Monday, March 30, 2009

Starbucks "Sip Hole Stopper/Plug" - Just in time for the economic recession

Okay, so I have been SO good about not stopping in Starbucks three times a day - I'm now down to maybe once every other day. So. . .just when I was patting myself on the back for saving $$$ - I walk into Starbucks on Saturday morning after dropping my car off at the shop and what do I see? The latest little "diddy" that reminds me why I (heart) Starbucks so much.

Why didn't someone think of this sooner? It's the "Sip Hole Plugger." Can someone think of other uses for this little cutie? (And please - keep it clean ;0)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

5S Workspace Organization

Thanks to Mary for her submission of the following. "The 5S Philosophy focuses on effective workplace organization and standardized work procedures. 5S simplifies your work environment, reduces waste and non-value activity while improving quality, efficiency and safety.

The 5S Philosophy focuses on effective work place organization and standardized work procedures. 5S simplifies your work environment, reduces waste and non-value activity while improving quality, efficiency and safety.

The "S" in "5S" is based on the Japanese words that begin with "S" as indicated in the parenthesis below.

Sort - Sorting (Seiri) -The first "S" focuses on eliminating unnecessary items from the workplace. An effective visual method to identify these unneeded items is called Red Tagging. A Red tag is placed on all items not required to complete your job. These items are then moved to a central holding area. This process is for evaluation of the red tag items. Occasionally used items are moved to a more organized storage location outside of the work area while unneeded items are discarded. Sorting is an excellent way to free up valuable floor space and eliminate such things as broken tools, obsolete jigs and fixtures, scrap and excess raw material. The Sort process also helps prevent the JIC job mentality (Just In Case).

Set In Order - Simplifying (Seiton) -Is the second "S" and focuses on efficient and effective storage methods. You must ask yourself these questions:
What do I need to do my job?
Where should I locate this item?
How many of this item do I need?
Strategies for effective Set In Order are painting floors, outlining work areas and locations, shadow boards, and modular shelving and cabinets for needed items such as tools, equipment, components, procedures, processes, trash cans, brooms, and buckets.
"A place for everything and everything in its place."

Shine - Systematic Cleaning (Seiso) -
Once you have eliminated the clutter and junk that has been clogging your work areas and identified and located the necessary items, the next step is to thoroughly clean the work area. Daily follow-up cleaning is necessary in order to sustain this improvement. Workers take pride in a clean and clutter-free work area and the Shine step will help create ownership in the equipment and facility. Workers will also begin to notice charges in equipment and facility location such as air, oil and coolant leaks, repeat contamination and vibration, broken, fatigue, breakage, and misalignment. These changes, if left unattended, could lead to equipment failure and loss of production. Both add up to impact your company's bottom line.

Standardize-Standardizing (Seiketso) -Once the first three 5S's have been implemented, you should concentrate on standardizing best practice in your work area. Allow your employees to participate in the development of such standards. They are a valuable but often overlooked source of information regarding their world.

Sustain - Sustaining (Sitsuke) -This is by far the most difficult "S" to implement and achieve. Human nature is to resist change and more than a few organizations have found themselves with a dirty cluttered shop a few months following their attempt to implement 5S. The tendency is to return to the status quo and the comfort zone of the "old way" of doing things. Sustain focuses on defining a new status quo and standard work place organization.

Once fully implemented, the 5S process can increase moral, create positive impressions on customers, and increase efficiency and organization. Not only will employees feel better about where they work, the effect on continuous improvement can lead to less waste, better quality and faster lead times. Any of which will make your organization more profitable and competitive in the market place.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Conducting A Job Search In A Down Economy

Reprinted with Permission

Conducting a Job Search In a Down Economy
by Linda Matias

Don’t believe the hype; just because the economy is weakening and companies are downsizing doesn’t mean job opportunities don’t exist! Even in a down economy, there are jobs out there. You just have to be more creative in finding the right opportunity. Don’t get discouraged by the “war stories” you hear. Realize that it may take longer to find a job than you expected and plan for it.

Develop a job search plan

A full-time job search takes 3-6 months. During that time, you should participate in a number of job search activities including answering classified ads, posting your resume on the Internet, and going on informational interviews. (More on informational interviewing later in the article)

Organizing your job search is key. You will want to map out a strategy, set priorities, and establish goals. Start by targeting specific companies and tailor your resume to reflect your qualifications as they relate to the interests of prospective employers.

