Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Get fired by quoting Deming!

No, thankfully I've not tried this one out, but I bet that in a lot of companies,you'd get fired if you told people, as did Deming, that 85% of quality problems are problems with management.

For that matter, in all my years in working, I've never seen any trainer of managers and leaders advocating a slavish adherence to quarterly or monthly sales numbers, or to use brute intimidation to "motivate" employees.  I've never seen it recommended that managers micromanage, pushing trivial decisions up to the executive level, and I've never seen anyone recommend that companies pretend to do "housekeeping" by eliminating vital tools.  I've never seen anyone recommend pushing out routine maintenance on vital tools or suspending employee training to make quarterly numbers.

But, that's what I see.  W. Edwards Deming, we miss you.  Or did we ever know you?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

You just walked past your work

My church has been holding a leadership class with some videos and books by John Maxwell, and one thing of particular note to me is something he said to a member of his pastoral staff many years ago.  The man was rushing into his office to "get some work done" and walked right by about a dozen people on the way in.

As he relates the story, Maxwell notes that he walked into the man's office and asked him what he was doing.  The response, of course, was "I had to get quickly to my work!".  At this, Maxwell reminded him that, as a pastor, people are his job.

Now I'm not a pastor--though I was mistaken for one last week--but even as an engineer, how often do I need to remember that people are my job.  In our age of get what you can, take a chunk out of someone's hide if you can business, this is a welcome reminder.  I don't agree with everything Maxwell says or does, but this one is going to stick.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Manly Monday: Now lead already

In my summer week of fun, one of the adults noted something that my dear sweet wife has both loved and been irritated at--that when push comes to shove in terms of "herding the kittens" at VBS or elsewhere, sometimes it helps when the voice is a testosterone-induced tenor, baritone, or base instead of an estrogen-filled alto or soprano.  That is, whether we like it or not, we are programmed to respond to men differently than we respond to women, and that this makes a difference in all areas of life.

In the same way, a lot of the greatest disasters in homeschooling--a cause I obviously cherish--occur when the husband is passive or unsupportive, and one can also point out that a lot of the greatest failures in marriage occur when the husband has been sidelined from his proper role.  For that matter, what is our welfare state but a mass failure in family and, transitively, masculine leadership?

How to fix things?  Well, this post about music in church demonstrates that we've kind of forgotten how to go about it after fifty years of the "National Association of Gals," and so the best I can come up with is this; men, initiate something.  Now lead already.  As long as it's not criminal or otherwise immoral, I'm not quite sure what you try really matters as long as you try something with your family in mind.

Friday, August 12, 2011

More signs of the times at VBS

Two boys who attend the "Elm Care Day Care" were wearing T-shirts that said

EC/DC Rocks!

It reminds me of the "Disco sucks" and "KISS" T-shirts that some kids wore when I was in elementary school....I never had one, but I might wear at least the first one if I had one.

I learned when a little girl got hurt that M&Ms are at least as good a painkiller as Oxycontin, at least for four year old girls who have just been run over by much larger five year old boys.  Too bad that after I played tug-o-war for half an hour with a horde of rabid four and five year olds (and a few of my fellow adult helpers), I didn't have any in the house.  The VBS diet is still working great, by the way.

Hopefully a picture or two in the next few days.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Fun with Vacation Bible School

First of all, it's a great way to lose weight when you get out of work after 5pm, and need to be at VBS at 5:30.  Other thoughts:

My wife was taken aback when a little girl asked her if I was her boyfriend.  Well, yes, but we ordinarily call it something more, punkin!

I was taken aback when a little boy I was carrying said "take me all the way to the daycare."

If I keep carrying two or three four and five year olds at a time, I think I'll get some of that upper body strength I used to have back. 

The same little boy who asked me to carry him to the daycare center also is catching on to the full theme of Jesus.  Make of it what you will.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Don't tell the ACLU!

I took my daughter to the local elementary school for a babysitting class, and noted that at the entrance are two passages from the Scriptures regarding wisdom--one from Daniel, the other from Proverbs.  I'm no consistent fan of the government schools, but credit given where credit is due.  Don't worry, neighbors, I won't be telling the ACLU!

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Little updates....

