Nov 28, 2008
We headed out from the homestead right on schedule Wednesday at 9:00 A.M. The weather was sunny, the temperature was mild, and the company was divine :o)
We made it through the Kokomo Hell Zone without to much trouble (the bypass has become so congested and overgrown, that the new HWY 31 will need to bypass the bypass).
Then we headed West after going through the Indianapolis interchanges. Beth used to live there and she could not believe the amount of growth and ongoing construction. Certainly the slowdown was not evident in Indy. From Indy all the way to Springfield, MO, the traffic was semi-dense, and the drivers were definitely dense LOL. I do not understand how people have forgot the common courtesy of driving on the freeway. I use the cruise control to make sure I do not get in any trouble with our law enforcement brethren, and I cannot tell you how many times people pulled out in front of me, doing 5-10 mph below the speed limit. It made for a long drive, but we made it only 20 minutes latter than we had predicted.
At the five minute latter than predicted time, I turned to Beth and said my Mom is starting to squirm now because we are not there yet. Beth said, I was just thinking the same thing. Sure enough, when we pulled into the driveway, the door was slightly ajar and my Mom was watching for us. It was even worse because she did not know what the truck looked like :o)
She was ecstatic to see us, and we were correct in our assessment, she started getting very antsy when we were not there at the top of the hour.
We had a wonderful family Thanksgiving yesterday, and also got to see my ex-BIL and his girlfriend. They are doing well and are coming over for dinner on Sunday. Today, we foraged for some groceries and are at a wonderful library complex in Springfield. Beth is on the laptop, and I am using my Mom's library card at one of the terminals. My one hour is getting ready to expire, so just want to say that I am thankful for being with me wife and mother for Thanksgiving, that we arrived safely, and that all indications are that our Spotter friends had great Thanksgivings.
Peace to each and every one of you, and thank you for your holiday wishes and blessings.
Nov 25, 2008
Tomorrow, we are heading off to Missouri to visit my Mom for the Thanksgiving holiday. We are taking our laptop, but do not know when we will be able to get connected since my Mom does not have a computer. I did "google" a Starbucks with Wi-Fi, so will get on at least once LOL.
In preparation for our trip (ten hour drive), I filled up the truck today, and could not believe that I only paid $1.679 per gallon. WooHoo :o)
In advance, I wish each and every one of you a very Happy Thanksgiving!
Nov 24, 2008
The agency's mission has evolved dramatically since its inception under the Treasury Department. Today, there are more than 3,200 members, ready to sacrifice their lives for he safety of the leader of the free world.
The agency's job originally was to stamp out counterfeiting in an era when one out of every three bills in circulation was fake. Presidential security became a formal objective after the assassination of President McKinley in 1901. It wasn't until 1951, after a failed attempt on President Truman, that Congress codified the agency's permanent protection of the First Family. Its duties also now include candidates for high office (they have been guarding "Renegade" since May 2007, longer than any other presidential candidate in U.S. history).
Monitoring for fiscal malfeasance is still half of the agency's job though. In August, the Secret Service helped crack what was heralded as the largest identity-theft ring in U.S. history (so where was the publicity on this? Oh, thats right, our media machine usually only reports on the negative. End of Rant :o).
Hope you enjoyed this little historical stroll :o)
Nov 23, 2008
There have been some discussion threads and entries about the pros and cons of assistance to the Big Three (This one for you Mark).
This got me thinking, at first blush, I am against a "bailout" (it is bad business planning and poor decision making, the company(s) do not deserve to be bailed out), and that is the fiscal conservative republican side of me. After all, if we bail out the auto industry, what is next, every struggling company will line up with the palms extended upwards (sometimes holding a bucket). Where do we draw the line?
Then there is the socially liberal side that looks at the impact to the people, the workers and families that were simply doing their jobs, and they may have to pay the ultimate price. How do we address that issue, do we bailout the companies, do we provide increased welfare and job training, do we do a packaged bankruptcy with government backing???
