Napkin Sketches And Notes – Fifty Plus Going On Fifteen

Life is interesting when you are fifty plus going on fifteen and recently I was asked a question that I would like to share.

The question:

What did you do In the dark ages (back then) to take unplanned notes before smartphones, notepads, and touchscreen laptops?

I do not believe this individual was ready for my answers but I will share in this article and many of you will understand exactly what I am talking about.

“Back Then”, I always tried to carry a pen and pad of paper in case I had to record unplanned notes, received a call on my non-smart cell phone, or was paged and had to call someone. Yes, I said paged. You did not always have a pad of paper so you had to improvise with anything available to write on but I would always carry a pen.

If you did not have a pad of paper you had a number of options including:

  • Writing on your hand, but for hygienic reasons, your notes would be washed off.
  • Writing on the tablecloth, wall, table, etc., but some considered this vandalism.
  • Writing on money in your wallet, but you would sometimes spend the money.
  • Writing on napkins, this was my primary choice for sketches of notes if I did not have a pad of paper.
  • Whiting on matchbooks, my backup choice if no napkins but matchbooks are not always available.

I found myself in many situations grabbing a pile of napkins and documenting meeting notes, processes, procedures, flowcharts, etc., on the fly, in the car, and while on pay phones.

  • For those that are not clear about a pay phone, we can discuss later but I will tell you the phone cord was never long enough.

The napkins were protected like the Dead Sea Scrolls until your could either re-write your notes on a pad of paper or enter them into your desktop or laptop that was too bulky to drag to lunch or a meeting.

Napkins worked and the extra napkins in your pockets could come in handy for other reasons as well. On the flip side, there were a couple workable options listed below but the napkin was my primary choice.

  • Matchbooks were a good alternative to napkins in an emergency but you could only write on the inside and if somebody asked for a match, you would lose your notes.
  • There was a significant innovation called “Sticky Notes” and they were easier to carry in your pocket but I always had issues with them falling on the floor and walking off on the bottom of someones shoe again losing your notes.

Napkins were also a great way to relax or beat boredom prior to a meeting, lunches, when alone, etc. You could doodle, rip them up, try to make airplanes, clean your silverware, and perform many other critical and non-critical functions.

The napkin worked in 1920, 1970, and a napkin will work in 2020 and beyond. So, for those that did not know what Napkin Sketches and Notes were, you do now. For those that used something else, let me know what that is.

Have a great day.

Jay Patterson

Sports Heroes September 2017 – Fifty Plus Going On Fifteen

With the beginning of fall, a convergence of professional sports seasons occurs unlike any other time of the year.

  • Major League Baseball (MLB) is winding down and the Cleveland Indians are one of the hottest teams playing ball prior to the playoffs.
  • National Hockey League (NHL) is ramping up with two more weeks of preseason play and Las Vegas has a team.
  • The National Basketball Association (NBA) completes preseason play this week and the big question is Cleveland or Golden State.
  • National Football League (NFL) is entering week three (3) of the 2017 season and the NFL cannot figure out why viewership is taking for the second straight year.

I am an avid National Football League (NFL) fan who has followed the Minnesota Vikings and Oakland/Los Angeles/Las Vegas Raiders since the late 1060s. My Vikings have broken more hearts than Zsa Zsa Gabor and my Raiders have won Superbowls and have been the laughingstock of the NFL.

When I talk about being an avid football fan, my level of interest includes:

  • Counting days until the draft, preseason, regular season, playoffs, and Superbowl.
  • Purchasing and reading magazines and subscriptions to websites to be better educated.
  • Purchasing televised subscription services for all NFL games and I love the Red Zone.
  • Studying stats so I can participate in football picks each week.
  • Studying player and team stats so I can participate in my fantasy football team.

Well, it is week 3 of the NFL season and I have walked away from the NFL with exception of doing football picks and fantasy football since I have obligated my involvement with friends. I don’t like it but I do not like the new political NFL.

