Monday, October 3, 2016

A Leprchaun made me do it!

I have not written for a long time.  But today I thought I would let you know I am still alive and kicking.  First of all I feel great; a long hot summer seems to have finely ended.  I have accomplished a lot this year, most importantly making up to my wife for 19 years without a vacation.  Settle back folks let me have a minutes of your time.

Last December Eloise and I celebrated our 50th Wedding Anniversary.  As a proper husband I did the husbandly thing and took her down to the jewelry store to pick out a new diamond ring.  Every wife wants a new ring right.  I had even done some research and knew there was a ring there she would love.  I certainly wanted to buy one for her, we had after all picked out her engagement ring together, and I thought it would be nice to do this together.   Thinking in purely male terms I thought this would be an easy way to make her happy.   How could I have a problem?  You would have thought I had learned a thing or two in fifty years.  First off she was not real thrilled with the idea of getting a new ring.  She seemed have an unreasonable attachment to the one she had.  But she did look if for no other reason than to make me happy.  As it turns out I was right, she did like the ring I thought she would like.  But before I could stop her she asked, how much?

After a short silence that could be measured in milliseconds, she announced loudly, “If I wanted to spend that much money I would buy a new horse!”  The next silence went on for a long time; to me it seemed like hours, I was crushed.  I sulked for weeks.  We went home without a new diamond.

But I never give up.  I was going to do something special for my wife.  After all she is special.  She has put up with me for 50 years.    So I spent a lot of time thinking about things my wife would love and I could afford.  Afford is big part of this story.  After I had settled on a few ideas, I had to figure out which one she would accept without saying no.  My ego was already bruised enough.  Did I ever tell you my wife has a bit of the Irish in her, red hair, temper and everything that goes with it?  Oh, yes, one more thing at 70 years old she is still riding a 16+ hand horse and jumping over low fences.  In my mind the final touch is she had always said she wanted to ride a horse in Ireland.  Now I have a new plan, what could go wrong?

Back to the internet to find a horsey trip in Ireland.  It really did not take that long there are lots of choices.  I found a week long ride across County Claire from Shannon to the Cliffs of Moher.  And it was affordable, included lodging and meals.  Then I found out if you want to go to Ireland after the middle of June not only did the trip go up but so did the airline tickets.  My affordable trip was getting very expensive very quick.  Back to the drawing board, I soon concluded it was go early or don’t go. 

So I was stuck, we were going to be gone when the calves were due to be born and the first cutting of hay should be on the ground, but that was the deal.   Bite the bullet and commit to the middle of May.  So I printed off the trip and hid the cost on the first set of sheets I took home.   The conversation started something like this “We are going on vacation and you are not going to say no.” The answer was pretty simple “Maybe”.  So I hand her the sheets and Eloise studied them for a few minutes and says “OK”.  She did not ask how much?

So we start writing checks for deposits and CC charges for airline tickets.  Then we decide since we would not spend a lot of time together the week she rode, we should add days to travel around Ireland after her ride.  Then we added days to visit relatives in England and to see Scotland.  It turns out that a 6 day ride in Ireland takes three weeks.

The Diamond would have been less expensive.  Now we have time to stop at least a half dozen thing on our combined bucket list.

To answer a few obvious questions and to short this tale, Ireland is as green as they say it is.  I am not sure how they hide dead leaves.  It is possible to drive safely on the wrong side of the road.  Not forgetting is a different problem. Always stay on the road under the green is a rock wall or a bog.  Always buy no deductible insurance on the rental car.  Guinness is better in Ireland, but not as good as an average IPA.  Personal opinion you do not have to agree.  The people are very friendly and helped every time I got lost.  The Irish and Americans do not speak the same dialect of English.  If you lose a hearing aid in a lake you will never see it again.  If you want to hold costs down on your trip to Ireland do not visit the Waterford Crystal Factory, the Belleek Pottery Factory or shops that sell wool clothing.  Everyone ships to America without charging tax on your purchase.  The trip to Blarney Castle is worth the trip to see people lay on their backs four stories above the ground and kiss a stone.  I do not like heights, I did not kiss it.

