I Met The Swamp And It Is Us

Swamp.jpeg

So with the election came promises (and hope to some) to “drain the swamp” in Washington, D.C. and beyond. 


That means redefining the size, scope, and purpose of federal government.


It also means reducing regulations that stifle American business and competitive advantage, placing restrictions on lobbying, and imposing term limits on Congress.


Presumably, it also means addressing mounds of fraud, waste and abuse in the system (many examples of each are out there).  


So here is a funny true story from when I was traveling recently…


A gentleman is riding with me in the elevator and he turns to me to make chit-chat. 


He says, “Good morning. Where you from?”


I smile and respond, “Washington, D.C.,” and add proudly, “the nation’s capital!”


He then asks, “What do you do there?”


Feeling a little perky that morning and with the elevator ride about to come to a stop at the lobby, I quickly blurt out, “Oh, cleaning up the swamp.”


To which, the man responds with the sarcasm galore and probably a good dose of disdain, “Yeah right!” 


There was something so comical about this scene in which I sort of baited this guy and at the same time found the reaction that is all too likely throughout America.


Do people believe and are they committed that we really do the following:


– Change the status quo of big stumbling government


– Right the wrongs done by those who take advantage of the system, its power and big money


– Restrain the ginormous national debt that threatens to consume all of us


– Fairly and compassionately address the nation’s priorities including those for national security, prosperity, and well-being


– Drain the swamp from the horrendous creatures that dwell and thrive therein


And the capital is not built on a preexisting swamp, but it did come and grow, man-made, dark and deep, as a result of the greed and fear that drives too many, far too far. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Everyone Drinks

Everyone Drinks

So this is a water fountain on steroids. 


Not 1, not 2, but 3 drinking spouts. 


Adults, children, and even pets can all get theirs.


And at the same time…no one goes thirsty!


So simple, yet why make people wait and take turns.


Drink everyone, drink to efficiency. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Your Bowling Help Desk At Your Service

Bowling Help Desk
This was the sign in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building Bowling Ally that I mentioned in a post yesterday.



[Note: I’ve removed the phone number so don’t try calling.] 



Yeah, I’ve heard about a help desk for a lot of things, especially for Information Technology, but for bowling???



Thinking about calling a help desk for trouble with bowling [equipment], I couldn’t help imaging how this may go and chuckling a little:



“Hello, this is the bowling help desk at your service–what is the nature of your bowling emergency?”



Or



“Press 1 if your bowling shoes are too tight.



Press 2 if you’ve dropped the bowling ball on your foot.



Press 3 if you’ve bowled 2 or more gutter balls in a row.



Press 4 if the bowling machine is in a frustratingly stuck position.



Press 5 if you’ve lost your bowling ball or need a replacement.



Press 6 if you need additional scoring sheets.



Press 7 if you’re a lousey bowler and need bumpers to help your game. 



Press 8 if your fingers are caught in the ball and you can’t get them out. 



Press 9 if you’d just rather be ice skating or going to the movies. 



Press the # key, if you need to speak to a bowling representative.”



Lastly, I wonder if they open a help desk ticket for the bowling challenged and what their response time is. 



Yep, help is only a call away when you’ve got a bowling problem in the works. 



Now, if only they could fix the highly troubled DC Metro system–there should definitely be a robust help desk for that!  😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Blame The SLOW Trains

Train
So another tragic major train derailment in Philadelphia this week. 



Already 8 people killed and over 200 injured. 



All over the news, we see that the train was speeding by going just over 100 mph.



Yes, it was a curve, and maybe we need to build some straighter more stable lines (I believe that is partly what eminent domain used properly is for) and with the latest safety features. 



But does anyone ask how can other countries safely implement their trains at far faster speeds–that makes 106 mph look virtually like a mere snails pace in comparison.



Just last month, the Wall Street Journal ran an article about the U.S. potentially upgrading to bullet trains that rountinely and safely go at far higher speeds:



Japan: 375 mph!



France: 199 mph.



China: 186 mph.



U.S.: 149 mph (even the Acela train has the potential to do at least this much, but for the most part they don’t due to shared lines with commuter and freight trains and an aging infrastructure–uh, so where did all that money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act go exactly?)



In what now seems retrospectively almost mocking, Japan Railways, International Division Chief stated: “We have a track record of transporting a huge volume of passenger traffic with very few delays or accidents…Because the trains operate so accurately, travel can be made very efficiently [and safetly].” 



Do you think we the U.S. can catch up with our 21st century peers here?



(Source Photo: here with attribution to Toshy Island Paddy)

3-D Printing Comes To Life

3D Printing
So my daughter is graduating high school, but is already taking a class in 3-D printing. 



(This little guy pictured here was made experimenting in the class and was a precious gift from her.)



Already prophetically envisioned in Star Trek as “the replicator,” this technology has been around in primitive trial form since the 1980’s.



In 3-D printing, alloyed material is successively layered under computer control to make complex shapes and products.



It makes traditional 2-D printing (on paper) look like rubbing two sticks together to build a fire (circa the paleolithic period of mankind thousands of years ago). 



The promise of 3-D printing for advanced manufacturing is absolutely incredible.



The Wall Street Journal describes how NASA researchers and engineers are working toward using 3-D printers in space to “make bricks suitable for airtight buildings and radiation proof shelters” simply using the sand already on Mars. 



Moreover, the astronauts on their journey may be eating pizza from these printers as well (except for the sand, but still probably better than MREs–Haha).



Already objects have been printed “19 feet long…stone-like building blocks weighing one-and-a-half ton each”!



In the future, 3-D printers could be sent in advance to planets we look to colonize and “lay down landing pads, roads, and shelters” in preparation of our arrival.



These printers could even build working replicas of themsleves or “swarms of self-assembling construction robots” boosting our capacity for even more building.



Moreover, technology is in the works to recycle from 3-D printing by melting down the printed products back into material that could be reused for new printing projects.



On Earth, where we have long been drawing down our natural resources as well as polluting our environment, the prospect of going to other worlds where their are new resources and we actually have the ability to use them constructively is humanity’s chance for a whole new chapter of life beyond. 😉



(Source Photo: Rebecca Blumenthal)

Less With Less

Less With Less

This was a funny picture of a “Complaint Jar”.

“All complaints must be written on $1.00 bills or larger. Thank you.”

Hey, if you’re going to complain, put your money where you mouth is.

The person on the receiving end isn’t looking for more negativity and insults about the job they are doing–they want compliments and tips!

This is similar to a story I heard today about an executive where he and his team where stretched thin and stressed out.

So at one point, when he was once again asked to do more with less, he slams his fist on the table and says, “No, we are going to do less with less!”

It is interesting that nationally and in our organizations, we are constantly asked to increase productivity, but at the same tighten our belts.

And in the short to intermediate term, we are able to shed “dead weight” and become more efficient.

However, over the longer-term, there does come a breaking point, where trying to do more with less results not in cutting fat, but in cutting bone–and the stress ends up in a fracture.

Before you know it, fists are slamming on desks, absenteeism is going up, people are getting sick, fights–verbal and otherwise–are breaking out at work, poor decisions are being made, fighting for scarce resources become fierce, and collaboration becomes overt warfare, and perhaps, even someone commits suicide or “goes postal.”

Cutting for efficiency can work up to a point, after that all bets are off and you cut at your own and your organization’s risk–then even the complaint jar or suggestion box will be nothing but a broken marquee. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)