Office Make Over

December 3rd, 2010

When I came to MCS in May 2001 for one of my interviews, I was told that the front office was going to be redone in the near future.  Well here it is October 2010, and the work is finally starting!  We are getting new floor covering and a new receptionist desk.

It is very noisy here today and the dust is everywhere.  Our files are in boxes and some people have been temporarily relocated.  Right now it is hard to find anything, but I think it will be worth it when it is all finished!

The carpet is going down.  The smell is awful but everything is looking so much better!

Hard surface flooring at the main entrance went down today.  Wow!  What an improvement!

Flooring installed in Pat’s office.  The guys started installing the new front desk.

New flooring is down in the copier room. We only have the kitchen, Jason’s office and one hallway to go.  Oh and John’s office still needs flooring also.  Then have to get all our files organized and move back in.

Flooring installed in the kitchen and John’s office.  Carpet installed in Jason’s office and the hallway.  The makeover is almost finished.  A few more finishing touches and we will be finished.

We are pretty much back in our office now.  Still trying to locate some things and get organized but mostly it is finished.

Stop in and see the improvement!

Posted by jstrickland

Telemarketing Calls

September 30th, 2010

(Note:  This refers to personal calls, not business calls.)

Does anyone else get tired of receiving telemarketing calls?  It seems that ever since the new law went into effect several months ago, I get more telemarketing calls than I did before there was a law to prevent this.  There are too many loopholes for the law to be effective.  Non-profits are excluded, as are any companies you have done business with in the last X number of years.  This makes it too easy for companies to get around the law.  I don’t even bother to look at who is calling me most of the time any more because I get so many calls I don’t want to receive.  I wait until the answering machine screens the calls and then answer the calls I want to, real people who leave me a message.  I got tired of getting interrupted and having to get up to see who was calling only for it to be an “unknown” number or a toll free number.  If Congress wanted this to actually help people, they would have made it be opt-in for anyone, regardless of whether you had done business with them recently.

Posted by jstrickland

Give Us a Brake

September 10th, 2010

The WVDOH displays “Give ‘Em a Brake” signs along highway construction zones, especially on the interstates.  Signs warning drivers to pay attention.  How many vehicles slow down when approaching or driving through these areas?  Not many.

Take this to bicycles on the road.  How many vehicles slow down when they see bicycles ahead?  More than for highway construction zones, but again, not many.

Riding a bicycle as a kid was fun and it still is in adulthood.  Adults, however, know the consequences of crashing.  Yet, ride a bicycle and you’ll feel the wind against your unshielded body.  Out in nature, breathing fresh air, power in your legs that accelerates you faster … faster … until …. What’s that?  A vehicle or vehicles approaching from behind.  Quickly assess — car, motorcycle, truck, or bus?  How many?  Distance away?  Perceived direction/path?  Driving the speed limit or speeding?  Quick, quick … Is it friend or foe?

Friends of bicyclists understand the fine line of balancing on two wheels and will slow down or yield as the situation dictates and then calmly wait or pass.  Foes, however, thrive for such meetings – race their engines or speed up to irritate, honk the horn to scare, yell out “get off the road” or “get on the sidewalk,” or swerve around erratically, often passing on two-lane, neighborhood roads, ignoring the upcoming intersection or the oncoming car or the upcoming traffic signal or stop sign!!  Give US a Brake!

Riding a bicycle lends thinking time.  I often think about why bicyclists, and highway construction zones, generally enrage motorists and why motorists often speed up instead of slowing down.  I think about road rage and how quickly it surfaces.  Signs are posted “share the road” yet some motorists do not think the signs apply to them.  Hurrying to get to some place, they speed through construction zones.  Hurrying to get some place, they speed through neighborhoods.  Some motorists intentionally disrupt any bicyclist by rolling through stop signs and traffic signals, or pulling in front of them or braking to cut them off as if to prove some point.

The point is that accidents occur quickly and the damage is irreversible.  Rage and anger occur in all forms.  Bicyclists must constantly watch, look, and try to anticipate everything.  Braking to allow others to pass only takes one minute and perhaps the courtesy might be passed on down the road.  A statement as simple as “Give ‘Em a Brake,” makes a big difference because it conveys an attitude.  Tolerance and kindness go miles.  Changing behavior is as simple as “Give ‘Em a Brake,” so everyone may enjoy the roads safely – motorists and bicyclists alike.

Posted by jstrickland

What Do You Want?

