Smoking Still Legal Near Hospitals

From the KNS:

Burchett and the House sponsor, Rep. Johnny Shaw, D-Bolivar, said the measure would help protect the health of hospital patients, their families and medical staff.

That’s funny, because every time I drive by a hospital I’m utterly amazed at the number of supposedly educated health care professionals who are standing outside puffing away and turning their faces into catchers’ mitts and cooking themselves from the inside.

The real shame is that hospitals don’t currently have the legal right to decide where people can smoke on hospital property, right? Right?

Hospitals already have the power to block smoking on their property if they wish, he said.

Power? Wish? This guy makes it sound like the hospital could handle this on their own. How preposterous! How can anything be decided or handled without the gov’ment?

I’m not complaining…this measure failed. I just can’t believe it was ever even considered.

Big Oops for Former Electrical Engineering Professor

J. Reece Roth was allegedly involved in providing sensitive data to the Chinese.

I had professor Roth for a class.  Here’s how remarkable the guy was–I’m not 100% sure what class it was.  Plasma engineering maybe?  All I remember about him is that he was slightly on the tubby side, the suits he wore included a vest, and he seemed very disinterested in dealing with undergrads.

My class attendance record probably insures that he remembers even less about me.

A Great Place to Work?

As a former employee, I was interested in the article the KNS ran today about Denso Manufacturing Tennessee’s expansion. It was about what I would expect from a local paper writing about a local company expanding–lots of talk about new jobs, complimentary remarks about the people of the region, and a few standard corporate-type comments from top management–nothing really remarkable or controversial. The comments posted by readers, however, are very interesting. Some comments came from employees and former employees who actually know what it’s like to work there, while others commented only on what they’ve heard.

So what’s it really like to work there? Well…

Decision--To Denso or Not to DensoThe comments from current and former employees are not that far off. But to be fair, I suspect Denso is not much different than any other large corporations in many respects. I’d say that it’s better in some ways and worse in others, but all-in-all the good and bad average out for most of their employees. Sure, there are people there who think it’s really bad, but it always seemed to me that the real reason they don’t like their jobs is that they feel stuck there. Some probably feel stuck because they have been dead ended in their career by the powers that be and can’t move up, while others feel stuck in that they don’t have the skills (or at least don’t think they had the skills) to move out. Others may not even realize that they are stuck by their own comfort and fear of change. I’m sure some feel stuck for a combination of these reasons.

There are people who love working at Denso, and they have their reasons as well. It’s been a very stable company traditionally, and for someone who is worried about layoffs or job shortages it’s a very compelling reason for working there. In my mind, that sort of falls into the fear (real or imagined) that they don’t have the skill set to go elsewhere. But hey, if you’re happy I’m happy, right? There are others who are basically coasting, but I think that’s probably common at most big companies as well.

For me, the good outweighed the bad for most of the time I was there. Were there things I didn’t like? Most definitely. For instance, you can forget about anything like this ever happening there. They (whoever “they” are) would never allow it. The performance evaluation system is a mirage for the most part, and I doubt that will ever change. But I really enjoyed the work I was doing, and I hated leaving my co-workers. Loving what you do and liking the people you spend your days with is not something you can find just anywhere, and it kept me around for a long time. However, I was ultimately placed in a situation that was going to make my relationship with the company much more lopsided than I was comfortable with. I’m not one to stay around and complain, especially knowing that change, if it does come, is slow for Denso. I’m no victim either, and besides, I have confidence in my skills. The only immediate way to resolve the problem was with compensation. How did that discussion go? Well, I’m a former employee. 🙂

I always found it a little ironic that Denso spends a great amount of resources trying to figure out how to recruit engineers out of college but doesn’t seem to find much value in retention of engineers and technical staff. HR held regular meetings with engineers on how to recruit from colleges, and they usually ended in engineers expressing that exact sentiment. It may be that Denso has a reputation on campuses as the type of company that isn’t attractive to today’s college students. Is that reputation based on what they hear from Denso employees and on the web? Does it come from fellow students who do co-ops at Denso? I can’t say for sure.

I don’t know the numbers or stats, but it seems like replacing good people would be much more expensive than retaining them. However, they make billions, and I make not-billions, so who am I to second guess them? Maybe they’ve calculated all the factors and decided that paying competitive salaries for years of experience would put them in a situation where no one would ever leave. Would zero turnover be as bad as high turnover? Dunno.

So the point of this post–is Denso a great place to work? I guess it depends on what you want from a job. It was great for me for a long time. As I said before, I enjoyed the work I did at Denso and the people I worked with, although I must say there were very few jobs or departments there I would have enjoyed as much as I enjoyed mine. Jobs that provide opportunities to develop skills that are universally marketable are somewhat limited there. If stability is a major factor for you, then by all means it is a great place to work. As with almost everything else, you’ll probably have to compromise a few things that you’d like to have in exchange for this stability, but it’s worth it for a lot of people.

And One More Thing…

I have just one last thing to say about the axing of Volunteer Voters.

If you own a big chunk of any media market (television, print, web) and it isn’t profitable, you have a management problem. The solution to your problem isn’t to let go of the reigns and crash the cart. The solution to your problem is to hand the reigns over to someone who knows how to steer the cart.

Give me Volunteer Voters’ traffic. I’ll cash some fat checks. But as I said before, I can’t see how a regional media outlet could afford to give up such a valuable asset whether it is profitable as a standalone entity or not.

On The Demise of Volunteer Voters

I continue to be amazed by big media’s short sighted decisions.

