Tuesday, May 13, 2008

First grade back

I was just checking up on my final grades for this past semester and I was pleasantly surprised. First up was my Principles of Management and my grade is...(insert drum roll here)...A! Yes that's right I got an "A" which was kind of surprising given how I felt about the final exam. Almost want to contact the teacher and be sure but who am I to argue. I'll take it and run. Now I'm just awaiting the final results of my Lean Manufacturing class. I'm hoping for the best in that one. My GPA stands now at 3.66. Time for some happy music......

Saturday, May 10, 2008

School's out

Well my final for Lean Manufacturing was an experience. I think I passed ok but after not really being tested all semester and teacher being out 5 weeks(2 on vacation + 3 out for surgery) it was a challenge. I enjoy school but I was looking forward to a break to a normal schedule. Well now I can focus on other things(cars, computers etc...) > Well I thought I'd share this ballad from Alice Cooper which I thought was appropriate. I hope you enjoy!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Final day of school

Yes today is my final day of school. I have my final exam/class for Lean Manufacturing later in the afternoon. I must say I'm looking forward to a break from school. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy going to school but it wears on you a bit. Especially when it's between family, work and other stresses. I had my other exam yesterday in Principles of Management and boy I don't feel like I did very well. Even though I did the essay on the movie "Gung Ho" (part of the exam) . The rest of the exam had to do with our textbook reading (which I did do). Only thing is that come test time it's as if I came up blank. One part was a matching terms type which wasn't so bad. The killer was three essay questions. I absolutely hate those. Like I said I had a very, very tough time with them. I know my answers weren't that good. I think I did well enough in my other exams and work that I'll pass, but it just felt crappy finishing off like that. Oh well I hope to do better with today's exam.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Executive Suite

This is the essay I did for the movie "Executive Suite". My teacher seemed to like it so I thought I'd share it here. For more info about the movie you can check out this.




When Tredway Furniture's President suddenly dies we are taken behind the scenes to see the power struggle that ensues. What I'd like to show here are the people involved and the situation they are thrown into. Then I will cover how and why they come to choose the President they choose. What are the ideals and principles they live by? What you may discover is that they are not much different from ourselves. None are perfect with strength's and weaknesses like the rest of us.

It's hard to describe Tredway without first mentioning Avery Bullard. Avery Bullard was the President of Tredway furniture for many years. He had rescued the company from it's dark times in the past. He took great pride in his work but had perhaps lost his way in the last few years in which he was heavily influenced by Loren Shaw's way of efficiency and maximized profit. He ran the the company with a firm hand. He had apparently a close relationship with Julia Tredway, the founder's great-granddaughter who was also a major stockholder. The exact nature of this relationship was never revealed.

We first meet George Caswell who was one of the last to see Bullard alive. He is an investment banker who is also a member of Tredway's Board of Directors. He believes he sees Bullard on the streets below being taken away apparently dead. In which he first tries to make a shady insider deal. This reveals what kind of character he is. He likes to make a fast buck and lives life lavishly.

Frederick Alderson is Tredway's Vice President, Treasurer. He's a close friend of Avery Bullard's and is considered the number-two man in the company. Upon the news of Avery's death he tries to take command of the situation only to find Loren Shaw already making moves. At which point he realizes that he was never to be President of Tredway. Though he is unsure of who should be President but, he is sure who doesn't want. Loren Shaw.

Jesse Grimm is the Vice President of Manufacturing and member of the Board of Directors. He's very proud of his work but has grown weary. He's somewhat resentful of Don Walling's education and probably feels jealous of it. He's now feels ready to retire.

Walter Dudley is Vice President of Sales for Tredway. He's a people pleasing type of person usually avoiding confrontations. He's married but is having an affair with his secretary. Loren Shaw finds out about this and tries to bully Dudley for his vote. Though he does overcome this in the end.

Erica Martin is the Executive Secretary. She is very professional in her work and in her demeanor. She is not intimidated by Shaw but shows no preference for who the next president should be. She was also close and respectful of Avery Bullard.

Julia Tredway is the great-granddaughter of Josiah Tredway founder of the company. Her father had committed suicide after which the Avery Bullard took over the company and built it up to what it is currently. She apparently had a very close relationship Mr. Bullard but was very jealous of the time and attention he gave to it. She is a major stockholder and member of the board of directors. She is so despondent over Bullards death that she is ready to sell her share of the stock.

