Gordon Miller–Advice for Apartment Managers

Welcome to the blog. Can you tell us your name and any nicknames?
My name is Gordon C. Miller. While I have no preferential nickname, people have used many. In elementary school it was ‘Gordy’, in junior high school it was ‘GC’, and occasionally in high school ‘Gordo’. When I entered military service names were most often associated with rank held. Upon retirement as a CW4 (Chief Warrant Officer – 4) in the Army, many still refer to me as ‘Chief’.

Can you tell us how old you are?
My age is ‘Classified’ … just kidding. As a former MI professional, that’s Military Intelligence humor. In September I will be 48.

Tell us about your work history?
I retired after 28 years active service from the US Army. While retired from public service, I still work commercially. Monday thru Friday I babysit my grandchildren so their parents can afford to buy a home. All week long I serve as a ‘Resident Manager’ for the apartment complex my family lives in. On Friday and Saturday during the dinner rush I deliver for Domino’s, mostly because the money is good for the amount of labor that is required.

Can you tell us about a time in your military service that you could say “that was a good day?”
From my perspective, every day was a “good day” while I served. One event does come to mind that affected more than I would have realized at the time: Shortly before deploying to Iraq for the third time, I was promoted to CW3 at Fort Benning, Georgia. A team was sent before the deployment to figure out how to install “Red Dot” air-conditioning on our MI equipment without affecting their operations. I was ordered to assist the team by any possible means, which mostly consisted of keeping my soldiers out of their way. I left them to their task, but after two hours in the heat and humidity of Georgia I thought I should check on their progress. They were still scratching their heads and they took the time to describe the dilemma. My question was why use Red Dot and not normal A/C? They claimed ignorance that it didn’t exist or they might use it. I point out that the commercial variant of the military HMMWV was the H1 Hummer, which came standard with A/C. I then lifted the hood and showed that the brackets to attach A/C components to were already part of the A1 and A2 engine variants. I offered to go to NAPA and get them the parts required, estimating that total package would be around $5000, plus fabrication of ductworks absent in military vehicles. They declined but thanked me anyways. During my next deployment I noticed that many vehicles that had been equipped with GMC A/C and Red Dots (which cost $25,000 per vehicle) were being phased out or replaced. It wasn’t until after my fourth deployment to Iraq that I was reassigned to the Communications and Electronic Command (CECOM), part of the Army Material Command (AMC), at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, MD that I confirmed that the decision to convert the Army fleet of vehicles to standard GMC A/C was made right after that visit to Benning. Now, I’m not a big fan of ‘coincidence’, but to all the warfighters out their who benefited from working A/C … “You are welcome!”

That’s a wonderful story. Tell us where you live?
After retiring at Joint Base Lewis – McCord near Tacoma, WA my family and I moved to and now live in Grand Forks, North Dakota. This was to be near my wife’s family who desperately needed our support. My extended family includes both step-sons (one of which is married, has 3 kids, 2 of which I usually babysit), mother-in-law, and two aunts.

Can you tell us some interesting places you’ve visited?
Most of my “interesting places” involve the military and yes, some of them ARE classified, sorry. In 28 years I was stationed in Germany and saw a lot of Europe. While there the Gulf War started and I was deployed to Saudi Arabia. Over a decade later the War on Terror started and I was deployed to ‘combat operations’ five more times (officially). In all my travels I’ve visited about half the states in the US and eighteen foreign countries (no, passing through them does not count in my book, lol). While I still have North Carolina in my heart, at times it seems a distant memory. Nostalgia can be ugly at times.

Tell us about your favorite meal?
While I am fond of many, I don’t believe I have a favorite food. Like any Southerner, I don’t pass on BBQ and sweet iced tea when the opportunity presents itself, which can be rare up here in North Dakota.

Pet peeve?
My strongest “pet peeve” would be hypocrisy. I’m a firm believer in “my word is my bond” and “say what you mean and mean what you say.” Too often I run into contradictory people that condemn something one minute then condone it the next, usually for self serving purposes. Yep, definitely that would be my biggest peeve with society in general.