First, I've added Dan Phillips' fine blog "Hellenisti ginoskeis" to the blogroll--if you enjoy parsing things out in Greek or (like me) are just starting in the New Testament language, this may be an encouragement to you.  Dan is trained in theology, but, alas, is not currently pastoring.  Hopefully this will change soon, but while we wait, praise God he has fun online at "Know Greek" and "Team Pyro," also linked here.  Dan also has a fun site called "Biblical Christianity" that is worth your visits.

(he shares some of my sense of humor, but please, brothers and sisters, don't hold that against him!)

Also, in this line, a thought for "Koinonia Tuesday": all too often, we get into large groups and are more or less manipulated by the "scene"; great orations by a pastor, louder and faster music, and so on.  Now, what have we done to get to know our dear brothers and sisters beside us?  Maybe it's time to sit down--one on one or family with family--with some good coffee or maybe even a glass of wine.  Note carefully Pilgrim's note in the second link, with which I totally agree; when we impose external rules against comforts God has given us in His goodness, we make it harder, not easier, to live a Christian life.

For that matter, isn't that what Paul says with his repeated arguments against these external rules?  I guess it's not just me, praise God.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Manly Monday; how not to be manly

Easy.  Act like Alan Greenspan and note that with fiat money, central banks can simply print their way out of a debt crisis.   Because, of course, it worked SO well for Weimar Germany, and nobody ever complained about what happened after the Reichsbank printed ton after ton of Reichsmarks to pay for the expenses of the inter-war government, and it's not like a discontented Gefreite from the neighboring country of Austria could possibly become Reichskanzler and lead the world into a war that killed over fifty million people.  And it's not like Hungary, Austria, Argentina, Brazil (really most of Latin America), or Zimbabwe ever had any difficulties with hyperinflation, did they?

Real men, of course, know that dishonest scales--inflationary monetary policy in today's terms--are an abomination unto the Lord.  Playing games with the value of currency to achieve policy goals is unmanly, not to mention disastrous.

Manly Monday; Give us this day

Thinking of the manly art of husbandry, the Lord's Prayer comes to mind, and specifically Matthew 6:11, "Give us this day our daily bread."  How so?  Let's unpack it.

First of all, it speaks of humble contentment in asking Him for our daily bread, and not our daily filet mignon, Chilean sea bass, eighteen year single malt Scotch, Porsche, or whatever else might be luxurious.  How many men have torpedoed their family's financial stability--and faith for that matter--by giving in to the desire for more and better stuff--the big steaks, the new SUV or sports car, the motorcycle, the library full of rare books, the humidor or wine cabinet, or worst of all, a trophy wife or series of girlfriends.

And if we can trust people like Dave Ramsey, guess who leads the way to bankruptcy for most families?  Sorry, lads, you can't blame your wife's purchases at the latest Tupperware party or beauty salon for this one. 

Along the same lines, getting this book this weekend speaks to bread in a different way; specifically, the reality that bread that's worth eating (as opposed to this stuff) takes some real time and effort--just like marriage.  I've not gotten through the whole book yet, and I've learned that previously, I wasn't kneading the dough long enough, that I was adding too much flour, that I was adding too much sourdough, that my sourdough isn't even a true sourdough, I wasn't letting it rise long enough, and I wasn't forming the loaves correctly.  My work was still better than most stuff you'd find in the grocery store, but I was being hasty, and it showed.

How many of us treat our wives and children like I was treating a lump of dough?  "I want this now, now, now," and because we want it now, we never get "it"--and "it" can refer to any number of things, from a wife's affections to our children coming to know the Savior, no?

The good news is that a bit of patience and a tiny bit of knowledge--really only implementing a little bit the book's recommendations--I managed to create five of the best loaves of bread I've ever created in my life over the past weekend.  One of them--a three pound miche, disappeared in the course of ten minutes after last night's prayer service, and there were not that many people eating it.

So if you need your wife--and you know you do--maybe it's time to follow Peter Reinhart's recommendation and knead your wife.  You know she could do with a good backrub, and who knows what good it will do?

Thursday, August 04, 2011

A dearth of resources, or of character?

SayAnythingBlog linked to USDA figures regarding food stamp usage and benefits; evidently the average recipient gets $133.79 per month, which is disturbingly close to my family's weekly grocery budget.  If one adds in free school breakfast and lunches (worth about $20/week per child where I live) and WIC (about $20/week per eligible child), I find that government food assistance significantly exceeds my family's weekly food budget--by about 20-30%, really.

