Conveyor spaghetti…..

The UPS air sort hub in Louisville is an extraordinary marriage of technology, engineering and business processes. I was amazed, not only at how fast everything around me moved, but how little human effort it took to make that movement happen. In one sort, humans only touch the package twice while in Louisville, Kentucky — once to unpack it from the air cargo container and once to repack it into it’s outgoing air cargo container. The package spends the rest of it’s Kentucky residency on miles of conveyor that stretch as spaghetti throughout the facility. It would be as close to a chaos orchestra as I could think of.

There was one point, probably my second favorite part in the tour (read yesterday’s post for a clue as to what my favorite part was), where I was in the 4 million sq ft building about four stories up against this guard rail looking out onto all of the conveyors (not unlike a scene from Monsters Inc with all the doors). Looking down I could see no less than three different layers of conveyors. The top, closest layer ran towards me and then disappeared underneath my feet. Boxes were whizzing by at 10-20 mph. Another layer below that paralleled the top layer, rose up and then merged with it arranging boxes and joining them into the top layer flow like a professional New York City traffic cop. The layer below that one ran perpendicular to the other conveyors feeding them with newly arrived packages. What I thought was neat was, while studying this mezmorizing cubular flow, seeing one of my company’s boxes zip by. Then another. There’s yet another. It was very satisfying seeing our boxes hurry to their destination knowing that in just a few hours a pharmacist would open them and give the products to our patients who relied upon quality of life improving biologics. It made me proud of my role in that process.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

More stuff tonight…..

This is a bad season for me. You see, a few weeks ago we got a yearly visitor who has no mercy, no remorse and no limits. They don’t know the power their wares have over us. Well, this weekend, we paid the price. And we will continue paying the price for a little while now. I don’t know if it’s worth it but I am helpless and powerless to resist. That price is $38.50 for 11 Girl Scout cookie boxes that are now terrorizing our fairly moderate diets. I have been pretty good. Since September when I made some important but not drastic changes to my diet, I have lost about 25 pounds. In making these changes, I was more concerned about the health of my body rather than my weight loss. The weight loss was more of a nice side benefit. What I was targeting was a greater overall health for my body.

However, cake and cookies are my weaknesses. I have done a pretty good job by moderating my intake of those weak points. However, this is my first Girl Scout cookie season and I failed. Luckily, they will be gone soon enough and I can resume my moderate diet and decent health habits.

On another note, this evening my oldest daughter was watching TV in the family room. I came down the stairs and asked her to pause the ReplayTV. She obeyed and offered me the remote, thinking that I wanted to program something for a minute and then give the remote back to her. Instead, I kissed her on the forehead and told her I loved her. She looked at me weird for a second and then giggled.

She said “I thought you were going to do something important”.

I replied, “I did. I told you I loved you”.

I love catching my kids off guard like that. They really remember those moments.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

UPS Heavy, you are cleared for takeoff…..

I have been an aviation buff since before I could walk. It never did turn out as a career (I’ll keep my day job, thank you) but it is still one of my passions. So imagine the huge grin on my face as I shoved the throttles forward to release the power of the UPS DC-8′s four turbofan engines and began racing down runway 35L at the Louisville International Airport. It was exhilarating — what a rush! At 135 knots, I pulled back on the yoke and gently climbed as downtown Louisville disappeared beneath my windscreen. As I leveled off at 3000 feet I gazed out the side window as downtown slipped below me. Puffy clouds all around and a beautiful horizon before me.

Then the instructor hit the pause button and asked if I would like to try a landing from three miles out. “You betcha” I said, securely strapped to the captain’s chair by a five point harness inside one of several $13 million dollar flight simulators at the UPS main air hub in Louisville. This was the ultimate video game. So real, in fact, that the FAA considers any time a pilot spends here as actual flight time. My landing was a bit rough (my excuse was I was testing the realism of the hydraulic motion controls) but I kept it on the runway which is more than I can say about the rest of my work compadres who had joined me on the tour. It was my favorite part of the tour which is saying a lot because the whole time I spent there was extremely interesting. Even though it was from 10p to 2:30a, I was awake and alert soaking it all up.

Thank you to my UPS reps for giving me the opportunity to join you in sharing your facilities and operations. More on the tour in following posts including the most important thing I learned that evening.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Another change…..

Today was a very nice day all the way around. First, while we had to get ready for 9:30a Sunday school, we had gone to bed early so getting up wasn’t a big deal. We had a nice breakfast and were on time. the 10:45a service was a little different today. First it was a special music service. A few times a year, the church will have special groups come and participate in the service highlighting music from different heritages. Today’s music was of Scottish and Welsh descent. It made for a nice departure from our usual service. They also highlighted the tartans (the various plaids) of the different Scottish clans. It was also new member Sunday so we gave up our usual “towards the back of the church and ideal for those with kids” seats for ones up front. It was very nice to be warmly welcomed by the members of the church and all of the new members received the congregation with the pastor after the service. What a nice place to be and one more step towards us completely settling in. And finally, the service lasted 1 hour and 40 minutes! That is WAY more than us Lutherans are used to. We are the in and out in one hour guaranteed church. We used to give my grandpa who was a Lutheran pastor a hard time about that.