Loren Shaw is Vice President Controller of the company he's very proactive and attention to

detail orientated. I perceive him to be a very nervous and insecure person inside and tries to overcome this by getting every detail, fact or figure about whatever he is to encounter. In this manner he tries take advantage of Caswell by assuring him he'd cover his insider trader deal. He also find's out about Dudley's affair with his secretary. Also he takes advantage of Julia Tredway's depressed condition to gain control of stock and vote on the board(by proxy). He is of the opinion that stockholders “return on investment” is the most important thing for the company.

MacDonald Walling is the Vice President of Design and Development. He's an idealist designer devoted to his work. Despite the feelings of his wife he's reluctant to blame Bullard for failings and lack of funding of recent research and development projects. At first he has no aspirations for the presidency though like Alderson he is certain it shouldn't be Shaw. He comes to realize the company lacks pride in workmanship and overall vision for the future. He comes to realize this and that he should be the one that leads Tredway into the future.

The climax of the drama takes place in the meeting boardroom to elect a new president in Bullard's place. Don Walling is waiting for his one known ally Fred Alderson and Jesse Grimm whom he's having trouble reaching. Shaw seems to think he's got the votes needed. Both literally and figuratively in his corner are Caswell held by an assurance to cover his insider deal. Dudley with the knowledge of his personal affairs. Also in hand is Julia Tredway's vote by proxy. In the other corner is Walling and the neutral Erica Martin.

Just as the meeting begins the security Shaw had starts to come unraveled. Julia Tredway decides to enter the meeting taking a sure vote away from Shaw. Loren Shaw is nominated by Dudley but the voting is inconclusive in the first round. Alderson arrives with Grimm before the second round has begun. Alderson had been unable to sway Grimm's opinion. Walling then challenges Shaws to exactly spell out his vision for Tredway. Loren then spells out what he believes. His belief is that the stockholders are the most important ones to please. In which profit and stock dividends are most important. He also believes strongly in return on investment.

Walling then outlines his vision. He feels in recent years Bullard had perhaps lost his way and became focused on profit's and dividends. He had reached a plateau. What was lost was a sense of pride in accomplishment not only by Bullard but by many in the company. They had even resorted to producing inferior but highly profitable products like the “KF” line. Walling essentially envisions a balance between profit and investment in the future. Then he feels that Tredway had reached a turning point. That just trying to gain profit will starve a company. Arguing that profits must be used for future research and development for new products. Growth of the company is important as well as profit and dividends. He in turn assures Grimm, Dudley, Shaw, and Julia Tredway how this would effect them. He encourages them all to work together as a team to reach this next goal of the company. Uncharacteristically and with enthusiastically Walt Dudley nominates Don Walling for President. Perhaps caught up in the moment the move is made unanimous and he is made president of Tredway.

In all it was an interesting insight into what goes on in the boardroom. No one person is perfect each with there own strengths and weaknesses. One thing it does teach is that a company it's not just about reaching a profit. To also grow and sustain itself is important. Companies need to invest in the future as well as profit. Just like in personal finances if you work and spend your pay without saving for the future. What will happen when retirement time comes and you have nothing to show for it. Another observation is that one should have pride in your workmanship. To reach for goals that are important and that we care about. Without this type of compass in our lives we can perhaps lose our way like Avery Bullard had.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


It's been a strange semester. Well I did end up finishing my project for Lean Manufacturing. the only thing is that after seeing what other peoples projects were I realized I should have put more effort into it. I didn't go deep enough into the project as I felt I should have. I was disappointed in myself to some degree. What makes that class a bit different is that the teacher went out shortly after that for surgery and we haven't had classes for the last three weeks. We only have three weeks left in the course.

My Production Management class has been a bit mixed. I finished up the essay for Executive Suite and and took the test too which I did well with both(a 92% on test as a whole including essay). Since that point we've been working on formula's for which I barely have a clue how they work. Fortunately the teacher broke us into groups which helped. I certainly hope they aren't on the final exam. We had our spring break week last week but were back this week which he says we'll be watching another movie. Which we'll probably have to write on our final exam like the last one.

