December 14, 2009 – 9:06 pm
I learned the importance of strong controls the hard way. This summer, I left for a short vacation. I have a 100 gallon salt water coral fish tank and I thought I had prepared for every possible aquarium contingency before I left.
I had carefully lined up a part-time resource to cover me. I had applied all of the right technology. I had a monitoring system in place. The corals were starting to grow, algae was under control, and everything looked happy.
But, when I returned from my brief trip, my tank was destroyed, with 90% of my corals either …
December 10, 2009 – 2:54 am
While driving down the valley, I was struck by the variety of shapes, colors, and textures in the surrounding landscape and unbidden, my long-term interest in quilt making sprang to mind.
The making of quilts began as a “thrift” craft hundreds of years ago. Odd scraps of fabric left over from making clothing, empty sacks from flour and feed, and salvageable parts of worn out household items were sewn together to form warm bedding. In addition to being functional, many of these quilts were …
December 4, 2009 – 2:13 am
Well, we heard Tuesday night that we will be sending more troops to Afghanistan. We also heard that they may start coming home in 2011. Good luck with that! This rant is not about whether or not we should send more troops. I’ll leave that question to our readers.
The thing we need most from our leaders, whether in business or politics is Clear Vision. What we often get instead is a muddled lack of clarity and indecision. That’s what bothered me about Tuesday’s speech. I heard no real vision or plan, maybe you did, but I did not. What this …
November 29, 2009 – 12:29 am
We’ve all heard the stories about how St. Nick is able to make all of those Christmas Eve deliveries. What would happen if Santa’s team acted like some employees?
Dasher : “I don’t understand why Rudolf always gets to take the lead. I think I have better ideas about how to make these deliveries on time.”
Dancer: “ Let’s start in Norway then work our way back to North America. I would really like to stop by my favorite smoked salmon store to pick up a …
November 27, 2009 – 9:32 pm
Welcome back to my journey into Virgina. I last blogged about my visit to President Madison’s estate. Just down the road is Monticello, home of President Jefferson. This visit was more like Disneyland for history buffs and those who are curious about Jefferson. Once again I was thrown back in time and asked to imagine what it was like to live on this massive mountain-top estate. No matter what your political slant this self-taught man was a genius.
For instance, he designed the home and water collection system based upon his self study of …
November 18, 2009 – 8:57 pm
During a recent business trip to the East Coast I had a chance to explore part of Virgina. The photo above was taken from the balcony of President James Madison’s home. I must admit, growing up history classes bored me to tears so the thought of another history lesson wasn’t at the top of my list.
Boy was I surprised! The inspiration I received while on the tour of the Madison’s estate was unbelievable. I guess this is why I always liked field trips more than the classroom. Then again, who wouldn’t. As our docent described …
November 3, 2009 – 11:01 pm
Let me take you to Lancaster County PA home of the Amish and Mennonites. Here the longing for a simpler way of life although far from easier is practiced. During my exploration of the countryside I watched how a family would harvest their crops without the use of machinery. Across the road another family had large silos to store their corn. It is my understanding that the Amish do not believe in the use of machinery unlike the Mennonites. Both still work very hard to maintain their self sustaining …
October 28, 2009 – 12:12 am
I recently traveled to the East Coast to visit relatives and participate in my consulting accountants round table. Along the way I visited Amish country in Pennsylvania where I discovered a different way of life. Granted it isn’t one I would choose but it did provide a glimpse into how farm life used to be. You truly can appreciate how mechanization has improved many parts of a farming operation.
In wine country we still are reliant on a large labor force to perform many manual tasks. …
September 23, 2009 – 3:26 pm
Harvest is underway in the Napa Valley and there are many growers still looking for buyers of their grapes. The irony is that this is shaping up to be a great crop. So what happened? Well growers that often operate by the traditional handshake are finding that wineries just aren’t willing to take a risk this year. With fine wine sales off 20% + many vintners are getting nervous about growing inventory.
I have heard that some big wineries cancelled their long-term contracts which has left the growers with fruit ready to …
September 3, 2009 – 6:24 pm
I just finished a fascinating book by Matthew E. May called In Pursuit of Elegance. It includes a number of interesting examples, including concepts drawn from application of the Kaizen method at Toyota.
But one of its central themes is that elegance requires subtraction. One of the reasons we are having an economic adjustment right now is that we have spent much of the last five years in an additive state – increasing our ownership of property, buying ever larger automobiles, and packing our homes with stuff. Our corporations were bloated, our governments inefficient, and our time jammed with activities.
We have seen painful …