Sunday, May 30, 2010

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Friday, May 28, 2010

Bringing the self to work...

Over the last week, I have had a few thought-provoking conversations regarding work. One theme from these conversations involves bringing the self to work. A year or two ago, a former employee, Sue, drew three pictures while I was on vacation. I found them this past weekend. They served as a reminder to me of what it means to bring the self to work.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Die Seminar 2010

Yesterday, we hosted the first-ever in-house die seminars (at least since I have been here). The seminar included the Die Wizard software developed by Carsten van der Putten and four stations for microscopic analysis. Each station featured a separate die category. The dies were retained from our processes and exhibited varying wear conditions from new to broken. Production and management personnel participated in the event. The successful seminars were a joint effort between our company and Esteves Group. Special thanks to Gary Kantz, Sales Director at Esteves, for his eagerness to participate in developing and piloting this on-site seminar. Stay tuned for pics from June's seminar on wire breaks!

Monday, May 24, 2010

What's the harm in asking?

Do you ever have an idea or a thought come into your mind? I'm talking about something interesting, potentially positive, legal, different. You have that moment of excitement and then the excuses - not enough time, too goofy, what if no one is interested - begin to permeate the thoughts.

When I was living and working in Bremen, one of the ideas that I had was to do develop an interesting science lesson for the eighth grade science classes using technology. My hope was to borrow the calculator-based laboratories from Saint Joseph's and do a remix of one of the lessons from Mathematics Teaching Scholar Partnerships. I did my student teaching in eighth grade and education is still near to my heart. This seemed like a good way to remain involved in education. Seven years later, I had not done this because I figured it was too crazy to try. Then, I moved away. Well, recently, I finally emailed the teacher and expressed an interest in trying to set something up for this fall. Her response, "I have thought about asking before, but didn't know if you would have the time." I guess that we both kind of missed the boat!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Status Quo Sucks

I received a text message from a coworker that included the picture of the above sign. Fortunately, I was in Bremen and could get my picture taken with the sign. I guess the sign says it all!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Piano Journey

A few weeks ago, I met up with my parents in Bremen and, with the help of Jairo, we loaded up the piano in Grandpa's truck for the 100-mi trip to its new home in Jenn's house. The other evening, I was writing a blog post and Jenn sat down at the piano and began playing. The sounds permeated the room in a cheery, life-giving manner.

Recently, I worked on updating my linkedin page and added interests that included running, biking, piano, and trumpet. However, more than a moment of hesitation occurred as I began typing in these standard inputs. I really wasn't sure how honest all of these items were anymore. After all, I really hadn't played the piano much since last September due to a pretty serious proximity issue. And I do miss playing with the band each Saturday as well.

While sitting there listening, though I began to understand that I am still interested in piano and playing music in general. The wonderful thing, though, is that maybe the expression of the interest is now in supporting Jenn and her music. I can't wait to hear about her piano lessons this summer with the "new" piano. Attending her students' music programs this school year has been a welcome respite from the often frenzied day-to-day life. I really had no idea that events would unfold in this manner when the moving guys transferred that piano through my door six years ago. You just never know...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Big Green Deposit

Okay, so I was doing sit-ups (with the big green ball) and push-ups (no green ball - just regular push-ups) this evening and all of the sudden Jenn runs over to get her camera. She said that I needed to see the muscle sprouts on my back. I was pretty skeptical so that is why she wanted to take a picture. So, in the process of trying to get said picture, she caught me taking a huge green deposit. I suppose that I deserve this considering my overall volatile state when we run.

Take care,

T-Diddy :)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Case of Mixed Priorities

I recently joined two colleagues at a day-long Fundamentals of Wire Manufacturing Course. My expectation for the course was extremely high. It sounded like a promising chance to review the entire process in a single day. However, it actually ended up being a bit of a turn-off. Perhaps, I'm being a bit kind.

