Favourite blogs for Random Ramblings
January 27, 2006
January 17, 2006
The past two days have been spent learning about the human aspects of six sigma. After spending a few days thinking about it, it is clear that people are the most important part of any improvement initiative. How else will the improvements happen? Sounds like common sense to me.
Dealing with people is much harder than dealing with technical problems but one cannot be taken without the other in any six sigma improvement programme. I decided to check out what others thought about human aspects of 6S…
I was warned about the level of the isixsigma forums but wasn't really prepared for this (the first forum post I read)
"Are you, as you have frequently appeared to be, merely a disgruntled employee? Your railing has all the earmarks of a cubical farm dweller frequently passed over or not otherwise qualified to be a manger. Or are you as the cell phone commercial goes, a manager sticking it to the man – yourself? Or is it just that your experience is limited?"
Oh, the temptation to get stuck in but a flame war would take up too much of my time right now. I've seen some trolls in my time but this guy is unreal. So, naturally, I reported it. If this is how some managers think of their employees then there is a long way to go. Unbelievable.
January 09, 2006
The only really good thing that i'm feeling about the new year is that damned FACS assignment is finished. But some people love accounting. I'm freakish in that I love sitting with a load of numbers in a spreadsheet and doing some lovely number-crunching. Hugely satisfying. But there are people who would rather eat glass. I like things that can be proved. But in EEE there are very few things that one can say, in the mathematical sense of the word, are true.
Just because one knows something to be true, doesn't mean that it has been proved, or even that it can be proved. Often one can prove that something can't be proved, which leaves a big hole for me at the moment in the context of my research project.
When thinking about how CSR activities affect the success of businesses, we may have good reasons to think that something may be true, but that doesn't mean that we can ever prove it. Just because things 'ought' doesn't mean things 'are' or 'will'. And can we ever know? Empirical studies on the topic differ in result with many methodological flaws. But one can always pick a hole in the method or argument. I'm exploring this 'hole' of what it means to be true and following on from this, the dissertation.
I suppose it is naive to think that the project can ever be totally watertight; to have a flawless methodology and argument. I understand that this project is about the process as well as the result, but the ambiguity of the result and its validity bothers me still.
January 04, 2006
I am constantly reminded, when trudging through my FACS assignment what a good decision is was NOT to become an accountant like my sister. Whilst I feel a deep satisfaction at a good decision made, I feel cheated, because here I am analysing sets of accounts for 40 hours. What happened?
It's one of those tasks in which there is no joy. I am not, and nor will I ever be, interested in accounting. Accounting is dull. I have to exert some serious will power to sit myself down and do this assignment. No course is perfect, and I suppose that this is the most boring module, so I will be happy when its done. But until then, back to the grind.
January 03, 2006
December 19, 2005
What the Government should do in terms of public policy is support marriage rather than undermine it…to put beside marriage an alternative or what appears to be a perfectly approved legal alternative lifestyle I think does not help the institution of marriage at all – Most Rev Peter Smith (Roman Catholic Archbishop of Cardiff)
Why do civil partnerships undermine marriage? Why does the institution of marriage need 'helping'? How can the government 'help' the institution of marriage through public policy? What is 'helping' marriage anyway? Are civil partnerships really an alternative to marriage as there is no choice between the two?
I'm really not getting it…
December 05, 2005
It's about time. The Civil Partnership Act came into force about thirty minutes ago. This act gives the same rights and responsibilities to homosexual couples as straight couples. I am not sure why it doesn't extend to straight couples wanting an alternative to marriage (and all that it stands for) but who am I to challenge the wisdom of our MPs?!?
One of the opponents of the Civil Partnership Act is Patrick Cormack and my parents are in his constituency. He votes against all motions that seek to promote homosexual practise as a valid lifestyle. This includes motions that permit or encourage such teaching in schools, reduce the age of consent, give additional rights to homosexual couples, allow homosexuals to adopt or create state recognised unions between same-sex couples. I asked them not to vote for him, but they probably did. Does this mean that they agree with him on these issues, or didn't consider it important enough to base their choice of party on? I don't know what to feel about this but I don't think that it is good to dwell on it for too long.