Favorite books or movies or TV shows?
Again, I’m fond of many things but I can’t really pin a favorite anything. I read as much as I can, with Economics and History subjects being at the top of the list, as they both define how we live, make a living, and how we got to where we are today. As for movies, I like war movies given my background in the military, and if I HAD to pick a favorite among them it would be “To Hell And Back,” about and starring Audie Murphy, a personal inspiration. As for TV shows, I sometimes watch the “classics” from my youth as pop culture nowadays is less appealing.

Are you optimistic or pessimistic about where the world economy is heading?
To me, pessimism and optimism are two sides of the same subjective coin, with pros and cons for any given perspective. To be brief, the global economy is degrading FAST. This is the natural effect of disobedience to fundamental economics, the Natural Laws of Supply and Demand. Too many economists and political advisors are HUGE fans of Demand-side economics. The problem with this is by focusing on or arbitrarily imposing demands, supply suffers; either it diminishes or becomes unnecessarily expensive. As our country and most others have become very Demand-side oriented, we see the consequences and none of them are good or beneficial to the common man. I’ve lost count of the debates on this topic, but everyone who has taken up the cause of Demand has lost to the fundamentals. The ‘cure’ for these self inflicted wounds is Supply-side economic, which obey the Laws of Supply and Demand, but I’m not holding my breath for a return to what made our country the most prosperous on Earth in a relatively short amount of time.

If people want to pray for you, they could pray for….?
Prayer is often welcome and if people wish to pray for me I always appreciate it. As I continue to seek the guidance and wisdom of the Lord, pray this for me and that my family be blessed with the same knowledge and wisdom.

Tell us about your family. Any pets?
I am married to a very wonderful woman, Amber, for the past ten years. I have five children, four daughters from two previous marriages, and my son with Amber along with two step-sons, and six grandchildren three of each). As much as I like dogs, we don’t have pets as I feel the constant moves and “apartment living” is rough enough on the family without tormenting an animal too. With all the family and grandkids, I believe I’ve got enough “companionship” for now.

Can you offer some advice for apartment managers?
Most of the best advice is proverbial, “Patience is a virtue.” When dealing with people in any capacity, especially service, it is good to learn and practice patience as too often people don’t take into consideration your time as being as valuable as theirs. Impatience is routine, so it is hard to not be impatient in return. Another great piece of advice is “emotional control.” Not so much overreacting, which is a given, but not reacting to common foibles encountered.

Anecdote: “Truth is stranger than fiction.” Yesterday a tenant called to report that none of the washers in her building’s laundry room worked. I asked how she had determined this and was informed that she put $1.25 in each machine but they won’t start. Fair enough, but before I could ask a follow up question she related to me that she had put in one quarter at a time and pushed in the payment tray until she had deposited $1.25, on all three machines. I informed her that she was to fill the five empty slots with quarters before pushing the tray and they should work just fine. I did this tactfully and with all sincerity, as much as I just wanted to laugh at her expense. We have been Apartment Managers for just a few months, but between my wife and I we have enough stories of this type to fill a few hours. It is wrong to take the stance that “people are stupid”. Most people aren’t, but they fail to read or follow instructions or think things through before acting.

If you had any spare time, what would you do with it?
Like anyone else I’ve made time for various entertainments and diversions but none I am desperate to make a full time passion. Hopefully in the next ten years I can move into full blown retirement, spending more time with family and friends with the possibility of travel, seeing the sights in the other states I haven’t visited yet.

Gordon, thanks for sharing with us. May God bless and guide you and your family in your adventures.

Renee Handley–Advice for School Librarians

I’d like to welcome Renee Handley to “Advice for Everyone.” Thanks for being with us. Can you tell us your occupation?
Public school librarian. Currently with an intermediate school that serves fifth and sixth grades. I have been involved with education, one way or another, for about fifteen years. I was a preschool helper and substitute teacher for a parochial school when my children first started school themselves. I then started teaching art for lower elementary but never had my teaching certification. I thought I eventually would get it, but then started working in a high school library as an assistant and found a true passion and a mentor that would not take no for an answer and she pushed me into pursuing my Master’s degree. I completed my MLIS in December of 2016, and was hired as a librarian for the 2016 – 17 school year.