Now Eloise wants to go back because I got to see things she did not see.  The answer was pretty simple no.  Next time we buy a diamond!

And I still have a least a year before she will get mad at me again.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Thoughts on Millennials and Corporate Memory

Thoughts on Millennials and Corporate Memory

I must be getting really old and cranky.  I can remember way back in the 60’s, my mind has not failed yet.  I was in college and we were told as a caring society we should stop cutting down trees and we should become a paperless society.  In fact, once, during an interview with a catalog company I told them we would have to start looking for an alternative to paper catalogs.  As stupid as that was, I still got the job, they obviously saw something I did not know was there.  But here it is 2016, the world for me is a strange and different place and I still like to pick up a letter, the newspaper, or a book and read it.  Part of the time I do use a Nook. There is something so comfortable about paper with words that you hold in your hands.  Humans have been writing on things for a long time.  Cave men wrote on stone walls and we can try to understand them today.

Tom Curry was the best mentor I ever had.  He and I used to go to lunch almost every day and he would talk casually about his experiences in business and tell me how he had done things to solve problems.  I learned a lot of things without ever knowing I was learning them. I learned about how people and things worked, how customers reacted to various stimuli and what made them upset and most importantly what not to do.  Of course I asked a lot of questions and discussed a lot of my plans.  Tom almost never said no, but he would dig a story up from his past and talk about it until I understood that my plans were not the best new thing on the block.  Not all my plans were bad, some were dropped, some even worked, but they were all made better because they were touched by Corporate Memory.

I have made mistakes in the past.  The worst ones were the ones I refused to admit.   You cannot hide from a mistake.  Almost always things can be made better by admitting an error in judgment, correcting course and moving on.  You can actually gain a certain degree of respect from the admission.

I guess what I am trying to say is I am not a Millennial; I did not grow up with a phone, tablet and computer appendages.  I think book stores and libraries are wonderful places.   I would rather play cards with my friends than my computer. There are more people like me in the quilting industry than there are Millennials.  I contact my customers with catalogs and emails so I am changing.  Most of the time an email lasts for a few seconds and a catalog lasts until it is destroyed.  There may be a time when our society becomes paperless.  It is not today or tomorrow, and I doubt seriously it will be in my lifetime.  I was wrong back in the 60’s. 

If you are new in our industry you should find your Corporate Memory and learn from it.

I never consider it a mistake or moving backward to give my customers what they want, because they always reward me for the consideration.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Quilts of Valor article in On Track

Last May Machine Quilting Showcase allowed us to present Quilts to veterans as the final part of the Quilter's Rule Tool Challenge.  For those of you who do not receive ON TRACK as a part of you membership to International Machine Quilting Association; or were unable to be at the first MQS show in Cedar Rapids, this is you opportunity to see the action.  You can read the article "Quilts of Valor at MQS" by Kathy Eubanks by following the link below:

As many of you know we lost a home for the Quilter's Rule Tool Challenge when we shut down the Machine Quilting Today Show in favor of the Machine Quilting Showcase in Cedar Rapids, IA.  Patricia, Devlin and I were so happy when Machine Quilters Showcase allowed Quilter's Rule to enter a partnership with them to provide a home for the Quilter's Rule Tool Challenge. 

Supporting veterans and for me especially the Vietnam War veterans is a special opportunity to see how men and women are affected when they are given a quilt and having someone thank them for their service.  For so many of these service members this is the first time they have been thanked for their service after they risked everything in a very unpopular war.

When I received mine I was stunned and was unable to speak for a while.  It changed how I thought about my time spent in Vietnam.  It is now 43 years since I came home from that war.  This year for the very first time I put on a cap that say Vietnam Veteran.  For me that was a huge hurdle.  Well a baby step is better than no step at all.  Now I own two caps!