One of the teachers discussed Steel Rod Technology. I italicized teachers because this ended up being a case of mixed priorities. Numerous times during the presentation, the teacher indicated that if we wanted to learn more, then we could hire him as a consultant. Here's the problem, our company paid for us to attend the class.

So I understand that it might be important to protect proprietary interests. However, it was highly inappropriate in that setting to promote consulting services under the guise of teaching.

An additional note...

At the luncheon, one of the event organizers had those of us taking the course stand up. Many other people from the industry were at the luncheon because of various meetings. The speaker then proceeded to explain that a great deal of talent and experience surrounded us and that we should take advantage of it. Hmm, that was an interesting concept. What if we have seen the industry and are ready for wire and cable manufacturing to be something different?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Today would be a great day to...

Fly a kite.
Go for it!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Clothed With Power

The Gospel lesson for today describes the Ascension. On Friday, we dressed up to attend the Scholarship Dinner so I guess clothing was a little bit on the brain still as I was reading the Gospel lesson last evening at St. Augustine's. Our culture puts a great deal of emphasis on clothing. Walk through any mall and you quickly lose track of the number of clothing stores. New trends are always starting. (And yes, sometimes the new trends are actually old trends that went by the wayside but found a way back.)

Clothing is also an important feature of the Gospel reading. According to Luke 24:49, "I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high."

A few months ago, Jenn and I were out and about and Jenn saw this purple and white checkered shirt that she thought would be a good fit for me. It might sound goofy, but this shirt offers a sense of power - a sense of being cloaked in love. On a recent trip, I specifically packed the shirt so that I could wear a reminder of Jenn and her love. The cool thing is that this shirt has resulted in many positive comments. But the best part is that I get to say, "Jenn picked it out."

This is certainly a material example, but in some ways it starts to address this idea of being clothed with power.

Being clothed with power requires some form of outward expression of an inward transformation. As an outward expression, it is visible to others. Some will accept and encourage the outward expression. Others will reject it. Either way, though, we are able to wear the expression with confident power because of the unconditional love freely given to us.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Offering Hope

On Friday, Jenn and I attended the 2010 Scholarship Dinner and Auction. The purpose the event is to raise scholarship money for students attending our alma mater, Saint Joseph's College. As a grateful recipient of past scholarship funds, I can personally attest to the promise and empowerment that comes with this support. Scholarships change lives in powerful ways and offer hope to students facing an incredible investment in their education. The dinner offers the opportunity to collectively recognize a need and contribute resources toward that need. I offer a personal thank you to the benefactors of Saint Joseph's - both past and present - as they continue the mission of offering hope to students.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Esteves Group

Esteves is our die supplier. Until yesterday, I thought that dies were pretty much dies. I can think of about six suppliers, and they pretty much all supply the same thing - dies. Price and quality are pretty much comparable between suppliers. However, Esteves is taking dies to another level. This guy named Carsten van der Putten has developed software, Drawing Die Wizard, that makes it possible for anyone with a basic understanding of computers to look into dies in a whole new way. The software makes it possible to manipulate variables - nib size, angle, bearing length, etc - and see the results in 3D. All of the sudden, the relatively old concept of the drawing die takes on an entirely new look. I have already used this software to support observations following a recent visit to a supplier. This gives me confidence in asking for several thousand dollars of capital to improve a process. The great thing is the designer of this software is visiting our plant in two weeks for an entire day. He and the sales director are going to teach all of our multi-wire operators and supervisors about dies using this software and microscopic analysis. He is in the process of revolutionizing the die industry. I can't wait to see the ideas that he has to offer us as we show him our facility.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Research Questions

What is your dream?

What is your passion?

Today, I posed the first question to Jenn while we were running.

Her response, "I'm doing it. I'm teaching and coming up with new ideas on how to teach."

A few blocks away from where I am sun-bathing right now, the field-house is packed with students that are graduating from college, parents, families, faculty, and friends. I'm wondering about how each of these people would answer these questions.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

"Living the Dream"

The statement has become kind of cliche.

