Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Why not a knee switch?


You've heard of a thumb switch, palm switch, foot switch and 2-hand safety switches.  I invented (or rather simply adapted) a knee switch. 


Because it works.


We have this polybag sealing machine.  We stuff the product in the bag; align the open end of the bag neatly with both hands.  Place it in the sealing strip and step on the foot switch.  If only the foot switch stays in one place all the time.  You see, when people are working and moving around a machine they keep shoving things around with their feet by accident.  And one of these things that get shoved around is the foot switch.  So when an operator gets the product and polybag together into the machine and steps on nothing, she gets frustrated.  So, along comes Mr.'Mcgyver' with a quick solution.  Got some cello tape and stuck the switch on the leg of the machine stand, at about the height of the operator's knee.  Presto!  That's the knee switch.  Repeat the above procedure with the product and polybag and then shove the switch with the knee.  The bag gets sealed neatly and in the exact location.  End of story.


But no!  The smart alec with his better-than-thou and safer than safe policy (full of concern for his workers) wants 2-hand safety.  C'mon, whoever heard of a worker, with both eyes open, sealing her fingers together with a polybag?  This guy's never heard of such thing as a knee switch.  Doesn't give a damn about efficiency and non-conventional methods.  Just follow standard practice.  So, innovation goes out the window.  Along with the enthusiasm of the 'outside the box' thinker.


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Reading the message in the picture (or between the lines)

This photo appeared in one mainstream newspaper
recently. They are trying to tell you
things, but they do it in such subtle ways.
People with critical minds should notice such things. For the Mister McGoos* here’s a hint: Read
what's printed on his T-shirt. (click on the photo to get a clearer view)

I once saw a centre-spread in a major newspaper featuring
views of the tsunami disaster which hit Penang some
years ago. There were pictures showing
wrecked homes, boats swept onto roads, cars deep in mud and volunteers sweeping
and washing out houses. There was photo
of a group of people in uniform sitting under a huge tree. The caption said something like 'relief
workers taking a break'. Their shoes
were still shining and their uniforms looked like they were freshly
ironed. One question just popped up in
my mind. "Why do these guys look
like they've been sitting there for a lot longer than just to pose for a
picture? The paper wanted to tell us more, but they're just being polite. Or maybe they're afraid to offend some people, create an uproar and then get their license chopped.

Recently I saw another picture in the papers which caused me
to exclaim out loud enough for my teenager to come running, wanting to know
what the matter was. I asked her to look
at a picture and tell me what was wrong with it. She couldn't.
I asked her to count the number of soldiers in a motorized boat that was
rescuing flood victims. There were seven
of them. You could recognize them
because they’re in uniform. Then I told
her to count the number of flood victims in the boat. Three.
Is that a standard rule that they need to have so many personnel in one
rescue boat? If not, what were those
excess baggage doing in a rescue boat?

Right. I think I've
said enough to get these things off my chest.
I hope there are more critical minds in here than I'm aware of because
that’s my drift. I’m trying to get more
folks to be more critical. To try read
between the lines. I'm not as big as Rocky
I can't stand much heat so I'm staying out of the kitchen. I can only drop hints here and there and walk
around on tiptoes. Rather be doing
something at the drawing board. But I'll be keeping my eyes oh this gent too:


*folks who read right through without wondering,
‘what’s up?’

Monday, January 29, 2007

No Fear?

But I really do have my fears. 


My fear is that our country would lose its democracy and its freedom, overrun by corruption, extremism, and bigotry and continue being burdened by self-serving public servants who have no principles but claim that their actions are in the name of national interests.


My fear is not being able to prevent any further erosion of what limited freedom of speech, action, thoughts or worship we have.


My fear is being unable to live up to the name of being a proud Malaysian, daring to stand and fight for her sovereignty.


My fear is being slowly but subtly being told I don't belong here anymore, that I can leave if I don't like it.


My fear is not being able to vote for whom I believe to best represent me in government.


And my fear is they'll come after me if I dare speak up. 


But my worst fear is if I don't speak up now, there won't be another Rocky or Screenshots to speak up for me and my fellow citizens, just as Martin Niemöller feared, there won't be anyone left to speak up.


