Even Playing 'Possum' Needs a Plan

This summer my little girl, Zoe, kept seeing a "monster" outside the living room windows at night. We finally figured out it was a stray opossum who had decided it liked the taste of good dog food.

Zoe called it "Posmos" -- and, at first, it was cute and an amusement. Then it started waking us up regularly at about 1 a.m., primarily because our beagle would start howling and barking every time Posmos stole his food.

Besides the sleep depravation, I was concerned our beagle or some neighbor dog would kill it (or it would kill the beagle), so I started trying to figure a long-range solution. Animal Control said that I would have to catch it, and then they would pick it up. Thanks a lot!

For several nights, I tried to jump out and catch it with a sack, but Posmos proved to be very light on his feet -- and could see better in the dark than I.

After several nights of poor sleep, I awakened once again to Posmos' scratching and our beagle's barking. When I looked outside I could see that this time Posmos had found the gold mine; my son had left the lid open to the plastic chest where we kept the dog food. Posmos was sitting in the chest on his haunches, merrily picking up the food with his paws and eating like he was at some great marsupial banquet.

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This summer my little girl, Zoe, kept seeing a "monster" outside the living room windows at night. We finally figured out it was a stray opossum who had decided it liked the taste of good dog food.

Zoe called it "Posmos" -- and, at first, it was cute and an amusement. Then it started waking us up regularly at about 1 a.m., primarily because our beagle would start howling and barking every time Posmos stole his food.

Besides the sleep depravation, I was concerned our beagle or some neighbor dog would kill it (or it would kill the beagle), so I started trying to figure a long-range solution. Animal Control said that I would have to catch it, and then they would pick it up. Thanks a lot!

For several nights, I tried to jump out and catch it with a sack, but Posmos proved to be very light on his feet -- and could see better in the dark than I.

After several nights of poor sleep, I awakened once again to Posmos' scratching and our beagle's barking. When I looked outside I could see that this time Posmos had found the gold mine; my son had left the lid open to the plastic chest where we kept the dog food. Posmos was sitting in the chest on his haunches, merrily picking up the food with his paws and eating like he was at some great marsupial banquet.

Suddenly, I realized I had a trap! All I needed was something to spring it. Then my eyes rested on one of my son's stray baseballs. As stealthily as possible, I crept outside without attracting Posmos' attention.

I didn't want to hit Posmos, so just as I threw the ball, I yelled. Posmos ducked down, the ball hit the lid, and it sprung back and closed. I rushed over, locked the lid and sat on top. Mission accomplished.

I slid back into bed looking finally for a good night's sleep. Just as I began to drift away, my wife whispered "That poor thing is going to suffocate."

I spent the next hour making sure Posmos had air and water. Planning is everything.

It is said, "Necessity is the mother of invention." Certainly, that was the case with catching Posmos.

But if necessity is the mother, then "Innovation" may be the father. At least it is an important part of any plan.

In August, AAPG's Advisory Council and several invited guests met at the request of AAPG President Steve Sonnenberg to conduct strategic planning for AAPG. A special committee was convened in 1991 and 1998 to conduct long range planning. Many of their recommendations have been initiated, so Steve felt it was time to develop a full strategic plan.

The timeline of the plan is designed in six parts:

  1. Survey of member's thoughts on the industry, our association and their futures (see June EXPLORER).
  2. Initial meeting to discuss core purposes of AAPG and basic strategic objectives (August meeting).
  3. A four-month period to test ideas with members.
  4. Final development of strategic plan and action items at AAPG's Leadership Conference in February 2004.
  5. Implementation of action items.
  6. Evaluation of results.

The Advisory Council members first discussed this status of AAPG and industry. Next, they discussed "Core Ideology," defined by the "Core Purpose" of the association and the "Core Values" of its members.

Next, the group started discussing and evaluating four planning horizons.

  • The first planning horizon is the envisioned future for the next 10 to 30 years. This step involves looking far into the future and defining a "big audacious goal" for the society.
  • The second involves defining critical factors for the next five-to-10 years. The Advisory Council discussed assumptions about the future and started recommending strategic choices.
  • The third horizon is detailed strategic planning for three-to-five years. It involves goals and strategies to reach those goals. It also involves organizational strategy.
  • Fourth is action planning for the next one-to-two years. This is basically an immediate business plan to implement all of the above.

Although the timeline for this plan is designed to last one year, strategic planning is really a continuous effort. You will be hearing and seeing the results of the plan as they unfold. The important thing is to make AAPG more proactive.

In capturing Posmos I was reacting to the situation. I couldn't leave him in the chest, so I needed a plan to see if he could be saved. The next day I called Animal Control. They said they were closed on Monday (I guess there are no wild animals on that day), but said I could release him into the country (at least that's what they would do).

We released him in the country, but we had a hard time getting him out of the box. I guess the security of a nice warm place with food and water is hard to give up.

The purpose of the strategic plan is security and benefits for the association and its members. Implementation is the key to any plan, so we are looking forward to developing the strategic plan and making sure that it is used for the benefit of AAPG members, their respective industries, and the security of the association.

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