Author Archives: Rick Ladd

About Rick Ladd

Born in 1947, I was an officially retired pensioner, but in January of 2015 I returned to work as a contractor at Aerojet Rocketdyne. I remain intensely interested in, and fascinated by, Systems Thinking, Knowledge Management, Decision Intelligence, and Business in general. I am also conversant in such concepts as innovation and ideation, collaborative tools and strategies, crowd sourcing, and the use of social media to accomplish goals ranging from improving business processes to promoting small retail businesses. While "retired" I did a little bit of freelancing as an editor/proofreader, as well as some technical writing. There's lots more where that came from. Need some help? Perhaps another set of eyes? Contact me. The first one's free! ;0)

Please Forgive My Selfish Indulgence

I was just going through some of my PowerPoint files, looking for one very specific file in which I’ve gathered many of the great, useful graphics (like this) Dion Hinchcliffe has created over the years. As I was searching I came across a program I put together for my mother’s funeral, which will have been eleven years ago this coming March 5.

Annette Ladd

My mother at about 18 years old. This is one of the pics I used for her funeral program

Maybe I’m just an emotional pushover, but the realization she’s been gone over a decade, that my father has been gone for over thirty years, and lots of people my age are dropping had me feeling pretty melancholy right now. I wept, but I’m not sure why. I don’t generally feel sorry for myself, but I think I was lamenting something we all go through; the loss of our childhood, our innocence, our loved ones.

Actually, the feeling is both bothersome and cathartic. I’ve always felt being in touch with one’s emotions — and giving vent to them on occasion — is both healthy and empowering, but I must confess to feeling a bit guilty expressing them in public like this. Nevertheless, it’s one of the reasons I have this blog. I’ll get over it.


I Swear I Was Stone Cold Straight

I had one of those timeless moments this evening. I was on my way to pick up my vehicle, which needed some work due to a safety recall. The Honda dealership was kind enough to provide me with a creature comfort-laden Nissan Pathfinder, which I happily drove to work from the Enterprise office, and was to return to the Honda dealer, where I was headed, on the way home.

I had just exited California 118 (the Ronald Reagan freeway) at 1st Street in Simi, turning south to the dealership about a quarter mile away. As I was crossing over the freeway, the light was red and I was stopped at the apex of the arched overpass. The entire perimeter of the sky was filled with soft pink clouds, and there was a long golden streamer of cloud radiating eastward, driven by the last rays of the setting Sun. As I looked from west to east, the clouds and the edges of the sky faded from a bright to a soft pastel pink.

In the sky to the east hung an almost full Moon, its glow softened by a thin layer of clouds, and to the West a long, steady stream of vehicles moved steadily toward their destinations, their headlights forming a brilliant necklace of light. I wanted to take a picture, but a panorama would have taken time I didn’t think I had. I looked through hundreds of pink sunset pictures I googled, hoping to find something at least evocative, but nothing felt right, so I have nothing but my memory . . . and the experience.

The whole moment lasted about 10 seconds, but it was extraordinarily beautiful and felt timeless. It wasn’t all that different from some other similar experiences; after all, it was just a sunset, the Moon (yawn), and moderate freeway traffic, yet it felt eternal (for a moment :) ). Weird, huh?


Dying Ain’t What it Used to be.

Funny how one reacts at the news of the deaths of famous and beloved people. David Bowie was less than five months older than me. Natalie Cole about two and a half years younger.

I don’t think I’m overly obsessed (is that from the Department of Redundancy Department?) with death, but anyone who reads this blog knows I do think of it. I believe I’m driven to contemplate it by two major factors in my life: my father’s untimely death at a couple months shy of his 60th birthday, and; my becoming a first-time adoptive father at 55 and again at 59.

Since I’ve long passed the age at which the old man died, I believe the “sword” hanging over my head is related to my desire to be around long enough to get to know both my daughters when they’re adults. My oldest will be 15 this year and she’s not terribly interested in anything I have to say, and I’m anxiously awaiting the 12-year-old’s descent into madness.