Saturday, January 27, 2007

An angel's wedding

We had another dinner at last week's venue. Our Vice-President's secretary, Angel (that's really her name) got married. The VP sat at our table and complained about the number of his secretaries who got hitched over the years. I said he should hire older women instead of unmarried young girls. Not counting of course, the one who was already married but divorced and then got 'stolen' along with the whole family, by a colleague from his fatherland. And the kids ended up with a better life while learning a new language and getting adopted by their German dad. We love nice endings to a story.

Lucky guy.  With an Angel to take care of him from now on, he must be the best protected person on earth (eat your heart out, Dubya Bush)...

I rather like those paintings they put up along the walls. Reminded me of Modigliani's long necked women. But these appeared to be prints made on canvass, rather than oils.

We got exactly the same 8 course fare except for the steamed fish. And we got the same singer/MC whose singing was as good as his command of both English and Mandarin, except that he kept reminding us of his name. "My name is Edward, Edward is my name...Hope you enjoy my music..." I thought he should first be saying, 'hope you enjoy the food'. Then again, if you can sing that good, don't sing at wedding dinners. Everybody would be busy chatting and trying to outdo the decibel of the speakers and your music.

Among the 6 of us at this table, we downed at least a dozen bottles of Carlsberg. I managed to keep my limit, reminding my 'better' drinker friends I had to drive alone all the way to SP. I don't relish the idea of singing karaoke with some police officers along the way. Sure glad I remained sober. My nightmare with the car began a few minutes after getting into interchange leading to the highway. Call that a sobering experience.

Friday, January 26, 2007

I got it hot.

I should have seen this one coming but I wasn't paying attention to the tell-tale signs.  There had been traces of rusty colored debris floating on the coolant surface and sticking under the radiator cap.  But I thought nothing of it.  Then the morning before I reached the office I had beard some tapping noises coming from the engine, which I mistook to be valves getting loose.  My thoughts went, 'why hadn't the foreman tighten those things for me?'   I had power-steering installed, engine checked, old pipes, belts, drive-shaft boots and bearings replaced, and I thought this 10 year old Iswara should last me a few more years without any trouble.  I practice what we call Preventive Maintenance.  But knowing nothing's perfect, I drove it around just to double-check its reliability.  Good thing, I did.  I should have replaced the 3½ year old water-pump.  I thought they could last longer than that. 


That evening while passing through Seberang Jaya after attending a colleague's wedding dinner, the tapping noise became more intense.  My thoughts went again, 'How can this be?  This engine's always been purring like a contented cat with all my nursing and regular oil and filter changes!'  I glanced at the temperature gauge and I had a shock!  At the same time I caught the whiff of burning engine oil.  Putting on my left turn signal, I coasted to the emergency lane on an overhead bridge.  Emergency lights on, engine off, bonnet up, and a constant flow of common expletives kept coming out from mouth without my bidding.  No witnesses to that though.


I looked into the boot for emergency light, spare water and some rags.  I clipped the light to the battery terminals, turned it on and looked at my engine.  There were traces of oil dripping around the sides.  The over-heating and high pressure must have forced some of the oil out through the gaskets.  Covering the radiator cap with the rags, I carefully and slowly turned it.  There was some hissing and blowing as the hot steam blew out.  I got out my 1.5 liter bottle of spare water and slowly, carefully poured in a little at a time.  Just then a couple of highway patrolmen showed up.  They donated more water when I finished my bottle.  But the water simply disappeared as soon as I started the engine.  It just flowed out from the water pump.


In my 37 years of driving, this is the first time I had to depend on a tow-truck to get home.  Fortunately I had my mechanic's number.  He gave me the number to his regular tow trucker.  It cost me RM120 which I thought was reasonable.  (I was told they'd fleece me if that happened inside the highway itself.  It's considered private territory, and the 'highwaymen' have an understanding with those 'pirates' and the cost of towing would have been doubled or even tripled.)  I left the car at the mechanic's workshop and made it home around midnight, tired but unable to get to sleep.  I decided to call in for the day off to attend to the car.  That was yesterday.


And that was how another lesson was added to my cap:  If you sense anything wrong with your car; be it an unfamiliar noise, smell or irregular behavior, first check your temperature gauge.


Sunday, January 21, 2007

For the love of Julie's Crackers

I thought I heard some rats prowling around in my attic
again. So I thought before they could
get bolder and come down after my foodstuffs, I decided to get them first. I baited my rat trap with half a Julie’s Cracker
and left it on a ledge under the air-well.
Sure enough, next morning I heard scratching noises coming from the
trap. In the semi darkness I thought I
caught two of them together. But the
scratching noise sound too loud and violent to be made by rats. When I finally got the trap down, I saw who
else but our recent visitor (or maybe one of his relatives). He was
chewing on one of the steel springs in a desperate attempt to free himself.

