I Got That Feeling

2011/10/25

What is home? Is it the structure you live in? Is it where your significant other resides? This philosophical question can only mean one thing: another Let’s Blog Off.

One answer to the ‘What is home?’ question is the cliché ‘Home is where the heart is.’ However, home is more than heart: it is a feeling. It is a warm-fuzzy that you receive when you walk in the door. It is that intangible piece that is indescribable to anyone else but you.

Where is home for me? Sit back and I will tell you. I have moved frequently over the last ten years, and only one place gives me that special warm-fuzzy feeling – Oxford, OH. Oxford is home to my beloved alma mater Miami University. It is true that I reside in Dayton, OH, but Oxford will always be home.

Why is Oxford so special to me? For starters, paying my own way through Miami taught me that I can stand on my own without help. I had good friends at MU that stood by me when times were tough. Oxford was the last place I lived where I felt as if I had a purpose. Lastly, the feeling I get when I go back is one of euphoria. Words can not describe exactly how I feel, but I always feel at home. I feel as if I belong.

I have a different purpose now, to test product and crunch numbers, but it is not the same. Walking into my house in Dayton does not give me the same feeling as walking into a building on campus. It has been awhile since I have lived in Oxford, but it will always be a part of me. It is my home.

Upham Hall


Cross Your Thumbtack

2011/09/13

Thumbtacks are a basic item. We don’t normally think about them unless asked. So when the Let’s Blog Off topic of thumbtacks was announced, I struggled. For some strange reason, I reflected upon my travels and remembered an incident at the Greenville, SC (GSP) airport. Aha! Let the blogging begin.

While working as an engineer for a Texaco joint venture, I travelled to a supplier in Greenville, SC. It was March 2002, a few months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks so airports were still trying to deal with new security procedures.

As I was going through security at GSP to return home, the metal detector went off like it was New Year’s Eve on Times Square. Female police officers swarmed around me and pulled me aside. I opened my carry-on & purse for inspection. One officer pulled out the wand to inspect these items. Silence. She asked me to raise my arms and waved the wand around my upper body. Noise city. The officer asked me if I had an underwire in my bra. I did not think this was a serious question, so I ignored her. She asked me the question two more times before I realized she was serious. My response: “I have a set of 36Ds on my chest. What do you think?” She laughed and cleared me.

Thumbtacks are similar in nature. They support various business operations. From phone directories to basic equations, thumbtacks are used to sustain documents with valuable information. Walk into any cubicle or office. Better yet, think about your own work space. Get my drift?

Another similarity between bras and thumbtacks is that they hurt like heck when they poke you. Five years ago, the underwire in the above-mentioned bra broke. After a few months, this became annoying. I walked into the Victoria’s Secret on Chestnut Street in Philadelphia and bought a new bra. The salesperson was surprised that I was such an easy sell. I did not care; I just wanted a bra with the underwire in its proper place.

Thumbtacks are the same way. Try stepping on thumbtacks that fell on the floor or poke a finger with one while multi-tasking. It hurts.

I am certain this post offends some people. To these people, I challenge you to use your critical thinking skills. Hopefully you will see the analysis. To the rest of you, I hope this post gave you some joy. Until next time, support each other and stay safe.


Step Up

2011/08/02

I grew up in the quintessential American family: Mom, Dad, and two kids. Since my family was small, a large home was not necessary. We had a typical one-story brick ranch that many families had in the ‘70s. Where am I headed? It is none other than Let’s Blog Off, where participants are asked to name what they wanted as a child.

There were many items I wanted growing up. As I sifted through childhood memories, I kept coming back to one thing: a house with stairs. I know that sounds silly, but it is the truth.

My four cousins always had a two-story home, simply because they had a larger family. We would play in the stairwell. When Cousin Meg and I did not want to clean, we would place items on the stairs instead of putting them away properly. Meg and Jake taught me how to slide down the banister. (See picture below for the culprits.) Of course, we would get in trouble, but we had so much fun.

I pretended my bedroom had stairs by setting up sofa cushions next to Mom’s card table. I climbed up and down until my mother caught me sitting on top of the card table. She asked me what I was doing. I told her I wanted a house with stairs like Meg and Jake. Mom was not impressed with my engineering marvel because she proceeded to demolish my stairwell and spank me. I was forbidden from the card table for a long time afterwards.

Recently we were all together again. Meg and I shared childhood memories. I told her I was jealous of her because she had a house with stairs. She laughed at me. She said that she like my house because the bathroom was never very far away. I guess this proves the old saying, “The grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence.”

Becky & David’s Wedding – June 2006

From L to R: Chris, Meg, Me, Becky, David G., David D., Jess, Leslie, Jake


Five Reasons Why You Need a Quality or Process Engineer

2011/07/28

Those that know me are aware of the fact that I am a quality & process engineer. They are also aware that I am currently unemployed. As a quest to improve my blog and provide value to this world, I decided that my next topic should be why companies need people like me.

I need to clarify something before I begin. Quality engineers are also found in the IT world. Since my experience lies in manufacturing, the scope of this piece will apply to the manufacturing environment only. However, some of these principles may pertain to IT as well.

Due to globalization, companies are looking to enhance operations while minimizing costs. Quality improves reliability and production. Fewer defects increases customer satisfaction and decreases product claims, both of which affect the balance sheet. Below are five reasons why companies need quality and process engineers. (As a shameless plug, I have included personal examples.)