Please do not get me wrong since I believe that everyone should be able to support their political leanings but professional players are at work when they play and is it right to take your politics or religion to work?

So there is a void in my fall sports needs and to fill this void I am filling my time with non-political sports like college football and hockey.

I do have other options and I am warming up to MLB baseball again but the 1994 baseball strike still catches in my craw. NHL hockey is an option but a couple weeks out so perhaps we dive deep into hockey. I love NASCAR but all the rule changes have resulted in less interest and Junior is having a poor final year but I hope he is having fun.

Perhaps, the NFL will figure out that people do not really care about politics when watching football and will take a handle on this issue but perhaps not. Until the NFL does treat political protests like a personal foul, I will refrain from fully participating in my favorite sport.

Have a great day and it is great to be Fifty Plus Going On Fifteen.

Jay Patterson

Louis L’Amour – Fifty Plus Going On Fifteen

There are many famous people that were born, raised or lived in the great state of North Dakota and better yet my hometown of Jamestown North Dakota.

Louis L’Amour is one of these famous people whose accomplishments include writing hundreds of short stories, novels, television scripts, and screenplays. Many of his stories were translated and distributed worldwide and at one time there were more than $200 million copies worldwide. Louis L’Amour lived from 1908 to 1988.

I have always dreamed that one day I would write a book like Louis L’Amour did and better yet a series of books. Louis L’Amour wrote western books and I would write alternate history. Unluckily, only one of us have authored books at this time so I better get in gear.

My goals have included measuring my life experience compared to Louis L’Amour. I cannot compare growing up in the late 20th century to his growing up in the early 20th century there are comparisons.

Louis L’Amour experiences were many. Some of them include being an elephant handler at a circus, working as a fruit picker, gold prospector, longshoreman, lumberjack, and miner. He also skinned cattle in Texas, lived with bandits in Tibet, served on an East African schooner, and was a tank officer during WWII. Finally, Louis L’Amour was a professional boxer who won 51 out of 59 matches. My life experiences are varied also so there is hope here.
Louis L’Amour lived in North Dakota, Oklahoma, California, Colorado, France, and Germany. In this area, I can compete with Louis L’Amour although our experiences are in different eras.

In the early 1950s, Louis L’Amour transitioned into writing stories under his own name and this is when the magic occurred. Not only did he have a solid following of his books but many of his books were made into movies. The Duke, John Wayne purchased the movie rights to many of his books and one of my favorites was “How The West Was Won”. Incredibly, over 45 of his books were made into movies of films. Well, I have struck out here, my picture has been in the paper and I have had an article written about me though.

Louis L’Amour wrote with a style of his own until his death in 1988. The true measurement of a man is the size of the shadow they cast and Louis L’Amour cast a shadow that will never be filled again.

I was a fast attack submariner during and after the cold war and on fast attack submarines space was extremely limited. One thing you could guaranty was that there would be a large selection of Louis L’Amour books on the sub to be read, traded, shared and re-read.

Being underway for months on end could be and was lonely. Entertainment was limited so a good book would take you from under the sea to the great plains, mountains, and deserts of the old west. A much simpler but deadlier time when death was a daily occurrence.

Louis L’Amour books cross-generational interests. My grandpa Max would always have a Louis L’Amour book near him and on my grandfathers passing, he gave these books to me. It felt very special to receive this from grandpa when he had 50 plus grandchildren and he did not have many possessions as he approached the age of 80.

There is still time for me to become a writer although I doubt I will ever be a writer that touched lives like Louis L’Amour. Great American heroes come in different sizes, colors, sexes, and beliefs but Louis L’Amour will always live in my grandfather Max’s and my heart as one of the greatest.

I have other favorites like King, Michener, and others but Louis was one in a billion. Who is your favorite writer?

Its Great To Be Fifty Plus Going On Fifteen.

Jay Patterson




Cadillac Service At Yugo Prices – Fifty Plus Going On Fifteen

At one time, a Cadillac automobile was considered a class ride and for those that remember the Yugo, this automobile was a little red wagon with a motor and Fred Flinstone brakes.