The way home for a late lunch saw a Wal-Mart pit stop so I could grab some BBQ smokin’ gear — charcoal, lighter fluid and hickory chunks. Chicken was again on the menu and it was gonna be a beautiful day to do it. We hit 60F degrees on a sunny, cloudless sky. No NASCAR today so I could focus on the BBQ and whatever else. Which turned out to be running wire for the dogs underground invisible fence. We had this in California and it is a great product that keeps the dogs safe and where you want them. I didn’t know how much of the property I could circumnavigate, but I had 7 spools of 500′ wire and I was ready to use them. I was able to multi-task running the wire, stoking the fire, soaking the wood chunks, testing the dog collars and setting the training flags for most of the afternoon. When the chicken was done, so was the invisible fence — at least the dogs would be contained. I still need to go back and bury the wire. The only place I buried it was under the gravel driveway. But it is usable now and the dogs can spend more time outside. Which after today, they will want to do. It was so nice to have a breeze in your face, the sun shining down and not have to wear a jacket. The dogs just ran around with the kids and I was secure in the fact that they would all just stay around. Unfortunately, after dinner I went out to waterproof the wire nut connections and I could feel the cold front coming in from the west-northwest. It seems we are due some rain and possible snow throughout the rest of the week. Too bad. I was getting used to the fact that spring was here early.

On the way home from church, my wife and I chatted about the 10:45a service that has been our choice for the new church. We aren’t late service people. Although it can be a challenge, we like getting up early (we have to get up early for school and work, why not for church?), getting to church and having the rest of the day to get things done. Well, the 10:45a suits us so much better, not from a time standpoint, but because there are more people (4 to 5 times more), more kids, it is a louder service (so much the better to hide our kids’ noises with), and contemporary. While we would rather it was early, it gives us so much more that we are willing to sacrifice the day for it. That’s when we realized that we should be focusing the day on that priority — worshipping God and enjoying fellowship with family and friends. It seems in California, we always had something going on that we wanted to “get church out of the way” so we’d have the rest of the day. We did not take the time to relish the service, commune with others and enjoy the moment. We both agreed that from now on Sundays will be about getting a nice start in the morning without having to rush, learning in Sunday school, worshipping and communing at the 10:45a service and spending the rest of the day with family. If we can fit in a shopping trip or chore or two then so be it. But it will not be the driving force of the day. I look forward to many more Sundays where we just go to church, hang out as a family, BBQ smoke a meal, play in the pasture and enjoy the day.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Pretty funny…..

I am writing a Saturday post on Sunday. We had a busy day going up to Cinci for a Costco run (we received our annual Costco AMEX rebate check and had to dispose of it at Costco), had a great BBQ lunch at Famous Dave’s BBQ and returned home with time to enjoy each other playing the driving game (Sega Dreamcast), reading and getting to bed early.

A freeway sign on the way up to Cinci made me laugh again. I saw it last week when we went up to the aquarium and meant to make a post on it. Anyway, it made me laugh again. It was identifying the exit for one of the state parks. Let’s see if you can figure out which one made me laugh.

- Daniel Boone State Park
- Bluegrasss Park
- Big Bone Lick State Park
- Tom Sawyer Park

I’ll get my mind out of the gutter but I will still laugh whenever I see it. Who comes up with these names anyway?

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

A hard day…..

I sit here late at night posting for two reasons. One – the medication I am taking for my sinus infection has me up. Two – even after a tough day, I have so many reasons to be thankful.

At work today, there were many tough decisions that had to be made — more so than usual. These were the kind that weigh upon you and take that bit of extra energy and analysis. And to make sure I was thinking on my feet, the day threw in a couple of curveballs too related to property stuff we still need to get resolved back in California. The constant barrage of challenges with the need to “be on and be right” all day sure had an impact. It wasn’t a bad day like those we sometimes have, but it was just a tough day that makes you earn every copper penny of your day’s pay. I was very glad THAT part of the day was over when I got in my truck and headed my familiar daily pilgrimage home on the two lane country roads. But the day still had one or two left for me — slow poke country drivers that is — to test me. And while I was keeping my right foot light, resisting the urge to pass at the next available broken yellow, a country song I had never heard came on regarding our kids and truly enjoying the beings that they are. Below are the lyrics and it really set me straight.

It really set me back to the proper frame of mind I needed to be in. And as I arrived home, I received my most favorite present once again — my kids, along with the dogs, running alongside my truck as I drove up the gravel drive, smiling, waving and yelling excitement as if I was the ice cream man on a hot July day giving out free treats. I exited my truck to little grabbing hands wanting hugs and wagging tails, walked over to my wife who was bundled for the 38F degree sunny day, gave her a big hug and told her I was the luckiest man alive.

I don’t deserve this and I expect to have to work twice as hard tomorrow…..which I’ll gladly do.

Just remember, your kids don’t care how big your office is, how much money you make, how many meetings you went to, where you are on the corporate totem pole, whether you swept the floors, built the floors, or paid for the floors. They just love you for you and the time you spend with them.

Artist: Billy Dean
Song: Let Them Be Little

Lyrics:

I can remember when you fit in the palm of my hand
Felt so good in it, no bigger than a minute
How it amazes me, you’re changing with every blink
Faster than a flower blooms they grow up all too soon

So let them be little ’cause they’re only that way for a while
Give them hope, give them praise, give them love every day
Let them cry, let them giggle, let them sleep in the middle
Oh just let them be little

I’ve never felt so much in one little tender touch
I live for those kisses, prayers and your wishes
Now that you’re teaching me things only a child can see
Every night while we’re on our knees all I ask is please

Let them be little ’cause they’re only that way for a while
Give them hope, give them praise, give them love every day
Let them cry, let them giggle, let them sleep in the middle
Oh just let them be little

So innocent, a precious soul, you turn around
It’s time to let them go

So let them be little ’cause they’re only that way for a while
Give them hope, give them praise, give them love every day
Let them cry, let them giggle, let them sleep in the middle
Oh just let them be little

Let them be little

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

PS – the “let them sleep in the middle” part is beautifully applicable to us. My son woke me up as he did his nightly transfer from his bed to ours.