Monday, August 29, 2011

The Toyota Way

I'm settling in now. I've moved into my new place, have a new project at work, made a couple of friends, and found a couple great places to hang out on the weekend.

I was shocked when I checked my last blog date and It was almost a week ago. I logged back; I figured I needed to update since I hadn't done so all weekend. In fact I haven't updated since last Tuesday. Anyway I'll give a quick run down of what's been going on.

In my first week of work I've been in about 6 meetings, seen two factories, and have read as many manuals about "The Toyota Way" as possible. Today I finally got my work computer so I can now access all the tools I need in order to make progress with my project. I'm going back to West Virginia for two days this week and I'm planning on going back for 3 or 4 days next week.

I finally have an understanding of what my job as an IE (instrumentation engineer) actually does. I focus on testing in order to validate quality. For example, a random sample of engines need to tested for quality so I make sure the factories have the correct tools, or instruments in order to perform these tests.

The Toyota Way requires me to "Go see for myself", hence the reason I have already been to two factories and will be at WV for the most part of the next two weeks. Toyota also has its own language. Which is a combination of Janglish and acronyms. We were given a reference book for all the Japanese terms used and the hundreds of acronyms. Toyota has very specific and explicit set of ways. I can't explain all of them because I know none of them. It is a very standardized way of performing duties and responsibilities.

On the factories: They are modern marvels. Imagine a line of 10-20 CNC machining processes all lined up ready to perform a series of tasks in order to complete a single part. With a robotic conveyor moving the part from each operation. The part is then transported to the assembly line once it is completed. Where it is assembled with the other hundreds of parts to complete a final product. I have yet to see the stamping plants or vehicle assembly line which are said to be a real site to see. What I have seen is an engine production line that pumps out engines by the minute from unfinished cranks and pistons to fully assembled and ready to be quality tested or put into a vehicle.

To the fun things! This weekend my friend Bobby and I checked a bar right on the water, literally on the water. The Beer Sellar, is built on a barge on the Ohio River (on the KY side) with a great view of Downtown. I'm so glad I'm still by the water, especially a dirty river, it really makes me feel at home. The next day I moved into my new place and met the other roommate. Saturday night a bunch of new hires and my roommate went out to a really sweet part of Cincy, Mt. Adams. This is definitely the place to go out. I will be going back soon. Another thing to note. After hanging out at Mt. Adams we all went to Dixie Chili (same thing as skyline but not as mainstream) and I stepped up my game. Instead of getting the normal 3 way, I went with the 6 way, a sweet combination of spa, cincy chili, cheese, onions, garlic, and something else I can't recall. It. Was. Awesome! I questioned the hype about 3 ways or above, and found out Kentucky Bourbon is the answer. Anyway I had a great weekend.

I did get a little homesick this weekend though. I really hope there is a swell at thanksgiving. Also I miss everyone back home :)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"This is Kentucky"

"This is Kentucky", Anthony, a coworker joked as he banged his E30 engine with a hammer. "We don't need an engine stand". 

Me and the co-op, Bobby, stopped by Anthony's house to check out the two rooms he is renting as well as help him pull out his inline 6 cylinder from his E30 BMW that he runs in the Spec E30 series. He is preparing for nationals coming up in a couple of weeks. 

It turns out Bobby is actually staying in the same hotel as me. He's only here for a month but should be returning in January. He's part of the IE team with me and we just received our assignments. We will be heading to West Virginia on Thursday with our lead/mentor Jason. 

Today was pretty slow at work. Both Jeremy (new hire part of the axle team) and I don't have our laptops which makes working pretty difficult. However, the highlights of the day was taking a tour of the 24 hours of LeMons shop with Anthony, and getting a quick shake down from our boss, Jack. 

24 Hours of LeMons is a series where the teams are limited to a $500 dollar vehicle (less the safety equipment, including race seats, and full roll cage). 

Anyway a little house keeping is in order. I have to make a decision on which place to live. I currently have 3 places offered. 

1. Monmouth st. In Newport. The location is the worst of the 3 but the place is by far the nicest. I would have my own apartment with brand new kitchen and bathroom. Huge closet, recessed lighting, restored hardwood floors, new paint. Amazing view of downtown Cincy. But its kinda in a sketchier side of the city. However it is right above a pilates studio (Babes). 750 a month. 

2. In the heart of Mainstrasse, Covington. This is in the perfect location...for nightlife. Its literally a connecting rod's throw from the bars. Its also on the road that holds all the festivals. Last weekend there was a car show there. I'd have offstreet/garage parking (only one with garage parking). I'd also have a very easy commute. However the house itself is not that nice. The exterior is nice but the inside, kitchen and bath are old and have a couple years use in them. Its 800 a month. But I would try and rent out the top room for 250-300. As well as split the utilities. 

3. Anthony has a house in Florence. About a 15-25 minute drive to Covington, Newport, and downtown Cincy. I'd rent his basement, which includes a room, bathroom, and living area for 600 with utilities included (cable, internet....). Its a really sweet deal. Cause its a beautiful house in a suburban neighborhood. The garage is used for projects only. 

