This is such a no brainer idea, wonder what took them so long to do it!
This is such a no brainer idea, wonder what took them so long to do it!
Just finished reading this wordpress blog about a Dad’s decision to NOT buy a gun. He had been making the same argument for it that I have, I need it when my daughter starts dating. Take a quick minute and read this, maybe it’s going to far but it’s made me think at least.
I have been a graphics and design guy since the late 90’s. It’s always been more of a hobby than work. My first business was called Critical Mass Graphics, I did websites and graphic design. It was more of a nights and weekends kind of thing but it did pay for a few new computers. When I was hired at a large plastics tooling company I started working with 3D modeling and design. Funny thing about that job, even though I have no design degree (or degree at all for that matter) I designed their new logo. That was 2002 and it’s still used today. While I was working there I taught myself 3D studio max and began rendering their tooling for artwork. It actually landed me a few gigs doing bottle design for the Waldorf Hotel in New York, Bath and Body Works and a line of kids plates for Berry Plastics. After that I moved to another company as the VP of operations while also working on all their marketing materials and catalogs. Somehow the design side had managed to creep into my life again.
When I moved on from that role to start my own business (now my third), the first thing I did was craft a logo and a website. In the world of manufacturing and engineering aesthetics is not really that important, at least not to the customers I serve. Other than that there was no design or creative work to be done and I kind of dropped out of that mind set for a few years.
When I joined the Sunrise Rotary club in 2008 I saw an immediate opportunity to dive back into websites, social media and design in general. To be honest, the club has no idea how to use any of it to their advantage. No fault of theirs, just the way it was. With a new routine of working from home for my day job, I have gotten into the (bad) habit of working on stuff for the club during the day. Everything from designing the fly the flag flyers and mailers to the clubs main website, districts Facebook page, clubs Facebook page and on and on it goes. I even delved into podcasting for a full year with 42 episodes of It’s Rotary. In all a lot of fun honing my skills again. For no pay of course.
So with all that, I want to turn my side line obsession into some actual cash. I’m not out to make millions on it, although that would be nice. But I would like to be able to point to something and say, ” I created that!” With my business I create profit and market share but nothing tangible (my day job). So it would be nice to actually create something.
I can hear my wife asking me, what’s your point honey. I am going to start small, continue to give away services to the charities I like, and build up my portfolio.
I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t immediately contradict myself with a rather lofty goal. This time around it won’t be Critical Mass Graphics, doing graphics and web design. Instead it will be ChadWaldo.com doing all kinds of creative work. I mean that’s what I am if nothing else, creative. My first project will be to launch an app that will show some of my skills. An iOS app called DCE (dice).
DCE is in development now and should only take a few weeks to complete. I have a few screen shots from the story board posted here as well. Once launched, I’ll be happy to take suggestions on how to improve it.
For over a year there have been grumblings that Apple is on the decline. With no new blockbuster products they were relegated to going the way of Microsoft. Well, here’s another mote in the eye for those that still think Apple has no where to go, but down.
My primary “job” has absolutely nothing to do with mobile sales. It has nothing to do with retail. It is about as far removed from the commercial sector as one can get. My business manufactures and distributes military goods for the US Military, Israeli Military and the Defense Industry in general. So when it comes to trying to save a small business money, like a coffee shop, you would think that I would be out of my element right? I’ll let you decide that.
One of the first things I learned, or actually finally understood about business, is that every business at its core, is the same. Every business has a goal, every business has customers, every business has some sort of process to move from one task to the other. In the end every business is in business for one reason, to make money.
There are several other factors that begin to differentiate companies of course. While a companies stated goal may be to give there customers superior quality or care, in the end they can not do that unless there making a profit. I took a nine week course through the Kaufmann Foundation called “Growth Venture” a few years ago. I was actually invited to attend and was given a scholarship making the cost, free. All I needed to do was agree to attend each Friday morning and actually do the work that was asked of me. The first meeting really set me back, my first impression was that I was in the wrong class. The other business owners in the class (12 in all) were of varying consumer levels. From a printer of business cards, a lawyer, a software developer, a distributor of electronic hardware, a goat milk farmer and two ladies that made gowns for clergy. Just what in the hell could I learn from these people that would help my company? How was this course, that was obviously designed for them, going to help me? Thankfully I stuck with it.