Thursday, March 6, 2008


I've been in a rut as far as school work in concerned. I've got an essay to write for an exam in one class I haven't even started. My Lean Manufacturing class I have a project due in less than two weeks and I haven't even started. It has to be a 5S project, Process map or Value-added map. I had originally thought of doing a 5S project at home in my garage but I haven't followed through yet. Though I did take some photo's to show beginning point. I may still do that but I have to set aside the time to do it. I thought of doing a project at my job but none seem to come to mind. I'll probably go with the garage idea.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Re: I suck

Well I got my test back today from Production Management and I was pleasantly surprised I got an 88% on it. Plus he liked my essays I did on them too. Sometimes I doubt my own abilities. Today we watched "Executive Suite" which I found very interesting. I wrote some quick notes about it which I'll probably share here at some point. I'm glad I bought the movie off of Amazon. Since I've got to write a paper about it it'll be easier to review rather than try and remember it. The grade I got was a good ego booster.


Now that I've been back to school I've forgotten how interesting(or not) that teachers can be. My teacher for one of my courses for instances loves the salient. As in "I will go over the salient points of the chapter". This word I'd have to admit is probably not one used in normal conversation(at least not in my small circle). I kind of got the meaning of the word by the context in how he used it. Just for the heck of it I decided to check out the true meaning of it. Here's what I came up with:

Click here for link to page.

sa·li·ent /ˈseɪliənt, ˈseɪlyənt/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[sey-lee-uhnt, seyl-yuhnt] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
1. prominent or conspicuous: salient traits.
2. projecting or pointing outward: a salient angle.
3. leaping or jumping: a salient animal.
4. Heraldry. (of a beast) represented as leaping: a lion salient.
5. a salient angle or part, as the central outward-projecting angle of a bastion or an outward projection in a battle line.
6. Physical Geography. a landform that extends out beyond its surroundings, as a spur projecting from the side of a mountain. Compare reentrant (def. 4).
[Origin: 1555–65; < L salient- (s. of saliéns, prp. of salīre to spring, jump), equiv. to sali- verb s. + -ent- -ent]

—Related forms
sa·li·ent·ly, adverb

—Synonyms 1. important; striking, remarkable.
—Antonyms 1. inconspicuous, unimportant.
Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.

The way the teacher was using is the first definition. Pretty close to what I thought it was or at least in the ballpark. As we used to say in high school "Oooh SAT word" .

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I suck

Had my first test in Production Management yesterday. The questions part wasn't so bad but the two essay question I totally BSed my way through. I think I probably will pass the test but not as well as I'd like. Obviously I've got to redouble my efforts in this class. At least that's the way I felt about it. Can't win them all I guess.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

On writing by Stephen King

One of my favorite authors is Stephen King. He has been since I can remember. Carrie was probably the first one I read. I'm probably more of a fan of his earlier work until probably the mid eighties. Since then not a lot of what he has written has captured me much. The last one I got (From a Buick 8) a few years back and I still haven't finished it.I did pick up his book "On Writing" from the local library recently. It has been an interesting book so far and I'm about halfway through it. The first section of the book is more of a personal memoir from his early childhood to when he broke into the big time with Carrie. Which I found interesting and humorous at times. The later half so far on how he writes. Now I certainly don't fancy myself a writer but this is also interesting. The book has kept my attention and interest and I'll probably end up purchasing this one to keep.

Friday, February 15, 2008

This week

Not a lot to note this week. Lean Manufacturing class still is the more interesting of the two classes this semester. This week it was on the use of flow charts and such. Basically on how to map out a process and learn where all the waste is and how it could be improved. It's more interesting because it has more immediate implications at our work.

Ironically I'm still trying to figure out what exactly my Production Management class is all about even after three weeks. The teacher is OK but a bit on the boring side. We have our first test this coming week so I'll be studying this weekend for it.

Now for the lighter side of life. A scene from one of favorite movies growing up "Fast Time at Ridgemont High". Please enjoy....

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Lean Thinking

I'd have to think that my Lean Manufacturing class is the more interesting of the two I'm taking this semester. I even picked out some extra reading from the library. "Lean Thinking"(Womack & Jones) tells some interesting stories of companies using older methods of production. Some well known companies are included like Pratt & Whitney and Porsche(yes the car company). Well at least I've found them interesting. I messed up though and forgot to do my 5S assignment last week for class. I must do that this weekend.

Additional reading stuff I've picked up this week were "In the pursuit of Happyness" by Chris Gardner(library book), "On writing" by Stephen King(library book), "World According to Garp" by John Irving(yet another library book) and "First things First" by Stephen Covey(Amazon). The good thing about library books is that you've got somewhat of a time limit to do your reading. It sort of keeps you from just getting the book and forgetting about it.

Monday, February 4, 2008

What's on your bookshelf?