I can see, understand, and empathize with both perspectives. So, I decided to look at the business case perspective; what is better for the average taxpayer. Some facts/assumptions:
- One Million workers potentially impacted.
- Average weekly unemployment benefit is $359/week (assume 20 weeks)
- Assume average salary is $60K/year, and that workers will be out of work for a year.
What is the burden to the taxpayer if do not provide some assistance? The unemployment benefits will cost $7.18 Billion. The lost tax revenue, assuming a 25% rate, will cost $15 Billion in lost taxes. So, without even considering downstream costs to other local businesses that lose sales, and without considering job training and placement assistance, we are at a greater than $22 Billion impact if we do nothing.
So, I say that some assistance package is necessary, for the good of the impacted workers and their families, as well as for all tax payers. I think that some guarantees of repayment (so the assistance is more like a loan) and harsh realities for the executives (no bonuses, reduced pay) are definitely in order. Longer term, we need to consider reduction in manufacturing in other countries, retooling for renewable technology, and some union concessions are in order to ensure the viability of this industry in our country.
I think that whenever we are faced with such a dilemma, we need to run the numbers, figure out what the business case is, and make our decisions based on facts, not emotion. When the number of impacted employees is around a million, the numbers do not lie; when the numbers are in the thousands, it is much harder to make the case.
Nov 22, 2008
Since everyone enjoyed the last picture of Sheeba, getting some heat from the register, I thought I would post another picture I took a couple of months ago.
We picked up beanie babies that were a black panther some time back. Sheeba likes to play with them, often tossing them in the air (especially after I rub some catnip on it, hmm, good idea, I am doing it now).
Okay, that was fun, he enjoyed his "treat". Here is a mini-slide show.
Nov 21, 2008
Now, however, Hyperion Power Generation — a US company based in New Mexico — has brought the dream of tiny nuclear reactors one step closer with its Power Module. This nuclear reactor — or "battery" as the firm calls it — is not much larger than a hot-tub and could supply thermal energy at a rate of about 70 MW. That could be converted into about 27 MW of electricity (thermal efficiency is about 33%), which would be enough to supply about 20,000 US households.
The firm says it will have a prototype of its reactor fully-designed next year and that it has already secured an order for six units from a group of investors in Eastern Europe, including the Czech engineering company TES, who have an option to buy a further 44. It also claims to have other commitments from various parties — mostly energy utilities that currently use diesel generators in remote locations — for a further 100 units. The company expects to deliver its first reactor in June 2013.
Reactors would be configured and sealed at its factory, which has not yet been built, before being shipped to customers. Installation would take as little as six months and a reactor could remain in place for at least five years before the spent reactor would have to be returned to the factory and recharged with fresh fuel.
Hyperion believes that its reactors are ideally suited for companies needing a source of power in remote areas, such as mining companies or those wishing to extract oil from, say, the Canadian oil sands — an application that Altira has long been interested in. This is an energy intensive process that is currently fuelled by natural gas. According to Peterson, the large quantities of greenhouse gases that are generated during extraction could be reduced greatly if a Hyperion reactor were used — although the company has no firm orders from the oil industry.
About the author
Hamish Johnston is editor of physicsworld.com
Nov 20, 2008
Hope you have a great Friday and an easy slide into the weekend :o)
In addition, I think they made a great decision in the house today to change leadership on the Energy Committee. A new focus on alternative energy and global warming vs. the status quo. As usual, California has been a leader in this type of situation, and frankly, I think there are some things we can learn from their approach. If you are interested in details, read on :o)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman, a California liberal, won the chairmanship of a key congressional energy committee on Thursday and promised to work closely with President-elect Barack Obama to promote alternative energy, ease global warming and expand health care.
Waxman wrested control of the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee from Rep. John Dingell of Michigan, a longtime friend of the now-ailing U.S. auto industry.
The action was taken on a vote of 137-122 at a closed-door meeting of House Democrats. Waxman will take the gavel when the 111th Congress convenes on January 6, two weeks before Obama is sworn in as the 44th president.