My “enlightenment” came on the second week of the class when the owner of the Roasterie paid us a visit and talked about how he got his start. Even though he was making coffee I began to see some similar issues he had during his start up. If cash is king, then cash flow is a universal problem. Solutions to the problem vary only slightly from business to business. There is a procedure, or as I like to put it, a scientific method that can be applied to every problem. I began to engage in the discussions more and started asking specific questions about each of the others businesses. The class became very useful.
As we moved into the next few weeks things really began to click. I started making analogies between there business and mine. I even got to the point where I could understand my own P&L and balance sheet. I always looked at it, weekly and monthly in fact, but it was greek until this class. I started to see that I had more issues with the company than I thought, scary. The easy thing to spot was that I was spending to much money per month, whether I compared that to income or not, didn’t matter. I knew I was spending alot of money, I had large projects in the works, it was to be expected. It was the forecasting over the next six months that made my heart stop. Looking around the class I realized I wasn’t the only one to be shocked by the huge numbers. I envied there numbers, easily one quarter of mine.
I had worked out that I needed an infusion of cash or I needed to cut back on spending, right now. The biggest problem had now become, planning. Turns out I wasn’t alone in that problem either. How can a small business owner find the time out of a busy day “running” the company in order to “plan” for the company? This was the hardest thing for me to come to grips on. I had five employees back at the shop, working on a quarter million dollars worth of equipment, making very precise parts. One mistake could cost me thousands of dollars, I had to keep an eye on them and keep those spindles turning. Turns out the two ladies that owned the clergy gowns company had the same thought. Before I could say this out load they beat me to it. One saying to other, “How do we keep our production girls turning the spindles and sewing while we sit and plan all day?” My eyes darted right to them, “Me to” I added.
Eventually I came to a decision to spend at least an hour a day on “forecasting” (planning). The time was usually spent over lunch, sometimes meeting with new customers, sales people and even a few owners of other machine shops. The time was well spent over that first year and opened my eyes to new possibilities and new problems.
I still use most of what I learned during that nine week course and enjoy looking over my notes as well. One thing that really stuck with me was to always be looking at new ways to do the same thing. I even spend 2 hours every other week throwing ideas off a colleague of mine, hashing things out as it were. The time is well spent, in the end I can not even begin to calculate how much money it has saved me, but I would wager that it has at least saved my lively hood. It also instilled a need to share what I have learned with others. Ever time I see a business using one of those small units that you swipe your card on I just have to say something. My wife has learned to put up with me when I start talking to the owner about how much money he could be saving by using Square or even PayPal instead. I just can not help but to ask, “How much was that little unit anyway?” I’ll save that whole conversation for another post. What it comes down to is that you can never stop learning, nor can you know from whom or what that knowledge will come from. Everything has a connection that is relevant to you, you just have to look.
Had a great meeting at my club this morning. We had two health care attorneys in from Spencer Fane to talk to us about ObamaCare. It was perfect timing for the topic as I just bought an audio book on the subject this week, ahead of my trip to DC. I have thought long and hard about politics at several times in the past decade. I have always followed the debates on health care as well.
In my junior year of high school I joined the debate club. The topic of argument for the year was HMO’s and PPO’s. for the whole summer before and the rest of that school year I studied up on the difference between the two. I was to come up with my own plan that would be a national plan based off which ever system I preferred. I choose HMO’s for some reason, really I can not remember why. The only thing I do remember with clarity that year is that I never came in first, nor did I ever do worse than 3rd. I went to at least a dozen debates. Even one at Rockhurst, the college not the HS. It was a fun year and I caught the bug for politics pretty hard.
I floundered in my senior year of debate, even thou I attended a debate camp over the summer. I didn’t study much and can not remember the topic of that years debates either. I was more interested in girls at this point. But the bug never left me. From watching the fledgling CNN network, to reading the AOL news page and listening to Rush Limbaugh. I was a political dork even if I tried not to show it. I would doubt if my closer friends even knew how much news I would read.
