, Applelec purchased one last year this eliminates the use of bending and shaping the letter by hand and therefore enabling a quicker turnaround. Again over the years i have seen how this has been done by hand and appreciate the skill involved. Don’t get me wrong many companies still make them this way successfully and may not even entertain the automated option.

So it is all about appreciation, there are some companies that aren’t lucky enough to have such modern technology and some that wouldn’t even go near it. They are just happy with what they have as it works for them and has done for years.

Next time you make a sign, take a moment to think about what the sign means to you, means to the client and more importantly what went in to making the sign as it could have taken 30 minutes or 30 hours depending on how you made it and what skills and technology was used.

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Savour the moment (lo and behold)

Bringing up 3 children is not easy task, especially for my dear wife who is on school holidays at the moment. “Just you wait till your Dad gets home” i can almost hear her say while i type this in my lunch hour.

Approaching 42 i quite easily forget what it was like to be a teenager but am reminded by my dear Mother from time to time. I remember the good times yes, but not the hell i probably put her through in between; so if she ever reads this then i apologise Mother and ask you for forgiveness. I do know how easy it is to argue with a teenager as they think they know it all and although they may be cleverer (and taller!) they are certainly not wiser and lack the life skills that parents pick up along the way.

So when lying on the trampoline the other weekend soaking up the sun and distancing myself from the noise i was soon joined by my 13 year old son, my 8 year old son and lo and behold my 16 year old son also joined us. Drifting in and out of consciousness i felt myself relaxing and soon enough we were all chatting and laughing out loud (LOL in teenage talk!)

My 16 year old was telling me about a rope swing he had found and explained where it was and then asked if we could all go and have a look. So without thinking further i jumped at the chance, if for any other reason than to maintain this level of calm and loving relationship we were all experiencing.

We arrived at the site and were all amazed at the ropeswing and the surroundings, it was the sort of place i would have spent all of my school holidays when i was a child. I would have probably also made my Mother late for work by not coming home in time. Ditto the forgiveness request.

Being 41 and more times than other the child of the group, i couldnt wait to have a go and remembered a swing from my youth that went around and across a river; oh what fun that was, especially pinching golf balls from the golf course close by; but thats an other story. Still i had to wait my turn, not only as i was the only adult there but also to see just how dangerous it was. My children had become guinea pigs without realising.

Slightly apprehensive even after watching my 3 boys i gave it a go and laughed out loud (LOL) at what i was doing as it had been years since i’d been this young. Of course my 16 year old being the age he is and always pushing the boundaries was encouraging me to be even more extreme. However age took its toll on me and held back and watched the other 3, with my heart missing a beat every time the 8 year old went 15ft in the air.

Then i realised something was missing. Nobody was arguing and everyone was having fun, even i was forgetting about the everyday issues life dishes out. So after an hour exploring the other rope swings and beyond we came home and the boys couldnt wait to tell their Mum.

I know it is tough being a 16 year old as there are so many things to contend with and arguing and fighting with your parents seem to be high on the agenda. But for me sitting in the parent seat, when the opportunity comes round to have some real quality time then go for it as your children won’t be children for long. Now Mother where have i heard this before..

Thank you God for my beautiful family; the times we have had and the times to come.

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