How old are you?
Fifty. I have no need to hide my age. I spent most of my late 20s and 30s completely in love with my children and everything about them but rather miserable in other aspects of my life. My 40s were a time for me to rediscover who I was and what I wanted out of life and so when I turned fifty this year I wanted to embrace all that I have done and accomplished.

I notice from your picture that you’re a fan of “Doctor Who?” or a fellow Whovian, in other words?
I fall in love with every single doctor. My first doctor was Tom Baker. I was about seven years old and our local PBS station played Dark Shadows, Monty Python and Doctor Who on Saturday nights. My older brother would watch that line up and I wanted to do whatever he did, so I started watching them all as well. The idea of regeneration has always been exciting and I am never disappointed by The Doctor.

Where do you live?
Asheville, North Carolina in a Hobbit Hole. It is a 117-year-old stone cottage. When I moved in, one of my friends looked at it and exclaimed “YOU LIVE IN THE SHIRE!!!” I figure it is either that or the cottage of a wicked witch. I am okay with either.

Do you have a website or a blog or anything where people can learn more about you?
Not yet. This is actually a goal of mine this year, to start a blog about librarianship. I am not exactly sure what my focus will be, though, so it is still ruminating around my brain.

The most interesting place you’ve visited?
Eyam, Great Britain. It is a little village in Derbyshire Dales. Several years ago, I read a phenomenal historical fiction novel by Geraldine Brooks entitled A Year of Wonders. The book is based around the true story of a small village that was beset by the Bubonic Plague in 1666. The village voluntarily quarantined themselves for a year to try to stop the spread of the disease. Over two-thirds of their population succumbed. I was so fascinated with the story that I gushed about it on social media and a friend of mine, from high school, piped up with “Well, you know that is where I live, right?” I had no clue. She had married a man from this small village and moved there about seven years prior – but I had not seen her since high school and had only recently reconnected with her. I told her that if I ever had the opportunity, I would come visit her. Last year, I took my children to England and Scotland and we made sure to include Eyam on the trip. We stayed in a former stable that had been built in the 1700s and then converted to a home in the late 1800s . It had been in my friend’s husband’s family and was not occupied at the time. It was right across the street from the village church where all the characters that were in the book were buried. It was a completely fascinating town. So incredibly quaint and the people were very friendly and wanted to talk about their claim to fame in history. My children (aged 22 and 19 at the time) counted that as favorite part of our entire trip.

Your favorite meal would be?
I am by no means a “foodie” but I like to be adventurous. So, this is hard to pin down.

Pet peeve?
Inauthentic people. I have always been a person who has been a bit out of step with my peer group, for one reason or another. When I was younger, it bothered me that I couldn’t quite figure out why. When I got older, I began to see the games people feel they need to play in order to make themselves feel special. I often get very angry, but mainly I feel sad for those people and the fact that my friendship will really only be at a surface level with them because I have no idea who they really and truly are.

Favorite book?
Ugh. TOO MANY BOOKS!!!!! I have a lot, and for different reasons.
From childhood, I always had a Nancy Drew mystery tucked under my arm. I was determined that I was going to be a newspaper reporter who solved crimes.
There is a beautiful book called The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. A beautiful story set against the background of the time right after the Spanish Civil War. A graveyard for books, a mystery, a love story. So much.

Pretty much anything by Neil Gaiman, whom I refer to as “Muh Boyfriend” (and my actual The Fella is TOTALLY okay with that). The first book I read by him was Neverwhere, and it still holds a special place for me. But for the past four years, I think I have recommended The Graveyard Book at least once a week to a student. At this point, I honestly think his publisher should give me a bit of a kickback. It is such a wonderful book.

Why is Neil Gaiman a favorite?
I just love so much about him. I first stumbled across Neverwhere in about 2005 , when I really, really needed to escape my own reality. It was the perfect vehicle for that in that it involves an alternate world of an underground London where the disaffected live. Then I began hearing some amazing quotes from him in regards to education. ( “Google can bring you back 100,000 answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one.” This is a particular favorite.) He speaks with such admiration about education and how to let your imagination flourish, that I jokingly say that he was flirting with me. I had the opportunity to hear him speak at a Storyteller’s night a few years ago. The entire evening was phenomenal, but his presentation of his story was just so immersive. I have always loved the concept of storytelling and I really hope to include it more in my own librarianship. He was once asked if he could decorate a children’s library, what would he include. He said that he would just have the words “…and then what happened?” painted on the wall. I was so incredibly taken with that thought, that I had it tattooed on my arm.

