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New Dates for PIE 2021 

We are fortunate to have been able to nudge the Parking Industry Exhibition forward in time and move the dates to May 17-19. This will give us the opportunity to prepare for an even bigger and better event and give the country a bit more time to come down from a Covid-19 high.

We met last week and solidified the major plans, including an Italian carnival, Three days of seminars, and meet and greets going on everywhere. Keep tuned for some major announcements as the PIE team keeps its mojo and announces something you have never seen before at a live event.

The exhibit hall is 80% sold so if you are hankering to actually see someone in person and tell you story, go to pieshow.parkingtoday.com and sign up. Oh, and registration for attendees is open, too.

Naturally, we will have the highest safety standards dealing with masks and social distancing for all the events.

See you in May.

JVH

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Triggers

Is it possible that words or phrases we use have exactly the opposite effect on the reader that we intended? One that comes to mind and we find included in almost every message, letter, or other communication we receive is “Be Safe.” This seemingly innocuous phrase, well meaning and well intended, can trigger concerns in one.

I’m told that our primeval brain reacts to certain terms. Let’s say you are walking through the jungle and someone comes up to you and says “be safe.” Is not a possible reaction “why”, is there something I need to ‘be safe’ from?

The term is a constant reminder that something horrible is lurking over my shoulder. I need to be cognizant of that and “be safe.” Is it necessary to tell someone walking through the jungle filled with savage beasts the necessity of “being safe?” Don’t I already know that? Does one not get a little tired of hearing the phrase over and over and over.

When Sgt. Esterhaus on Hill Street Blues ended every briefing with “Let’s Be Careful Out There” he knew he was sending his policemen and women into danger. Every time. He needed to remind them that the world was a dangerous place and they were going right into ground zero of that danger. He was reminding them to use their skills and training to keep out of situations that could be dangerous, even fatal.

But does the average person on the street need a constant reminder of just what is lurking around each corner. Do they need to have their ‘fight or flight’ response triggered every time they meet someone or receive a letter or message? I think that we feel we are expressing concern with “be safe” and probably are, but can it be overdone.

Can the very words we use, like ‘be safe’ have the exact opposite effect we want them to? I believe that the use of the term is in most cases well meaning. But does it, even subliminally, add to the stress of the day? I get a message telling me about the birth of a baby, and it ends with “be safe.” Do I really need that trigger at that time? For a few moments I’m happy hearing about a blessed event, then drawn back into the terrors of daily life.

JVH

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Uncertain Times

Astrid’s piece this morning over at Parknews.biz reminds us that there have never been ‘certain times.’ She writes:

Every slogan lately includes the words indicating “uncertain times.”  But what has ever been certain in life?  The only certainty is with death and taxes.  Never before though, there has been uncertainty associated with living and life.  Until now.  Until a bunch of certain of their paycheck government officials, are indifferent to us in our desire to earn a living. It is time to wake up and drive, move, park and act.  It is now or we will never wake up from our contagious malaise.

I commend the entire piece to you – read it in her ‘in between’ section at parknews.biz. It’s titled MOVE, DRIVE, PARK ACT – DON’T GIVE UP.

She’s right, of course. We always live with uncertainty. However the difference now is that our betters have decided to add their spice to our lives and take away our power to act like grownups. One of the things that makes uncertainty tolerable is that we can make decisions about it, we can move, act, drive, as we want to do and we can affect the future, each of us in our own way.

If our so called leaders take away that ability to act, and our media jumps on board and becomes their propaganda machine, uncertainty becomes a behemoth, rolling over us and pushing until we are trapped in malaise.

Mayors and governors, cowards that they are, must be seen to “ACT.” They have to “do something, anything, to seem to be in charge.” There seems to be no scientific proof that closing restaurants and businesses does any good in lowering the spread of the virus. In fact, it seems that in doing so, it increases the possibility of folks having large gatherings at home and that increases the possibility of infection. There are study after study that shows that keeping schools open has no, zero, zip affect on spreading of the virus. This is particularly true of those in elementary school. But we have to be shown that action is being taken.

