Friday, August 30, 2013

Letters to the Editors - A Complaint

A week ago Monday, I decided to write 3 letters to the editor, of three papers, and see if I could get them published.  The Nightlife, published my letter in their next issue, a couple of days later.  The Southern Illinoisan published my letter today.  But, the DE didn't publish my letter, at least not yet, and it was the more provocative of the bunch.  As a matter of fact, I don't think the DE publishes letters to the editors anymore.

So, another goal is missed.  Only 2 or 3 letters published.  Only 1 of 3, inside of a week.  Have to find something else to try to achieve.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Cheapest Places to Live in the US

Our neck of the woods has a majority of "The 8 Least Expensive Places to Live in the United States."  I was kind and put the link to all at once, I had to do that stupid page though them one at a time.  Hate that.

What I looked at the demographic data for Carbondale, from the 2000 Census, we had the smallest number of attached garages of any small city in the country.  We also had the highest percentage of high school and college graduates per capita. 

Calvin and Hobbes writer, Bill Watterson's Uplifting Advice

Here is a link to a recent comic by Bill Watterson, the author of Calvin and Hobbes.  I love the honesty, he realizes his job is sucking his soul out of his body, so he quits his job.  What a concept, you hate your job, you are doing terrible work, so you quit.  So honest, so ethical, got to love it.

Computer Passwords Compromised

I'm sure everyone, knows someone, who has been hacked.  I have had my credit card compromised twice in the last 18 month.  For a while, computer scientists have known that passwords on websites aren't safe.  I figured out how to do something like this when I was 16, it is nothing new.

It isn't a matter of if, it is a matter of when.  So, watch those credit card statements carefully for charges you didn't make, and hope someone invents a better way.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Student Center Replaces Their Restaurants

A nice article in the DE today, about what the Student Center is doing about their lack of restaurants.  Turns out the previous manager of restaurants in the Student Center wasn't making enough money, so they pulled out at the end of last Spring Semester.  Fair enough.    What is interesting about the article is that SIU has decided to buy some franchises, and run them with Student Center staff.

A review, running a business is hard, but running a restaurant is a killer.  The Student Center has run lots of restaurants over the years, and it was always a disaster.  There are a few state employees capable of running a restaurant well.  The combination of bad service and poor food prep is a killer.

SIU, it would be smarter to outsource.  Lots of Student Centers, across this great country of ours, have allowed small local restaurants to open a branch, with great success.  I suspect it would be a better path.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Firing 10% of SIU? A Reasonable Request.

Don't know if you caught my letter to the Nightlife this week.

I was talking to someone I respect, about that letter, who works at SIU.  They asked me, if I wanted to get rid of 10% of SIU employees, how would I do it?  They told me that the secretary ranks have been cut already.  Someone else told me the painters in housing are way down too.  A third person told me that University Museum has been cut from 22 employees to 5 (22! I don't know, but 22?).  Maybe there isn't any more fat?  Ha ha, good one.

Do we all agree that if you are working at 25% of capacity, you should be fired?  Let's just start with that.  You aren't working, and you can't be rehabilitated, you are gone.  No tenure, no union contract, no person should be protected, who will not work.  That alone would fix much of the problems.

Let's start with a simple idea, someone needs to go into the administration of SIU and debone it.  Just like a fish, you have to go in and examine things, and throw the part that can't be consumed away.  It isn't easy.  I have done it, but heck, when I'm in those positions, I make a lot of money by having the right sized staff (or at least lose less).  The fish isn't the problem, it is the bones.  Repeat after me, it is lonely at the top.

Let's start with the easy stuff.  Everyone who cuts lawns should be gone, and that work should be outsourced to private industry, no skill there, easy.  Moving stuff?  Painting?  Phones?  Networks? Hanging blackboards?  Replacing ceiling tiles?  Everything that isn't the mission of the university, should be examined and outsourced, or eliminated.  You aren't thinking that the big manufacturing plant has insourced everything, do you?  There isn't a more expensive blue collar employee, then State Civil Service.  Every administration department that has less then 10 people, that has a director, assistant director, a staff member or two, and a secretary, is likely overstaffed.  You could just start to examine the small departments, and work up from there.  It is likely that 2 people do the work, and everyone else BS's, isn't it?

