Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Day And More Ramblings

Let me start off by wishing everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving.  A day that most Americans eat way more than they should, regret and tomorrow start looking forward to next year but wait, there's leftovers.  There will be lots of them in my house and I suspect I will be eating the left overs until sometime middle of next week.  Leftovers are the best.  I look forward to a nice turkey sandwich with cranberry sauce on Saturday.  Haven't had one of those since last year.

The inventory is over and I will get to keep my job for the next 138 days.  I was truly surprised at how close we were after two years with no physical inventory and two major moves of the entire parts department.  They say preparation is 90% of any good job so perhaps all the hours I spent counting and working in the inventory the past two months paid off.  We have a surprisingly clean inventory for a store with over $800,000 on the shelf and sales in the $600,000 range every month.

Unfortunately I did loose a good counterperson yesterday.  My assistant left our organization and has left a void that I need to fill pretty quickly.  I have a young man that I believe is capable of taking my position when I leave and this will be a good time to find out what he is made of.  I suspect that I won't see 100% retirement for a while as the family will want me to participate with getting him up to speed.  I fully expect to step down from management of the department and move to the counter for the remainder of my career.  While I will still technically be in charge I will put the pressure on to see if we have made a solid choice.  I think this change will come about on January 2nd.  I am excited and looking forward to some shorter work days and less stress.

I suppose I could go on but I do some of my best work in the early morning so I think I will work on our planned trip once our grandson graduates.

Take care and enjoy your day where ever you are.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Time has arrived

In a couple of hours the peace and quiet will be interruped by the inventory crew that is scheduled to take our first physical inventory in two years.  Today we will find out how two major moves and two years without a physical has done to the inventory dollars.  I am hopeful that we are close when we are done and finally compare the physical dollar value to the financial dollar value.  We will know the answer before we leave for the day.
The only other news is President Obama arrives in our city this morning and I really don't care.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Boeing, Boeing

Many years ago there was a very funny movie starring Tony Curtis and Jerry Lewis about a news paper reporter who juggle the schedules of three different stewardesses that worked for different airline companies.  As the story proceeded the schedules got more and more complicated as the airlines purchased newer, faster aircraft.

A couple of months ago Boeing came to the Northwest with plans to build their newest plane in the Everett plant.  They obviously saw the benefit of the a well organized, highly trained group of machinist that live in this area.  They are the same folks that help Boeing repair the damaged cause to the 787 project by outsourcing to vendors around the world to build different components of the plane for final assembly in Everett.  The machinist outcry over the out sourcing of the work was huge, ugly and pretty personal.  When it failed the machinist got to say I told you so and went to work to try and resolve the issues.  It took time but they succeeded.

Boeing wanted to get some concessions so they could hold their costs down over the next few years.   They were looking to make certain they didn't have to deal with any strikes by machinists, loss of the pension plan replaced by a 401k program, increased share of medical premiums and a longer period for new hires to reach the highest levels of pay for their position.  On the other hand, Boeing was willing to give a higher company match for the retirement savings program, a $10,000 signing bonus, and a 1% pay increase every other year on top of their cost of living increases.

The machinist turned the contract revision down with a resounding NO and sent Boeing looking for another place to build this new plane.

I can see both sides of this dispute.  I see the machinist who don't want to give up benefits they have struggle to gain.  But, I see Boeing trying to compete in a global marketplace with competition arriving from new manufacturers.  Then there is the economy of the Northwest while not completely reliant on Boeing there was a future that came with the contract.

Not only would we get the assembly of the 777X but Boeing was going to build a new plant to build the newly designed carbon wing that will lift this new plane and Boeing into the future.  The carbon plant would have put the Northwest on the forefront of this technology.  It would have ensured the future of Boeing in the Northwest.  As it is, predictions indicate we will loose half the people working at the Everett plant to unemployment in the not to distant future.

Nobody won.

November 22, 1963

In September of 1963 I was a sophomore entering a newly opened High School in north Seattle.  I had spent my first year of high school at Ingraham also in north Seattle but much further from my house.   The new school, Nathan Hale High School, was in walking distance from my home and we were very optimistic about the future as the new school started.  In fact, the whole country was in a country was in a state of optimism.

Our country had a new, young President.  The first Catholic and the youngest elected president in the history of the country.  A war hero.  He had a vision.  He had a young family.  A very young and beautiful wife, Jackie, became one of the most popular presidential wives in history even though she was a private person and held her family close.  Everything was perfect.  A man with vision to direct the country into a future that all Americans were seeking.

In a flash in November of 1963 everything changed.  The country was shocked by the assignation of John F Kennedy by Lee Harvey Oswald.  The country stopped to mourn the loss of a man with a vision of how America should move into the last part of the 20th century  Were it not for his sudden death we may very well have become a different country but cynicism replaced optimism and we are living with the results of it 50 years later.

J.F.K. and his family have been the subject of many studies, reports, books and memoirs.  One has to wonder what would have happened had he lived.

"Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country?"

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Bad Time For Parts Managers

It is the annual physical inventory time for just about every auto dealership in the country.  It can be a real pain in the ass as the weeks wind down to the day when the actual count takes place.  Paperwork must be meticulous during this final month (should be all the time).  An outside firm comes in and takes our physical.  I used to do it myself years ago in much smaller stores but with the size of the inventory that we have it just make sense to have someone from outside do it.  In addition, it keeps everyone honest.  Parts Managers handle a lot of money with very few questions asked by owners.  The owners give a blank check to the Parts Manager at the beginning of each year looking for a return on the monies they have invested.  A good Parts Manager looks at himself as a money manager and takes the appropriate steps to invest wisely.

Spent a lot of time recently delving into my roots.  New information becomes available and I sit down and sift through it on  At times it seems overwhelming.  You start with a couple of hints about an individual and end up with 79 more after you determine the information is right and add it to your family tree.  My tree has grown considerably over the past two days.  Among my records are Sons of the American Revolution and Loyalist but, so far, no one famous.  I now know that my ancestry leads back to England with some German mixed in.  Quite a few of my relatives lived in Canada at one time.

Well that is all I have at the moment.  Inventory is looming on the horizon as I said and I need to enjoy my last full day off for the next couple of weeks.  Hope everyone is having fun out there.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

I Was Young And Now I Am Not

It was the late fifties and I was eleven or twelve years old.  Mom was suffering with severe back pain and many times she was completely incapacitated.   Much of my summer vacation was spent with family friends and grandparents.  I especially remember spending time at my dad’s mom and dad’s during this period.

They lived in a small home next to a wooded corner lot nearly at the top of Magnolia Bluff in Seattle.  They had a large long lot that went down hill away from the street and overlooked the train yards.  The house was one story but because it was built on a side hill it was at street level in the front and really high off the ground in the back.  There was a dark, unfinished, dirt floor area under the back of the house where grandpa stored his tools and other stuff.

Each time I was there I looked at books that they had in their possession.  I honestly cannot remember the titles of the books but I do recall looking at some very dark and scary illustrations.  I looked online for examples but couldn’t find any that I remembered or recognized.  I loved books at a young age.  They took me away from the reality that was my childhood with a sick mom and a dad who drove long haul overnight.

The one bright spot in all of this was the Saturday Evening Post.  I loved to be there when it came in the mail.  I looked forward to seeing the cover illustration for the first time.  Many times it was by an artist that I was already familiar with, Norman Rockwell.  I was introduced to his work in Boys Life and didn’t really put the two together until later in life.  Mr. Rockwell illustrated middle America using childhood friends and some elements of his own childhood. 

Looking back I can see how these surroundings and props affected me in ways I haven’t thought about in a long, long time.  

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Rambling On and On

The morning opens with the results of an overnight storm and a promise of much more to come this weekend.  I had hoped to winterize the trailer and put the cover on it this weekend but our Seattle area weather has other ideas.  We experienced heavy rains last night that will be followed today by showers and a high wind alert.  We are expecting some nasty gusts to hit this weekend.

As with any Saturday off there are things that need to get done including, but not limited to a trip to Costco.  I have a door hinge to fix and I really should do something about cleaning up the garage and my work area.

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to get a Kindle 7" HD Fire.  After having it for a while I soon discovered that I wasn't going to have much time with my new technology.  Mia loved it and used it to replace an old lap top that had a near death experience and was sent to Hard Drive Heaven.  Ken didn't get much personal time with his new Kindle.  In fact, way back in the beginning of Kindle time, my family purchased one of the original Kindle readers for me.

Now this Kindle has been a good unit and it served the intended purpose.  Getting me to read books.  I have spent many evenings laying in bed reading using this wonderful device.  It lacks several things including a background light, good internet access, the ability to view web pages just to name a few.
The Kindle Fire HD 7" changed all of that by providing all of the above plus apps and games and total access.  Typing is a bit of a strain but for looking things up or using keywords it works really well.  I was really looking forward to using the heck out of it.

I finally got tired of having but not using the HD so I started to look for an alternative for me.  I found the Kindle Fire HDX 7" with a few more features and better resolution.  Being the cheap SOB that I am I chose to order it on Mia's Amazon account because she signed up for PRIME and gets free shipping.  What I didn't do was mark the item as intended as a gift.  The HDX arrived on Thursday and when I opened it up and turned it on, guess whose name appeared on the unit.  Yep, Mia's Kindle.  Rather than go to all the work of deregistering and reregistering, I gave Mia the HDX and I now have the HD.

I had joked with Mia that after getting the HDX there would come a lonely night when I was having a hard time going to sleep.  I would hit the Mayday button and wait for the young lady to appear and ask her to help me go to sleep.  Mia joked back, "What will you do if Alex comes on the screen?"  Guess if Alex comes on the screen she'll be happy.