Calling ALL Inventors

I was first introduced to the TechShop (www.techshop.ws) by Bret Jacoby. I met him at the manufacturing company where I worked.

Bret's Grill Tender

Bret’s Grill Tender

Bret was in the process of building a prototype charcoal barbeque grill that used a built in computer to control the temperature, so he could smoke meats. The smoked meats were delicious. I wanted to learn more.

I was helping Bret order the interior grills from China, that’s how I got involved. Through Alibaba we found three companies who made grills. I wrote asking for prices and samples.

Bret took me down to TechShop San Jose. This place was an inventor’s dream shop. The employees were so helpful. Even more interesting were the people. The folks who were making projects were so friendly and ready to show me “how” to use various machines and tools (i.e. woodworking, laser, welding, sheet metal, plastics, machining, fabrication, automotive, industrial sewing machines, sand blaster, vinyl cutter, etc.).

Techshop Cello Inventor

Luciano’s Bass Instrument

There was such camaraderie at the TechShop that you could learn from others. Take a look at Luciano Golia’s cello project in Detroit. Golia had immigrated from Italy and was looking for a place to build his artisanal cellos to continue his 24 year old business. Do you see? You get inspired by other people’s projects.

The TechShop was founded by Jim Newton and first opened in California. Now, they have expanded to Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., and Texas.

For fun, I wanted to make a leather bag. I used their industrial sewing machines. Was it photo worthy? Not this time, remember, I am a beginner, but I tried and plan to go again.

How about YOU?  What project do you have? Take it to the TechShop, they will teach you how to do it!

Goat or Sheep?

Chinese New Year is here!

Years ago I worked for a manufacturing company. As Chinese New Year approached, the Asian employees shared stories of how their families were preparing for the celebration.

Chinese Red Envelope

Chinese Red Envelope

As a Buyer, I had to rush to order my parts from Asia, because in Asia most employees take 3-4 weeks off for holiday, so they can go and visit family. Apparently, their families live in the country and it would take about 4-8 days just for traveling round trip. That meant the factories and UPS services would shut down. If parts were not “pre-ordered” and “shipped” before Chinese New Year started, we would not have parts.

While I am not Asian, I was still part of the team. One day one of the Vietnamese employees came in and handed me this beautiful RED envelope (see photo). I smiled really big. He said it was tradition for elder family members to give a red envelope to children, grandchildren, etc. with at least one crisp dollar bill inside. The tradition was true at work too, to give the red envelope to employees wishing them “happiness and good fortune.”

If you have an Asian friend, and you’d like to give a gift, remember NOT to give the following: handkerchiefs, sharp objects, anything with number 4 on it, umbrellas, clocks or shoes. They are very superstitious and you would ruin their celebration!

Question: Is this the year of the Goat or the Sheep? While I am not a Goat/Sheep, my Asian hairdresser says that Rabbits are expected to have a good year. I like Chinese New Year and their focus on the family.

Do you believe in astrology? Do you know what animal YOU ARE? Maybe you are a Goat, or is it a Sheep, and it is “your year!” Better find out…

Happy Chinese New Year!

Ghost in the House

TV Ghost photo

Old Panasonic TV

It’s “official,” I have a ghost in my house. Before you say I am crazy, let me explain.

I have an old Panasonic TV set, see photo. About a year ago, around 3 am, I heard noises like people talking and saw flickering lights coming from the living room. Was it a burglar? I tip toed to the living room and the TV was on. No one was there – very strange.

At breakfast, I did my “Sherlock Holmes” investigation quizzing everyone on “who” left the TV on. Of course, no one fessed up.

That afternoon we went shopping. When we came home the TV was on again. We looked at each other in surprise. I felt vindicated that the TV had turned on by itself and my family members felt validated that they had not left the TV on the night before. Indeed — something strange was going on.

Over the months this kept happening at odd hours. We had a family joke that our “little Ghost” was “trying to get attention.” Suddenly, it stopped for about four months until the other night.

This time 2 am, I heard the voices and saw the TV flickering. I went to the living room and on the TV screen was actor Spencer Tracy in The Old Man and the Sea. I was tired, but stayed up to watch.

What a movie! Spencer Tracey, as the 85 year old man, showed such determination of mental and physical strength to bring that marlin to shore in that small boat with sharks surrounding him. He fought hard!

Apparently, my “little Ghost” knew that job hunting requires that same determination.

Ghost photo

Our “little Ghost”

This time, instead of being annoyed by my “little Ghost,” I smiled and thought “you sure are a clever one,” aren’t you!?

Ok, I got the message – No matter what, DON’T GIVE UP!

Your choice… Rectangular or Round?

I was struck by something this week. I read a story on how a jury’s verdict can be swayed and quickenimageed by the shape of table they sat at.

Paul Smith in Lead with a Story, discusses how the shape of the table impacts a jury’s decision. If they sat at a rectangular table, where one juror was at the head of the table, that person dominated the conversation, so other jurors were reluctant to share their point of view. While if the jurors all sat at a round or oval table the conversation was discussed equally amongst them.

That made me think of family dinners. It sure made sense. Take the show, Blue Bloods for instance, when they are at their big family dinners. Actor Tom Selleck, at the head of the table, certainly commands the conversation. The head of the table does seem to always dominate and orchestrate the discussion. Maybe that is why the young startup companies have business meetings sitting on couches. If you have a relaxed atmosphere there is more sharing and not as much dominating.

So, I propose that at our next family dinner or business meeting, we observe the seating arrangements and how the conversations are going. Do we need to bring in a new shaped table? OR, here’s a FUN idea, put the quietest person at the head of the table. NOW that would be a HOOT!  Would this theory still be true? Let me know if you find out!

Giving

It’s a new year and that means trying to fulfill goalsOrangebyJesus – right!

For years, I have wanted to write. My friend suggested starting a Blog. 

I know, my thought was the same… A Blog?? What in the heck would I write and who in the world would read it?

As this idea germinated in my mind it seemed that everywhere I turned I found a story I could share.

This week it is about charity. Look at this photo from my church. Do you see what I saw? I’ll give you a second…

I saw an orange and I was moved by that. Someone felt the need to pray and not having money offered an orange to baby Jesus. Isn’t that what life is about. Sharing to help someone or sharing to thank someone.

Which makes me think of my friend, Joan Hardy, who decided after her granddaughter died of cancer that she would start the Small Miracles Foundation (www.smallmiraclesfoundation.org), so that she could perform “small miracles” for children suffering from cancer.

This is their 10th year anniversary. I remember being struck by the story on the website where she spoke about the small miracles that can help a cancer patient’s family (paying for a cab/phone bill, bringing food, etc.) When our lives are going well, we don’t think of other’s pain and suffering.

The gift of the orange by baby Jesus reminded me that no gift is too small. We all need small miracles in our life and whomever left that orange was either ASKING for a miracle or GIVING THANKS for a miracle! I am inspired by that orange, I hope you are too. Now, let’s all perform a “small miracle!”