In the mean time, government officials with guaranteed paychecks, are arbitrarily and capriciously closing this, locking down that, allowing political events, but closing outdoor dining, allowing movies to be made with outdoor dining at every location, but closing the restaurant outdoor dining a few feet away.

Here’s what I suggest. Effective immediately, all elected government officials, mayors, city council members, assembly and state senate members, governors and their immediate staffs, will have their salaries cut to zero. Let their lives become as uncertain as the rest of us.

So there.

JVH

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Teams…Are they the best or the worst?

There used to be two teams in every workplace: management and labor. Now there’s a third team, the linchpins. These people invent, lead (regardless of title), connect others, make things happen, and create order out of chaos. They figure out what to do when there’s no rule book. They delight and challenge their customers and peers. They love their work, pour their best selves into it, and turn each day into a kind of art…Seth Godin in “Linchpin”

I wonder if all the stress we put on ‘teamwork’ and ‘team building’ we don’t fall into the category Godin talks about. Do we hold back because we don’t want to upset the team? Do we hide in the corner rather than be labeled “not a team player.”

It’s easy to be on a team, or work in a mine, or an assembly line. We do the same thing over and over. We don’t step on toes, we get positive strokes from leaders and teammates, blame is spread over the team so no one feels singled out.

If we don’t have “teams” each individual has the opportunity to work at their pace, to find the things that interest them, and yes, become the best at something. I wonder if the linchpins upon which Godin bases his book aren’t former team players who broke away from day to day boredom to excel on their own.

 “Every day I meet people who have so much to give but have been bullied enough or frightened enough to hold it back. It’s time to stop complying with the system and draw your own map. You have brilliance in you, your contribution is essential, and the art you create is precious. Only you can do it, and you must.”

How do we communicate to former factory workers, desk jockeys, miners, and others whose jobs are gone forever that now may not be the time to learn to ‘code?’ How do we involve them in the wonders of self expression and ideas that only come from within?

Could we rethink a hiring process? Could we looks for brilliance rather than experience? Could we look for contribution rather than someone who ‘fits in?’

Maybe we just don’t ask them the right questions.

JVH

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Malaise is more contagious than Covid

As some states begin another ‘lockdown’ I have been considering malaise. Its like a low grade fever. You have it, but its not bad enough to do anything about. But is it?

Malaise is horrible. You look outside and there is no traffic. You go to the corner and there are no people out walking or shopping or just having fun. Everyone is just ‘there.’ There is no excitement, no happiness, no sadness. It just blah.

It appears people are beginning to push back. Although the ‘lockdown’ went into effect again last night here in LA, I really see no difference. Traffic is a bit lighter, but not a lot. There are still people parking in my building. Airplanes are still landing at LAX. The newspaper articles quote “experts” (never a real person named) that the world is coming to a covid end, but frankly, I think people are struggling more with malaise and beginning to push back.

There are restaurant owners saying ‘screw you’ to the mayor and governor and opening their shops to eating in. People are demonstrating in front of the homes of the county supervisors. Shopkeepers are ignoring the demands of their betters and welcoming their customers. Its only a few, but more and more each day.

I think people are saying ‘no’ to malaise and demanding their lives back. They are seeing through the hypocrisy of mayors and governors who eat at fancy restaurants and in the next breath close all the restaurants in town. They are laughing at the civic leaders who tell us not to travel, on a zoom call from Mexico where they are vacationing. And don’t talk to me about masks – I see more and more people in cars, jogging, walking dogs, and playing in the park with no masks. Sure wear a mask at the supermarket or Costco, wear a mask when you are in crowded areas. But don’t insult my integrity demanding I wear a mask while jogging or riding a bicycle.

Law enforcement in counties around Los Angeles are telling their populace they are not enforcing lockdowns and closures; they have more important things to do. The rebelling against the malaise is growing. Mark my words.

Elie Wiesel wrote: “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”

As a colleague said:  Malaise is indifference enslaved.