By the way, Kentucky is a really beautiful state. I mean simply gorgeous. It maybe pretty redneck and have some trashy sides of it but these hills are outstanding. The skyline of downtown Cincy is astonishing. Coming from any direction, north or south, you get to see the skyscrappers pop up as you converge down into the valley from the rolling hills. The bridges crossing the Ohio River set a very majestic tone and all the historic houses in Northern Kentucky have intricate molding and bold colors on the exterior. More pomp and circumstance than I'm used to in Baltimore. Yet the people roaming the streets are characters and a half. I guess this is Kentucky.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Tomorrow Will be Better

I couldn't stand high school. 8 hours in the same spot getting lectured about stuff you did not care about. Exactly like today's orientation. All information a mentor or supervisor could and will still have to show me how to do. However I got to enjoy sitting through about 8 different presentations. The presenters seemed about as interested as I. Not to be completely sarcastic I did get to learn some important information. My parents can lease a vehicle, siblings cannot. However everyone, including parents, brother, sister, aunts, uncles, and in-laws can enjoy the purchase program from Toyota Motor Sales. I however have to wait till my driving record gets cleaner till I can lease, haha. No big deal I'm waiting and saving to purchase the FT-86.

The day finally got exciting at 4:45 when I got to meet my new powertrain family. I was given my cubicle (Japanese companies like to have an open floor, all workers, managers included, share the same floor space and all have the same size cubicle). I'm on the end, by an aisle. It seems as if the managers are more towards the wall. I also learned that the title 'specialist' as in powertrian engineering specialist just means entry level. Tomorrow seems to be my real starting date. However it still seems odd. I don't have actual duties. I was given a schedule by HR for some optional intro courses. Judging by today's presentations I feel I will learn way more by staying at my desk tomorrow. I also want to get to know my co-workers and managers more. 

Speaking of co-workers I was really glad to see familiar faces. At my in-face interview I saw two other recruits. Both of whom I saw today. Tony, a logistics member of the TEMA team, and Jeremy. I remember seeing Jeremy right before my interview. I asked him "oh hey, what are you interviewing for?"

"Powertrain Engineering Specialist", Jeremy replies. 

...Awkward silence and end of conversation.


However, It was completely different this morning when I saw him walk in late and I had an extra seat next to me. I pulled it out for him and said sincerely "Glad to see you again". We laughed about about our awkward conversation the day of our interview. Jeremy is part of the axle group and I'm part of the instrumentation group. Our desks are right next to each other. He and I had a great conversation about FSAE at lunch and another TEMA member, Sean, joined in. However Sean is working in St. Louis.

I found an apartment. Its a beautiful 1br loft in Newport. The only problem is that it is not near too many other houses or apartment complexes.  I took a walk down the street its on, Monmouth, it wasn't bad but it really wasn't populated. Its in an apartment building above a Pilates place and  is on the 4th floor. It has a great view of downtown Cincy but through very small windows.The apartment itself is gorgeous, really freaking sweet. But the area Isn't the best. 

I would love to find a place further west in Newport where there are some really beautiful houses and streets. But my time is short and this one place is really really nice. The thing that is really deterring me from accepting it right away is that I may not see very many people (girls) on Monmouth street. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Local Things

So far here are the local things I've tried and my take on them:

Skyline. Good, I donno if I got the right thing for me.

Ale-8 one (A late one). Amazing! Great soda. This stuff is so good.

I bought a cheap 12 pack of a Cincinnati brew. But I was too tired to try it yesterday.

"Be safe going over there"

I hit the road yesterday around 11:30 and took two pit stops. One to get lunch the other to fill up. Cost of trip: $105 for gas, $8 for lunch, $5 for energy drink and beef jerky, and 8 hours and 15 minutes. The estimated time of the trip from bing maps was 8 hours and 4 minutes, I made up for some time between Columbus and Cincinnati where the geographical features lacked and the roads flattened. I was happy to see more and more hills as I approached Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.

It was odd passing WVU and realizing this is now the furthest I have ever driven from Baltimore.

I decided the first thing on my agenda was to get dinner at Skyline Chili. I also wanted to check out downtown Cincy so I got off I-71 right next to the riverside and stadiums. Park the Jeep, hop out and start walking the block and a half to Skyline. As I walk a group of kids walk past me and I over hear them say to another, "Yo, would you rather be tased or shot?". Then right behind them are another group of kids walking in the same direction as the first, the opposite of my direction. Right as I'm about to cross the street to get to Skyline a pair of girls tell me, "Be safe going over there, they was shootin". "What!", "Yeah, they was shootin' in the square". I guess that's how they welcome guests in Cincy, letting them know where they was just shootin.

I join the rest of the kids and turn around and walk in the the same direction as them. Get back to my car and head to Northern Kentucky, hopefully where there will be less gunfights. I did end up going to Skyline, which is actually more of a Northern Kentucky establishment than a Cincinnati original. They named it Skyline because it overlooked the Cincinnati skyline from the hills of NKY (source: Skyline's menu). I had to get the 3-way. Spaghetti, chili, and a load of cheese that was bigger than the chili and spaghetti combine. The chili was awesome, but I didn't like the noodles. They were too mushy. Next time I'm going to get their chili dogs.