August 27th, 2010

In years past, the standard greeting when I walked into a business establishment was “How can I help you?” or “What can I do for you today?”  Now it seems to be “What do you want?”

Last week, I went into a fast food place and that is how the cashier greeted me.  Later that same day, I heard the same greeting when I went to the bookstore, again when I went to the registrar’s office, once again when I went to the cashier’s office (to pay $75 for a parking permit that doesn’t even guarantee me a parking space, but that’s another story), and again when I went to the safety office to pick up the permit.  When I mentioned my experiences to friends, their response was “Well, you know how young people are these days.”  But unfortunately, not all of these greetings came from young people.  It seems that people have forgotten their manners.

Customer Service representatives should realize that their pay starts out the same whether they are nice or rude to the customer.  But if they are nice, and the customer comments about it to management, they might just get to keep their job or get a raise.

I wish we could go back in time to when customer service representatives had manners and really appreciated their customers.

Posted by jstrickland

Getting LEED Credentials

August 17th, 2010

LEED stands for Leader in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED is a building point system. LEED certification categories are based on points established for sustainable design in water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor air quality. It is now starting to pick up in West Virginia, and I believe in a few years that every building will try to attain some type of LEED certification. Our company, Maynard C. Smith Construction Co., Inc., believes that having an employee who holds credentials in the LEED industry will be a very beneficial value added service when more and more commercial buildings are built under the LEED standard.

So, on June 1st 2010, I started studying for the LEED-Green Associate exam, which is the first step in the LEED credentialing process. I took the 8-hour, online, anytime class and it took four weeks of nothing but studying and taking practice test after practice test to get ready for the exam. My company wanted me to take the exam by July 1, so let us just say I was nervous when the end of the month started creeping up on me. I finally finished all the classes and applied for the exam on June 24, 2010, through the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI.) After the GBCI reviewed my application, they set my test date for 8:00 a.m. on Monday, June 28, 2010. That entire weekend I did nothing but study. When Monday rolled around, I felt good about the test. When I got to the testing agency, I began to get nervous all over again. It was a 2-hour, 100-question test that demonstrates the knowledge and understanding of green building practices and my month of hard studying paid off. I passed the test and now hold a LEED-Green Associate credential. Today, I am going to start studying for the next step of the LEED credentials which will be for the LEED-AP Building Design and Construction.

Posted by jstrickland

The Good, The Bad, and The Ever-Lasting Ugly

August 3rd, 2010

The Good

This July of 2010 started out on a tear. Our good friend in the construction industry passed away after a short illness while recovering from a fall. Our friend was a young “almost” 87 year old who set the bar high in personal achievement. Our friend never quit employment, but adjusted his hours based on years of experience, and he worked when he could be the most effective. Many in our industry knew our friend, and respected his ability in the industry. What we did not know, as we listened at the memorial service, was the extent that our friend aided the community outside our construction industry. Our friend was a doer, ever ready to assist anyone who needed advice, guidance, or just a plain conversation. Our friend had time for all of those people he influenced, impacted, or aided. Our friend had a wonderful family, wife, children, and grandchildren. They and our friend truly reaped the benefits of life.

The Bad

An acquaintance in the construction industry passed away. He was not our friend. In this industry, we have a basic accomplishment overreaching all other benefits, the sense of fulfillment from a Project well done. Our acquaintance had no sense of accomplishment, but was a user and usurper of everything good, and produced nothing benefiting the community, industry, or life. Our acquaintance simply performed the most selfish of acts out of spite, an overdose of sleeping pills. Our acquaintance left behind a wife, children, and future grandchildren, now bitter and confused by his ultimate vindictiveness.

The Ever-Lasting Ugly

Forever, I will associate these two in death, one dishonoring an honorable individual. Time, I feel, will never disassociate these individuals.

Posted by jstrickland

Electronic Road Signs

August 2nd, 2010

We recently got electronic road signs installed on I-64.  When the signs were first put up, it seemed someone didn’t know how to run them.  While the signs can be helpful in displaying information about traffic accidents and other delays, having information displayed all of the time takes away from the times when important announcements are made.  This desensitizes people to the signs showing information.  People get used to “Test” or other useless information being displayed and don’t read the signs when important information is put up.  The other day as I was driving to work one of the signs read “Expect Delays.”  That’s it.  No other information about why to expect a delay was posted.  There were no delays and traffic was running smoothly.  When lights are burnt out, it makes the signs hard to read.  Regular maintenance would be very helpful.  These signs could be helpful if they were run properly.  But as it stands, they are just a distraction.

Posted by jstrickland