JVH

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Good Enough is No Longer Good Enough

I received a missif from my son, the high school principal, today. I will edit the personal stuff. Here is the most interesting:

Leading a group of people through the pandemic experience (following rules, bending where we can, holding fast where we have too, and knowing that we are not doing our best work) has been tough. I also see it as an amazing opportunity for us to reshape a 150 year old institution.  I use the joke that my grandmother could walk into most high schools (including mine) and except for taking attendance (which is done electronically) she could start teaching and be fine.  While I do not ever want to throw the good out (Socratic seminars, case studies, etc.), it is crazy to me that how we teach has not fundamentally changed in the past 70 years.  This situation has provided us to look at everything we do because we do not have a choice and that good enough is no longer good enough.

I wonder…Just what are we trying to teach. By the time we are out of elementary school we should know how to read, write and cypher. Now what? We have two years of junior high, four years of high school, four years of college, what are we supposed to learn there?  History, Advanced Math, Physics, Languages, creative writing, business management, Art, music?

Are we attempting to find better ways to jam facts and knowledge into young brains? I’m sure that’s possible. Tiger moms and helicopter parents certainly succeed at doing so. The academic success of Asian children reflect the results of years of hard work, study, and memorization. It certainly can be done. But should it be?

How, Andy, do we teach our young how to think and to question?

Many of the greats in our history never graduated from, or in some cases even attended high school or college. Abraham Lincoln, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, my father…Just to name a few. Although your grandfather’s formal education stopped at the eleventh grade, he was one of the most educated, smartest, and wise people I have ever known. How can that be? He was inquisitive. He asked questions. He was a voracious reader. He excelled in whatever he did. His moral compass was spot on.

Your institution is unique. It has almost unlimited funding. Virtually all the students come from wealthy homes. They are without a doubt privileged. Virtually every single one goes on to higher education in the most elite colleges and universities. But are they smarter, better educated, or have they led more positive lives than Lincoln, Gates, Jobs, or your grandfather?

Perhaps you need to ask yourself for what are we preparing our young? Are we filling them with facts, as perceived by teachers? Or are we teaching them how to question and come up with their own answers? In today’s world, facts are easy to find, but are we exposing them to various concepts, and then letting them attack them, or are we simply telling them what to believe? Based on the baloney we see on social media, I would say that so far our grade is a “D” at best.

You have the hardest of jobs.  Good Luck

Dad

PS  You Grandmother would take about 30 seconds to master electronic attendance taking…

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Blind Spot

When I began this post I was thinking about the ‘Blind Spot’ of which every single driver should be aware. If you aren’t, you should have your license revoked. However in considering the title, I realized that we all have blind spots that go beyond just an area by your left elbow in which cars can hide unseen and be potentially fatal.

Do we get so locked into an ideology, or a philosophy, that we are unable to see the points of view of others. Do we have such a blind spot that we cannot see the proverbial forest for the trees?

For example. I woke up one morning to find a 50 year old broken down pickup truck parked in front of our house. It turned out to be owned by the brother of our neighbor across the street. I really like to have our street ‘looking nice’ and immediately put on my curmudgeon pants and went over to complain to my neighbor. I was rebuffed (free country, anyone can park where they want, etc) and went home fuming.

My blind spot was so dark that I couldn’t see that 1) the truck was only visiting, 2) what possible harm did it do, 3)  maybe it was the best the brother could afford, 4) didn’t I have more important things to worry about? I was simply being a neighborhood jerk. Sure enough, two weeks later the truck was gone. But I’m sure the bad taste still existed in my neighbor.

A classic example of a blind spot is political. Often we get so filled with anger and hatred about one topic or another that we let it color all our thinking. Any hint of graciousness or empathy disappears into the blind spot. Friendships are permanently destroyed, families are torn asunder, and to what end. Our blind spot has caused more pain that the one just outside the driver’s door.

Which brings me to the original topic, that blind spot the lurks just outside the coverage of all the mirrors on our car. A car can be sitting in it and you could be completely unaware.

