Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Absence, again...

Well, I took a long while to collect my thoughts here.

Over the last few months, various projects have swung through the office and left an impression on us all. Of particular note, some new product launches and few missteps on our part. Here's some of the skinny on both topics:

A new series of products has arisen supporting the overland market. For those not familiar, we might describe these enthusiasts as eager outdoor folks that can blaze their own trail and do not need a campsite to spend a night in the woods. A well equipped 4x4 and provisions for an extended period of time allow these adventure-minded humans to live outside the norm of conventional woodsy exploration. We were unable to launch at the NW Overland Rally this weekend in Plain, WA, but we will launch this fall for sure.

We choked on finishing our packaging this weekend for the BluefigU Learn to Sew Kits. Best laid plans fell flat with just a bit too aggressive launch date. For now the old packaging will have to do. But we did get the UL CPSIA testing approved for sale!

Those famous Pelican and Storm cases (hard, plastic, durable) snap-lock sealed cases are awesome, but they sure are expensive. This fall we will have many popular sizes available in semi-rigid fabric cases made of 1000d Cordura Nylon. Look for those on our site.

Saw our friends at Adventure Wagon in Tualatin launch their awesome Sprinter van conversions. These vans are awesome and will be showcased at the Mercedes dealer in Seattle soon. www.adventurewagon.com


Friday, March 18, 2016

Spring Moss & Fruit Flies & Products Anew

Somehow, some way, moss grows on my driveway. Each year I pressure wash this greenish layer of slippery slideyness away and coat the concrete with some measured amount of liquid detergent that won't harm anything it touches but somehow keeps moss away? Is that in essence damaging something in the environment? Well, whatever, I do it each year with a hope of getting it to last for more than 6 months. I am let down each and every year. Tomorrow morning I will make my pilgrimage to the front stoop to survey the extent of the creeping low-lying flora that I must battle. Armed with my trusty Briggs & Stratton 4.5hp pressure washer and some slickers below the belt, I will undertake 3 hours of soggy sabotage of the green mile, working the wand in routine movement to leave a clean and fresh pattern for the coming seasonal changes...

As the moss finds it's moving truck arriving tomorrow, we will no doubt soon see those pesky tourists known as the fruit fly moving in. When I lived in California I do not remember the influx of this micro-winged flying element of extreme irritant. The fruit fly has yet to show me a redeeming quality. Not once have I seen one knock at my door politely to come in. No, they hitch hike into my world on the back of some dying fruit I recently purchased at the farmer's market in town. The master of avoiding capture and death, these little tiny vermin know just how to push my buttons and send me into a tailspin. I have prematurely begun covering the fruit in the house. I am vigilant in making sure no standing water resides outside. I citrus wash the drains. I may have even placed some vinegar traps out. It is war, I declare...

Both of these circumstances give good reason to put your thinking caps on. What device or product would make both of these issues less daunting? How could we create something to remedy such trials? Necessity is the mother of invention, indeed. This is why we create and develop and build and repeat until we get it right. It is the American dream, sort of, to be able to devise such utility that can relieve and destress our daily lives, and bring these creations to market and share with success...



Sunday, February 28, 2016

Academy Awards and College Tuition

I seldom see a new movie. This year, however, I saw 3 movies as they came out in theaters - Star Wars, Mad Max, and I think Star Wars again. So ,technically, I only saw two. Since both of those movies may only win for effects or costumes, I will once again refrain from viewership and hold fast to my streak of probably 10 years of not watching. Funny thing is I love movies, I just don't get around to seeing them that often unless my kids drag me to one. Speaking of kids...

It is college tour season with my son. He graduates in a few months and will be off to his next academic adventure. This weekend we saw Gonzaga University in Spokane. Seemed like a great school and environment. He has some hard choices ahead of him... And I have to find hidden treasure under a rock somewhere. I can see why folks think Bernie's free college sounds good, and I cannot argue that access to education should not have to compromise one's future as it is intended to better secure it.

When the older boy is a senior in college the younger will be a freshman. Double the expense. Double the trips back and forth. Double it all. Double the FAFSA headaches. Oh, and can I say whoever created the FAFSA calculator was from another planet? Basically, if you have a middle class job, you better get a second middle class job to pay for your children's college, or allow them to bear the responsibility entirely. It might also help to 1. Search for hidden treasure; frequently 2. Have a ginormous bake sale; 3. Win Powerball.






Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A Collision of Culture

I had a wonderful chat today with a colleague that works in the product development world. We were chatting about culture and how the US can be somewhat obstinate and bullish in approach to foreign markets in many ways. How we work with, within, and with whom in a foreign country should be a lesson in learning about the foreign culture, and less about how we tend to wish to impose our will on it. While we tend to have honest & good intentions, we can sometimes overstep our welcome and come to find frustration in the process. As a result, we may walk away angry at a culture that we could not change to our liking, therefore finding fault in the culture we sought to have assist us.

Case in point - China. I have now been moderately invested in working with Chinese factories for almost 20 years. Each factory has their apparent working model, but few are aligned with the western ideals we work within daily. Our standards, impressions, and intentions are different. Not wrong for either culture, just different. We tend to see things differently and therefore perform differently, and of course have different expectations overall.

The resounding theme here is 'different.' I repeat, that does not mean one or the other is wrong! It simply means that in order to work together in some display of harmony, we must learn to recognize, and respect, our differences. Experience allows us this luxury and wisdom, however, so many of us, including myself, begin the process attempting to force our will upon others and end up disappointed with the result. Ultimately, we have to look long and hard within ourselves to ask the tough questions - Did I truly research what to expect? Was I thoughtful and deliberate in my approach and preparation? Could (or will) I do more to make the experience better for both? How will I learn and manage the relationship to work for both parties?

Working in a foreign country can be taxing and difficult. It is a wonderful opportunity for personal and professional growth that should not be underestimated. There is tremendous value in successfully navigating the global market, and for most, a rewarding experience is often the end result, if you are willing to do the hard work and be patient with the process.


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Garage Sale

We just moved, again... Another grueling company relocation to a simpler, more efficient warehouse in Vancouver, WA. In the new facility we are practicing LEAN principles daily. We are working towards eliminating waste daily and have made good strides already, but barely scratching the surface overall. Time to learn patience, right?!

Something new I am reading is a book about tidying up. Every day now I look at 3 items to remove that are not immediately necessary to my daily function, or do not bring me joy. So far I am over 30 items removed. Every day something new tries to replace them, however...

In a few weeks will will hold Vancouver's largest garage sale - A 3 day event geared towards clearing out the closets of LUSB. On sale will be loads of new and good-as-new merchandise, including hunting gear, outdoor and recreational bags and accessories, sewing and quilting carry cases, and many other items for use in the field, farm, or with family. As the date is confirmed I will update it here!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Bluefig U

I was fortunate enough to take my boys snowboarding recently on Mt. Hood. As a teen and into early adulthood, I rode often and enjoyed it, however, I found the expense and accessibility became more difficult as the kids were born and a house was bought, etc, etc... Now, I have rekindled the thrill and hope my boys will do the same. As they took lessons to capture the basics of this sport, I watched from the base of the hill and saw them quickly respond, and within an hour, they were heading down the hill, albeit tentatively at first. I made a point of keeping my opinions, instruction, and advice out of the conversation to start. I figured it best if it came from a foreign voice, perhaps one that seemed to be more connected with the sport. It was the right call. Kurt the instructor was ripe for teaching the two teens.

Which brings me to Bluefig U. This new concept in our Bluefig line sets kids, and adults, or whoever, on a course to learn to sew using simple and straightforward patterns pre-cut by Bluefig. While the items are meant to be simplistic in nature and probably not considered high fashion, one can take the product through easy steps to success. The good news is that most can do these their own, not needing a lot of oversight by a meddling parent. Better yet, have an experienced sewing educator take the reigns and drive the student to success! Nothing better than finishing positive with positive reinforcement.

Check out Bluefig U here:

http://www.bluefig.net/Learn-to-Sew-Kits_c_18.html



Musings on Iowa

The Raucous Caucus, otherwise known as Iowa in February during an election year, came and went with controversy and an up-ended Trump. Who would have thought the Bernie Sanders could pull tight to FLOTUS Clinton? Crazy times in politics. Crazier is the fact that delegates were decided by coin flips. In all serious, though, should we really make these decisions on coin flips? I find that one hard to swallow.

I think this guy said it best:

Funny Stuff, and a mockery well deserved of a silly methodology for voting in my opinion. Anyway, thank you to the State of Corn for providing me some fun on a Monday night in February. 

I do, however, wish to state that the video of Bernie/Hillary campaign folks squabbling over vote tallies leaves a lot of questions at hand. Down right ridiculous.

As for Trump's trumping, he still came in 2nd (not winning) and will be immediately fired from his own road show, replaced by a new and improved coiffed Trumpadour slinging zingers at Ted Munster  and Little Red Rubio. Can't wait not to vote for any of these clowns. The circus is full, sorry...