I noticed the kitchen staff (they have an open kitchen) and servers do have major accents. When I got my tab it said "MD". I guess she noticed my Terps shirt and my accent.

After Skyline I figured I go check in at my hotel. Then I went to Meijer's for some groceries and to pick up a razor. I finally have to shave everyday, for the rest of my life. Another first.

On today's agenda: get some business casual shoes, find an apartment (I'm going to a showing at 6pm), look up concealment laws.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

1 Hour and Counting

Pounding headache and a tumultuous stomach I was disappointed when I checked for a Gatorade this morning and found we were all out. Oh well. I had a blast last night. Saw a snake hanging from a tree feasting on a bird (Its Effing Nature people, Come on...). Beat my parents in a close game of beer pong. And killed the keg with ease. But now I'm about to head out on my drive. Eat some greasy food, hit the restroom one last time, finish up this blog post  and I should be on my way. It shouldn't be that bad of a drive, as I type I can feel my headache creep away and my appetite return, I bet that's due to my excitement. Thanks to my parents for letting me have a party, my Dad was a great host and kept the 'bases' well stocked and the keg chilled.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

T-minus 36 Hours, Nerves and Thank-Yous

I know three people in Erlanger, Kentucky, Jeff, Carlos, and Jackie. All of whom I have only met for 3 hours during an interview. In less than 36 hours I will begin my 8 hour trek to a new state and a new career. I have never lived outside of Maryland, and it has never been a goal of mine to pursue a life away from Maryland. Yet I don't mind moving away. I'm happy and excited to test the metaphorically glassy waters of northern Kentucky. More importantly I'm ecstatic to start a new career with Toyota, a dream come true.

As I sit in my bed next to my beloved kittey, Nillie, I can't help but reminisce and think of things sentimental. I've tried my best to allocate time to those closest to me in the last month that I've been home in Severna Park. Happy wine hours with my parents,sprinting across the burning sands of Ocean City carrying my naked nieces while bystanders stare in horror, parading my nephew around as he tightly grasps my pointer fingers, raft ups with my brother, and on-call babysitting for my sister. Times I will cherish. Dewey beach trips with my friends, late night viewings of Transformers. Assateague Island swells, the bungalow. 4602 Calvert Road, I bet Rob would still be eating those burritos if any were left from the blizzard. Times I will cherish. I also want to say thank you to those that have been close to me, to my family and my friends. You all mean so much to me.

I'd like to continue my divergence into thanking those that have inspired me to purse my passion for automobiles which has led me to Kentucky (As I feel more sentimental while I continually indulge in my father's landsharks). If I would have never stolen my brother's Car&Driver, Motortrend, and Dupont Registry magazines I would have never, ever, had such a passion. Thank you, Eric. Yes, I read them while taking long poops. The best birthday present I have ever received was when I took apart my throttlebody and you spent your Friday night putting it back together after I got frustrated, and left. I'd also like to thank my father, that 993 911 was the purist mechanical being I have ever touched the throttle of (As I edit this, I wonder what my Mom thinks of me for finishing a sentence with a preposition, is that legal?). You also were always there to help me with my projects, willing to give a helping hand, or purchase a new tool. You are the best Dad. I love you.

To Ant. Let 'em hear it. Your projects have always inspired me. Your turbo 'Teg took so much balls. I love the fact you have a more expensive suspension setup than in your powertrain on your 240. Your truly have automotive style. Ram-Rod-Racing. To Ray Wilson for teaching me more than I ever thought possible in a single summer. The amount of resources you provided for me during my Turbo build was astonishing. I owe you. To Darryl. Thank you for getting me into FSAE, as well as taking the time out to drive me when my car got towed from Presidential Towers. I would have been lost at UMD without you. To Terps Racing. The Best FSAE team in the world.

To my sister, Diane. I love when you ask "can I ask you for a favor". You have always kept me inline and in-fashion, and I miss when you destroyed the dinner table with your humor. I love you. And of course my Mom! Kicks cancers ass and kicks my ass! Thanks for sponsoring me through college and too much else to list. I really really owe you. And I really really love you.

In order to re-converge. I want to state the purpose of this blog. I want to keep those that care updated. As well as document this experience through words and photos. But at this moment I just want to thank everyone for any contribution you have made in my life, no matter how small or how large. It has meant everything to me. I will continue to update this blog with random updates of: my activities, job information, hot babes, and other gnarly activities. Party on Bro's and Babes. Come visit and read my blog for updates. I gotta get some sleep, big day tomorrow, and then traveling out to KY on Saturday.

I pray for the health of my father and mother. As well as the well being of the rest of my family: Eric, Kim, Cole 'Dude' Michael, Diane, Jason, Lily 'Dancin' Anna, Elle 'Pac', Katy "BPKC" and friends. These are the times I will cherish.