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Archive for October, 2007

Side Work

Sunday, October 28th, 2007

Sometimes I do some side work for a marketing research firm, including some in-store merchandising, retail auditing and mystery shopping. On Friday, I set up some POS (point of sale) material and removed the old POS at a local Bank of America branch. This type of work does not pay a lot but it gives me a change from my normal activities. I find that it gives me some active experience in the field of business.

A lot of people are most familiar with mystery shoppers or the little lady that beacons you over to her table at the grocery store to try a new cracker or something. Most of the time, I don’t chose the mystery shopping or taster jobs. I prefer the revealed jobs, such as replenishing calling cards or counting racks of items. The job on Friday was a new one for me and the instructions were clear – bring no tools. However, I quickly discovered that I should have brought a stool or small ladder because I had to climb up on a counter from a chair to reach a sign to swap. I had taken a screwdriver and pliers, but I also need a 1/2″ crescent wrench to remove a bolt on an outdoor sign. Luckily, the bank employess had swapped the signs in the past themselves and they had a crescent wrench. In addition, I needed a pair of scissors to open a box. I will definitely bring my own tools next time!

Critical Thinking: Building the Basics

Saturday, October 27th, 2007

At the used book store I picked up Critical Thinking: Building the Basics by Donald E.P. Smith, Glenn E. Knudsvig, and Timothy L. Walter (1998)….FREE.

It seems there is not much demand for books of this type, especially since it is now in the 2nd edition. However, this little pocket-sized book is a good review of critical thinking strategies. It has question-and-answer sections in each chapter and an excerpt from Introduction to Psychology by James Kalat, which gives an overview of thought process and stages of intellectual development.

I will be teaching a critical thinking course in a few weeks and I am reading this little text to get my mind circled back around to the thought processes of thinking.  Most students have never considered that there is a process to our thinking. Critical thinking also teaches students how to write with clarity and accuracy. I use critical thinking as I write papers and again as I review and proofread them. I used to think that the faster I wrote the better I wrote, but that is all forgotten. Now, I “craft” each sentence and question myself as to what the sentence and its paragraph are actually saying. Is it accurate? Logical? Critical?

Assignment #5 MGT5016 Managing Change

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

I finally got back my graded Assignment #4 and I am very pleased with my grade. Dr. S. made some comments on the paper that were encouraging. I have been outlining Assignment #5, and so far it is not much more than a skeleton! I am writing about my company and the change processes that we are working through. One topic that I will explore is the plateau or stagnation during a change initiative. I have been through several “transformations” and there always seems to be a leveling out – lots of progress at the beginning and then we hit a wall. That is where we are at work. Almost everyone got on the bus to go, then the bus broke down! How do we avoid a breakdown?

Tonight Husband and I put together three metal shelves that I bought at Target and put them in the utility room. I have a lot of canning equipment and mason jars and we are using one shelf for these. On another, I will put Christmas decorations. In this house we don’t have a usable attic because of the vaulted ceilings. In the other house we had an attic with a floor.  It feels *Good* to take a step toward getting organized!

Tomorrow evening is reserved for grading papers.

Saturday Break – The Gun Show

Sunday, October 21st, 2007

Yesterday I took a break and Husband and I went to a gun show in town. Husband enjoys gun shows and I enjoy being with him. Being from the South, he also grew up with guns and hunting. In his bachelor days, he stayed with a guy who had a gun shop in our small town.  These days he is interested in black powder historical guns.

I am a firm believer in our Second Amendment right to bear arms. I realize that not every reader will have my same views on gun ownership: a responsible gun owner respects his weapon as well as himself and his community.

If you have never been to a gun show, you should go next time one is in your town. Regardless of which company puts on the show, they are all pretty much the same, with tables set up in a large building, usually a vacant Wal-Mart or something similar. The show that we went to on Saturday was a C & E Gun Show. Admission is usually under $10 and most of the big shows offer coupons on their sites or in the paper.