Are you married or have you been?
I was married, and after trying many, many years to make something work that never should have been, we went our separate ways. But I don’t count it as a loss because I have three amazing kids out of it. My oldest daughter is a theatre major at UNCA who has always had so much self confidence. My son is an incredibly smart quirky Viking musician dude, who is trying to figure out his place in the world. My youngest daughter died when she was 23 months old. The official cause of death is still undetermined but is listed as “Sudden Unexplained Death.” It is perhaps related to SIDS but affects children over the age of one. She is still a very present part of all of our lives, even though she passed away in 2004. Her life and death shaped a lot of decisions that we made for ourselves.

If you had any spare time, what would you do with it?
Gosh. So much. As I mentioned, I just finished my master’s degree and the past two years of my life were really crazy with studying. I hermited myself away from a lot of things and even stopped a lot of the things I normally would do for fun, like costuming for theatre. I had to in order to keep focus. I stopped reading for pleasure, and time spent with friends was a rare and wonderful thing. I assumed that I would dive right back into costuming and reading for pleasure and so many other things, but it has taken awhile. I am not sure I am actually going to go back to designing costumes for theatre, though. I loved it, but I am just not sure I want to do that any longer. I think I want to focus on more specialized clothing and costumes.

I have always wanted to travel. That is one of the reasons I joined the Army. But, I never really got that opportunity. I had the opportunity to plan a huge trip with my children last year to the UK and the travel bug has definitely been unleashed. I want to go and see EVERYTHING!!!

If you had the time and funding arranged, where would the next big trip be?
Oh, gosh…. Well, my The Fella and I are planning a trip to Paris next year. We hope to include Prague in it as well. We have a HUGE list of places to visit. He spent several years living in Japan while in the Navy and has traveled extensively in the Pacific Rim, so we thought a trip somewhere that neither of us had gone would be amazing.

Tell us some interesting things about yourself that aren’t already covered.
I broke my arm my last week of Basic Training, in the Army, and had an external fixator applied to my arm because of the way I fell. My hand was shoved up into my arm and the fixator slowly pulled it out and allowed the shattered parts to knit themselves. It took quite a bit longer to heal and so I was assigned to live in the hospital and they gave me a job. I lived there for four months before I was well enough to go on to my advanced training.

I have been involved with theatre since I was in high school, but stepped away from it when I was in college. When I had children, I signed them up for theatre camp as an activity when they were quite young. I ended up being a chaperone and started making costumes for the theatre company. Eventually this led to me having a crazy double life as a costume designer while trying to have my day job and going to grad school.

I served in the Army and Army Reserves as an Intelligence Analyst. I received my BA and tried to work in my field for a couple of years but I was super stressed working in a peripheral field. I grew up in a military family and so I went into a recruiter one day and told them that if they found me one of three jobs I had picked out, I would sign up. They found an analyst position and I left a month later. My parents had no idea I was even interested in the service even though that is where they met and both retired from the Army Reserves. I worked for a Psychological Operations Company, in the Reserves. We were one of the first Reserve units to go into Bosnia in the 90s. I served as a Cultural Analyst. Basically I would find out about the customs of the area and let my soldiers know how to act in order to “win the hearts and minds” of the local populace. I am actually a huge pacifist, and so since our primary job was to train school children how to stay away from land mines, I considered it my own personal Peace Corps.

Can I ask you to offer some advice for school librarians?
DON’T get hung up on the “rules.” I have already, in my short time as a librarian, had parents come to me and ask what their kid should be reading according to Lexile scores or reading norms. I have told them to let their kid guide the reading. If a parent doesn’t like graphic novels because they can’t get past the idea that they are “just comic books” I would tell them to get over it. Kids can’t be forced to like reading and reading things that they aren’t interested in hurts them in the long run. I ascribe to the idea that if someone says they don’t have a favorite book, I will add the word “yet” to the end of that statement.