I have been involved in the service delivery industry for much of my life and logic would imply that service levels would improve with technology advances and you would experience a decrease in service costs.

Major technology companies have bet the farm on the philosophy of cheaper, faster, better but is this a strategy that actually delivers as promised? Let’s see.

Today, I needed to set up a rental truck for a project in South Carolina. Using the model of cheaper, faster, better we will map out the results.

  • I was able to pull up websites quite easily using Google Search. I wanted to compare costs between two different providers.
    • On both sites, I was able to pull basic costs but neither website would allow me to select all desired options so I had to set up a chat and wait for a rep to chat with me.
    • Once the chat started, neither reps could answer the questions I had so each directed me to contact a rep using the 1-800 number.
  • I called the 1-800 number for company #1 and they were unable to pull the information off the website that I had completed so we manually completed the quote over the phone.
    • Overall, they were very helpful and we achieved our goal.
    • Total invested time, company #1, 30 minutes plus.
  • I called the 1-800 number for company #2 and they were unable to assist since the system was down so I was directed to call back. This occurred after extensive waits for a person to answer.
    • We did not achieve our goal.
    • Total invested time, company #2, 30 minutes plus.
  • Results of cheaper, faster, better:
    • Cheaper – YES – Websites and initial chat personnel that cannot answer all questions and/or permit all quotes are cheaper since on average they will field most calls and quotes without issue.
    • Faster – NO – Perhaps on average this is a yes but for me, this was a no and my questions were very basic.
    • Better – NO – Company #1 actually charged me less on the phone than the quote online and I had to wait for the quote to be sent to me to review. Company #2 did not get a chance to quote because the system was down.
  • Perhaps I am missing the big picture of cheaper, faster, better but in this example, I spent more time, they made less money but I am certain the investment in customer service was limited.

The strategy of cheaper, faster, better service is considered Cadillac Service At Yugo Prices. Although this looks good on paper, this strategy results in satisfactory service delivery for the majority of customers but for customers that do not fit into a normal bucket, get ready for a ride in a Yugo.

Unluckily, providing Cadillac Service At Yugo Prices has been labeled cheaper, faster, better and this model has infiltrated most areas of customer service. If we were talking cars, you could buy at least two Yugos for every Cadillac so you had a backup.

We are talking about customer service so we just get frustrated and ask “whatever happened to a person on the other end of the phone” as we wait on hold in need of assistance.

Just some observations about the cheaper, faster, better strategy as it relates to customer service.

Wishing you a great day.

Jay Patterson

Little Red Wheelbarrow – Fifty Plus Going On Fifteen

We travel through life retaining items of comfort and/or discomfort and these items may be physical, non-physical, and/or emotional possessions.

I have traveled the nation with a little red wheelbarrow that normally provides comfort to me and is both a physical and emotional possession. The little red wheelbarrow is not your standard wheelbarrow so may be considered more a cart and its picture is on this post.

When I was a child, my mother purchased the little red wheelbarrow as a kit and since my dad was not mechanically inclined, my mom and I put it together. At that time, it was shiny red with white lettering, a white handle, and wheels that were quite as they rolled.

Much like me, my little red wheelbarrow has aged. The paint is faded, the wheels squeak a bit, and it has started to rust. Although I could buy a new little red wheelbarrow I won’t because I can fix it, oil it, and I am attached to it even with its imperfections.

People talk about being physically and emotionally attached to fancy cars, locations, etc., but my little red wheelbarrow is my Achilles tendon. Why is this?

As a child, our first project with the little red wheelbarrow was to move the full load of sand my mom had delivered instead of the half load of sand we needed so we had sand everywhere. That’s okay, sand was a great cure for traction on ice so we maintained the extra sand in a pile and filled the wheelbarrow until we used it all.

With my mom and sister, we moved hundreds of rocks to the rock garden we built after driving around the North Dakota countryside picking up rocks bigger than your hand but smaller than a shoe box. We had a 1962 Ford Galaxy and its back end was dragging when we would go over speed bumps and dips.