But I am happy today, as the UK has come another step closer to equality for all of its citizens. It's good to know that no one can challenge Ms right to be with me when I have to have another operation or that if anything happens to either of us, there are inheritance tax rights the same as any other married couple.
But what to call M? I wouldn't say 'wife' because that suggests marriage which I don't want to be associated with. I wouldn't say 'girlfriend' either because it sounds too temporary. 'Partner' is out of the question as it sounds like you're in a gym lesson. 'Hi, this is my spouse' is just plain silly. Also, civil partners won't get divorced, we will get dissolved. Just pop us in some water and we disappear, just like that! Magic.
As hard as I try, I can't get to grips with the counter argument to rights for homosexual people. The argument invariably includes the following: "It's a choice", "It says that it's wrong in the bible", "It's not normal", "It undermines family values". The argument grinds to a halt after a few minutes and there is very little chance in changing anyones mind about the above. It is an eternal stalemate. I find that it is the religious argument that I really struggle with. It has become clear to me that it is acceptable to use religion as an excuse to hate by taking a one sided interpretation of a book (the translation of which is debatable) as an absolute truth. My God loves you, but hates what you do. Or just, my God hates you. You are wrong…but you can be saved! Hurrah! I will pray for you. Stop the damned praying. Where is that damned asbestos blanket?
November 24, 2005
Writing about an entry you don't have permission to view
I must spend more time thinking about my Blog before I write it. That's why they are so long and rambling.
Long and rambling blogs are ok. It's ok to develop an idea on screen, which is maybe what you're doing. You're reflecting on what you've learned and coming to your own conclusions. Who said that the blog post should be the end result and not part of the process? Maybe you shouldn't spend more time thinking about your blog before you write it. Maybe you would lose something by doing that? I find writing is a good way of exploring something. I have lots of draft posts which I come back to after a day and realise that I've answered my own question, so I don't post them, but I wouldn't have been able to get to that point without sitting and trying to type them out.
I suppose it comes down to this: What do you want to use your blog for? I felt that I had to have something worthwhile to say and the pressure about writing a blog post meant that I wasn't doing it very regularly at all. So, I have decided to sit down and just write. If it's work related or about something else that's on my mind then thats fine. The blogging, for me, is about practicing expressing thoughts in a coherent manner (and lord knows I need the practice). Also, it's a good way of emptying my brain so your mind doesn't get clogged up with random thoughts….maybe thats just me? And ranting, oh how I love the ranting!
Over the past few days we have been thinking about leadership and coming up with our own definitions. Initially, I came up with: "the process of influence" because it makes sense to me that every time someone tries to influence, they try to lead. But it doesn't quite cover it. Through our group analysis of other definitions we identified three common themes: Influence, relationships and goals. Relationships must exist as to lead, there has to be someone to follow, and a realtionship must exist. Also, to lead implies a direction i.e. the achievement of some purpose of goal. Our analysis was corroborated by other authors on the subject (which was pleasing). The definition that our group came up with was: Leadership is the process of influence between the leader and followers to achieve goals.
Paul's definition was similar to ours but he specifies 'shared goals' in his definition: Leadership is the process of influencing the thoughts and activities of followers toward achievement of shared goals. This definition doesn't work for me. It implies that these shared goals have to exist for leadership to take place. I suggest that leadership encompasses the creation of these shared goals. I think that the creation of shared values is something more than selling an idea.
To create shared values, there has to be some influence. This could be an event or equally a person using their influence over others to bring them round to a single point of view. So, I would refine this definition to the following: Leadership is the process of influencing the thoughts and activities of followers to create and achieve shared goals. For the moment i'm happy with this but I know that I will refine this again and again.
I've also found myself interested in entrepreneurship and leadership. Entrepreneurs display a large amount of personal leadership, but are entrepreneurs always effective leaders? Do entrepreneurs have to have leadership qualities to be successful?