Expect the parking lot to be crowded and a line at the door. Generally, there are police cruisers and patrolmen standing around. This is to deter any deals from taking place in the parking lot rather than the venue. At the gun show on Saturday, there were a few politcal party tables in the lobby, encouraging visitors to vote for their candidate, the Libertarian. Also out in the lobby is usually a table with a box and forms to fill out to win a door prize, which is normally a .22 rifle or similar gun. I always fill out the forms for Husband and me but have never won.

As you enter the venue, you must get a hand stamp. Mine hasn’t washed off yet and the C & E is still visible. There are usually hundreds of tables in the building, each with guns, paraphenalia, hunting equipment, historical items, uniforms, patches, bags, repair items, books, etc. I always walk behind Husband, who likes to take a quick swing of the building and come back around for an in depth look. I think that is from his military and police days – we canvass the building first.

There are lots of women that come to gun shows, some alone and some with their male companion. There are a number of husband/wife vendor teams. Sometimes the ladies will have their own section of the tables where they offer jewelry or candles or other things of interest to women. Usually, someone is selling spices or BBQ rubs, jerky or baked goods.

Husband is drawn to all of the historical guns and paraphenalia. He loves the Kentucky rifles and black powder guns, and all of the miliaria that inevitably is available. I love the beauty of the wood and the craftsmanship that is so obvious in the old guns. We don’t have the expendable cash to buy some of these gorgeous old guns but we wish we could. Husband amazes me about how much he knows about guns and their history. I told him that we need to go on the road and become gun show gypsies when we retire. I laughed when he said, well, we only need to sell ONE gun to make a living (because they are so expensive!).

The best part of the shows is the comraderie between the patrons and the vendors. Everyone is very helpful and easy to talk to. There are no pretentious sorts at a gun show like this. Just listen to the conversations as you walk by as complete strangers relate how they had a gun like that once or the best way to handle that gun. There are no walls between young and old, ethinic groups or experience level. Everybody is there to “talk guns” and swap stories.

At one table, Husband and I were looking at some old guns and we were separated by about 10 feet. The vendor asked me if I was looking for something particular and I told him that my Husband was. Husband, who is always watching out for me, walked up and we asked some questions and admired the man’s collection. He told me that I had to buy Husband something before we left and I told him I was sure that I would. Wouldn’t I like to buy one of those guns on the table? Later on, we walked by his table again and he asked me if I had bought anything for Husband yet. I told him – Sure did – a knife! We laughed because of course the man wanted me to buy one of those $4,000 guns, not a $40 knife!

One lady had her black poodle with her and we stopped to talk about him. His name was Shadow, and she was looking for a breeding female. We have a male poodle, too, so she was out of luck. Shadow was very sweet, but of course, not near as sweet as our Tucker!

We saw a lot of young people and older men, perhaps recent veterans and veterans of wars long past. It is crowded at these gun shows but everyone makes way for Husband and his cane. Standing next to a complete stranger, it is really easy to strike up a conversation about what you are both looking at or to ask if they have seen something particular someone else that you might be looking for. Walking down the aisles holding onto Husband’s arm, I felt completely safe, even with thousands of weapons all around me.

We stayed for a while and the smell of hot dogs and french fries finally got to us. Carrying our one little purchase, we left and went to Nick’s, and Italian/Greek restaurant back towards our home. Husband enjoyed Veal Parmigiana and I had the Chicken. I can’t remember the name of the dish but it was marinated in white wine, sauteed, and served with spaghetti and sauce with olives. It was delicious! We also had some Greek Merlot that the owner recommended. Fantastic!

After leaving the restaurant, we went to the Wine Store and picked up a few things to try, including some exotic beers. Books-a-Million was next and then the grocery store to pick up a cake for my Monday class.

All in all, Saturday was a welcome break from writing, grading, and working. After it was all over with, we realized we had been on a “date,” and it was great to enjoy companionship with Husband, my best friend.  