"American people are hurting all around this country," a victorious Waxman told reporters on Capitol Hill. "They are demanding action. And we must live up to their expectations."
Waxman, known as a skilled legislator, said the new committee leadership would help "to get important issues passed in health care, environmental protection, in energy policy."
Many of Obama's plans will be funneled through the Energy and Commerce Committee, whose vast jurisdiction includes consumer protection, regulation of energy resources, global warming, conservation, health and auto emissions.
Waxman favors stronger fuel economy standards for U.S. cars and trucks. But with the three major U.S.-based automakers facing severe financial problems, it may be difficult to boost gasoline mileage requirements that federal law says must climb by 40 percent to 35 miles per gallon by 2020. That is still lower than what is required for vehicles in Europe and Asia.
Environmental groups welcomed Waxman as the new chairman of the powerful committee
"Waxman will help Obama move forward with his agenda," said Frank O'Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch.
Waxman's immediate priorities will likely be passing legislation to promote alternative energy that would help create the millions of "green" jobs that Obama has called for.
He is also expected to seek to clear a bill that would cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and prepare America to be part of an international agreement to fight global warming.
"Waxman undoubtedly would press more aggressively for effective legislation to limit greenhouse gas emissions," said O'Donnell. "Dingell is the favorite of the K Street lobbyists because they realize he will move more slowly, and not require their companies to do as much on global warming."
Fossil-fueled vehicles, like those made in Dingell's district, which includes Detroit, are key sources of greenhouse gas carbon dioxide that contributes to global warming.
Dingell, the longest-serving member of the House, fought for decades for breaks for the Big Three automakers, which are now seeking emergency financial aid from Congress.
Dingell eventually joined the drive to force the industry to build more efficient cars, and last year helped win passage of legislation to increase fuel economy standards, but not as much as Waxman and others wanted.
Ethan Siegal of the Washington Exchange, which tracks Congress for institutional investors, said Waxman's harder edge had long been noted.
"We see Dingell as a more pragmatic, deal-making liberal with whom the business community can negotiate; and we see Waxman as more of a classic take-no-prisoners liberal who tends to go for the jugular."
Greenpeace praised Waxman's global warming plan to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2020 and for the long term by 80 percent by 2050.
Waxman previously sought to block the Environmental Protection Agency from issuing permits for new coal-fired power plants unless those facilities installed the best technology to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Waxman is a big supporter of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power and is a major critic of Big Oil. He has also investigated the cozy relationship some oil companies have had with Interior Department employees responsible for overseeing drilling on federal lands.
Nov 19, 2008
I’m pretty hard core about things when it comes to the workplace. I believe the workforce is divided into three segments: Core Employees – 20% of the workforce who are hardwired to give 110%; Temporary Employees – 60% of the workforce who have the potential to become Core Employees if properly trained and motivated; and The Others – 20% of the workforce who should have been fired yesterday. And, no, I don’t believe The Others will be anything but The Others regardless of how much time, energy and resources a Company expends on them. It would be better to take the time, energy and resources wasted on The Others (like that last raise The Others received just because it was company wide) and apply it to Core Employees who deserve it! I agree with this, HR sometimes has a tendency to push for generic standards, versus true pay for performance. All performance is not equal, and your Eagles should be rewarded, and your Mice should become food.
My management philosophy is pretty simple, but effective: Reward and Recognize those Employees who exceed expectations; train and motivate those Employees who have potential to exceed expectations and then give them a deadline to start exceeding expectations; and get rid of those Employees who do not have the potential or do not want to exceed expectations. But when I advise my clients on how to implement this highly effective approach to improving performance in the workplace, the first obstacle is not the Employees but the fact that management either has not established standards and expectations or is not constantly enforcing them! How true is this, do you know what it will specifically take to get a 5% raise versus a 1% raise? Do you have specific goals outlined to get you a promotion. I would say the answer to these questions will generally be "no".
