Saturday, March 31, 2007

Google image meme

Place you grew up.

Place you live now.

Your name.

Your grandmother's name.

Your favorite food.

Your favorite drink.

Your favorite song.

Your favorite smell.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Subtraction by addition

Most people expect their earnings to grow, and not just at the rate of inflation. You're not really getting ahead if you still can't afford to buy a goddamn ice cream cone when you want one.

From a personal standpoint, earnings growth is probably an unalloyed good, although if you look at the schlocky crap that people like Donald Trump and Saddam Insane buy when they have a lot of money, it is hard to see how more money is always better.

On a grander scale, growth can cause a lot of problems, too, but those are largely ignored by politicians and the mainstream national media.

So, what's that got to do with subtraction by addition? Bear with me.

If you run a company that has investors and/or shareholders, you're usually expected to turn a profit, and show growth. If you're not going forward, you're going backward, right?

Well, maybe. It seems to me that there are two ways to make those earnings grow:
  • Make something new or better and sell it.
  • Cut costs.
In an ideal world, Choice A would predominate, but I don't know many people who live on that world. That leaves cost-cutting.

The easiest way to cut costs is to cut people. The leftovers then need to work harder, not smarter, or maybe do more with less, or whatever. If you're squeamish, though, you don't want to go around laying people off, especially if you don't have a good excuse.

Now your best bet might be subtraction by addition. Keep your workforce static, but add a few little jobs here and there and you'll get more revenue for the same outlay. You may even be able to encourage the workers to participate in this by making the added work fun, engaging or both.

Where's the harm? There might no be any, until one of your key players quits and you realize that all those little extras you tacked onto her job makes her a unique cog who can't be replaced. That old job description you have in your hand pales in comparison to what she actually *does* for you.

Besides that pitfall, I'd reckon that upper managers - who make the decisions about adding the work without adding to the staff - are generally ill suited as judges of whether they've added too much, because they generally have little idea of what each of their worker bees really does in a day. They're looking at the whole machine, not its parts.

Just an odd grumble, or maybe an econ thesis I'll never get to.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Strange routes to Davy Jones's locker

Which, for the record, is at the bottom of the ocean and is the final home for drowned seafarers. You'd be surprised (or maybe you wouldn't) at how many people want to know "where is Davy Jones's locker?"

You'd also be surprised, if you were me, at how many people (3 in the last day, one from Mass., one from Ohio, one from NYC) got here by searching for Mark McGwire's favorite food.

Other searches that lead to me:
  • strep nose infection (really, the No. 1 way people find my blog)
  • recipe for acorn squash, Indian (yum, but I'm not sure I have any recipes for Indians. Squash, though, sure.)
  • eggplant and okra indian dishes (also yum)
  • pse ethical dilemmas pharmacy (What's the dilemma? Lots of drugs have more than one use.)
  • "Plane Clothes" Lack of Anonymity at the Federal Air Marshal Service Compromises Aviation and National Security (hilarious report)
  • I like toast too. It is warm and crispy and a perfect (place for jelly to lay. Now stay away from me Frampton, I ain't got shit to say to you!)
Damn, that's a lot of parentheticals.

Tecumseh Valley blog

After reading a post of Lulu's a while back, I found myself surfing in places I do not typically go, or at least places I would not typically acknowledge going. Naturally, I found something interesting.

Monday, March 26, 2007

New loom

I have not yet met her, but I will soon be the owner/operator/caretaker of a new-to-me loom. It is a 36-inch counterbalance loom (translation: Uh, I don't know how to translate that), and it is believed to be handmade. Its recent past is sad, but I am sure that a few hundred yards of cloth can fix that. When she finally arrives, I will a) figure out how to use a counterbalance loom (I have been weaving for 30 years, but on jack looms, a different species); and b) post a picture...

Fortune is fickle, I guess. I wasn't shopping for a loom, but maybe one was shopping for me.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

More on bears & frogs

Like when there's a frog around, I don't have to hang my sandwiches from a fuckin' branch... A frog knows they are not for him. Plus, frogs are less likely to carry coins & screwdrivers.

Just below this item in the catalog is a "jerky gun," which looks like a grease gun that you smoosh ground beef and "spices" through to make jerky sticks. Gross.

Friday, March 23, 2007

I like to talk about the difference between bears and frogs

for one thing, frogs rarely race bees anywhere.

On a simple meals kick

My usual practice around dinnertime is to go for the overly complex, which means we tend to eat pretty late. Maybe the butterfly lady and I have been hungrier lately, or maybe I'm just sick of complicated meals.

On the menu at our house lately: A lot of quasi-Tunisian meals (hard-boiled eggs, fruit, yogurt, sausage - hey, I said quasi - and other simple meals (i.e. chops or burgers, plus a salad). Besides which, we've completely dropped soda, unless you count the occasional ramune (a Japanese citrus soda that comes in snazzy bottles).

I'm not sure what it all means. I like to make tricky meals (I think this is another way of saying I like to show off), but I haven't yet figured out how to fold an extra hour or two into the day!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Middle management

Johnny Yen has an entertaining post about middle managers. I'm one of those, although I don't think of myself as a manager (and that word isn't in my title, thank god).

Junior managers are often drawn from the ranks because they are particularly good at their job, or at least some part of it. When was the last time a marginal performer was assessed for leadership and promoted on that basis? So you suck at making widgets. You might be a good leader anyway (Mario Mendoza, namesake of the dreaded Mendoza Line, became a coach after all).