1. Improved reliability.

  • I helped lead a Kaizen team that improved the reliability of monthly reports. Supplier on-time delivery increased five percentage points.

2. Increased flow/production.

  • While implementing just-in-time (JIT) principles at a joint venture of Texaco, product flow nearly doubled in one work center.

3. Reduced/eliminated waste.

  • I served on a Kaizen team that reduced cycle time by two hours for one process.
4. Enhanced relationships throughout the supply chain.
  • Working with other engineers at Texaco, the company changed suppliers for one material. Not only was scrap reduced 50%, but customers were happier that we were supplying them with higher-quality product. I was happier because my boss was happier. The supplier was happier because I gave them positive feedback.
5. We are versatile.
  • Most of the engineers I know – including myself – are well-schooled in the following areas: statistical process control (SPC), technical writing, auditing, building supplier relationships and lean manufacturing principles.

Companies need to provide value in order to remain competitive. The benefits of having a knowledgeable quality or process engineer on staff are numerous.  We are multitalented and help improve the bottom-line. I can think of no better way to provide value.


A New Approach

2011/07/25

I realize it has been awhile since my last post. There are a few reasons for this. First, as many of you know, my first cousin was recently married, so I was busy being cheap labor. Second, I just plumb ran out of ideas. The second reason is what I would like to elaborate on.

Originally, I created my blog as a way to vent. When that blew up in my face, I began to participate in a bi-weekly event called Let’s Blog Off. After reading the blogs of the other participants, I felt like a chump. “Holy cow! These people can write.” I thought. I became discouraged and have not participated in awhile.

I really would like to write, but I do not know what to write about. As someone who is unemployed, I do not lead the most exciting life, due to funds (or lack thereof). Also, I do not want to be compared to some of my Twitter friends, who are absolute pros when it comes to blogging. Many of them write for a living. I do not. I am an engineer; I tear things down and rebuild them. I crunch numbers, I do not write.

Recently, I began attending New Media Dayton events. One theme that kept popping up was providing value. This made me think. I am not showing the world I can contribute or provide value. Time to retool and start over.

I paid closer attention to people’s posts and profiles. As I read, I thought about each individual and what his or her strengths are. Then it occurred to me. I can do this, too. All it takes is thought and some extra effort.

This new approach is quite exciting. I feel as if I have a purpose again. To those of you who inspired me, thank you from the bottom of my heart. You give me something to strive for. Cheers to a new approach!


Englewood, 45322

2011/06/07

This edition of Let’s Blog Off asks participants to name their favorite show on television (TV). Since the quality of TV shows has declined with the craze known as reality TV, I watch mostly reruns of old sitcoms & news channels. My favorite show is no longer on the air, but nonetheless, it is my favorite.

It was Fall 1990, and I was in high school. A new network called Fox was to air a ground-breaking TV show that centered on teenagers. The show was the brain child of the legendary Aaron Spelling, who created another favorite show of mine, The Love Boat. As an avid TV fan and teenager, I made sure to tune in.

Beverly Hills, 90210 was not an instant hit when it first aired on 4 October 1990. The original premise of the show was about a wholesome midwestern family, The Walshes, relocating to posh Beverly Hills. The show focused on twins Brandon & Brenda Walsh adjusting to their new environment. The show later morphed into more of a teen drama/soap opera and became a smash hit.

When the show originally aired, it was my favorite for a few reasons. First and foremost is that it focused on the teenagers, and not the interaction of the teens with their parents, like so many other TV shows on the air. The main characters were facing many of the same issues that I was facing at the time. As I went to college, they went to college. Another reason is new episodes were aired during the summer, unlike other shows in which reruns were aired. I also tuned in to see the latest hair & fashion styles.

Today I enjoy Beverly Hills, 90210 for different reasons. Mainly, I love the memories of my college years it brings back. My friends and I would tune in religiously to see the latest Brandon/Kelly/Dylan/Valerie drama. (We came up with some interesting drinking games in the process, too.) I also like the fact that I can escape reality for awhile.

Yes, the show is somewhat unrealistic. It is quite unusual for a group of high school friends to end up at the same college. No parents would move overseas and leave the house to their college-aged son. Ask yourself this: what TV show isn’t unrealistic?

The purposes of television are to entertain and allow people to escape. Beverly Hills, 90210 does both. So while the rest of the world is watching reality TV, I will stick with a classic.


Truth v. Fact

2011/05/10

This edition of Let’s Blog Off is a rather philosophical one. Asking people to discern between truth & fact is similar to asking, “What came first? The chicken or the egg?” Everyone’s posts should be interesting, to say the least.

To begin my quest, I started to look up the definition of each word. I thought that would be too obvious. I went back to the drawing board and hit upon an idea. I let the words “speak” to me and decided to use their connotation.

Fact. The word is short and hard. When I hear the word fact, I think of science and other cut-and-dry areas. It is something that can not be argued. No questions allowed.

Truth. The word is short, but soft. It involves emotion. There is room for debate in a truth.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe fact & truth go hand-in-hand. A truth a body of facts. A fact is an actual occurrence.

After writing this post, I did look up the meaning of each word on Merriam-Webster’s website to see how far off-base I was. It turns out my definition of fact (an actual occurrence) is M-W’s definition 4b.