Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My $8,000 Hybrid(or reasonable facsimilie)

Ok, so I tricked you into reading this posting. I don’t have an $8,000 hybrid but I did purchase a 2003 Honda Civic LX last year for that amount and I’m getting excellent mileage by using various hypermiling techniques and filling up with summer blend gas. My 1998 Plymouth Voyager was getting pretty high on the ODO anyway so we started looking for a more economical auto. Also, I have been carpooling with a co-worker whom drives a Toyota Prius and she has been getting about 42mpg. At this point I’m at 90% of the hybrid mileage benefit for a third of the car price. Since I purchased my civic, I have recorded 90%+ of all my trips and mileage and keep a regular pulse on my mpg.

Here’s a sample of my MPG readings since January 2008:

1/2/08 34.7 mpg
1/11/08 35.3 mpg
1/21/08 30.79 mpg
2/10/08 33 mpg
4/20/08 36 mpg
5/19/08 41.4 mpg
5/28/08 40.5 mpg

I believe that that there are reasons for the mpg improvement:

1) Switch from winter to summer blend gasoline
2) Improved hypermiling techniques
(You can learn more than what you ever wanted about hypermiling at

So far, I’m spending about $25 a week for gas with my civic and absorbing the fuel price hike(so far). Last fall when gas was lower, I spent about $25 a week with my minivan that got about 22mpg. This is certainly an improvement and just in time as petrol soars. I am still looking for ways to improve the feul economy on the civic and I’ll blog more about that soon. Our family have an active project migrating to better fuel economy cars and this is the fruit of these moves. Changing your behavior, your car, and improving your driving habits can make a huge difference in your fuel economy. This kaizen definitely has saved me some cash. Thank God for that.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I bay-leaf in Kaizen

What were these guys thinking?

If you have ever used a bay leaf, you know that it adds flavor to soups and stews. The leaves are whole, not ground why did they put on this plastic cap(pictured below)? I had to laugh because the packaging designer obviously never spent any time cooking with a bay leaf.

Well, my kaizen is to remove the plastic lid, put it in the recycle bin, and move on. Now, I don't have to remove the lid, take the leaves out, and put it back on.
They should have left the lid off and save the expense-definitely one of the seven wastes here.

Before: Couldn't get bay leaves out of jar, had to remove lid, wasted time replacing lid
After: Easy access to bay leaves to add for a tasty stew.

Dan Lafever

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Dog eat dog...

Doggy, Doggy, where's your grub?

Someone forgot to fill your tub,

When it's empty kids know what to do,

So the pupster gets his dinner too.

This quick and easy kaizen keeps our dog Alek from starving and me from yelling at children. That's always good.

Dan Lafever

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Kid Kaizen - my son Jacob's improvement

My son Jacob is 15 and he is a very busy boy. He has school, swimming, speech team, volunteer work, a job the library, and he is a member of the Indianapolis Children's choir(ICC). I am very proud of him and all he does but keeping up with his activities can be a challenge. So, here is his Kaizen to help his mother and I to keep up to date with his activities:

1) He put up and created his own bulletin board.
2) The upper left hand corner is the ICC concert detail sheet that is always his next performance. After the performance, he takes that one down and rotates his next detail sheet to the left so that we only have to look at the sheet in the upder left corner.
3) If he has more than one detail sheet, he posts them left to right in chronological order.
4) On the bottom of the board, he has his speech team phone list, his ICC phone list, and other references.

Before: All Jacob's papaers were stacked on top of each other and it was ime consuming sorting throught them getting the information we needed.

After: Jacob's Kaizen is very helpful. We just consult his board and withing seconds we know what's going on with his schedule with ICC, which is his busiest activity. It's improved our ability to know quickly where the next ICC gig is and can find his speech teammates numbers very quickly. This has reduced our stress, made it easier to get information, and helped us manage our kids...and we need all the help we can get.

Dan Lafever

Friday, May 16, 2008

Improving the plug cover on my electric bike.

I have an electric bike, an eGO, that I have been improving.

One of the first things I noticed was that the rubber plug cover was not attached the eGO bike. If I took it off and set it on the deck of the bike, it would roll off under something. I improved it by attaching it to another part of the bike with a black dress shoestring and got two improvements:

1) The plug cover is attached to the bike and won't get lost.
2) I don't have to remember where I laid the plug when it charges.

It looks pretty nice too when it plugged in.

It costs $10 to replace the AC plug cover plus shipping so this improvement will help me in the future. Keep on improving!!

Dan Lafever

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Use Kaizen to beat high gas, inflation

Everyday we hear the masses cry about the high cost of everything. Gas prices are scaling Mt. Everest as the politicians claim that if elected they can do something about it. Instead of empty promises, families are using kaizen, or make simple and small changes, to cut their expenses...they just don't realize it. When you are forced to make changes you can...but why wait until the gun is at your head?

Check out this NY times articles where people in Alaska "Kaizened" and dropped their electric bills:

Too bad their utility bills have jumped from $.11 to $.56!

Dan Lafever

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Video for "Billard Kaizen"

I love this video-this illustrates the Kaizen principle in a great way. Who know improving could be such fun?

Dan Lafever