November 23, 2005
…but I have purchased a CD. I don't usually buy, I borrow. I don't listen to female artists (weird huh), I don't listen to anything with a heavy social agenda, or anything remotely dyke-ish (if that's a proper word). Picky, much? After picking my way carefully through M's CD collection (I’m sure she's going to have something to say about it soon) for something to liven me up whilst doing the washing up, I happened across a few CDs that shall not be named to minimise embarrassment and to cut a long story short, I have been listening whenever I have the chance. Some of you who know me will have noticed that I have been tied up in electric wire this week and now you know why.
I was sceptical initially. The website says that the album occupies the ground between "rock, old-school punk, and folk" and goes on with the following…
'Prom' roams over the vast territory of love and gender as contained in the physicality of nature. The subject matter spans a delicate landscape (suicide, racism, gender identification, political idealism, homophobia) but because she sees this awkward journey as both a struggle and a celebration, Ray comes across as curious and unafraid.
That alone would make me not buy it and relegate it to the pile of 'lefty dyke music'. But wow. A fantastic CD. Great voice, but haunting almost – easy on the ears and not too harsh or piercing but powerful. That, I suppose is why I don't like listening to female voices. It's like: Yes, I hear you. Yes, you sing well. Make me feel something.
You can download the first two tracks for free from Daemon Records and then turn the volume up. I'm listening to it with a grin on my face. It calms me. The lyrics inspire and intrigue. There's a punk feel, in a nice way. There's nothing like a bit of anger and passion, especially in "Put It Out".
Budgeting over the Christmas period can be hard but forget the rent; this should be top of your list.
November 21, 2005
I can't really think of stuff to write today. It's the first day of 'Leadership and Excellence'. I'm sure i'm going to enjoy the next two weeks, as I learn about different leadership theories and how I can translate these into practice. How well will these work for me? How well do they work for other people? Will I be able to spot specific management styles as I walk around? Are there specific methods for breaking the cycle of poor leadership?
I've been thinking about why business people choose to look like they've been cloned i.e. wearing a suit, but that choosing to wear the same type of outfit as others in a social situation, for example, would be just plain creepy. I don't get it. It all seems so shallow and myopic. Maybe i'm being naive. What happened to actually talking to people and finding about what they have to say, rather than what their clothes say about them? And no comments about 'that's just the way that it is'. I get that. Sorry peeps, I have the grumps. Can you hear the snarling?
November 20, 2005
November 19, 2005
I've hit a wall with my assignment. I'm sitting here with the document open and not making any headway. I can't see a way forward with it, possibly because I know that there is so much to do. Maybe I’m at the top of the mountain and its all downhill from here? The best thing is to write something, anything. If I write in my blog, will it help to get me started today? Hopefully.
I'm beginning to wonder how on earth it is possible to produce a worthy post module assignment in 40 hours. Am I doing something wrong here? It is me having an appalling writing process? Does this tutor have unrealistic expectations or is it me getting the wrong end of the stick? The stats assignment is achievable in the time. Do all tutors have unrealistic expectations, having forgotten what it is like to be a student?
M is off to buy a new vacuum cleaner and then off to watch England vs. New Zealand at the rugby club. I'm not going to Shrewsbury to be with the team because I can't justify the time away from writing the assignment. The whole thing is completely shagged. What possessed me to pick something so bloody wordy? Someone bring me some calculus… Is this subject wrong for me? This is the wrong time to re-evaluate my degree choices but an engineering undergrad would have been more enjoyable, something more quantitative at least.
Doing something for 40 hours and then handing it in even though I know that it can be improved is a hard one for me to grasp. Perfectionism is a real strength but it's a fight with myself. I can drive myself through it. The deadline will come and I will submit something. And I don't dwell on it and over time I will see the good points. Beating myself up over what I could have done is illogical and pointless. Why do I put myself through this if this is the way I work? Why on earth do I have ideas of doing further study when I finish?
