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.

Charlene Spinks–Advice for Air Force Kids

What is your name?  Please include a nickname if most people call you by that.
Charlene Lightfoot Spinks.  I also answer to “Charlie.”

What do you do for a living?   I still haven’t figured out what I want to be when I grow up – I’ve worked in retail, in office admin (churches, banking, real estate and medical offices),  non-profits, network marketing, and have taught music a few times. Currently, I’m “employment challenged” – ready to take the next step.  My work path has been interrupted several times when I’ve had to assume temporary caretaker roles for various family members. Most recently, in 2015, my husband survived a harrowing illness that almost took his life and his road to recovery has been very long and difficult. He’s doing well now, able to work and drive…so life is changing again!

How old are you?
I’m 61. OMG….I used to think that was like…REALLY old! I definitely do NOT think nor act “my age.”  (How should 61-year-olds act anyway?)

Where do you live?
I reside on a couple of acres in the beautiful small town of Hendersonville, North Carolina.

Where can we find you on the internet?
Only FaceBook and LinkedIn. I’ve been thinking about a blog – but I suppose one actually has to do a bit more than think about it, right?

The most interesting place you’ve visited?
Sydney, Australia! I attended a music conference there in 2000 with a couple of friends. We also had a long layover in Auckland, New Zealand, so we did a little sightseeing there. Wonderful people, great experience, hoping to go back one day and spend more time exploring.

Can you tell us something about Sydney that particularly struck you?
We visited a wildlife park/zoo and were amazed that there were kangaroos, kookaburras and emus just wandering the grounds freely! I was even able to pet a koala bear sleeping in his eucalyptus tree… fortunately, the dingoes, the crocs and the Tasmanian devils were confined to their habitats, no petting allowed!
Oh, and we actually tried emu steak, it was delicious! No, it didn’t taste like chicken – it tasted like STEAK.

(And by the way…we didn’t eat the emu steak at the wildlife park! I just read that again and realized how it sounded. It was at a restaurant in Sydney…would be kinda weird to be at a zoo petting the wildlife…and then eating it too. I probably should have proofread a little more!)

Your favorite meal would be?
I love Mexican food…the hotter and spicier, the better.

Pet peeve?
People who won’t take responsibility for their lives. They continually blame everything and everyone else for their lot in life and as a result, they are stuck in their personal growth. We never change what we refuse to acknowledge. I was a blamer and a ‘victim’ for a very long time and it wasn’t until I assumed full responsibility for my life, the good and bad experiences, the wise and stupid decisions, ALL OF IT, that I began to see things turn around in a positive way.
Life isn’t ‘fair’ or ‘unfair’..it just is what it is, and it’s different for us all. We don’t always get to choose the hand we’re dealt but we do get to choose how we play it. My heroes aren’t those who make headlines or celebrity rock stars – my heroes are people like my sister, who has a child with a terrible disease and she just gets up every day and does what she needs to do without complaining or blaming others.

Favorite book, or movie?
The book “Abba’s Child” by Brennan Manning absolutely changed my concept of God, and helped bring healing during a devastating period in my life.
Favorite movie…probably “Dr Zhivago”. Loved the music, scenery and the beautiful, tragic story.

How did “Abba’s Child” change your concept of God?
Over the course of many years in an authoritarian, cult-like ‘church’, my once vibrant Christian faith had gradually eroded into a performance-based, people-pleasing and leader-centered false religion. It’s hard to admit that though I knew so much was wrong, I went along with it anyway, trying to ‘please’ my leaders by doing anything they asked. My own weakness and need for affirmation and acceptance were the driving forces that led me to overlook my inner conflict about the church and I remained a member for 7 years.  I hid my true self from those in that church because I feared their anger or rejection – and living as an imposter soon affected my relationship with God as well. I’m not proud of that time in my life, I know I neglected and hurt friends and family members. I compromised my faith and values for a counterfeit, shallow
‘spiritual’ life. The good news is I finally left that place, but it was a real struggle to find peace and wholeness after so long in a spiritually destructive atmosphere.  A friend gave me a copy of “Abba’s Child – the Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging” and in a very simple and beautiful way, I was reminded of God’s deep, unfathomable love for His creation. He is a true Father, He loves us unconditionally – inadequacies, sin, fear and all. I don’t have to hide from God when I fail. I turn to Him, as a true beloved child, crying out “Abba, I belong to You!” and I allow Him to deal with my heart as He desires. We overcome our failures and find healing for our wounds in the embrace of our Father.

If people want to pray for you, they could pray for…?
Wisdom!  In all areas of life. I need it!

Are you married or have you been?  Any kids?  Grandkids?  Pets?
My husband Tom and I are celebrating 39 years together this year. We have a grown son, a lovely daughter-in-law and a beautiful, amazing granddaughter who just lights up our world! We’ve always had pets – right now we are owned by 3 felines. One is an elderly one-eyed little female cat named ‘Friskie’ – and she still is after almost 15 years. Friskie, that is!

One thing many people don’t know you can do?
I’m a bit of an obsessive gardener – I’ve been slowly transforming our originally barren, muddy, rocky two acres into a halfway decent landscape.

What’s the biggest challenge with the landscaping?
My property is not level, and just dragging the mower, mulch, soil amendments and gardening tools up the hill behind our house or DOWN the hill to the stream area is getting a little tougher every year. Not as young as I used to be, you know?

If you had any spare time, what would you do with it?
Well, if I also had a lot of spare money, I’d probably be traveling every chance I had!

Tell us some interesting things about yourself that aren’t already covered.  
I was an Air Force ‘brat’ and spent most of my childhood moving around the country. It wasn’t easy leaving schools and friends every few years but the experience did instill a love for travel that remains today. Only trouble is, I get restless, and still feel like I should be moving every few years!
I’ve been singing and/or playing keyboards since I was a kid. I love most music genres, but I was mostly involved with contemporary Christian worship bands, from the early 70’s until early 2000s. I enjoyed the travel, songwriting and recording and worked with some really talented people over the years.
The theater was always one of my ‘first loves’ and I’ve just recently become involved with our wonderful community theater. A little scary doing auditions at my age, but so glad I took the step in spite of my fear. It has been a great experience, and I have met and worked with some absolutely delightful people. It is never too late to begin a new challenge. Fear is normal but fight the fear and do it anyway – the rewards are well worth it!

Can I ask you to give some advice to “Air Force kids?”        
Dear Air Force kids: you are in for an adventure, you will see amazing new places and meet wonderful new people. Though it may be hard when you’re moving and you once again have to tearfully say goodbye to your BFF, the opportunities to experience different cultures and lifestyles will enrich your life beyond anything you can learn in a classroom. Embrace the life, decide to make it an adventure and who knows, maybe one day you’ll decide to join the service, too. Personally, I think being raised in a military family is probably the best way to grow up!

Charlie, thanks so much for letting us get to know you a little bit.  May God bless you and continue to make your life an adventure.

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.