Just recently I've wanted to start cataloging my books. I started a spreadsheet but it was a bit tedious plus with a touch of procrastination it hasn't gotten very far. I came across LibraryThing.com which catalogs your book collection. All you do is enter the ISBN number on your book and it does the rest. You can even enter one manually if it's not found in the database. I cataloged 33 books in a short amount of time. I only did the ones around my desk I haven't even touched the ones on the other bookshelves. I found it to be a cool way to keep track of your books. Give it a try. My list can be found here. A special thanks to one of my favorite blogs Geeks are sexy for finding this one.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Lean Manufacturing: 5s

This week in class we learned about 5S. Many of the 5S items may seem like a no brainer and may even be in place at your work or home. The probability that all are in place at once is probably slim one. What was interesting to me is that it not only at work these items can work in the home too. I immediately saw how I could apply many of these tools to my garage, basement and even around the home. What are the 5S's? They are Sort,Set in order,Shine,Standardize, and Sustain. Like I said it's an interesting concept. I believe I'm going to do our basement and or garage as a project. I'll post here along when I do. It should be interesting.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness

I don't usually write about movies or reviews. I rarely watch them myself. I did happen to watch "The pursuit of happyness" this morning. I can't help but to be touched and inspired by this movie in many respects. If your not aware of the story it is inspired by the life of Christopher Gardner who overcame unbelievable hardship in his pursuit of happiness. Why write about it here? Not only was I very touched by his dedication to his son but he had set goals in his life and he pursued them unrelentingly. I've covered goal setting in this blog so I thought it would be appropriate.

What first got me was his dedication to his son and his reasoning behind it. Apparently he had no father while growing up so he made a vow to always be a part of his son's life which he did. Even when his wife left him and he insisted his son stay with him. I can relate to that in my own life regarding my son. My dad unfortunately was not a part of my life in later childhood. One of my goals in life has been to always be a part of my son's life no matter what may happen.

The main part of what can be learned from his story is his focus on his goals. Despite the many hard ships he and his son endured he remained steadfast in his goals which was to become a stockbroker. I almost feel embarrassed to complain about my own situation compared to what he went through. I highly recommend this movie.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Follow up

I had written here last month how much my "Student Success" teacher liked my final essay and was going to pass it along. It came back yesterday with some positive notes on it. It apparently was shared with someone from the English Department some comments and corrections. "this student is on their way to being a great writer! It's organized, coherent, and more importantly - inspiring." that is a direct quote from the note attached to the essay. If that isn't compliment I don't know what is then. I haven't talked directly with the teacher yet but he did leave his number and I will call him by this weekend. Do I have a hidden skill I didn't even know I had? I'll work on revising it with some corrections that were recommended. I'm actually thinking of taking a summer writing course(at the same school). Something to brush up on my basic writing skills as I'm sure they are a bit rusty. Maybe I can look up some books to help me out. Well got to go. I just thought I'd share that here.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Ultimate Student Resource

I discovered this list over at Lifehack.org. I thought it may be of use to some. It's a pretty extensive listing . I've got a few items already but it's a handy reference.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Influence of Stephen Covey

I just started new classes this week and still see the influence of Stephen Covey in at least one of the classes. My instructor for Production Management used phrases such as "proactive", "reactive and "paradigms". Which to me are Covey keywords. I doubt if I hadn't read his "7 Habits" book that I would have even picked up on those. I do have one of his other books "First things First" on order from Amazon coming soon and I can't wait to read it.

Toyota Production

Our teacher for Lean Manufacturing talked about Toyota Production System or TPS. I found this video that kind of explains it. It's kind of interesting.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Lean Manufacturing

Last night was my first class in Lean Manufacturing. It's about waste in the working environment. Not the waste you throw in the trash can per say (though that can be a part of it). It can be wasted time, material, money and etc. Boy do we have a lot of that where I work. It should be an interesting class with a lot of relevance where I work. To give an idea of what it's about the teacher gave an example of the way Toyota manufactures automobiles and such. Well at least I got some reading to do now.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Back to school

Well yesterday was my first day back to school. First up is Production (or Operations) Management BUS 3091. As the course description goes it introduces student to basic concepts and techniques in the manufacturing/service areas of a business. Last night was more or less an introductory session. The teacher was a bit I would say interesting to say the least. It's hard to describe him. The course itself sounds interesting and now I have some reading to do again. Today will be my other class which is Lean Manufacturing. What that is exactly I'm not sure. Nice to be back in the classroom again.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

