Monthly Archives: February 2016

Book Review- Make or Break: How Manufacturing Can Leap from Decline to Revitalization

Make or Break: How Manufacturing Can Leap from Decline to Revitalization
by Kaj Grichnik and Conrad Winkler, with Jeffrey Rotheeder, 2008

make or break

I’m teaching “Introduction to Operations Management” this semester, and this book is a great compliment to that course. It discusses the state of manufacturing in the US (circa 2008) and the challenges facing the manufacturing sector of the economy in the near future. In the US and elsewhere, manufacturing jobs are not seen as ideal destinations for many workers anymore, making it difficult to secure skilled workers. Even in corporate hierarchies, the manufacturing head is often looked to only for cost-cutting improvements, not true innovation or competitive advantage. Very few organizations, including Proctor & Gamble and Toyota, know how to appropriately treat their manufacturing functions to cultivate them into strengths. The term “make or break” in the title refers to the fact that, for goods producers, the manufacturing function can make or break the business’s success. The book’s discussions of corporate strategy, lean manufacturing, and innovation all mesh nicely with my Intro OM lectures.

I got a lot of nifty vignettes and examples for my class from this book, and it is a short, easy read. Booz Allen Hamilton produced the book. I was a consultant at BAH from 2011-2013, though I did not interact with any workers involved in manufacturing efforts.

Book Review- Paul Newman: A Life

Paul Newman: A Life
by Shawn Levy, 2009

paul newman

Paul Newman was a Phi Tau at Ohio University, which I why I initially got interested in his career (I was a Phi Tau at CWRU). Newman started a summer camp for diseased and disabled kids called the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, which spread to many different camps across the country and globe in what is now called the SeriousFun Network. Whenever Phi Tau held a philanthropy event at CWRU, our donation went to these camps. Many of our brothers also volunteered at the camps during the summers.

Besides being interested in his philanthropic efforts (including tasty Newman’s Own creations), I am also a fan of some of Newman’s movies, including The Sting (one of my favorite movies), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Cool Hand Luke, Road to Perdition, and Cars. I’ve seen a few others, but those are my favorite Newman movies. Tim Pennings, who invited me to my first internship, at Hope College, introduced me to The Sting at an intern event.

It was somewhat interesting to hear about Newman’s movie career, auto racing, philanthropy, political efforts, and family, but I realized (again) that I’m not really a biography person. I like the Wikipedia version or Spark Notes versions of people’s lives, not hearing about the nitty gritty. If you are a biography person, however, and enjoy Paul Newman movies, he does have a fascinating life and this would probably be a good book to read.

I listened to this book on tape. At the beginning, whenever “Newman” was said, I heard a Jerry Seinfeld voice in my head screaming his version of “Newman!”.

2015-16 NFL Betting Summary

Using a model developed with Wayne Winston, I posted the bets I would make against the spread from Week 2 onward for the 2015 NFL season and 2016 playoffs. The model did pretty well, going 126-111.

When betting, you must perform well enough to make money after the betting market takes their cut (the vigorish). Typically, you bet $110 to win $100 if you are correct. If you had bet $110 on each game I suggested, you would have made $390, a return of 1.5% on the total $26070 bet.

Here are the links to each week of suggested bets (for posterity sake):
Super Bowl: 0-1
Conference Championship: 2-0
Divisional Round: 2-2
Wildcard Round: 2-1
Week 17: 10-6
Week 16: 9-6
Week 15: 8-6
Week 14: 7-7
Week 13: 4-11
Week 12: 11-5
Week 11: 6-7
Week 10: 10-4
Week 9: 6-7
Week 8: 6-6
Week 7: 6-7
Week 6: 8-6
Week 5: 5-6
Week 4: 10-5
Week 3: 5-11
Week 2: 9-7

Here is the summary from the 2014-2015 season.

Book Review- Master and Commander

Master and Commander
by Patrick O’Brian, 1969

master and commander

I listened to this one on tape over the course of about a year. Every time I finally got it checked out from the library, someone would reserve it and I wouldn’t be able to renew. (I was probably doing the same thing to the other guy that was trying to finish it.) So… one or two CD’s at a time, I guess, since my commute is a whopping 8-12 minutes. (I eventually got tired of the process and burned the last few CD’s. Don’t tell anyone.)

Really cool book about naval warfare in the Napoleonic-age (early 1800’s). Covers looting, fighting, “taking prizes”, and blowing stuff up from the personal perspective of the captain and surgeon on one smaller ship. What I liked the most was that the book doesn’t spell every little detail out. A lot is left to the reader to imagine or fill in. Well-written and fairly fast-paced. I was able to pick the book back up in the middle after a few months off and remember what was going on. Recommended, though I doubt I’ll be reading all 19 sequels.

Mind the Gap: Coordinating Energy Efficiency and Demand Response

Updated abstract for my work with Kyle Cattani and Owen Wu:

Traditionally, energy demand-side management techniques, such as energy efficiency and demand response, are each evaluated in isolation. In this paper, we examine the interactions between long-term energy efficiency upgrades and daily demand response participation at an industrial firm. We find that energy efficiency and demand response act as substitutes in terms of reduction of peak electricity demand, and the long-studied energy efficiency gap between firm-optimal and societal-optimal levels of energy efficiency is smaller when demand response is considered. Using a representative model of the firm’s production and the society’s energy generation, we derive insights into the optimal choices of energy efficiency installation and demand response participation from both the firm’s and societal perspectives. We suggest three approaches to reducing the energy efficiency gap, including an original suggestion that relies upon the interactions between energy efficiency and demand response.

Book Review- Gatefather

by Orson Scott Card, 2015


The final installment in the Mithermages trilogy. Continues storylines from the previous book, The Gate Thief. Checks in at almost 400 pages, though I read it in about a day. Could have lost 50-100 pages of excessive dialogue with some tidying editing. The storyline about the high schoolers is particularly long-winded and somewhat superfluous in this book. I get that the main character is supposed to still be a 17 year old, but trying to ground him to other high school friends in the midst of the chaos and power swirling around his world doesn’t work very well.

With about 20 pages to go, I was worried that this was going to need a 4th book to wrap up the various storylines, but it finally does bring it all to a conclusion. Worth reading if you’ve started the trilogy.