I know you should shoulder check before changing lanes. But sometimes you don’t. I know you always keep yourself aware of all the cars surrounding you, or coming up on the right or left, that you are aware of the possibility of someone in your blind spot. But are you aware every time, all the time?

The idea for the post came the other day when I was watching a car sort of ‘hover’, at 70 MPH, in another car’s blind spot. This went on for a couple of minutes.  It would have taken no effort for the hovering driver to slow or speed up a tad and get out of the blind spot. What was that person thinking?

He was putting himself and the other driver at risk. Sure, the other driver would have been at fault, but why put that vehicle and yours in such a situation? Its legal, it’s a free country, you can drive where you want. But is it the right thing to do?

Just Sayin

JVH

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Sometimes Its Hard to be Thankful

Looking back on 2020 its hard to be thankful. We are faced with a pandemic, economic disruption, a chaotic political scene, the most destructive riots in history, natural disasters, a governing class seemingly unwilling to take the needs and feelings of the electorate into account when decision making, a media caught up in ideology rather than even handed reporting, and the rest.

We have lost the ability to win or lose with grace. The pressures of lock downs and closures have cost us the ability to reason. We accept the decisions of our betters without question. Neighbors are turned against neighbors for no rational reason. How can we possibly be thankful?

Come on, Van Horn, don’t tell me it could be worse.  I’m almost afraid to list some of the good things that still exist. I don’t want to hex them.

Electricity and water still flow. There is plenty of gasoline for our cars, trucks, and planes. Planes are flying, and if you need to get somewhere, you can. Grocery stores are stocked and with a few minor exceptions caused by irrational fears, we even have toilet paper, although for some reason, I can’t say the same about formula 409.

We seem to have developed a vaccine for the virus, at ‘warp speed.’  At least three pharmaceutical companies have developed the drug and it should be available in the next couple of weeks. Total time to fruition, less than nine months.  This usually takes two to three years or more.

The vast majority of us (over 90%) have not gotten the virus, and won’t. And the vast majority of those who do, (well over 90%) will survive.

The economy is showing resilience, and my guess is that by mid year, the numbers will continue to climb, if we can just keep out of the way.

From the cartoons and pictures I see on line, we haven’t lost our sense of humor. We can still laugh at ourselves. And why not.

Here is my only fear: Our betters in government will do what they usually do and believe that for some reason the people who had the wisdom to elect them don’t have the wisdom to run their own lives. They will continue to micro manage and destroy the fervor and energy that is America. I leave you with the following:

Take a few moments this season to consider The Serenity Prayer written by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.

Happy Thanksgiving

JVH

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Don’t pay the Ransom, I’ve Escaped

I know, its been a while since I have blogged. We all get down a bit. But this past week has been an eyeopener for me.

I hadn’t been on an airplane for nine months. For most, that doesn’t seem unusual, but checking my calendar for 2019, I was averaging two to three plane flights a month. The Pandemic had put me on the ground.

I was reacting to news stories and empty parking lots at LAX. It seemed there was a paradigm shift going on in air travel. Everyone was talking about how it would never be the same.

I was forced to fly to Chicago in November. And let’s face it, I began the trip with some trepidation. Would I be checked for CV by TSA? Would there be temperature checks? How would flight attendants treat the passengers? Would I step off the plane having been infected with a deadly disease?

Well, guess what. None of that happened. With the exception that everyone was wearing masks, there was absolutely no difference flying in November than flying in March. Well except for the fact that the TSA, airport employees, and flight attendants seemed actually happy to see you.

At the security checkpoint in Chicago, the officer was actually joking with the passengers in line. He played with my passport, his eyes smiling behind his mask. It was a laugh when he asked me to lower my mask so he could make sure it was “me”. I had no clue what he was asking so he lowered his to show me.

The Plane was nearly full. There was one difference. There was no inflight service. You were given a baggy upon entering that contained a small bottle of water, a package of cookies, and a hand wipe. After the plane took off, I didn’t see a flight attendant again until we were on final at O’Hare. Frankly I didn’t miss them.

All the flights seemed to be full or nearly so, but the airport wasn’t full at all. In Chicago the restaurants and shops were open, those in LA not so much.