New Classes

Well it's back to school next week for me. I found out my schedule yesterday. On Wednesday I have Production Management and Thursday I have Lean Manufacturing. Not sure what they have to do with engineering. I'll have to check my course outline again to be sure. My major is suppose to be engineering. I was hoping for Technical Writing or Intro to Computers.In any event I'm actually looking forward to hitting the books again.
I'm still working on my typing skills and finish the Tom Brokaw book I've been reading(The Greatest Generation). I'm about half way finished with it and I'm enjoying it very much.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

SpongeBob Squarepants Typing

While I have a little time between semesters I decided to work on my typing skill's (or lack of is more like it). I had bought a SpongeBob Squarepants Typing software several month's back for my son. It's actually for kids older than he so he didn't show much interest it. I had tried a few online tutorials without much luck or improvement. I decided to give SpongeBob a try. I disciplined myself to do at least 30 minutes a day. I believe after about 10 days my typing has improved dramatically. Granted It's geared for children but it does work for adults too. It puts a little fun into learning typing which can be boring. I'm up to lesson 17 with 96% accuracy at 12 WPM. I watch my wife do it and she's at least 4 times as fast and she's says she's out of practice. I have a way to go but I'm determined to catch her. Anyway if you don't mind SpongeBob it's a fun way to learn typing!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Greatest Generation

My Grandmother circa 1942

My Grandparents(on right), Great-Grandmother(left),one of my uncles(being held by my grandfather) and my mother in front. Circa 1944

While reading Tom Brokaw's "The Greatest Generation" I can't help but think of my grandparent's. Maryann Ellis my Grandmother (pictured above) for some reason in particular. She was the last pass to the next world. She wasn't very tall in size nor very loud. Although she could be strong willed and opinionated when she wanted. She was the daughter of Portuguese immigrants born in New England. She married William Ellis (my Grandfather) in 1941 and would go onto have nine children(my mother being one of them) something to this day I still find amazing.

While growing up little did I know they were part of this generation. It was probably something not really spoken of at the time. The full scope of what they had lived through wasn't fully realized yet. I still don't have all the details on what they did during the depression and the second world war. There wasn't a hole lot of evidence around there house to give it away. It was in bits and pieces we would figure things or give us a clue. One was a picture of my Grandfather in a navy uniform. Later we also came across some old uniforms and patch's. No details of what exactly they did though. I don't believe they were thinking in grandiose way we think of that era today. They were just trying to live life without much fanfare.I think that was a trademark of there generation. Were they perfect? No they had there faults for sure but they worked hard for what they had because that's the way they were brought up.

I'm not exactly sure where I was going with this bit. These were just some thoughts that came to mind while reading this book. It has certainly made me wish I had maybe taken the time to know them better.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The local library

After reading this article on one of my favorite blogs I was inspired to visit the local library. I've been meaning to do this for awhile but for one reason or another I didn't. I signed up for a card and I was off looking around. The one I visited was actually a branch off the local city (Providence,RI) library. I used to love the library when I was younger. Somehow I fell away from them. Libraries are a place where I can lose all track of time. For one year in high school I was a volunteer at the school library so I really feel at home. The first day I went it was full of kids and plus I was running off to work so I just got my card and left. I went back the next day to really look around. I had seen one computer book I had my eye on so I picked up that one. I had a problem with a second one though. I couldn't decide what to pick out. I looked up some Stephen Covey books but they didn't have any but I did ask them if they would get one from another branch so I'm waiting on that one. I wanted another for some casual reading so I did find another. Here's what I ended up getting:

1. Absolute Beginners Guide to Computer Basics(4th Edition) by Michael Miller
2. The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw
3. First things first by Stephen Covey (on order from different branch)

These should keep me busy until school starts in a couple of weeks. I had fun I'll be sure and be a regular visitor. I can't wait to go again.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Setting some new goals

This is the time of year most people make resolutions. I'm in the process of reviewing my goals for the new year. Here are some that come to mind first.
1. Finally end the smoking habit.
2. To achieve A's in my college courses I take this year
3. To become closer to my family this year
4. To learn to type which will help in my school work and plus it's a good skill to have.
5. To become a better employee at my work.
6. To read at least one new book a month.(other than school books). Current reading is All the Presidents Men by Woodward and Bernstein.
These are just a few that I could shoot off at the moment. Now I've just got to break them down into achievable and set a date. Wish me luck.