The little red wheelbarrow was used for many chores and resulted in many memories as I grew up and although I did not know it then, we were linked for life.

In 1980, I left for the Navy and for a number of years I would only get to spend time with my little red wheelbarrow when I was home on leave and mom or dad needed a project completed. Incredibly, the handle still fit like it did when we were both young and although we had aged, we were still a great team.

In the late 1980s, I found a bride and once we moved into our first house in Georgia. We were in need of a wheelbarrow so we picked one up from the local Walmart. The wheelbarrow had one wheel and two handles but was not the same as my little red wheelbarrow in North Dakota.

During my next trip to North Dakota, I noticed my little red wheelbarrow hanging up in the shed and that there was a new, shiny wheelbarrow in the garage. I went in the house and popped the question regarding my little red wheelbarrow and we have not been separated since.

My little red wheelbarrow and I have been through many new adventures since the late 1980s and it my goal to do whatever is required to keep her happy and with me for the rest of my days. In that little red wheelbarrow, I will always have kind memories of my parents as a child, of my children as an adult and hopefully of my grandchildren in the future.

Fifty Plus Going On Fifteen is an adventure and I am sure many of you have a little red wheelbarrow that may be physical, non-physical or emotional. Hold onto that wheelbarrow tight because sooner or later things we love go away but not the memories.

Have a great day,

Jay Patterson

Mom Was My Life Coach – Fifty Plus Going On Fifteen

Life throws many challenges and the occasional curveball. When a roadblock occurs it is always great to have someone to fall back on for insight, advice, and/or a little push.

In today’s environment, there is an entire industry that has developed for this need called “Life Coach”.

  • By definition, a “Life Coach” is a person who counsels and encourages clients on matters having to do with careers or personal challenges.

I sit back and ponder this industry and position definition and realize how fortunate I was that my mother was my “Life Coach” and all I had to do was reciprocate the love she unconditionally gave to me. Furthermore, I am shocked to find that I have developed into a ‘Life Coach” for my children who are grown and left the nest.

I scratch my head a couple times and realize I have had life coaches throughout my life as part of friendships, employment, organizations, etc., and I find it difficult to believe I did not pay them for services and if I by chance coached them I did not receive payment either.

The numbers show “Life Coaching” is a $2 Billion plus industry that grows in size year after year with the following life coaching goals when working with a client:

  • Help define yourself and create the life you envision.
  • Assist in focus, direction, challenges, support, motivation and your celebration.
  • Create a plan, detail action steps and hold you accountable for following through.
  • Observe, listen, ask empowering questions, challenge and motivate.
  • Counseling or analyzing the past is not a coaches job.
  • Big picture principle is that the client has the intrinsic ability to determine and achieve their goals.

I do not disagree with the need for life coaching but I do not agree with the concept of a paid coach since it appears to be impersonal but perhaps that is the point.

So I return to my original point. My mother was my life coach from my earliest memories at the age of three (3) until her death in early 2017, Even after her devastating stroke in early 2015, she was my “Life Coach” who would listen and ask questions but it has always been my job to determine the road traveled.

It is my hope, that I am half the “Life Coach” my mother was to my children, friends, peers, subordinates, and others that need to know they have it in them but need to use it.

I am sure there is a need for professional “Life Coaches” and perhaps that is my calling but I need a “Life Coach” to tell me. Back to “did the egg or the chicken come first”.

Thinking of you Mom and missing you.

May you have a blessed day.

Jay Patterson

Back Then – Fifty Plus Going On Fifteen

Yesterday I was approached with a question about “Back Then” and I initially shrugged it off but over time it has manifested into a blog about “Back Then”.

Back in the days before the internet, smart phones, game consoles and instant gratification for most your wants there was a land some considered backwards and/or even wicked called “Back Then”.