Renee, thanks much for sharing with us. May the adventures be many and blessed.

Darrell Lindsay–Advice For Aspiring DJs

What is your name? Nickname?  My name is Darrell Lindsay and I have too many nicknames to mention.

What do you do for a living?
I’m retired military (Army, 20 years and 5 days, but I wasn’t counting) and now I work for an architectural firm in Charlotte, NC as a facilities manager who wears a lot of hats. I can definitely multi-task and I’ve been here for almost 11 years now.

Can I ask you what your Military Operations Specialty was? My first MOS was 19K (M1A1 Armor Crewman or Tanker) for my first 10 years in and then I switched to 71L (Admin Specialist) due to a back injury I sustained while serving as a tanker in Germany.

How old are you? I’m 48 years old, but feel like I’m still in my 30’s.

Where do you live? I live in Morganton, NC.

The most interesting place you’ve visited? This one is tough due to the fact that I’ve traveled a lot while in the service, but I’d have to say Europe. I was born there (Germany) and it was nice going back to see where it all started. While I was stationed there, I got the opportunity to visit Italy, Spain, England, France, and I’ve put my fair share of kilometers on the autobahn. Now that was fun! I’d also like to add that Korea and Japan were interesting as well in their own right.

Your favorite meal? My favorite meal would include, but not limited to, the following items: shrimp, chicken breast, baby red skin mashed potatoes with the skin still on them, sweet corn, a garden fresh salad, and a tall glass of sweet tea to wash it all down.

Pet peeve? People who drive slow in the far left lane and refuse to move over.

Favorite book, or movie, or television show? I’ll be honest, I didn’t like to read when I was younger and that fact still holds true today. But I do like the following movies and TV shows: Big Bang Theory, Shark Tank, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Dexter, Orange is the New Black, Sons of Anarchy, Breaking Bad, Lucifer, Stranger Things, Hancock, Tombstone, The Fast and Furious series and yadda, yadda, yadda.

If people want to pray for you, they could pray for ….? Good health

Are you married or have you been? Any kids? Pets?
I am married with one adult daughter. No pets yet.

One thing many people don’t know you can do? I’m in the process of teaching myself how to DJ. My love for music has always been present since day one and I’ve been told that I have a voice for radio. Not sure if this will replace my current occupation, but at least I’m having fun while I’m learning.

Great! Can you give us some advice for aspiring disk jockeys? You gotta love music! So start with what you know and expand from there. If it moves you, it just might move someone else.

If you had any spare time, what would you do with it? I’d travel more with my wife, but if that was not an option, then I’d spend that time with family and friends.

Tell us some interesting things about yourself that aren’t already covered.  I listen to the rhythm and feel the beat of a song before I ever listen to the words, I enjoy driving as long as it’s not in traffic, I’m still a kid at heart and enjoy a good laugh, I enjoy cooking breakfast for my wife when we have the time, I’ve been dealing with PTSD for some time now and I’m getting through it, I hate candy corn candy and the fact that they are still making it floors me, I don’t like to dress up, I wasn’t lactose intolerant when I was younger, but I am now, I golf for fun and the driver that I currently have in my bag cost me $3.25 at Walmart and it drives just as far, if not farther than the expensive ones, I wanted to be a stuntman when I was growing up, I have ten tattoos, will be getting more this year, and they tell a story.

What story do your tattoos tell? My tattoos are telling a story of my military career pretty much. My right arm depicts my faith in God, a dedication to my fallen brothers and sisters, strength, and my time in the service on dog tags, while my left arm is the complete opposite. The person that I became during war time and some of the things we had to do strongly went against my beliefs as a person, my religion as a being, and I can’t forget the rage from within that transformed me into someone I had never seen before until then. Therefore, I have two grim reapers on my left arm, a skull that was drawn by one of my brothers once we returned from Iraq, and a representation of me dealing with PTSD. BTW, I didn’t know I had PTSD until after I retired from the Army. Had some rough times there.

We’ll be praying for you as you deal with that, Darrell. On behalf of my readers, thanks for your service to your country, and thanks for taking the time to let us get to know you a little.