In college I declared my major as political science and in my first semester I took a course on the political relationship of North Korea and the US, from 1945 to 1980. I told you I was dork for this stuff. Life had other plans for me however and I came back to town without a degree and went into manufacturing.
To be fair manufacturing is in my family’s blood. My father and grandfather were both machinists before the family business was started. Somewhere in the background of all that I still managed to be keep up with the whole Clinton, Monica thing. I would have lunch with my dad at this little dive off Blue Ridge called Paul’s. We would have a tenderloin sandwich with onion rings and butterscotch shake, while listening to Rush Limbaugh. Not everyday, just every other day.
Even after I moved on from the family business I would listen to NPR pretty much all day long at work. My favorite is still SciFri with Ira. I have always hated Fresh Air however. I would listen just to see what crap would come out of her mouth next. I would still enjoy most NPR’s programming thou. Still do actually.
I am pretty conservative now, can’t help it. My grandfather always told me if your young and a republican, your stupid. If your old and a democrat your stupid. I think once you have kids you naturally get more conservative, at least on some issues.
With all this time spent following politics and news in general I suppose it’s time to start putting these opinions I have to work. What better way to start then to head to DC? I am taking my first trip with the ASAE this week to, yes, lobby some senators and congressmen. The ASAE stands for the American Society of Association Executives. One of the topics I’ll be discussing with Roy Blunt is the Affordable Health Care Act and it’s impact on small business. I can feel the politics bug gnawing at the edges of my mind again. I am not sure what it means and where it will take me, but I know I am going to enjoy it!
Below is a small snippet of the book I will never finish…. Let me know what you think. Of course its a SciFi book, what else would I write about. I just write for fun so be gentle.
Titan – Search
There was a time when days like this were welcome, that time was long past. He could still remember them, sitting by the window, reading a good book. But there was no time for that anymore. His first objective today was to find her. There was no telling how long it would take or what he would do if he did. It wasn’t like he could just walk outside and start yelling out her name. His display showed the rain outside to be forty percent acidic and the rad levels had spiked overnight when the storm moved in. Despite all the efforts in the last twenty years the transformation was still an unsteady process.
After getting his gear on and checking the storm patterns in his display he stepped outside and headed down the street. He could see other people milling about in there homes, some even heading out in the weather as well. Even with a storm this size people still had to get food, head to work. Some things will never change he guessed. While wondering how long people had been chasing this routine he managed to stop and look down each ally way, into the windows of each shop. Would there come a day when mankind could just live, without all the complications. What would a dogs life be like or a birds for that matter.
There were bags of trash lining each separation of homes and the rain was starting to melt through. When this was over he would have to take this up with sanitation. If the rains became anymore acidic it would eat through all the recyclable materials in town. As he made his way into the central market he could hear the transit tubes roaring ahead. There was no stopping the daily ritual, even in this place, in this weather.
What worried him most was the time, there was never enough. She should have arrived on yesterdays first tube. He had waited for the second, then the third, before he knew it the last one of the day had come and gone and there was no sign of her. He would have to take the first one out this morning and head into the city. During the transit he would trace her last few calls, locate each one within the grid and try to pick up any other bread crumbs she may have left. She wasn’t answering her display, that part had not started to worry him until late in the day yesterday. The tubes were about the only place on Titan were connections were spotty for calls. Data never seemed to be problem which worried him even more. She could have easily sent a text only message, but even his had gone unanswered.
While he had his display tracking the last three calls and building a que of possible routes he glanced out the tube at the ocean. For the last twenty years the ocean had slowly been changing from a sheet of frozen methane with a liquid underneath to a nice green slush of semi-frozen algae. The green stuff was eating away at the methane and slowly building up carbon dioxide and oxygen. There was enough to breathe the air now but there was also a nasty side effect. When the algae died off it combined with the liquid methane and created a toxic gas that collected in the clouds. This in turn gave them the acidic rain. The temperatures were still way to cold for the average human to survive. Only those with specific gene therapies could handle up to negative 300 below. The terrain outside went black as they entered the hillside, it snapped him away from the glass.
The display had been blinking, trying in vane to get his attention. There were three possible places to start his search and the last one sent a chill down his spine, the elevator. There was no reason for her to be anywhere near it. There was only one thing to do, start with the first location and move methodically to the next. In his gut he knew were he would wind up.