“Back Then” for me was situated in the great state of North Dakota which some consider southern Canada and many are not aware that the state of North Dakota even exists. I am here to remind everyone the state of North Dakota exists and its people are almost as irritating as the great state of Texas which some consider northern Mexico.

“Back Then” allowed many great freedoms that are not available now and some may consider them new freedoms. Most of these activities were free for most and in many situations you were forced to imagine which is also a new concept to some. You were normally not limited because “Back Then” was actually clean and wholesome to most and you could instantly enjoy yourself without electronics.

As a kid, this is what could we do “Back Then” that was so special.

  • Ride bikes from dawn to dusk having only to check in with your parents or an older sibling so they knew you were alive and had all your limbs.
  • Float truck or tractor inner tubes on the lake having the time of your life because you all knew how to swim and you knew your limitations.
  • Play board games where the games took weeks or months to build a strategy and play it through. My favorite was Axis and Allies. Many of these games were modified for computers later.
  • Camp in the local woods or someones backyard where you would lay in on your back at night watching shooting stars and the occasional UFO.
  • Stay up all night playing card games in the winter because it was blizzarding out and school was canceled.
  • Join the polar bear club in shallow ponds where the water was much warmer out than sub-zero temps on the surface.
  • Build models because you were not carded to buy paint or glue.
  • Assemble puzzles and glue them on a backing so you had a cool poster.

“Back Then” was not as terrible as people from now may think and I am sure I would have enjoyed many of today luxuries if they had been available “Back Then”.

Unluckily, with every new day that passes, another day becomes “Back Then” and soon enough the individual that asked me about “Back Then” will be asked about “Back Then”.

Thinking about cherished memories and the friends I had “Back Then” and wishing you a great day.

Jay Patterson

Cousins, Brothers and Sisters – Fifty Plus Going On Fifteen

As you age you become more aware of what you have accomplished and your mortality.

I have been blessed in life with my experiences as a child in North Dakota, a young adult in the Navy, as an established adult involved in business operations, having great kids that are successful young adults, and a loving bride that has taken everything in stride for over thirty years.

With these accomplishments or non-accomplishments, there has always been a desire, need, hunger to write, journal, annotate who I am, what I am, where I am, etc. Not that anyone should care but this has always been my goal.

This week, I was on the road and due to new responsibilities with a 9 to 5 job I could not spend time blogging or posting at the desired level. Late in the week I was informed that one of my younger cousins passed on and it seems like I am consistently losing cousins and those I have considered adoptive brothers and adoptive sisters.

So, I consider this a wake up call to blog, post and hopefully some day write a book.

As indicated above, I was raised in the great state of North Dakota and there is only one other state that is more irritating than North Dakota and that is Texas. Yes, Montana, South Dakota and Minnesota can be a pain but those from North Dakota and Texas have serious issues on size. I will smile with that statement.

I had more than fifty cousins when I grew up and I can still name most of them. Having lived a transient lifestyle, there are hundreds that I consider brothers and sisters. I can say without doubt, I would do anything asked for those I consider a cousin, brother or sister and for that reason state it in this forum.

Today, I do feel mortal and with that will post items that I consider key to who I am. It is my goal to increase readership of my websites but if I write and feel better, I have accomplished my primary goal.

Please have a great day and I want to thank you for reading.

Jay Patterson



Before Walmart – Fifty Going On Fifteen

Remembering what was and what we have lost over time has become quite a hobby to me recently. Tonight, for some reason my memory was triggered on stores that are no longer some of which include Woolworths, White Drug, Gibsons. Pamida, Montgomery Ward, Tempo, Leevers, and Red Owl. How we have lost part of our history as these businesses have vanished.

North Dakota is pretty much out of the way when it comes to locations and growing up in the fifth largest city in North Dakota with a population less than 15,000 makes the area even more remote. I vividly remember my childhood and the stores I visited.