I'm letting this thing run my life. It only represents 4.72% of the overall degree mark, so a mark of 50% in the assignment is only 2.36% of my overall degree lost. Not so bad. I'm blowing this all out of proportion. Jane: stop the meltdown and get on with it.
November 17, 2005
I managed to make lots of progress on my assignment yesterday. I tried writing down any non-work thoughts on a pad of paper and then wrote relevant thoughts into mindmap. It worked really well for me as when the thought was 'out' and recorded, I knew that I wouldn't forget it and my brain left me alone, letting me work with fewer interuptions from myslf, if that makes sense. I think that I trust myself more with mindmaps too. Instead of wanting to put it into a word format I stuck with it (but it was tempting). This 'birds-eye' view is so much better in a mindmap format.
I managed to generate another 1500 words without knowing it (without it feeling like climbing Everest). Today is about tidying it up. I think that its useful for me to split the two component activities clearly in my head. Yesterday I was generating and playing ideas and writing down all of the half thoughts etc and today I will tidy up what I have done i.e. create something that has a coherant structure. Sometimes I get the two parts mixed up i.e. I generate a few ideas, tidy them up, generate some more etc and all the perfect pieces don't fit together as I wanted. And I worry about it as I can't see the bigger picture – I only have a vague idea about what the thing is supposed to look like.
There's no way that I am going to spend anywhere close to this amount of time on any of my other assignments. I didn't start it late, it has just dragged on and on. There's no point bashing my head in about the excessive time spent. I've learned a lot and will move on. I don't think about it when i've submitted it. There's no point analysing it over and over. It only increases stress and worry. And I don't like it…
November 14, 2005
This is primarily aimed at Warwick Uni people but for those of you that are interested…
The University has applied for, and was selected to take part in, a governmental pilot project designed to reduce the level of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions produced by higher education establishments. The University will receive guidance in designing and implementing a series of projects with the aim of reducing Warwick’s CO2 emissions by 10% in the next 5 years. The University has set its own rigorous target of reducing the level of emissions by 2% this academic year.
For the environmentally conscious amongst you, this is clearly quite excting. I would encourage you all to post your ideas using the suggestion form.
Click here also for more info.
I've been thinking a lot about my stlye of thinking and writing over the past few days. This all came about through the PPE assignment which ground to a halt for me midway through last week. I found myself trying to find excuses to do statistics. I mean, honestly! Some assignments go well; they seem to get done quickly and I enjoy doing them. Others just hang around. Why is that? Is it just me?
Doing maths is a very linear process as 99% of it involves a clear starting point and end point with a void in the middle which one should fill with a clear, logical argument. At a first glance, essay writing looks a lot like this, but no matter how much effort, it is impossible for me to write in a linear way i.e. beginning, middle, end.
My thoughts have always been jumpy and it has been a long term stress factor in my life that I can't hang on to a thought for more than about 5 seconds. I wanted to work on it in my head and be able to write somethng on paper that was reasonably well developed.
After a conversation with my tutor, i'm exploring the idea that being scatty can be a strength and that one can get more original ideas by allowing my mind to have ideas and not to stop them coming because i'm busy working on another thought. If the brain is faster than the pen than I should work on methods to increase the speed of recording my thoughts rather than to slow my brain down.
I think a good analogy for what I was trying to do is this: I was trying to paint a perfect picture from a description without a sketching it all out first. I don't allow myself to 'just write'. I realise that I should save the perfectionism for the end 'tidying up' part, and try to appreciate the difference in the two distinct processes in writing an essay.
After reading the first part of Writing your dissertation in 15 minutes a day by Joan Bolker, it's clear that that i'm not writing enough. So, I will write more. For a start, I will aim to write something in the blog about how work is going. And I will stop torturing myself when something is not exactly how I would like it and move on.
Mindmaps seem to be the best way forward for me. I will use them properly for my next assignment, which happens to be accounting. Yummy. I thought that I was using mindmaps correctly, but I don't think I was. I didn't believe that I was making 'progress' on an assignment unless I had it in essay form and it had a work count. I don't stick with it long enough and I don't use mindmpas for brainstorming, just for structure. This is something that i'm going to change in my next assignment.