The flight was a pleasant experience. I commend air travel to you. Its time to get back out there, folks. Go for it.  I see that Thanksgiving travel is going strong, but not back to normal. I think that’s great. People are loosening up a bit. This is not a bad thing. We are beginning to overcome fear. And if we are to survive as a people, we must.

Hotels are a different story. Its spooky to stay in a hotel with only about 10% of the rooms taken. Someone said it reminded her of “The Shining.”

I went to Schaumburg, Illinois, to work on final plans for PIE 2021. I came away excited about hosting the first in person event in the industry in well over a year. It will be fantastic to see old friends and make new ones. We have some ideas that will fit in with the obvious restrictions, and you will love them.

We will reveal them to you over the next few months.

All you scolds, back off. I’m not downplaying the seriousness of the pandemic, but I do understand the social toll it has taken. We live lives interacting with other people and we must do that. We need to be careful, those of us of a “certain age” and those with preexisting conditions should take care, but the vast majority of us need to interact, we need to meet and greet, we need to see people and smile again.

I have mentioned before that restricting face to face meetings is anathema to one’s creative juices. This little two day trip made a huge difference in my outlook. The meetings at the hotel were face to face, across a table without masks. We could see the excitement in the facial expressions of our partners in PIE 2021. They told us stories about life in the pandemic and how they were coming out of it.

The folks behind the registration desks were friendly and chatty. We went to dinner, inside a restaurant, and were regaled by the restaurant owner with stories about having an open restaurant. The place was packed. But social distancing was maintained. Masks were in place except when eating. We talked about our families, school opening and closing, the trials in working from home and the excitement on returning to the office.

Yes, people want to return to the office. Don’t believe the stories about a permanent ‘zoom’ theory on the workplace. The people I met, some very high in the organization, were actually giddy about reopening the office. The vaccine was on everyone’s lips.

We need to put politics aside and thanks those who began “project warp speed” and got the vaccine moving. What normally would take years, took months. Were there mistakes. Sure. Someone equated the response to the pandemic to building a plane while you were flying it.

JVH

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People are just Tired, But Annie has it right!

Astrid pointed out this morning that as she walked to the post office yesterday, her neighborhood seemed subdued. There was no energy in her central city area. Traffic seemed down, the normal shops and stores were empty, it was like a Sunday on a Wednesday. And remember, this was ground zero for the riots earlier this year in Los Angeles.

I posited that maybe, after the election, people were just tired. You can be ‘up’ and ‘tense’ only so long. Its over, no matter who wins, and I think people are relieved, and want to just hide out and relax for a while.

Sure we still go to work and go through the motions, but we have had it with the pressure placed on us by Covid, by the election, by the constant bombardment by the media, by Antifa and mostly peaceful demonstrations,  by our fears and concerns, valid or not. Malaise has set in. One colleague mentioned to me that she just felt ‘icky’. Covid? She didn’t know, but she felt like she didn’t really care any more. She was just tired.

Tired of talking, tired to thinking about the next crisis, tired of worrying about this and that. People are just plain tired.

There is something to be said for malaise. Sometimes we need to just take some time and recover, and I commend you to it. Relax, turn off the news, watch a few episodes of Love Boat, and get some sleep.

As Annie sings: “The sun will come up tomorrow…Tomorrow, tomorrow I love ya tomorrow, You’re always day away …’

Meanwhile, this, from comedian Angelo Tsarouchas, is worth a read:

Early November is finally here. I have seen a lot of hate spewed in recent days about a man who is a constant winner and overachiever, and that’s what the people who support him like about him. Yes, he’s been caught in some lies and maybe twisted the truth a little but he’s still out there proving his haters wrong time after time. Some people are just jealous of someone who is successful and has money. Throw in a hot foreign underwear model at his side and they hate him even more. You may not have wanted him in his role, but he’s there now and there’s nothing you can do about it. I know it’s possibly just going to get worse over the next several days, but like him or not, Tom Brady is turning things around in Tampa.

JVH

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