Junior managers are usually left to their own devices to figure out how to be a good manager. Training? Expensive, and usually just risk management wearing a disguise. Role models? A bunch of people who used to be junior managers.

Good luck, fucker.

Now, a very short story: If you read the USA Today spread on Burger King a while back, you know how all the punditry is in gee-whiz shock mode because the new CEO, who has managed to see the company back to prominence, isn't a "food guy." But he is a wicked genius marketer, who realized the company can take one segment of its eatership (the 18-35 guys) and ride it to fame and fortune.

The moral: If you want good workers, hire good workers. If you want good managers, hire good managers. Don't assume that just because you have hired the best workers, you have a latent pool of the best managers, waiting to be found, sculpted or otherwise wrought.

The real moral: Johnny sees junior managers as people in search of a reason for having a job. This means they are often huge pains in the butt to everybody else. I see junior managers as a caste in crisis, a group whose villified performance is partly a result of changes in business culture from paramilitary organization to today's fuzzier system. The culture has changed, but the selection criteria and "training" regimen have not.

Maybe the time for a new system is now.

Observations, etc.

Passed a sign on the local United Methodist Church this morning: "Just because something is legal doesn't mean it is right." OK, that's a paraphrase, but you get the point. I'm not sure what the motivation behind the sign is, but that's a point I have observed some people overlooking. Just because you *can* do a thing doesn't mean you should.

I think the flip side is true, too. Just because something is illegal doesn't mean it is wrong.

What else? Spent a fair portion of last weekend pulling weeds, which got an earlier start than the desired plants in the front yard (and back yard, too, come to think of it). This weekend, I was happy to see the Russian sage plants survived the winter and are starting to show signs of life. Other bits and pieces of the yard are starting to show interest, too. The hyacinth (yeah, yeah, only one), is up and blooming, the trio of tulips is on the way, the pussy willows and the two unidentified trees (crabapples?) are budding, and assorted other odds and ends are making moves (what an illuminating clause that is!)...

So I celebrated by holing up in the studio (aka basement) and putting a warp on the loom (eight damn hours for a four-hour job). The warp's pretty, as are all the warps I put on, but the creel (a spool rack) I built has got to go. It is small, which is necessary, but it is too small and poorly designed for my taste. Klein, aber nicht oho.

On the plus side, I had eight hours to scheme a better design. I can also see some application in building a new creel to another project I'm interested in, which is a sauna. You can buy a kit, but they're expensive, non-customized and expose the buyer to a lot of bullshit. For example:
"Some weight loss authorities believe that our bodies use fat to dilute toxins. As an Infrared LuxSauna is an unsurpassed expeller of toxins, it is also a great way to get rid of any fat our bodies are using to dilute toxins we are storing."
Uh-huh. Well, whatever.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Up to my *!@ in alligators

So here's a tide-me-over for all you (and I think I do mean that in the singular :) reader sorts out there. The other two are my paternal Oma & mama.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

What a bore

While at the Home Depot on Saturday (I sometimes wish I still went to the Apartment Depot, which is just a big warehouse full of people standing around saying, "I don't have to fix shit."), I got to thinking.

I wanted a 5/8-inch wood-boring bit, which I found, no sweat. But I didn't want to buy a set of bits, so I had only one choice, an Irwin Speedbor spade bit. Fine, whatever. But this is a far cry from what you'd call a self-respecting store in Japan, where I would have expected at least four or five brands, and probably more.

Sure, the Home Depot could claim it limits choices because it has so many different goods. What rubbish. How would you feel if you went to the grocery store and found only one brand of coffee? I wouldn't go there anymore.

Of course, the Home Depot has killed the alternatives, mostly. But I visited the "local" stores before they went out of business, and they were no great shakes, either. To really have a choice around here, you have to go online.

I made this observation a while back, and a commenter remarked that pretty much anything could be found around here, if you just looked.


What he meant is, if you want hand lotion, you can find hand lotion. He didn't mean you can find Kiehl's. At times like this, I do not like living in a small city.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

more hoarding

Ah, what to do with these? The butterfly lady has her sights set on a homemade cork board. I think that sounds pretty cool...

Sunday, March 04, 2007

In heavy rotation

Needless to say, I suppose.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

It's not hoarding if it's organized, right?

Really, I can tell you why I kept each of these things.

I'm not so sure about what to *do* with all this stuff, though. Especially the styrofoam. I just can't abide by tossing it in the landfill, and I hear there's a guy recycling styro in the area (by making it part of construction materials of some sort).

As for the glass jars - those are from peanut butter and wind up being used for lots of storage, especially of candy (which the butterfly lady and I have a weakness for, to put it mildly).

I used a bunch of the coffee cups (I got them as insulators for to-go cups from a place that used to double up) during the butterfly lady's convalescence, and the styrofoam coffee cups I got for use in an encryption machine. I guess I'll have to have a party with lots of to-go soup or something. I do actually use the yogurt containers (next to the jar with the red stuff in it) for freezing chicken stock, and sometimes the other containers come in handy. sometimes.

Lastly, I have a bunch of yarn cones. Great for crafty projects, but yegods, I have enough to do.


I think this is self-explanatory. You might be surprised at how much weaving you can get out of this little yarn. I figure I can eke out three or four more scarf warps with this. I really need to get around to selling more!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Deja vu explained

If you find yourself in Linens 'n Things and everything looks creepily familiar, I have an easy explanation, which is that as might imagine, corporate HQ hands out plans for how to display all the merchandise. I found these sheets amusing:

What do you do for a living? I arrange displays for stores around the country, all in my secret lab at headquarters. Sounds kinda fun...