Woolworths, White Drug, Gibsons, Pamida, and Tempo were are discount or dime stores and some of them had small cafeterias and some only merchandise. They all had specialties but I will always love Woolworths for getting me into assembling models of cars. Woolworths had the models, the paint, the glue and all accessories and they were located downtown USA. White Drug was a close second and had a great burger in the cafeteria. Gibsons, Pamida and Tempo were all early version Walmarts or K-Marts. Perhaps K-Mart now fits into defunct stores.

Montgomery Ward was similar to Sears and JC Pennys in its heyday and this is where my sister and I always purchased our clothes for the year prior to going on summer vacation. Wards did not have the cool vacuum tubes for transactions that Pennys had or the lawn mowers that Sears had but they had class.

Leevers and Red Owl were grocery stores in the local area that just disappeared over time to be replaced by newer grocery stores. Much like the neighborhood grocery stores fifty years earlier, they just disappeared.

Life was much simpler when I was growing up and I miss many of the stores I grew up with beyond the stores listed above. Probably one of the coolest things was as a kid you could buy or get for free stickers from the local auto parts stores for STP, Edlebrock Manifolds, etc and put the stickers on your bikes.

It was not Mayberry RFD or Andy Griffin but it was home.

Best wishes and have a great night.

Jay Patterson

Pride and Ownership – Fifty Plus Going On Fifteen

Thank God Its Friday (TGIF).

I have been tied up in South Carolina the last few days and this trip has taken me back to my teenage years when the first manager I ever had at a steakhouse taught me about Pride and Ownership.

I was fourteen years old and was working as a line cook at Wagon Masters Steakhouse in Jamestown North Dakota. Our head cook was an eighty plus year old immigrant named George who had worked at most of the decent restaurants in the local area and was guiding Wagon Masters through its grand opening during the holiday months.

George taught me how to clean the meat saw, meat slicer, steam tables, grills, deep fryer, steamer and all other associated equipment since I was new to the business and through our entire time together I was called “Boy” by George because that is what I was.

I learned how to properly prepare, cook and serve all menu items from George and truly looked up to this gentleman. One day when we were cleaning after closing time, I was sweeping the grill area and George absolutely came unglued and called me “Boy” numerous times. I was clueless on what I was doing wrong so once George settled down I was properly trained in the art of cleaning.

Proper training in the art of cleaning around the grill included George getting on his eighty year old hands and knees and taking a radiator brush and reaching way underneath the grill to pull out all the junk, etc… from under the grill. Once he had shown me he told asked me “If You Wash Your Face, Do You Wash Your Neck”? I said of course and he said it is the same with the grill, you clean what you cannot see.

This was a huge slap alongside my head because I was a teenager and what could someone eighty plus years old teach me other than a life long lesson that has stuck. Unluckily, George only made it through the first couple months of operations and passed away but I will always remember him.

I left Wagon Masters and worked at Dales Interstate Mobil where we detailed cars for local dealerships and customers. Again, another lesson on doing things right and between Wagon Masters and Dale Interstate Mobil, I received in depth pride and ownership training prior to leaving for the Navy in 1980.

This same pride and ownership regarding cleanliness was constantly hammered home during my naval career. On submarines, you cleaned your spaces every four hours on your hands and needs with a small broom, dust pan, bucket and sponge since you did not have space for normal cleaning equipment. On surface ships, you would spend hours doing field day with brooms, mops and buckets and again it was pride and ownership.

When I transitioned to civilian life, I was surprised to see difference in cleaning philosophy and I started out as a technician with a primary goal of cleaning the ATMs and other equipment I as responsible since they were pits. Guess what, when the dirt, grime and ghost chunks were removed, the machines worked better. Not a big surprise right.

I transitioned to running logistics departments with hundreds of warehouses and again, I would run into situations where there was no pride and ownership in the cleanliness and/or organization. For the past fifteen plus years I have dealt with this issue thus my current trip to South Carolina takes me back to 1977 when I worked at Wagon Masters and George taught me a life altering lesson.

This lesson was not cleanliness is next to godliness but have pride and ownership in everything you do.

Who has made this type of impact on your life?

Thanks in advance,

Jay Patterson