Monday, August 23, 2010

Little by little...

Don't start big, start small and just keep going and you're be amazed if you just stay with it

4 years ago, I want to start producing more of my own food and storing up for the winter.  It's important to me to eat healthy and buy local as much as possible.  Here's how each year went as I started this journey:

Year one: 0 pints frozen, zero canned, small garden planted.   I learned that I should improve my gardening and look for more wild foods.

Year two: 2 pints raspberries frozen, 25 wild apples used, half garden planted with several fresh vegetables produced.  I learned that I was not raising enough vegetables to can so I would improve garden and located several wild raspberry patches on pubic land

Year three: 9 pints raspberries frozen, 5 wild apples used(really gnarly), 6 quarts of green beans frozen, half garden planted with several fresh vegetables produced. I learned that I was not raising enough vegetables(again) to can so I would improve the garden(again) and harvest local wild raspberries.  Also, I got serious about canning and had my wife purchase supplies for next year.

Year four so far: 24 pints raspberries frozen, 22 sold to local farmers market, expanded garden planted, 12 quarts of green beans canned, 17 quarts of tomato juice canned(OK-I cheated and bought some local from a farmer's market but about half we grew), 6 pints of frozen wild blackberries, 2 pints of wild mulberries.  Getting ready for a fall planting, apples have not yet come on.  We may buy more local green beans and can more and waiting on apples which we hope to can as well.

As you can see, it takes time to figure things out and improve processes but it comes along slowly.  Each year I learn more and just keep getting better.  If you approach with small steps, failures are not devastating or demoralizing so you don't get discouraged.  After all, little by little over time becomes bigger and bigger if you stay with it!

What have you done a little at a time today?

Dan Lafever, Kaizeneer

Friday, August 20, 2010

Kaizen is so simple even animals do it...

Continuous improvement is not as hard as you think.  The videos below illustrate that even animals can improve their processes.  Each situation requires a change in process to accomplish the creature's mission.  These critters are so focused on their end goal they naturally embrace new ways and improvements...because the mission is more important than the methods.  No attachment to old ideas or emotional baggage resisting change.  Imagine if your family or your company embraced improvement the way these animals do!  

What have you improved today?

Dan Lafever, Kaizeneer

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Spy Kids Kaizen - your limits are what empowers your creativity

Awhile back, I found this great video of how Robert Rodreguiz, director of the Spy Kids films and many others, used creative ideas to solve complex filming problems.  His limited technical budget included using skateboards, thinking backwards, and a treadmill from a local academy.  This is a great video about implementing improvement ideas and making them work under constraints.  Take particular note of the fantastic quote about how limits can force your imagination to go places it has never been before at the 3:17-3:36 minute mark.  Creativity over capital!

What movie have you improved today?

Dan Lafever, Kaizeneer

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Hello to all my readers in Cologne, Germany!  In the land of TAKT time, it's good to know that fellow kaizeneers are improving their world a little bit at a time.   Thank you for your support.

September will be another Quick and Easy Kaizen month so stay tuned!

What have you improved today?

Dan Lafever, Kaizeneer

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Confession of a Kaizeneer and my hoax finding "software"

Dear faithful blog readers (all two of you),

I have a confession to make.  One of my past Kaizens(improvement ideas) to reduce unwanted hoax emails is a hoax itself.  That's correct, it's a big fat fake...but it did help reduce spam and educate people about urban legends and helped them save face.  In a sense, I fought fire with fire.  Let me explain...

There was a time on the Internet when it seemed that every other day I was getting an offer for a free pizza or Bill Gates would give me $5 dollars to forward the message.  Folks new to cyberspace checked their brains at the login screen and forwarded every $200 cookie recipe or money making scheme to everyone they knew.  Since I received dozens of these completely ridiculous messages, I went upon a quest to educate and inform people about folklore and popular myths in hopes that this nonsense could somehow be curbed.  Let's just say that confronting and exposing falsehoods via email didn't go very well.  After a number of volcanic and explosive responses that created even more on-line angst, I came up with a secret improvement idea that I want to now reveal to the world...

I invented Hoax-Finder software.  That's right, the Hoax-Finder "application" was created by DL Soft (DL-Dan Lafever).  OK, there is no DL Soft company or code that was written.  Instead, I realized that if a computer did the correction and education it would be received with less defensiveness.  So, I fought back against urban legends with one of my own.  Here's how it worked:

I would receive a bogus email about not calling the 809 area code.  After identifying that this was a myth, I cut and pasted the following text in an email and sent it right back (in italics):

HOAX-FINDER Bulletin from DLSoft
This is an automated computer reply from Hoax-Finder V2.7a from DLSoft, Copyright 2010

This software has been installed on mailbox DAN.LAFEVER@XXXXX.XXX since 12/05/1998

Your message has been identified as a hoax advisory. Email contains information that is true and false. Please check the links listed below:

Subject: 809 area code

Sent: 2/14/2006 3:14 AM EST

See: or

Tips for detecting hoaxes and urban legends:

• Look for over dramatic subject lines titles and sentences such as “WARNING!!!” “VIRUS ATTACK” or “Will destroy everything!” or “We swear it’s true” or “came from a reliable source”

• Look for lots of exclamation marks and capital letters in the subject line.

• Look for lines like "send this to everybody you know!”

• Consider the subject of the message for it's believability and authenticity

• Try typing the subject line or virus name into google and search to see if the warning is valid

• If you are not sure of a messages authenticity, consult or and check if the message is true.

Most people don’t forward hoaxes on purpose …they just fail to check the source. and are good places to fact check messages.
The MTS-ID of the original message is: c=US;a= ;p=SSFHS;l=ONTEXIND01-040405994850Z-77313
MSEXCH:IMS:SSFHS:Alverno:ONTEXBH01 7118 (000B19FF) 550 Requested action not taken: delete hoax email message.
Send educational reply.





I customized the message for the whatever the subject addressed and I tweaked the text several times to make it look like a computer generated response..but it was all me just cutting and pasting.  Suddenly, Hoax-Finder changed peoples minds so instead of ugly comebacks or silence I started getting apologies and responses like "I'm sorry and I will be more careful next time".  If anyone inquired how they could get a copy of DL Soft Hoax-Finder, I conveniently dodged the question.  Overall, the ruse worked great and stopped some serial offenders from spamming the planet with the latest version of the stolen kidney story.  However, today I am coming clean about Hoax-Finder.  It was totally made up by me.  This admission guarantees that I flunked the blogger ethics exam but I am glad to get this off my chest...or at least until I get another urban legend email and Hoax-Finder once again comes to life.
What have you confessed today?
Dan Lafever, Kaizeneer