Since I believe having good standards and high expectations and enforcing them are essential to maximizing profit, here are a few rules to start the process:
Ø Develop standards and high expectations. Include Core Employees in this process. Ø High expectations begin in the hiring process. Do not hire those who lack the mindset for good work (think Nucor which established facilities in rural areas where they knew they would hire the farmer mentality – hard work all day every day).
Ø Tell new Employees in orientation what the standards and expectations are and that they are expected to meet them. Use clear language. Leave no doubt in their minds! Ø Constantly communicate to everyone in the workforce by your words and actions what the standards and expectations are.
Ø Accept no excuses for unacceptable behavior that violates your standards. No way; no how! If you occasionally accept unacceptable behavior, in time you will routinely be accepting unacceptable behavior. Every exception weakens the standard and reduces profit.
Ø Periodically review the standards and expectations to determine if they still make sense for your Company. Do not change them to accommodate the Temporary Employees or The Others! If the Core Employees have a problem with them review and adjust if necessary.
Ø Enforce the standards by first disciplining and then terminating those who do not meet them. The Core Employees will applaud you; the Temporary Employees will be motivated to become Core Employees or leave; and The Others will know their day is coming.
Ø Supervisors and Managers who do not enforce appropriate standards and have expectations for their Work Team are classified as The Others!
The Bottom Line is: Does your Company have high standards and expectations? Does your Company communicate and enforce those standards and expectations?
Again, an allegory to every day life - do you have high standards and expectations? Do you stand behind those standards and values? Do your family and friend understand what makes you tick, what will allow them to soar with you, or to become food fodder? The key is to communicate and let your feelings and expectations be known.
Nov 18, 2008
Can words do justice to your emotions?
Do you express your love daily, or only on special occasions?
Today, on this most special anniversary, the marriage to my best friend, I am speechless. Nothing I write here can convey the love I have for my wife.
Nov 17, 2008
Lisa likes to focus on four ways to LEAD - Listen, Encourage, Act, and Delegate.
Listen: Listen to suggestions without judgment, and say "Thank You."
Encourage: Please, Thank you, I'm Sorry, I don't know. Are you comfortable making these statements.
Act: Set Expectations, Establish the Ground Rules, Follow-up.
Delegate: It means "letting go." You need to make sure the expectations are clear.
Make sure you maintain a balance. Know what is important, but live by your rules :o) I believe that these aspects of leadership are applicable in our every day lives. I know I do my best to live by these attributes, do you ???
Nov 16, 2008
So here are the seven I decided to give you a glimpse of, hope you enjoy and visit :o)
The Marie-Antoinette A Real Person, A Real Award These are the rules:
1. Please put the logo on your blog
2. Place a link to the person from whom you received the award
3. Nominate at least 7 or more blogs
4. Put the links of those blogs on your blog
5. Leave a message on their blogs to tell them (admission, I skipped this step).
So, here are my seven, please visit and leave a comment, and if you like what you see, then consider following.
Wildcat (while Frank is not real, Wildcat is, and I look forward to his twice per week entries :o)
Dan (a.k.a. Slapinions, can not get much more real than this :o)
Sonya (a.k.a. My Southern Home, pictures, pets, and antics :o)
Lippy (a.k.a. Jimmy at The Stupidsheet :o)
Sherry (a.k.a. Sherry's Weightloss Journey :o)
Barry (a.k.a. Whaffle & Whinge, life and times of a UK postman :o)
Wes (a.k.a. Life Is What It Is Sometimes :o)
And I'm spent. Hope you visit my friends above.
And, my friends, hope you had a great weekend and that the new week finds you in good health and even better spirits.
Here are some pictures from the great night we had last night at our Political Action Committee (PAC) appreciation and solicitation event last night.
We heard nothing but good things about the venue and the food. Beth did a great job, and she was given appreciation several times during the welcoming speeches (yes, one of them was me).