Next, establish a realistic job search schedule. Devote 30-40hrs. to your job search if unemployed, and 20-25hrs. if currently employed. Plan and organize your daily activities, and diligently work your plan.

Your job search plan must be flexible. Periodically, revisit your plan and assess your progress, and re-evaluate your goals. Your needs can change and your plan should reflect where you are at the time – not where you have been.

If you embark on the job search, unprepared you will undoubtedly be unhappy with your results.

Start job searching right away

Waiting until your unemployment insurance is about to end before you begin aggressively looking for a position can be a costly mistake. The job market is tight and you need to make use of all the time and resources available. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you are running out of money and desperation sets in. This is where career mistakes are made and your job search begins to suffer.

Searching for a job can be challenging, and if you passively look for a job the process is going to take much longer than you have hoped. If you only devote 25% of your time to finding a job, don’t expect 100% results. Your job search is only as good as the time you spend to nurture it.

Go on informational interviews

Regardless of the condition of the economy, informational interviewing should be a huge part of your job search campaign. And during a tight job market, informational interviews are especially critical in defining your success.

Why are informational interviews important during at this time? The answer is quite simple. The informational interview is the best source for gathering “insider” information on what is happening within your industry. An informational interview is your opportunity to ask key players and decision makers for advice, guidance, and specific suggestions on how to conduct your job search. Keep in mind that the goal of an informational interview is to gather information – not to ask for a job.

The information you gain will prove to be invaluable. You will discover the realities of your industry and possibly learn about job opportunities.

Avoid toxic job seekers

Job clubs and chat rooms are a great way to generate ideas and to network. However, they are also a breeding ground for negativity. These support groups can inadvertently affect your job search. Take inventory of the job seekers that attend these meetings. Do they offer words of encouragement? Are they supportive of your efforts, or do they feed into your insecurities?

If after such meetings you feel emotionally drained and start to believe your chances of landing a job are bleak, then it’s time to search for a new support team.

One Last Thought

Your job search campaign doesn’t have to be a never-ending cycle. If you put in a concerted effort, you will find that you next job is just around the corner.

Recognized as a career expert, Linda Matias brings a wealth of experience to the career services field. She has been sought out for her knowledge of the employment market, outplacement, job search strategies, interview preparation, and resume writing, quoted a number of times in The Wall Street Journal, New York Newsday, Newsweek, and She is President of CareerStrides and the National Resume Writers’ Association. Visit her website at or email her at

Monday, March 16, 2009

Creative Genes Get Better With Age

Thanks to Ana Costa for the following submission. The items on the link below are created by an 85 year old woman in New Jersey (her daughter is a friend of Anna's).

In this economy, can't hurt to have a Plan B! Have a great week.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

"Each One, Knit One" - Hats for Babies in South Africa

We're "KNOT Just Knitting and Crocheting," we're helping people too. Well, some of us, anyway.

Thanks to Murry Wheeler, Legal Secretary at Wendel Rosen in Oakland. She brought our attention to a project her boss's daughter has undertaken at The Athenian School in Oakland, knitting hats for babies in South Africa.

Check out this cute little navy number that Pam Wolpa made to donate.

For more information how you can knit or crochet a hat for the cause, contact Murry at:

Peace and Happy Crafting!


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Only Thing We Have To Fear, Is Fear Itself - Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Matt Krumrie
Minneapolis Workplace Examiner

Matt Krumrie writes the "Ask Matt" column for the Star Tribune, and has covered career and workplace topics for newspapers, magazines and Web sites for more than 10 years. He is also a professional resume writer.

(Reprinted With Permission)

According to the APA's Annual Stress in America Survey, almost half of American workers say they're stressed about their ability to provide for their families' basic needs, and 8 out of 10 say the economy is a major stressor. A new Gallup poll says 64 percent of the American workforce describe themselves as either "struggling" or "suffering" due to economic stress.

The result? Workplace malaise is on the rise says Judith Orloff, MD (, a board-certified psychiatrist and an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA. Her new book is Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself from Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life (Harmony Books, 2009, $24.95).

Many more American workers complain of fatigue, angry feelings, insomnia, depression, headaches, and a host of other stress-driven symptoms than they did just a year ago. Almost half of American employees in the APA survey said they overeat to manage stress, while nearly a fifth percent reported drinking and smoking as ways to cope.