Beyond the obvious wisecrack "well, I guess that's why Dinesh D'Souza came here to see fat poor people," it also should remind us that the poor in the United States do not, by and large, have a crisis born of a lack of resources.  Quite frankly, my family could cut our food costs quite a bit by eating more beans instead of meats, switching from butter to margarine, from olive oil to canola, and so on.  It would not surprise me if we could get well below $200/week and still eat quite well.

Or, in other terms, about $120/week less than what our government decides is appropriate for those who are "poor".  So my question is simple; do our poor have a crisis of resources, or do they have a crisis of character, creativity, and such? 

Personally, I'm thinking that teaching poor people how to cook might do far more for them than WIC, SNAP, and all those programs combined!

Dominique Strauss-Kahn may not be a rapist.....

....but the evidence coming in suggests that it's pretty safe bet that he's a creep.  Thank you, Air France, for letting us know for sure that sensible parents ought not allow him anywhere near their daughters by apparently requiring all-male cabin crews when he flies.  Evidently he's been accused of inappropriate behavior hundreds of times while flying. 

He must rate some respect, as I have a hunch that if stewardesses flight attendants had complained about most other people only a few times, Delta and United would have started to suggest going Greyhound.  Not that the bus lines need any more creeps, either, of course.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Did they change Article 1 when I wasn't watching?

President Obama has issued an executive order requiring cost-free (to the patient) coverage of birth control and breast pumps, to the beginning of 2013.  Now apart from the basic pandering to his base, and transparent hiding of the costs of his decision until he's hopefully lost his reelection bid, since when does the President get to make these calls?  Did Article 1 of the Constitution begin to allocate the right to legislate to the President while I wasn't watching?

Let's check it out.  Nope, legislation still belongs to Congress.   And yes, along with multiple cases of contempt of court, mis-allocation of TARP funds contrary to law, and other factors, the case is growing that Congress needs to start reviewing another of its powers; that of Impeachment.

A late Manly Monday; how to destroy your children

A while back, I discussed the curious reality that a lot of the sleaziest pop stars were raised in theoretically Bible-believing churches, and it seems appropriate (with the recent death of Amy Winehouse) to revisit how one can destroy one's children if one so desires.

It seems, from much of the evidence, that step one for destroying one's children is often to divorce their mother.  Nothing can align a child's view against the eternal and towards the temporal like deciding that one's life commitments don't matter, and that your personal success and temporary happiness means more than your pledge before God.

Step two, it seems, is to start worshipping--in earnest--what our dear brothers Les Freres Bayly might call the "bitch goddess of success."  When your child begins to uncover her nakedness--just a little of course--at the request of her handlers to be a little bit more "edgy," don't object on the grounds of Leviticus 18, whatever you do.  Just watch the money flowing in and hope the judge wasn't too generous to your ex-wife.

You can even start this step before your child starts earning money by ignoring the things she's learning (or he's learning in school, or by allowing him to drop out of school when you know he doesn't have the basic life skills to make it on his own.  Again, this is all about grasping for the brass ring out there--if only you will surrender your child's immortal soul, you can have wealth that rusts and rots!

Step 3 is to ignore the clear signs that things are wrong; things like broken relationships, heavy drinking and substance use, and glorifying things that lead to death.  Just remember that this is especially "edgy," and those pictures of your child passed out in Vegas and New York are going to translate to album sales, you know?

Because, of course, you are living vicariously through your child--or at least your wallet is--and if you rein in your child with the hope of her returning to her Lord, you're going to have to leave that big mansion you built for yourself, too.  You see, you haven't just destroyed your children, have you?

Monday, August 01, 2011

Time to go to daycare?

My employer has the habit of giving us employer-labeled shirts as a "uniform" for the annual company picnic.  This year, they're a blaze orange polyester polo shirt.  So I'm wondering what their purpose is.  Maybe....

1.  Creative way of headcount reduction by public humiliation of the non-golfers in the company.

2.  Creative way of headcount reduction by heatstroke from polyester shirt at 90F.  Grotesquely appropriate that it will be happening during ViQueens training camp.

3.  Creative way of employee retention; employees will feel guilty about throwing away shirts and will need to buy bigger houses, thus getting a bigger mortgage, due to another shirt to house.  Debtors need to pay their debts, so they'll stick around.

4.  Desire to prove that our human resources department truly is colorblind.  But I'm still not sure the EEOC will take notice and approve.

5.  Cheap blaze for deer season.