If you look close at the pictures, you will see Beth in several of them, and there is also one of us together. It was nice to get dressed up.
After the dinner, a small group of us went to a local Irish Pub and had some good cheer and good company.
All in All, a fun evening.
Nov 15, 2008
To try and reinforce expectations and behavior, we decided to have a human performance intervention yesterday. What we are starting to recognize is that while we have had a strong focus on safety and have internalized that message in the last year - hence the culture change, we have not had the same focus on human performance.
It all starts with situational awareness (be aware of your surroundings, and take two minutes to think about what you are going to do before you actually start), stopping when uncertain, trust but verify, and taking the time to do it right the first time (it takes more time to do it over than to slow down and not let false time pressure cause you to make errors). These aspects of human performance are applicable to all aspects of your life, not just an industrial situation.
So yesterday, my assignment was in the outside area of the plant, stopping and introducing myself, asking the workers what human performance tools they are using to perform their work safely, and to show that we care about them and their safety and performance. Isn't that what interventions are all about? They were receptive and friendly, and it actually felt good to show that we care :o)
What area of your life are you not completely satisfied with, and what type of intervention will you implement?
Nov 13, 2008
Looking forward to the weekend, as I am sure you all are as well. We are looking forward to the ND vs. Navy game, then our evening at the Studebaker Museum for the PAC dinner. We will take pictures :o)
May your Friday be speedy, and your weekend slow...
Nov 12, 2008
It has been crazy at work, especially with my little business trip at the end of last week. Alas, any time I take a few days away from work, it seems it takes me a week or so to "Ketch-Up".
I have several meetings tomorrow with Senior Management, and today I had to "spend" my time in the field observing work activities, to meet expectations. So instead of focusing on my core responsibilities today, I had to focus on ancillary responsibilities. That results in a mini-rant, because after a 10 hour day at work, and a two hour total commute, I had to spend another 1.5+ hours here at home trying to get ready for tomorrow. If I did not comment on your entry, please give me a pass :o)
Happy Hump Day, and hope you can slide into the Weekend.
Nov 11, 2008
Nov 10, 2008
Nov 9, 2008
As we were talking, I told her I took a picture of the Iowa mountains (LOL), here they are. She had a quite quizzical response :o)
Yesterday was a fairly productive day at the Project Management Meeting. After the meeting ended, I got in a quick workout, and then we headed out to downtown Cedar Rapids for a very nice dinner, and then a group of us went across the street to a piano bar. Both businesses only reopened in the last two weeks as a result of the Cedar River flooding after the June 2008 Midwest flooding.
At dinner, I sat next to an older black gentleman from Chicago. We discussed the recent election results, had a great discussion about wine selection and storage (he was a bit of a novice, but was extremely interested in learning more), and Ball State. He was very excited about the football team still being undefeated at 9-0, and the potential for a BCS bowl bid :o) He played right offensive tackle there as an undergraduate.
At the piano bar, it was interesting how the pianist, who was very entertaining, did not take a break for the whole three hours that we were there. He played up a storm, and made a boat-load of money by taking requests, and by stopping playing certain requests (like country music, just does not get the piano bar crowd going LOL). It was a fun evening, but I was in no shape to do any Blogging or such when I got back to the hotel.
After my two presentations this morning, it was off to the airport for the journey home. No bad travel events to report. I got home shortly after 7:00 P.M., and watched a pitiful Notre Dame game at Boston College, they got shutout. Nothing more worth being said.
Beth and Sheeba were very happy to see me when I got home. A busy few days, and it is nice to be home-sweet-home. Hope your weekend is going well :o)
Nov 7, 2008
Productive day at our Strategic Advisory Group meeting, we developed a "hosting" document shell for the conduct of our Regional Meetings, which should come in handy as Beth plans our May 2009 regional meeting in South Bend. She was a trooper when I asked her if she would be up to the task (Thanks Honey :o)
I brought my workout clothes, and did head down at 5:00 P.M. for a 55 minute workout. This is the first one in about six weeks, and it was good. I think I am back in the groove and ready to make use of our little home gym :o)
Today is Friday, so hope you are making a smooth transition into the weekend :o)
Nov 5, 2008
The knock comes on the door, I mumble "just a minute", as I move the iron to a safe place.