MGT5016 – Assignment 4

Sunday, October 14th, 2007

I finally finished assignment 4 in MGT5016, Managing Change, and submitted it this morning. It has been tough now that I am back to grading papers and teaching. There is one paper more left to write. This has been a particularly stressful class because the assignments require that I write as if I were a CEO implementing change in my organization.  I chose to be Bob Nardelli, new CEO of Chrysler, LLP. Through the course of the four assignments, Bob has had to deal with a number of challenges as outlined in Peter Senge’s The Dance of Change: The Challenges of Sustaining Momentum in Learning Organizations. Poor Bob!

I had already picked the “new” Chrysler as my company when I heard that Bob would be CEO. The company has also trudged through issues with the UAW, including negotiations and now agreement. Wow, could that have been more Twilight Zone? In one way, I was lucky to have picked a company that that has had a lot of change, but then most of the recent changes are appearing in periodicals, not peer-reviewed sources. It generally takes several months for authors to submit analytical papers to journals for publication. My peer-reviewed sources are “pre-LLC” so in some cases I had to hypothesize how Chrysler would manage some of the issues now. “Now” meaning as a privately-held firm managed by Cerberus and under the leadership of Bob Nardelli, ex-CEO of Home Depot.

I am working on the last assignment:
Final Paper: There is a final paper for the course.The paper should be written on some aspect of change the Learner would like to know more about or the paper could be on the selection of another company the Learner leads through a change process. onsider yourself the CEO if you are writing about another company.The normal length of this paper is 15 pages, excluding references, title page and table of contents.

  • Know how governance of change and diffusion of change are accomplished.
  • Be able to define the strategy and purpose of change for an organization.
  • Learn about the challenge of change and how to generate change.
  • Become aware of the importance of envisioning change.
  • Identification of change barriers such as lack of time, fear of change, etc.
  • Recognize ways to implement change.
  • Know how to assess and measure change.
  • Identify the recipients of change.
  • Understand the roles of change agents.
  • I am focusing on my own organization, MeadWestvaco. We have experienced a lot of changes, some of which have been effective and others have been mere window-dressing. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is a duck, even if you call it a horse. It seems as though corporations have a peer group that they must keep up with….and “transformation” is the new mantra. If you don’t have a change initiative going on somewhere, you just aren’t in the “in” group. I want to explore what is truly change and what is not. I have some ideas and I sent a note to my Mentor, Dr. Arthur Smith, today for clarification. I am itching to get started on the writing part (and get it over with).

    For the rest of the afternoon, I am planning to work on the basement getting it ready for company at Thanksgiving and putting together another file cabinet for my office. And of course, preparing the lesson plans for Monday’s class. That class is in week four of five.

    Getting Organized

    Thursday, October 11th, 2007

    Tonight I put together a new wood file cabinet that I purchased at Staples. It is a cherry color and very pretty. This new office is not yet arranged how I want it and so I am working to become organized. I feel un-organized right now because we still have boxes from the move. This house does not have an attic so I cannot “hide” files and papers upstairs. Tomorrow, I plan to buy another file cabinet and have two matching ones.

    New Website www.thinkPhD.com

    Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

    thinkPhD now has its own web domain: www.thinkphd.com ! I decided to host it independently rather than stay on WordPress so that I can have more flexibility with content and file size. If you are subscribed to this blog, then you should continue to receive blog post updates. Celebrate! Woo hoo!

    Keeping My Head Out of Water

    Sunday, October 7th, 2007

    Sometimes I feel overwhelmed. I have a full time job, plus I have begun teaching at a local college in the evenings, just as I did in Georgia before the move. I am also a student, and the demands of researching and writing papers can get me down. I get tired but I know that I can’t quit. I have spent my whole life working to this point and quitting is just not an option. But I get tired of working ALL OF THE TIME.

    Other people I know go on vacations. My vacation days are used up either seeing about family things, writing papers or grading papers. When others watch TV, I am working. It is very hard to be “all business” and “no play.” On top of all of this, I often feel as though I can’t get anything done. That is a funny thing, because I get lots of things done but for some reason I don’t feel like it.

    I dream about writing papers. I dream about grading assignments. I dream about preparing class outlines. My mind never stops or rests. The right thing to say is that all this is worth it….that I am doing the right thing. It has been very difficult keeping my head out of the water this week. And to top it all off, I don’t know how to swim.