Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Balance: Left versus Right

left know not what the right does
When I ran the 'lean process improvement' program we'd look at opportunities to eliminate many types of waste.  Bringing people together we'd begin by flowcharting the process.  Often people who worked together daily would look at each other and state "you do that?"  Communication, documentation, the correct tools and resources and a commitment to continually measuring and improving the process was the desired outcome.  The left did not know what the right was doing.

Years ago I worked in manufacturing.  I did stuff. Running turret lathes, automated drilling machines, punch presses and large power shears were my deal.  As per the union contract the company was to provide certain supplies like aprons, safety glasses (no hearing protection in those days) and gloves.  The guy who handed out gloves would only give out a new pair if both gloves were worn out. 

I was reminded of him today.  As a predominantly left-handed but somewhat ambidextrous worker the wear patterns make no sense but this is how all my gloves wear.  It would be nice to partner up with someone with the opposite wear pattern.  Back in the 'plant' the simple fix would have been to hand out 'left' or 'right' or 'both.'  It was not the only manufacturing plant in the US with the same wear patterns.

Little Blue Stem

Remodeling Caffeine

Door 'Shim' Debris

Thursday, May 19, 2016

5-Minute #2 11% & Customer Service

Menard's customer service molding
 Customer service is quite simple.  Big box retailers use 'big data' to know what people need.  Walmart is excellent in this discipline.  Lumberyards had terrible customer service and many continue to make you feel like you are inconveniencing them AND you must be an idiot because you don't know all the grades of plywood.

During the previous remodeling I visited Menard's, a regional home improvement store, at least once a day.  The closest store is not one of their mega-footprint outlets but the people are generally good.

Menard's customer service molding
Menard's regularly runs store-wide 11% off sales.  You just need to go through the mechanics of filling out a small form and mailing in your receipts.  As a frequent visitor during those promotions I also leave some receipts in my pockets and miss the cut-off dates.  The sales are frequent enough that you can wait for one.

Today I needed six feet of additional molding.  The smaller store has been challenged with having adequate supplies of the type I needed, and today was no different.  The rack contained three eight foot pieces, each with cracks half the length.  The location intended could certainly be pieced.  Gathering up all three I headed to the checkout.  The first clerk said she'd call someone when I asked for a discount.  They should have been culled and put in the trash.  She called the head checkout clerk; we waited a few minutes for her to show.  Immediately she paged some sort of 'front of the store person'...we waited a few minutes for person #3, also.  It seemed that I should simply leave at this point but I kept thinking of the the missing six feet and the next nearest Menard's.  Person #3 showed up and picked up another phone and said she'd have to get the department head.  We're talking three pieces of $6.92 molding.  We now have quite a bit of labor added.  After five minutes the department head showed up and I showed my frustration.  "So it takes four Menard's employees to make a decision on three pieces of cracked molding?"  The response "that's why I'm here" gave me hope until he picked up his phone saying "I have to call someone."  This would have been the fifth person involved in the sale.  "I'll just skip it."

As I approached my car I remembered there was one other piece of molding in the rack, less damaged than the other.  Walking back across the parking lot and through the city block long store I approached the cabinetry section and found my rejected three pieces of broken molding back on sale.

Obviously the checkout person or the front of the store person should have been willing to offer 11% off on something obviously broken since everything is 11% off every month and it would have made no sense for me to break three pieces of molding selectively simply to get an 11% discount.

A few weeks ago the store manager and I had a nice long chat about the difficulty of finding employees who actually show up, can speak English, can interact with customers and who can make simple and meaningful decisions in the difficult retail market.  It's not enough to give up on Menard's or this particular store but the management staff needs to understand how little flaws lose customers.

Other than that the weather is nice.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Smoothwall Bob and the Loss of Digits

Dolgo Crab

Minnesota has had a strange spring.  A week ago Sunday we set a heat record of 92 degrees which beat the previous record set in 1930 something.  Following that, last Friday it snowed a bit.  With two nights of frosts our fruit shrubs and apple trees may have taken a hit.  Recently this Dolgo Crab has come into it's own in production.  We'll see how the global warming spring works out.

Dewalt mitre saw fingers casement molding
 Over a few years we used Smoothwall Bob for some minor remodeling.  At the beginning he was missing parts of a couple of fingers.  Each time he worked for us he was missing more parts (none on our jobs).  Then he died young.

Each and every time I use a miter saw I think of Smoothwall Bob, and check the location of my hands and fingers twice.  Five years working around large power shears and punch presses may have been a good warmup.  I'm not missing anything and I'm still alive.

Art is where you find it, Art.  Remodeling has it's moments.  With work and time we can have impact.

TurboTax  Windows 7 Java Scripting

For three of the past five years I've had issues with Java and scripting on this PC. A upgrade not during tax prep time is in order.  In the past I had people that did that sort of thing.  Now, I am them.

iPhone 5 SIM card error
My iPhone 5 has been giving recurring "No SIM Card" errors. A Google search suggested many corrective options. The first logical one was to remove the SIM card, look at it for a moment and re-install. That was interesting but did not solve the problem. The next suggestion was to put the phone in airplane mode for a few seconds. Wishing to be authentic but lacking an airplane I went outside, removed my belt and shoes, put everything in my pockets in a plastic tray, set off no alarms, jumped in the F-150, visualized the flight attendant's directions for using oxygen, followed his/her instructions and fastened my seat belt snugly. Fortunate to have an empty seat next to me I relaxed, turned my phone to 'airplane mode' for a few moments, imagined that the flight had been aborted and stepped out of the truck. The phone works. Often we're limited by logic when our imagination should prevail.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Five Minute Post #1

artist painting blog jobless
11:11 AM
  • Had to to cancel Firefox and reload using Task Manger.  This PC always has Java issues, but who doesn't.
  • Downloaded this image twice but could not find it.  I also downloaded one additional image which has been downloaded somewhere yet to be found.
  • I lost my internet connection. Alex, my pleasant Amazon Echo device, said she was sorry when I asked for Pink Floyd.

 Jobless but frantically busy I remain.  The remodeling project is now on a two week countdown to completion...with the exception of carpet selection and installation and 'staging.'  You cannot sell an empty housing unit now.  Buyers apparently lack the ability to look at a bedroom and think (or say) "this is a bedroom.  My bed could go on this wall or one of the other walls or in the middle."  You have to show them how each room is used.  America is seriously in trouble.  "Staging" is simply one more indicator.

There are large fires in Canada which are bringing smoke to MN which in combination with all the tree pollen is making the entire state wheeze and cough.

Generally speaking it's prudent to use a 3" rather than 2" angled brush for edging.  Unless you have a roller spinner (I've lost mine) it's prudent to buy "contractor pack" groups of rollers and disregard the environment.

11:16 AM ...  I'm out of time for the five-minute blog.  Certainly all of this was 1) going to come to some point and 2) I was going to address:
  • the decline of education in America
  • how Trump will bring us to more rather than less warfronts
  • why kids can't use a tape measure...and neither can the workers at Home Depot
  • how Bernie Sander's has ensured a Trump victory
  • last weeks planting of 300 seedlings
  • this weekend's upcoming planting of 300 seedlings
  • the loss of a 40 year friend/acquaintance
  • the open opportunity for an ERP consulting gig