I open the door to receive my shrimp cocktail, fried calamari, and cool amber beverages; with a slight flush on my cheeks, because you see, I am ironing my shirts for the next three days.
Using the iron is nothing new to me, I have used it many times on my travels and in my previous life, but having room service come-a-calling while it was in use is a new one on me :o)
Miss Ginger, I make this entry for you; Hugs.....
I am here for a Regional meeting of the Project Management Institute (PMI), Region 2. I will not bore you here with details, but I have been the Michiana Chapter President since 2005. We get together to brainstorm and share what works and what does not, several times per year :o)
For the most part, an enjoyable day. I spent the morning with my Bride, and it was very enjoyable as we both still had the election night glow going. We had some great laughs regarding a "troll" that emerged today on her Blog, but the traffic and comments at Nutwood Junction stand for themselves (if you have the stomach, go read them :o).
Then, about 1:00 P.M., I headed to the airport for my sojourn here to Cedar Rapids. I had the good fortune of sitting next to a Service Man (Army) in Chicago, and spent quite a time talking with him. Of course, I bought him a cool amber beverage, and shook his hand, giving him thanks for his service (he has been in Iraq).
On the way to the hotel, I was the only passenger on the "shuttle", and we had a great chat. He used to play football, and tried to get a scholarship at Iowa State (IU is the local favorite, but they would not give him the time of day). He has his degree, in Psychology, but could not find the right job (what a shame!!!), but had an excellent outlook. We discussed politics, higher education, sports, and educational opportunities. I could not help myself, because he was a great young man, and I went into mentor mode, and gave him some things to think about regarding getting Marriott to pay for his MBA :o)
Hope you are all having a great day today, I know mine was priceless :o)
Again, without going out on a limb, but looking at Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio; with 99% of the precincts reporting, I am declaring Indiana for Obama :o)
I think that McCain did his best to be gracious in his concession, and that Obama made a plea to unite our country.
Who ever you voted for, lets get down to healing this GREAT country of ours.
Nov 4, 2008
Between a late night at work, a business trip tomorrow, and watching the election results, and trying to keep Beth in our orbit, I apologize in advance for not commenting and visiting as many "Spots" as normal tonight :o)
Nov 3, 2008
Nov 2, 2008
Nov 1, 2008
Between some home projects, and a large stack of work-work, I could not sleep in past 7:15 this morning. So I turned on the coffee, headed out to get the paper, and was all caught up on news and Spotters by 9:00. I put in a couple of hours of work-work, then got on with the program.
I headed out to Lowes to get some electrical supplies, and the place was very busy. I hope that is a sign that after 4-6 weeks of hunkering down, that we are ready to start venturing out a bit and get our economy moving a bit. When I talked to the manager (who opened up a new lane), he indicated that it was very busy, and he was appreciative when I said "that is a good thing :o)"
The main plan today was to install some new outlets in the old garage for our home gym area. I turned off the breaker for the garage, but put on gloves just in case, and sure enough, when I cut into the wire for one of the outside lights, sparks flew. Drat, I did not do a thorough vetting of the candidates for energizing my garage campaign (sound familiar? :o). So, we powered down the house, I installed the new outlets, did a reconnoiter of the power source, and we are back up and running (and know which breaker to use next time :o). We took the opportunity to reset all of the clocks for the time change tonight/in the morning (0200 hours), so no-harm-no-foul. I also picked up two new oil-radiant heaters, and some new 150W equivalent CFL bulbs for the home gym garage area. Tomorrow, we will assemble the weight machine, and we will be up and running.
Currently watching ND, a 3-3 tie with Pitt, and Illinois starts their game at 3:30, so ta-ta for now!