Marcus owned the small cafe on the first level of the Mecor building, her last call had come from here. It was a spot they stopped at frequently when in the city, as regulars Marcus had said already confirmed she was there the other day, even remembered that she sat at the counter instead of the usual spot. There had been two other girls with her, much younger, one heavy and one thin. Thats was all the info that Marcus could remember, it was three days ago. As he strolled in and glanced around at each guest he noticed two baristas working the line and Marcus talking to a local fuzz.
No one would ever call them fuzz to there face, even though they liked the term. There face plates were designed to hide there identity and mask there voice, making there features blurred and there speech deep and off in a way that unnerved anyone. He filtered out all the back ground noise and sat down in a booth. They were talking about two missing girls, one was very heavy, that was there only descriptive. It was a hard one to miss, food here was plentiful but the meds everyone had to take to keep the rads at bay meant it was almost impossible to gain weight. If you managed to pay for the genetics needed to make rads a non issue, the side effect was a much higher metabolism. All this meant was that there were no heavy people on Titan, she wasn’t from here and had not been here long, less than year.
He had his display order a tall peppermint mocha, extra shot. Back home he would have made it a skinny, she would have made him anyway. Searching the elevator records his display gave him fourteen possible matches of a heavier set women. The range was from yesterday back one year from today. It was to many to pick through. The fuzz would have already done this and the fact that they were here in person talking to Marcus, not good. They would be recording or streaming his responses, facial ticks, respiratory cues, body temperature and half a dozen other tells. What he couldn’t figure was if there was anything for him to tell, he would have told him already.
Outside the rain had stopped and for a moment he imagined seeing a blue sky when the clouds parted. The clouds were thick here and would keep getting thicker. There was no telling how warm they could actually get Titan, no matter, the warmer it gets the more gas is released from the ground. One possible scenario was that we would get a tan colored sky on the side facing Saturn with an endless deep orange night on the other. The light from the sun would never be enough no matter how much of the haze was removed.
It would be something to see one day, to look up as the sky opened for the first time. The rings would be the first you noticed here, a huge boomerang shape in the sky with Saturn shining and spinning behind. The light from Saturn would seem blinding as first, hard to get used to actually. Then the first real night would come as Titan swung behind its parent for a full fifteen days and twenty two hours. They may be able to breathe the air even now, but they would always need greenhouses for the food.
The fuzz were finishing there interview with Marcus when his attention came back from the window. The coffee was nice and hot on his lips, the sting still on his tongue when he got up and walked over. Marcus gave hime a nod and headed to the back room. He never skipped a beat just followed him right in. He did notice that one of the fuzz stopped at the door and made a scan of him, as if just noticing that there was some one else in the cafe.
“Ray, wondered when you would stop in, good timing by the way.” Marcus said as he pulled out a blue and switched it on.
“Why would they come here?” Ray asked as he took a seat across the small room from Marcus.
Their conversation only lasted about five minutes when his display lit up again. It notified him that the heavier set lady had come down the elevator yesterday but had also taken it up three days ago.
“Did the fuzz have a name on the heavier set woman or her partner?”
“Nope, no name, but hey had a photo. Just sent it.” With a flick of his eye, Marcus’s display sent up the last incoming message, from the fuzz named Ricardo, and forwarded it on to Ray.
It took his display a few seconds but there was a match. How could someone go up the elevator, come back down two days later and the fuzz not have a name?
“Marcus, I know you have a copy, no more stalling me, I watched you lie to the fuzz, they didn’t know it. They will figure that out in few hours after some one looks at there recording.
“Its illegal to tap into surveillance and keep copies, even as shop owners man. Why would I risk my license for…”
He cut him off mid sentence, pulled out his small pistol and used it to scratch his temple. He made a grimace as if he had just heard the most absurd joke. Then starred straight at Marcus, right in the eyes. Marcus had known Ray for about four years now and apparently had never been able to figure him out. He could see in his eyes he did now. No matter what happened now, Marcus would cooperate.
Well I was going to make a list for my New Years Resolutions. Then I read that 98% of people break there’s in the first month. I would love to among the 2% of folks who actually stick to there’s. So here is my list…