The big question: Are we?

What's the Current Situation

John Maxwell wrote this book, Put Your Dream to the Test.

One point that he addresses in the development of vision is to first recognize where we are.

For me, I’m still kind of a wanderer.

But I believe that is possible to live a life with purpose and direction… and this is what all people long for but most people give up at some point along the journey.

How does this happen? Because as people, we get distracted. We lose focus. We get scared. We focus too much on the short-run with no concept of the long-run. We forget our roots and have no concept of the future. We listen too much to others instead of listening to the inner voice. For forget the awe of childhood. We focus on the material. We stop experimenting. We quit gaining new experiences. We get hurt. We become cogs. We get blinded by money.

I still believe though that in the midst of all of this, if we can peel back the layers, then each one of us can decipher the dream – the vision.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Staying True to Her Art

Yesterday, a group of Jenn's family and friends gathered to bid a fond farewell to Jenn's Grandma J. At the Mass, amidst the the tears and the sorrows stood an artist that stayed true to her art. The angelic sound of Jenn's flute floated down over the assembly as she offered her gift. She accompanied the songs throughout the service, but I looked up On Eagle's Wings this morning to reflect for a few minutes on the refrain:

And He will raise you up on eagles’ wings,
bear you on the breath of dawn,
make you to shine like the sun,
and hold you in the palm of His hand.

It is pretty safe to say that Grandma J. lives on in those who she has left behind. And by sharing in ways that Jenn shared yesterday, the palm of His hand is outstretched...

Saturday, May 1, 2010


This morning, Jenn and I embarked on our Saturday run. The plan was for us to run 4 miles together and then I would continue on to finish out at 13 or so. Sometimes, though, plans just don't work out. We looped around the campus and sawing our friend, Nick Schafer, working in the grotto with a team of other people. They were cleaning up debris from the gardens. So we said hi and continued running. A few minutes later, I asked Jenn what she thought about me working in the grotto for awhile instead of continuing on running at the split point where she goes to her house and I keep running. She said that she wanted to help as well. So on the second pass through campus, we stopped and joined in on the clean-up efforts. We worked for about an hour and had a great time.

This kind of captures what running and biking has meant for me over the last few years. (It is hard to believe months have turned into years.) Sure, it is great for fitness and the occasional race is exhilarating. However, these activities are kind of symbolic for me as well. They are about going out with a sense of expectancy. Much of the time this involves personal awe of creation and the chance to worship. Sometimes, though, like today, something else happens. Today offered a chance to serve. Other times I literally run into people and we chat. Maybe it is just a friendly hello. I think back often to the times that Trent, Ben, and I would traverse the countryside of Bremen and the surrounding communities. Thank God for the air horn to scare the dogs away. I remember the spontaneous singing (yes, singing) and the deeper conversations. In thinking about these times, maybe Trent says it best, " Wow, I can't believe how much I took that stuff for granted."

The pace of our world seems to be increasing with exponential speed. It ends up being so easy to take these things for granted. Yet, running offers this chance to go out and live.

A Focus on the People

The latter part of this week was interesting at work. In the matter of a few hours, a new vision started to develop for our employee training.

I'm still kind of recovering from the shock and my own excitement.

Next week, we are going to start getting out new training materials to our employees. But this is not going to be like the past. Sure, we will still have the work instructions and the process guides. However, these alone just don't meet the needs of the ever-increasing competitiveness of manufacturing. We are going to focus on developing our employees to be active contributors to the organization - not people who are waiting around to be told what to do.

The first segment is going to be on drawing and bunching dies. However, this is not just going to be talking about dies. We are going to have microscopes set up with dies having varying degrees of wear. Associates will actually have the chance to inspect dies. My hope - my dream - is that more and more people will begin to take ownership of their production. Why? Because this is the way it has to be. The manufacturing environment of years past is dead and gone. In fact, some people have said that manufacturing is dying off completely. Maybe we just need to start re-thinking manufacturing.