If economic fear--of losing your job, retirement fund, and security--is starting to take a toll on your emotional health and workplace performance, there's good news. You can transform fear into its positive, antidote emotion--courage--much like you'd flip on a light switch. All it takes is a few tried-and-true techniques.

Here are five techniques Orloff says you can try right away:

Calm down your stress hormones. Eliminate or avoid people and situations that induce the stress response in your body, which speeds up your pulse and mimics the feeling of fear. These include caffeine, sugar, and other stimulants; emotional vampires, or people at work who drain your energy and make you tense to be around; violent news stories; traffic jams; and arguments.

Identify your fear triggers. Pick one fear, to start. Let's say it's getting laid off. What brings on that fear? Bad news from your industry? Seeing a coworker laid-off? New health bills? The more specific the triggers, the better. Identifying triggers keeps you from being caught off guard next time one crosses your path. Without the "boo factor," fear triggers lose their potency.

Attract positive people, not emotional vampires. Be around people who are upbeat, not depressed. Engage in activities that make you feel better, such as yoga or taking a walk with a friend, rather than wallowing in fear of the pink slip, your 401(k) statement, or your credit card bill. Affirm all that is going well in your life--good friends, family, small pleasures. Focus on what you have to be grateful for rather than stresses. These activities chase negativity away.

Turn fear into courage. Turn fear into courage by taking small do-able actions. Identify one of your fears--for example, not being able to pay your credit card bill. Notice the physical sensations in your body when you think about this fear. Next, think of a small, positive step: "I will call the credit card company and renegotiate my fees so I can make a smaller monthly payment." Notice the change in how your body feels. Finally, take that step. Now you feel brave, not fearful because you are taking positive action. Once you get energized, you will be motivated to try this process with another fear.

Stay in the "now." Don't catastrophize about the future. Keep your mind focused on the present moment only--don't let it wander to worst-case scenarios. Stay focused on what you have to be grateful for now and the positive changes you can make today.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

KNOT Just For Pros - Beginners Welcome!

"KNOT Just Knitting" is NOT just for expert knitters. Christy Harder of Teris joined the group for the first time last Tuesday and is already well on her way to "knitpertise!"

Check out the scarf she's started.

Next meeting:

Tuesday, March 10, 2009, 5:30 p.m.

Esquire Solutions (formerly Paulson Court Reporting)
44 New Montgomery, 11th Floor




Monday, March 2, 2009

A Stitcher's Ride from "Stitch N Ride" by Bryana Schroder

I took the special Amtrak Stitch ‘n Ride train from Sacramento to Santa Clara on Saturday morning, February 28, 2009. I actually live in Oakland but used to commute to the City from Davis for 5 ½ years before moving back to the Bay Area. But I love the Stitch ‘n Ride event so much that my husband drove me all the way to Sacramento Saturday morning to get on the train at the point at which it began its route at 7:50 a.m. that morning. At the Sacramento train station, I quickly picked up my bright purple Stitch ‘n Ride goodie bag made especially for this event, and then met up with my former Amtrak commuters’ knitting group. We were fortunate to get a table on board (a prized and necessary commodity for the three-hour journey to Stitches West, especially when you intend to knit or crochet for the entire ride). This year’s Stitch ‘n Ride had its largest group ever: a total of 476 passengers – all knitters (with a few crocheters)! Amtrak provided a 10-car train (including two cafĂ© lounge cars) for the ride to Santa Clara. This was the largest train set ever to travel the Capitol Corridors route in its approximately 17-year history! Those passengers who provided a knitted or crocheted chemo cap for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society were given tickets to participate in the on-board drawing for a number of special knitting prizes. I am pleased to say a number of the passengers contributed caps, with some even contributing several. When the train arrived at the Santa Clara stop, Amtrak provided reserved shuttle buses for our quick trip over to the Convention Center for the Stitches West event, where we spent the day shopping for yarn, talking to vendors, looking for patterns and buttons, viewing a fashion show, and having lunch. I think the best part of the day was looking at all the lovely knitted fashions several of the Amtrak passengers and the Stitches West participants wore to the event. As a matter of fact, I wore a crocheted vest I made myself and was stopped a number of times to be given compliments, including one lady who said she had made the same pattern. I would recommend that you plan to take the Stitch ‘n Ride to Stitches West next year to see for yourself just how much fun it is to hang out with so many enthusiastic knitters all in one place.

Bryana Schroder

Knot Just Knitting Member