Quote of the Week

"One cool judgment is worth a thousand hasty councils."
- Woodrow Wilson

Friday, November 30, 2012

Habitat For Humanity Has It All Wrong

Habitat For Humanity is building another house on the edge of the town I work in. I really don't see why they're doing this. No, I'm not going to rant on and on about building a house for someone who can't afford one. But, what Habitat For Humanity is a huge waste of time, materials and money. Plus they are not doing as much good for the community as they could.

Within eye sight of the construction site are several houses that are sitting empty, and several more that are for sale.  To me, is seems like a much better idea for Habitat For Humanity to buy these properties, fix up what needs fixing (if anything) and give them to the unfortunate.

By doing this, Habitat For Humanity would:
  • Put people into housing in a faster time frame
  • Would most likely be able to help more people with their funds
  • Help out current homeowners who are on the verge of being foreclosed on
  • Help out the real estate market people
  • Reduce the unneeded sprawl of a neighborhood/town/city
Just seems wasteful in so many ways to build a new house, when a perfectly good house sits empty a block away.

Sir Richard. British for: awesome.

Richard Branson is a role positive model for all leaders.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

$7 Per Cup Coffee & Stupid People

Here's a link to something very funny yet very sad.

Starbucks now offers a premium coffee that's $7 per cup. Late night host, Jimmy Kimmel, setup a on the street taste test. Only neither of the samples were the new premium coffee.

Do you know what really makes me cringe? I can buy a whole can (makes 240 cups) of Folgers for $7 and have coffee for a month, and I know a few people who would justify buying Starbucks because it is soooo much better. Plus make fun of me for either being cheap, or not having any taste in coffee.

Some of these same people also complain about being broke and buy into the whole "rich get richer while the poor stay poor" way of thinking. That's partly because some of the poor are buying $7 per cup coffee from the rich, instead of brewing their own for a few cents per cup.


Last night the Powerball lottery had a record jackpot. This really brings out the stupid in America.

You hear people say things that defy all practical logic. My favorite three are:

 "I normally don't waste my time with this, but when the jackpot is over $100 million  then I play."
 Right, because $99,000,000.00 is really not worth all that effort it takes to buy a ticket.

"I didn't when the jackpot, but I won $10!"
Sure you "won" ten dollars, but you spent twenty playing the game. But the ten dollars you actually lost doesn't count in their mind, because that was "an investment."

"Sure I not likely to win, but some has to win it! You never know."
Someone will win it, and it won't be you. You have a better chance of being stuck by lightening SIX TIMES AND LIVING that winning a lottery jackpot.

The saddest part is, the people who throw their money away on the lottery saying "someone has to win" or "you never know", are the same people who won't invest in stocks or mutual funds because they are "too risky." They see something that has maintained an average 12% yearly gain over the last eighty years as too risky, but they'll buy tickets for a chance at a jackpot, when they more likely to be stuck by lightening six different times and live, than the win that jackpot. Someone has to win, and it won't be you.

Let's put some numbers to it. Let's say have an extra dollar each week and you have two options on how to use that dollar. One: you can add it to a mutual fund. Two; you can buy a Powerball ticket. If you bought Powerball tickets, at the end of the year you have on average about zero dollars. If you put the money into a mutual fund, at the end of the year you have on average about $58.24.

The old line of "the rich get richer, while the poor stay poor" is very true. One of the reasons is the rich aren't stupid enough to waste their money on the lottery. But hey; "some has to win it! You never know."

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Stuck in the ISO Rut

Having company standards and following industry standards, such as AS 9100 or ISO 9000 are a great thing. In today's market they are pretty much mandatory in order to be competitive, or even to be considered by a top tier company as a potential vendor. The benefits are many; consistency of process and product, increased efficiency, higher maintainable quality, etc. It is easy to see how these benefits are achievable. By creating standard work instructions and following a set of predefined "if than" options, re-thinking the same processes over an over can be eliminated.

But unfortunately, standards can be a double edged sword. I have had the opportunity to work for a defense contractor that is heavily involved with ISO 900 and AS 9100 procedures. A major problem with creating detailed work instructions and following a strict set of standard procedures is: when a situation arrases that does not meet those exact standard procedures, some people just stop dead in their tracks. I call it being stuck in the "ISO rut."

The ruts are extremely deep at this defense contractor, so deep progress on a project is often stopped dead in it's tracks. For one project I worked on for close to two years, the customer required all test assets, components and assemblies be shipped to their location via Fed Ex. The contractor's standard carrier is UPS. Every time I wanted to ship something, I had to walk the shipping department through the process.

"Do you really want this shipped Fed Ex? Normally we use UPS, because they stop here everyday. If I ship Fed Ex, I have to call them and sometimes it takes an extra day." is the response I got EVERY TIME I shipped something. I would respond "Yes, the customer requires Fed Ex and they are fine with the shipment taking an extra day." Instead of an "okay" or something similar the shipping person's response was usually "But, per our work instructions we ship UPS. If I ship Fed EX, I have to call them."