So I'm thinking about what I mean by progress at the moment. How do you determine how your essay is going? Is it by word count? How you feel about it? In comparison to others? If anyone reads this, do reply as I am really interested.
November 12, 2005
Why is it that some assignments come and go with a minimum of fuss and some just won't die? The PPE assignment has been driving me up the wall but I recognise that i'm tying myself up in knots about it.
At the last count, this is the fourth proper essay that I've written since bluffing my way through 1000 words about Twelfth Night at GCSE. I've written other stuff, mainly internet based, in which my fantastic wit and clever observation (haha) covered up my complete lack of experience and ability in the writing department :-)
I'm on a steep learning curve.
More to follow. I need sleep as i'm off to Twickenham tomorrow (today actually) to watch England get whipped by Australia. Wuhoo.
October 30, 2005
The past week has included as much statistics as could be crammed in to 40 hours. Needless to say, I am very tired and welcome the switch this morning from BST to GMT.
I was pleased that I picked up most of the new stuff quickly but I feel that this is only because I understand the basics after doing it at A-Level and in my UG course. The approach was a very practical one but I am quite happy to use the formula without having to derive it from first principles under exam conditions.
The approach has enabled me to view the tools in an industrial perspective and see how they can be used; which situations, pitfalls, benefits etc. I can see all these tools in terms of the experiments which I will design and run. Very useful.
For some people, almost all of the stats we covered was new. This must be a nightmare-ish situation to be in! All the way from the formula for the mean and standard to multiple regression, ANOVA, and pdfs in a week.
Today, i'm going with OLRFC who are playing Worcester 2nds in Worcester. It's not so far and even though away matches are a faff and take up the entire day, i'm looking forward to being somewhere different. Good luck Old Leams!
October 20, 2005
I was originally a tea drinker but discovered coffee at some point in my teens. I now enjoy both, but I have a problem. I have become hooked on caffiene again after returning to university (the 2 for 1 on those little sachets of cappuccino in Asda didn't help either). Starbucks, now renamed something silly, in University House is located opposite the Learning Grid (LG) where I spend a lot of time. Its convenient….too convenient. Something must be done.
My plan is this: Caffeine impacts upon the quality of my sleep which is very important to me. I don't think that it actually serves to keep me awake for longer. This is a myth, or perhaps I have an 'unconscious' switch in my head that flips at some point between 10pm and 11pm. Coffee is also nice. I should, therefore, drink coffee as a treat i.e. a few times a week not as a part of any routine. If coffee isn't a part of a routine then my brain isn't hooked on it. I've fallen off the wagon quite badly (onto little sharp pointy rocks) and oh the anguish – I was so good for so long! As you can see, I take my hot beverage strategy very seriously.
I'm keeping track of my caffiene intake in a Bridget Jones stylie so that I can chart my progress. Naturally there will be variation but that will not, I repeat NOT, be an excuse to let myself go and chug gallons of the stuff when the going gets tough. Discipline, Jane, discipline. The weekend in the Netherlands can only be described as a binge so the only way is up. Go me.
I'm cutting down rather than stopping cold turkey. Have you ever tried stopping caffiene? Day 1 is fine but the headache on day 2 and/or 3 is untouchable by any pain killer. But be careful with the pain killers as a few of the branded ones contain caffiene. It'll get ya in the end :-D Am I being overly cynical? Has the grouchiness started already?
Coffee count: 2
October 18, 2005
Hallo. Ik ga een paar blogposts in het Nederlands schijven want ik will asap vloeiend Nederlands spreken. Mijn vrienden en vriendinnen van EEE spreken verschillende talen en ik wil dat ook.
Dat is genoeg voor vandaag. Daag.
Hello. I am going to post a few messages in Dutch because I want to be fluent asap. My friends from EEE speak different languages and I want to do that too.
That is enough for today. Bye.
Coffee count: 1 large one