If you work at SIU, walk out of your office, and go down the hall, counting offices.  How many offices contain someone who would be fired, if they weren't "employed" (not works there, just employed) by SIU?  Can you make it 10 offices, before finding someone who should be gone?  As you walk, how many people have terrible jobs, where there isn't enough work to do, so they are trapped in the highest paying job available to them?  I can see those departments, staffed for the one day of the year when they maximum work load, and bored out of their minds the rest of the time, from here.  The trapped people should be freed to pursue a challenging and rewarding career.

SIU is out of balance.  In a perfect world, the employees, customers and owners are in some kind of balance.  What the owners of SIU, the citizens of Illinois, through their duly elected officials, are trying to tell you that they aren't happy.  So, they are cutting your money, until balance is restored.  For too long, the employees of SIU have taken more then their fair share, you should fix it, before something really bad happens.  If you want to argue that most all universities are this way, you are right, and the citizens have decided to fix it.

I'm listening to the Avett Brothers at Red Rocks in the background, isn't it amazing what you can get on the internet?

Enough for now, more about this later.  Of course, your comments are welcome, assuming you don't want to do it anonymously.

Cool new feature on Blogger

When I was in town last, 6 years ago, I had lots of comments on this blog.  At that time, you could moderate all comments (publish or not publish), and I did that because I got tired of the spam.  I just looked, and now you can eliminate anonymous comments.  I did that today.

Be happy to have you play, but now, you are going to have to supply an identity of some sort.  The good news is that almost everyone has one these days.  Bad news, you will have to be like me, and expose at least a little bit of yourself.  I hear it makes for a more civil discussion, we will see.  Yes, you can make you points better, if you have to own them.

Let me know what you think.

Friday, August 23, 2013

SIU Entry Signs

I really don't know if adding these fancy brick signs, at all then major entrances of SIUC was a good idea or not.  They cost $100k or $250k each?  I'm not sure about the ROI for it.  It is marketing, and it is often hard to figure out if the money you spent is worth it.  But, I do have something to say about the way the sign was implemented... Who was the genius who put the stupid Wendler era logo at each end of the sign?  We all know that logo is the first thing changed on University campuses these days, for most any reason.  Why would anyone think that this logo wasn't going to be changed in the near future?

What do you think, were these signs worthwhile?  Should they have added the logo?

Ran into Bill McMinn

Speaking of the not lazy, I ran into the Bill McMinn the other day.  He mentioned my blog piece on him and how his childhood friends mention having read it.  It is interesting when you have a well read blog, you get up the search engines for certain subjects.

Bill is still looking good, but says he isn't ready to take the REC Center back over.  I guess he got smarter after retiring?

Carbondale Nightlife Letter

I wrote a letter to the editor of the Nightlife, that appeared in this week's issue.  It was in response to Chris Wissmann's editorial "A Eulogy for Glenn Poshard."

Yes, I'm calling for a 10% reduction in staff of SIUC.  They are doing no work, they might as well go.

As always, your comments are welcome.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Architecture of SIU - little look at Morris Library

It is fun to walk around SIU and look at the architectural choices that are made on new buildings and try to understand why they were made.

Let's look at Morris Library for a minute -

Here is a picture of the original look.  There was a very expensive remodel (claimed to be $14M, but there was administration staff from all over campus working it all the time.  Surely, it was way higher), and the choice was made to modernize the facade of the building.  While the facade was being changed, all the brick fell off, and a whole lot of money was used to repair the damage.  To me, this is the definition of a bad remodel.  The building went from being clearly identifiable as being built in 1955 or so, to being built in 1995.  Neither building is classically beautiful (as many building on campus are).  I would have no gripe with this decision making, except they ran out of money before they moved the books back into the library.

There is no doubt that the building needed a soup to nuts refresh, after years of abuse.  Thank goodness the State ponied up the money for it.

I'm working toward the new administration building, stay tuned.