This week, Nashville’s WKRN pulled the plug on one of the blogosphere’s dishes I devour daily–Volunteer Voters. This decision was apparently part of budget cuts, which I assume means that the dollars spent on VV were greater than the dollars it generated.

What does it say about the state of news when a regional media outlet can’t afford to be among the leaders for regional political discussion? Does WKRN think this void won’t be filled by someone else? Is that something they can afford?

Here’s a sound business strategy:

  1. Eliminate the things that set you apart.
  2. Make sure you do exactly what your competition is doing–nothing more, nothing less.
  3. No matter what it costs long term, strive every day to be…ordinary.

ACK, hope you’ll continue to be active elsewhere in the future.

A Great Story Opportunity

A while back, I wrote a post about a few advantages newspapers have in the market and how they could use them to remain relevant. Using these assets–excellent writing, investigative journalism, and local marketplace branding–newspapers can give us something no one else can.

Today in the KNS, at least on their web site, there is a relatively short piece from the AP about a man who escaped prison 46 years ago and has been apprehended. This is the exact type of story I’d love to see local newspapers tackle. It’s the perfect opportunity for them to give me something no one else can give me.

Leroy Albert Morgan’s crimes occurred in Hamilton County, he escaped from a Nashville prison, and he was caught in East Tennessee, so it is of local interest. Using great writing and investigative journalism, why not tell us this story? Take us beyond, “he escaped in 1961, he’s been using an alias, and he was arrested this week.”

Tell us the story.

How did he escape prison, and how was he able to avoid authorities for so long? Has he been in Tennessee the entire time? Was he assisted by friends and family–how many people were in on it? What has he done in the time since the escape? What did the State do immediately following the escape to try to catch him, and why did these efforts fail? What (exactly) have they done since? How did they eventually track him down, how long did it take to find him, and how long have they known his whereabouts?

Seriously…this is the stuff movies (or at least made for TV movies) are made of. A good great writer can do some investigative journalism and tell us a great story from so many angles–the escapee, his friends and family, the penal system. And again, most bloggers don’t have the time and resources available to cover something like this.

Wine At The Grocery Store?

HT to Michael Silence for this.

Sen. Bill Ketron and Rep. Randy Rinks introduced a bill (SB3139/HB3451) at the beginning of the legislative session. The proposed legislation would allow wine sales only in municipalities that currently allow package sales.

Just another one of the many things I don’t understand:  we need legislation to allow wine sales in grocery stores?  I understand the concept of legislation that disallows something, but I don’t get the need for laws that allow things.  Why not just repeal the law that keeps grocery stores from selling wine in the first place?

And what was the original purpose of keeping wine out of groceries?  The only benefit I can see is for the liquor stores have the market cornered currently.

Yeah, I know we live in the Bible Belt and that’s just the way things are, but was there a problem with people showing up to church wine-drunk on Sundays because they stopped to get bread and eggs on their way and were seduced into buying a bottle of cabernet?

Apparently there’s a mini-movement going on to expand wine sales to food retailers.  I’m not much of a wino–the headache just isn’t worth the great taste, but I wouldn’t mind being able to buy some high gravity beers now and then without having to make an extra stop.  Either way, what do I care if someone else buys wine?  How does that affect me?

I Never Thought I’d Live To See It

Tennessee is the top ranked team in the nation? In basketball? Men’s basketball?

You have to understand, I attended the University of Tennessee during the reigns of Wade Houston and Kevin O’Neil. I was a pretty die hard fan back then. Of course it was easy to sit in the front row of the student section back then. But my memories of Tennessee basketball consist of Carlus Groves and Steve Rivers running their version of the shake and bake (mostly off the court bake), and poor Allan Houston carrying the load on his own. I guess that’s not totally fair. Houston had help from Token Lang Wiseman and Corey Allen. Of course they were canceled out by Gannon Goodson and Jay Price, both of whom I can vouch for as really nice guys, even if they weren’t great players.

Who would have thought back then that just 16 short years and…hang on, let me count them…four coaches later the Vols would be ranked #1?

Now that the big game is over and decided, it will be nice to hear local sports call in shows get back to talking about what really matters. Of course, I’m talking about football: “Guys, do you think we’ll beat Flarda this year?” and “When are they gonna git rid of Fulmer?”

See, basketball don’t really matter ’round here. Did you notice the players weren’t jumping up and down after the big win? It’s because all they care about is football too.

Or maybe they have class and they expected to win?

Stupor Tuesday

What a stinker.

Lot’s of folks around the office are talking about the primaries today.  It’s strange to me that so many people don’t pay attention until the day of.

Anyway, here’s a quick roundup of what some of the blogs I frequent are saying this morning…

Music City Bloggers is taking a poll.  It reminds me of my favorite episode of “Married With Children”. 

  • Kelly Bundy enters room–“What are you guys doing?”
  • Bud Bundy–“We’re taking a poll.”
  • Kelly–“What are you going to do with a poll?”
  • Bud–“We’re going to stick it in your head so we’ll have a place to hang the sign that says, ‘duh.'”
  • Kelly to Al–“So unfair.  You won’t let me get my nose pierced but you’re going to put a poll in my head?!”

I feel like I’m about to get a poll stuck in my head–more like a javelin.

I’m sure the folks at TennesseeFree are going to be hitting it from all sides, but for now are at least having a little fun with John McCain.

The Liberty Papers have a few predictions.  I predict we’re about to lose some money or some freedom, and more than likely some of both.

Knoxviews has a roundup of local races, and  Brendan Loy wonders if the circus situation in Knox County may help Obama’s cause in Tennessee.

And finally, in an oldy but goody, Fail Blog keeps everything in perspective.

More to come later.