So now is my time to ask for your help.  If you are touched by the article please go to the following link:

Enter our tool challenge and make a quilt for a veteran.  Say thanks to a veteran feel great about yourself.  If you make a quilt and will be attending MQS the year it is given away and you so desire I will invite you to the stage to help with the presentation.

Make your plans now to attend Machine Quilter's Showcase in Cedar Rapids, May 11 -14, 2016.  Take some classes, shop the vendors, attend the QOV presentation, stay for the auction and support the education efforts of MQS.  Have some fun.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Machine Quilting Today a New Begining

As all of you know, last year we shut down Machine Quilting Today LLC, a machine quilting show in Oconomowoc, WI.  We never relinquished the Website name or the Facebook page and we continued to maintain the mailing list.  Now we are into the second year of inactivity and folks continue to visit the Website and like the Facebook page.  I have hesitated long enough.  It is time to do something with both of them. 

For a long time I thought seriously about just shutting both down, after all they were done and I was through with them.  But I really like the name!  And I understood a lot of time, effort and money had gone into building these audiences.  To dump them would mean I would have to start over building an audience of essentially the same people with an idea I had thought about for Quilter's Rule for a long time. 

Yes, I will be changing the direction and mission of both the Website and the Facebook page.  The focus will continue to be machine quilting and education. I think that most people will be satisfied!  But surely some will object to the direction I have planned. If people object they do not have to visit the website.  They can ask to be removed from the mailing list.  They can unlike the Facebook page. They can unfriend me.  All of which have happened in the past and I do not take it personally.  It’s just a part of life in the business world and Social Media.

In the next few weeks you will start seeing changes on both starting with this announcement on my blog, Travels with Quilter’s Rule.  So what do we have planned?  The answer to that question is probably more then we can ever accomplish.  But like all difficult things if you do not try you will accomplish nothing.  You will just have to wait and see.  

The first thing we have accomplished is to change the name of the Facebook page from Machine Quilting Today, LLC to Machine Quilting Today.  Not earth shattering news but it is a start. 
To be continued....

Thursday, July 23, 2015

We need your help

Quilter’s Rule is negotiating with a contractor to build a new website.   We know that our current site is hard for some people to use.  We would like to make the site easy to use for the majority of folks who come to the site.  We further understand that we will never satisfy everyone, so we are attempting to satisfy the majority of users.
Under normal circumstances we only hear negative comments about our website.  When folks are satisfied they enter the site, make a purchase and leave. You can help by telling us what would make you positive experience even better.

We would like to know how you use our site. 
Why do you use our site?

How do you find items on our site?
What would make the site easier for you to use?

What do you look for when you go to a site?
What can we add to make the site better?

What should we remove from the site?
Thank you so much for your help!                                             

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


Today is a very sad day in my life.  This afternoon I will lose a friend and companion.  For 15 years Scamp has been an important part of my life.  I purchased her for my wife, but she decided to choose me as her human; maybe because I get up early and would feed her while the rest of the family slept, or because I took her to the barn in the morning when I fed the rest of the critters, or because we just liked to sit quietly in the morning with that first cup of coffee.

When our previous collie had died we waited a long time before we decided to get another.  I still remember when she came to the house.  Scamp was born in Florida at a kennel Eloise tracked down that had collies related to a line of collies that carried the Belhaven name.  We waited for six months for a female tri colored collie to be born.  By then it was the middle of the winter and very cold in the upper Midwest.  We had to wait for the temperature to moderate enough for the airline to allow her to fly.  The night she was coming in we drove to Chicago and arrived at O’Hare before she left Orlando.  It was a very long wait, but Eloise had been without a collie for almost 2 years and it was time.  When she finally got to us we got her out of the crate and have never been successful in getting her back into one.  I carried her up the escalator and the stairs and she sat on my lap in the tram.  She sat in Eloise’s lap for the ride home.