Well, I just knew I couldn’t keep him all day in that little
trap. He might just hurt himself. So I had to let him go. However the very same evening he was back in
the attic and prowling around looking for more of Julie’s Crackers.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The photographer who came without his camera....(Wee Nee's wedding)

For the first time since I started blogging, I forgot my little digital camera when attending a relative's wedding. Maybe I got too busy getting my car washed and other things, including preparing the angpows. And being in a bit of a hurry as I had to pick up two more relatives along the way, I totally missed the most important item.

Well, sorry folks no pictures... Just to testify that the food was great (provided by the same company who gave us the dinner at Maple Gold at Grandma's birthday), the bride was beautiful, the groom was charming, the singer and MC was good and spoke and sang in Mandarin and English without any bloopers, and all the ladies were dressed to kill,
without any pictorial evidence...

And after the luncheon we went shopping; I mean, the wives and daughters went shopping. Us in-law brothers just hang around outside the boutiques and shoe-stores telling each other tall tales and waiting with our wallets.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Copy of the President's New Year message

Klaus Kleinfeld

Dear Lian Chye Teh,

 “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” Charles Dickens wrote that in his novel, A Tale of Two Cities; yet he could have been writing about Siemens in the past year. Many of our business units have achieved the best performance in their history. And we’ve been dealt one of the worst blows to our hard-earned reputation. 

Our challenge now is to sustain the profitable growth of our businesses while making sure that our company’s values are never violated again. Now more than ever, the “Performance and Portfolio” and “Corporate Responsibility” pillars of Fit4More are vitally important. Because responsible corporations have the highest standards of business conduct, we’ve engaged several of the world’s most respected compliance experts to help us review and strengthen our compliance program. When we complete the review, Siemens will be a model of transparency and good conduct for all corporations around the world.

We can’t succeed in this endeavor without the full support of every one of our 475,000 employees worldwide. Each of us must have zero tolerance for any behavior that violates the law and our internal business conduct principles. If there is any doubt whether a violation may have occurred, every employee has the right – and the responsibility – to engage in a thoroughly confidential conversation with an independent ombudsman. This is the clear commitment of all Siemens’ Executive Board members backed by our Chairman, Heinrich v. Pierer, and the entire Supervisory Board.

Solid values are an essential part of Siemens’ DNA, nurtured over the past 160 years. It’s healthy at times like this to take stock of what we stand for, how we want to be regarded and where we’re headed. Recently, at our Leadership Center in Feldafing, a large group of our executives from all around the world developed a statement that crystallizes Siemens’ identity and vision for the future. Let me share it with you: 

A world of proven talent,
delivering breakthrough innovations,
giving our customers a unique competitive edge,
enabling societies to master their most vital challenges
and creating sustainable value.

It’s fitting that the vision begins with “a world of proven talent,” because our people – and their diverse backgrounds, experience and talent are what hold the company together, and why it is so rewarding to work at Siemens. Our people will ultimately enable us to achieve our vision.

We all know that “breakthrough innovations” are the life blood of Siemens. We always were, we are today and we will continue to be an engineering-driven company, one that sets the standard for the time-tested honor known as “German engineering.”

Siemens’ innovations provide our customers with a “competitive edge” that enables them to offer their customers a performance, cost and business advantage that no competitor can match. That’s what we mean by “customer value.”

The fact that Siemens is “enabling societies to master their most vital challenges” should make all of us proud. No negative headlines can take away the fact that people in 190 countries depend on our company to provide the basic needs of their lives, from water to energy, from lighting to healthcare, from transportation to industrial productivity.

In the end, it all comes down to providing “sustainable value” to our customers, our employees, our communities and our investors. Unless we serve all of those stakeholders there is no reason for our company to exist.

Let me end by thanking all those who have sent me notes of encouragement during the past weeks, and who have worked hard to ensure that we’ll weather the storms and grow our business even stronger. They brightened some very dark days.

Because Siemens has such a proud legacy and an exciting future, it is worthwhile to continue to give our best. So, as I write to you on this New Year’s Eve, I wish you and your family all the best for 2007.

Klaus Kleinfeld

31 December 2006