Pile on top of that the numerous ways in which my body is aging, changing, and falling apart, and I hope to hang on for at least another decade before shedding this mortal coil and rejoining the great quantum field from whence we’ve all emerged. Also, the changes in technology and society that are taking place right now have me wishing I could live another hundred years or so — just to see what happens!

I’m well aware the ultimate trajectory of my existence is mostly out of my control . . . and I’m fine with that. I’m quite certain when it’s my time I’ll be ready if it takes a while and I’m aware of the end’s approach, or there won’t be any me to worry about it. I just don’t want my kids to lose their third father before their twentieth birthdays. They deserve better.


The Tyranny of a Job Title

I was just reminded that I once left Rocketdyne, when it was a part of Rockwell international, because they wouldn’t approve a class I needed. The reason they gave was that it “wasn’t related to my job description.”

I dont know about others, but i suspect many people have similar experiences, where what they were actually doing had little to do with their title or job description.

It wasn’t a trivial thing, either, as I needed the class for a Master’s program I had started and my budget would not allow me to shoulder the burden of tuition I was led to believe would be covered by the company.

It also wasn’t the last time the same kind of thing happened. Knowing the ways of bureacracy, I fully expect it will happen again. I consider it evidence of a distinct inability to think on the part of certain people in large organizations.


With My Thumb Up My . . .

Experimenting with some short form blogging. 
I’m sitting in a conference room where I was supposed to meet with a couple finance people to go over our integrated master schedule. Nobody is here except me.

It’s kind of nice not having to deal with anybody, and I log onto my computer at my desk, but it’s just not the same and I’m bored.

Now I’ve moved into another conference room and it looks like I’m gonna be doing the same thing. At least I’m being taken out to lunch today, by one of the very people who’s supposed to be here right now. He will hear about this.


Celebrating Over a Decade of Blogging

Haven’t had the time – or the inclination – to address it, but this past Tuesday marked my eight year anniversary as a blogger on WordPress. Since I had been blogging at The Cranky Curmudgeon on Blogger since July of 2004 prior to moving over here, I guess that means I’ve been blogging for over eleven and a half years.

While I’ve always attempted to be somewhat relevant, I’ve never even considered being commercial, which should be quite evident given the rank amateur effort I’ve stood up. I know WP tacks on advertisements to my blog, though that might have gone away now that I’ve purchased their premium pack. I never saw them, so I’m not sure if they’re still there or not.

At any rate, I begin my 70th orbit around the Sun a little later this year. I’m hopeful I’ve got at least another decade of blogging to do; maybe even some seriously focused writing as well. We’ll see how that goes.


Back In The Saddle Again

Well, here it is Monday, January 4 and, after a week and a half of “vacation” it’s time to return to work. After nearly five years of retirement, which included a few different client engagements during that time, it became painfully obvious to me I need structure to really make the most of whatever it is I’m doing.

Returning to my “alma mater” – Rocketdyne – has been a blessing, though there are times (like this morning) when I don’t quite feel up to it. It’s given me the need to regiment myself and structured my time in a way I find useful and even enjoyable.

The holidays were, as always, reasonably enjoyable. Seeing and spending time with family is always special. Some of my cousins I only see once a year. However, returning to the routine that has lost me nearly 15 pounds in the last six months and strengthened my body and increased my stamina considerably, is a good thing.

OK – I’m done, cleaned up, presentable, lunch packed, and my new backpack is ready and rarin’ to go. I’m off. Here’s to a great year. Actually, I’ll be happy for a decent week.


Had No Idea I’m In Biotech

Wrong Way

Smart Marketing Technique?

The other day I received a huge catalog in the mail. As one who routinely has thrown printed Yellow Pages, or other directories, into the recycle bin immediately upon receipt, I was curious why this had come my way. It was addressed to me and the company I spent a couple of years dabbling in, Rick Ladd & Associates. I’m guessing they purchased a mailing list, most likely from the Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce.

It’s clear they did nothing to vet the list, as I don’t think I could be much further away from biotechnology, and have absolutely no need for any of their products, which are legion.

What’s a bit remarkable to me is the sheer size of the offering and the appearance they used a scattergun approach to market their products (did I mention they’re legion?). To help you appreciate its size the index, which is over 90 pages in length, begins on page one thousand. That’s 1-0-0-0. A thousand pages of biotech products, not one of which I can imagine I need, let alone understand how or why they’re used!!