I got to the point I would leave the box on her desk with a note that said: "Please ship to the customer via Fed Ex. The customer requires shipments via Fed Ex and they are okay with the shipment taking an extra day, due to you having to schedule a pick up." Even with this note, about half the time I would get an email or a phone call asking if I was positive the parcel couldn't be shipped UPS. Stuck in the ISO rut.

This problem was not isolated to the shipping department. On another occasion, a part that needed to be shipped soon, was held in the inspection department. When I asked why the part was not moving on to it's next operation, they told me they couldn't inspect it. The work instruction for that part stated to use the Ziess CMM. Unfortunately the Ziess was off line for repairs and not available for use. I asked if there was a reason why the part couldn't inspected using other equipment. I asked if there was a feature that could only be inspected by the Ziess. The inspector said no, the part could easily be checked by other means, but the work instruction clearly says to use the Ziess. I told him to please inspect the part by any means possible, for we would miss our delivery date if we wait for the Ziess to be repaired. In a state of disbelief he say "But what about the work instruction? It clearly says use the Ziess." Stuck in the ISO rut.

I could bore you with other examples from engineering, purchasing, machining and assembly departments from this company of people, normally smart people, being stuck in the ISO rut. The downside with a system that is reliant on standards and procedures is if you're not careful, people will no longer trust their common sense and be lost without specific directions.

There needs to be a constant effort to make sure people will use there best judgment when a situation arises that does not meet the standards. That, after all is the very reason to adopt a ISO 9000 style standard. Originize your work and operations, create a maintainable order out of the chaos. That way you can spot potential problems before they become problems, giving you time to react.

People should keep vigilant and make sure company policies or procedures (ISO 9000 or otherwise) are not only being followed, but are helping bring the most out of the company, not limiting it inadvertently. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Shop Small Local Business Day

Today is Shop Small Local Business Day, and its just a crock o' crap. It's just a way for people who pushed and shoved their way through Target, Best Buy, Walmart, and Toys-R-Us to feel less guilty about it.

Today Facebook is full of posts from people pleading that they care and are shopping local today. While yesterday, they were bragging up the steals at Kohl's with their 30% off card.

You don't need a special day to shop locally. Those businesses are open year round.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Union: 'Bain-style' killing of Twinkie - Kevin Cirilli - POLITICO.com

Union: 'Bain-style' killing of Twinkie - Kevin Cirilli - POLITICO.com

I found the picture to this article interesting. A guy in designer glasses and a tailored suit blaming rick people for the demise of the Twinkie.

I truly wonder if he sees 18,000 people who lost their jobs, or merely 18,000 less monthly union dues being sent to his corporation organization?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Petitions to secede are filed for 23 states since election - Washington Times

Petitions to secede are filed for 23 states since election - Washington Times

 John Andrews, director of the conservative Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University. I no clue who this man is or what he does, nor do I really care. But he has the quote of the day in the attached article!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

No Voting For Me This Time

This upcoming election day I will do something I've never done. No, it's not vote for a Democrat, or a Republican. I have voted for many candidates from both the major and third parties.

For the first time in my adult life, I will not be voting. This is a very weird feeling for me. It's not that I can't make up my mind, or I'm protesting because the candidate of my choice isn't on the ballot. It's because I will be out of town for a last minute business trip. I just found out about it last Thursday and I didn't dawn on me that I will be on a thousand miles away from my local polling place until last Friday.

Sure I have time to submit an absentee ballot, but that would be against my principles and make me a hypocrite. You see I firmly believe that, unless you are confined to a hospital bed or are in the military, you should not be able to vote absentee. There is no other excuse for not being able to vote on election day in person. No exceptions.

I know many people will disagree (many have) with me on this. So below is a FAQ style answer to some of the common reasons people have discussed with me before and my responses.

Q: What about retirees who winter in another state?
A: They can come back and vote, or claim residency in that other state.

Q: What about somebody who moved and forgot to register?
A: Too bad, they should have been more responsible.

Q: What about somebody who JUST moved to a new place?
A: Again, too bad, they should have been more responsible. Many states have same day registration, if not the process doesn't take that long. You found the time to find a new place to live, get utilities, get mail sent to your new address, arrange for garbage pick up, and most likely cable or satellite TV. If you can find time for those things, you should have been responsible enough to register to vote.

Q: What if someone goes somewhere for vacation?
A: If going on vacation is more important to you than voting, then you're going to miss out on voting.

Q: What if someone works out of state?
A: Come back and vote, or claim residency in that other state.

Q: What if someone goes somewhere for a business trip? (like what I'm doing next week)
A: If going on a business trip is more important to you than voting, then you're going to miss out on voting. (like what I'm doing next week)

Q: What about an unavoidable emergency?
A: That one is unfortunate, but unavoidable emergencies don't happen all that often. If they truly did, we would have election week, not election day.

I strongly feel that there are few things more important than voting. It is a major responsibility and should not be taken lightly. Some will say that, that is the very reason for allowing absentee voting. They do make a very valid point. But I argue that making voting easier takes away from the commitment one should take in making their voice heard. Besides there are too many problems with absentee voting, both fraudulent and accidental errors happen too often.

Therefore, because I'm a man of my word, I will uphold my strong beliefs of voting... by not voting.