At any rate, since I worked close to home, it was my job to go home at noon and walk Scamp and make sure she was okay.  Well that lasted for about a week and I decided that it would be easier to just take her to work.  After all I owned the company and I could do that if I wanted.  So in the car she went and off to work we went.  For the last 15 years she has be coming to work with me.  By now you can tell she is not Eloise’s dog.  She choose me.

When I was a town chairman, she went to meetings with me.  She would lay under the table until I was done and then she went home with me.  Until I gave up being the chairman she was welcome at the town hall.  When I quit they immediately passed a rule that only service dogs were allowed in the town hall.  Just one of many reason I dislike twofaced politicians.  But that is a totally different discussion.

For the last several months, Scamp has steadily gone downhill.  She now falls on floors without carpets, she cannot negotiate steps without falling.  Her body functions are starting to shut down.  When she looks at me she just looks and seems sad.  I think she knows her life is about over.  Why do we put ourselves through this sort of traumatic crisis?  Dog simply do not live as long as we do.

Last week I called Dr. Stewart and talked with her.  Then I made the decision it was time.  Last night I prepared a grave for Scamp next to the flagpole in our front yard.   This afternoon Scamp will go to sleep and never wake up.  This is the consideration I wish I could have when I get old and unable to care for myself.

Please don’t be too sad for me.  About 15 months ago, I purchased another collie from Florida.  Her name is Shawnee and she is nothing like Scamp but she is related.  I will miss my friend.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Another reason I hate the Washington crowd.

Now that I am home two weeks after The Vermont Quilt Show I have cooled off to the point I can at least talk about it.  I have wasted most of that time learning about and trying to comply with a regulation that was never intended for me.

Patricia and I were on our way home minding our own business and we had just crossed out of New Your into Pennsylvania and we stopped at the welcome center to go to the bathrooms.  We were flagged down by a guy with a PUC cap and had to go through a DOT inspection.  It seems that the GVW, that’s gross vehicle weight or more correctly the GCW the gross combined weight of our Suburban and trailer is greater than 10,001 pounds and we are engaged in interstate commerce.  Of course I know that but if you carry your products in your personal vehicle and not in someone s for hire vehicle there is a difference.

So I have spent the past two weeks getting square with the violations we committed. 

1) No Log Book.

2) No fire extinguisher

3) No warning triangles

4) No Medical Card

5) No DOT number on our vehicle

Today Quilter’s Rule is a Motor Freight Carrier in addition to being a manufacturer.  And we have lots of additional restrictions on our activity.  We are restricted to driving no more than 11 hours a day between the two of us.  We have 14 hours each day to complete the 11 hours behind the wheel.  We must be off duty and resting for at least 10 hours.  We have to keep a log book; we must carry a medical card stating we can drive.  That physical for the medical card was a joke.  My Medicare annual physical is better, but does not count.  Patricia has to renew biannually but because I have high blood pressure I have to renew annually.  The doctor spent less than 10 minutes with me.

So what does all this mean?  First and foremost some shows will not be as economically feasible, as they were before.  California is now a 4 day trip instead of 2 ½ days.  We will have additional expenses for lodging and food.  Some shows will be impossible because we cannot drive as many hours and cannot make the trip in time.  We cannot count nap time in the front seat to extend our driving time.  We can work no more than 70 hours in a week and drive.  I  am a business owner, if I want to work hard, it is my choice.  I do not need a government to tell me to back off.

I understand why these regulations are in place, but Quilter’s Rule is not really a Motor Carrier.  We have simply been caught in the cross hairs of a regulation to prevent an owner from abusing his employees, and a Government trying to keep the public safe.  I share the road with 18 wheelers, I understand how dangerous the roads can be. I slow down for icy conditions, rain, snow, high winds and at night.  I pull off and sleep when I am tired and get up and go when I am rested.  Resting does not take 10 hours.

I resent my government telling me how hard I can work.