I’m not in any way suggesting anything they offer is useless; after all, biotechnology is really changing our lives in many ways. What I am saying is that I, in every “professional” category I have engaged in, see no intersection with these products. They are almost unintelligible to me.

Oh, I understand the relevance of many of the disciplines or categories the catalog addresses, e.g. Molecular Biology, Immunology, Cell Biology, and Biochemicals, but the individual products are mostly a mystery to me and I have no intention of becoming conversant in their station in the universe, save for what I need to make my point here.

I must reiterate. I can understand the general relevance of a product such as “Goat Affinity Purified Antibody to Mouse Transferrin” or “MeOSuc-Pro-Ala-Ala-Pro-Pro-paranitroanilide”. I’ve even learned what Apoptosis is, for which I’m glad. Yet I have no use for these products; it’s not what I do. Why on Earth would they spend this much on producing a catalog and sending it to a person/business where it will be immediately (well, almost immediately) discarded? Maybe it’s worth it, but there wouldn’t be bankruptcies if everyone always did the right thing.

Perhaps I don’t understand marketing all that well.

PS – It also came with an 86 page price list in six different currencies (USD, EUR, GBP, YEN, INR, RMB) all of which are apparently good for 2016 – 2018! That’s an amazing length of time to be able to hold so many prices stable. It is printed in a font size for which I would need an eye transplant to be able to read comfortably.


Donald Trump Stoops to a New Low

In an interesting bit of twisted logic, Donald Trump believes the reporter he recently mocked, Serge Kovaleski, who suffers from a musculoskeletal disorder that affects the use of his arms, owes him an apology for accusing him of lying about seeing “thousands and thousands” of American Muslims in New Jersey cheering as the Trade Towers came down.

Mr. Trump, and who knows how many millions of supporters, seem to think he can be an effective leader of the United States and what we euphemistically refer to as the “free world” when, in fact, he would likely be a tin-pot dictator whose election would seal the coffin on the Constitution and whatever residual respect we may have with the international community.

He has, single-handedly, resurrected the term “Fascist Pig” and given it life it hasn’t seen since the Vietnam War. We should all be thankful he’s seen fit to clearly demonstrate his unfitness to represent more than a small slice of the diverse population of the United States of America. The last thing this country needs is a cowardly, narcissistic bully who thinks the world revolves around him.

via Donald Trump Demands Disabled Reporter He Mocked APOLOGIZE To Him «.


Talking To Myself . . . Almost

Lately, I’ve been trying to use my iPhone’s voice recognition capabilities while in my car on the way to work. With the latest upgrade to iOS – I’m at 9.1 – you can now talk to your phone if it’s plugged into power, and I always plug mine into my car charger. All you have to do is say “Hey, Siri” and (most times) you’ll get a tone letting you know she’s listening. You can request music, ask for directions, record notes, tweets, and even Facebook posts. I mostly use it for playing music and recording thoughts I would never be able to remember or write down without pulling over to the side of the road. Although I have been known to do that, I don’t have to anymore. It’s not perfect, but it’s far and away a safer and easy-to-use method of remembering some things.

So, today I recorded a note on my way in. The only drawback is you have to speak fairly continuously. As soon as you pause for more than a couple of seconds, at most, Siri ends the task and reads the note back to you. I managed to make it through the thought I had with relative ease – my memory really ain’t what it used to be – and the playback was accurate enough to know I would be able to understand what I was thinking when I recorded it. As many of us are painfully aware, being able to understand what you were thinking when you were thinking of it later on when you read what you wrote about what you were thinking back then, is important to the efficacy of the effort.

On a whim, I said “Hey, Siri” and, upon hearing the familiar tone, “Thank you.” After a moment’s pause, she responded (in her Aussie accent) “You’re welcome.” Her tone was so upbeat it caused me to wonder if they don’t actually have the phrase recorded, or programmed, in several different intonations. I know we’re a long ways away from anything approaching sentient AI, but it was still oddly comforting, as well as a little weird . . . both the exchange and the reality I bothered to do it in the first place.


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