Last Friday night I sat down anxiously to read more of “The Organized Mind”. Fortunately I had a couple of hours before my usual bed time to gather more valuable lessons. This book is already shaping the way I organize my tasks and more importantly it is providing me with a reference on how our brains work.
After gathering my highlighter pen, book, some note cards and a regular pen I adjusted the lighting and oriented a comfortable chair to accommodate the magic of learning and inspiration that was about to happen. After reading a number of pages and highlighting some content, my eyelids started feeling a little heavy. This is not an uncommon, but on this night it was evident that the eyelids were winning and before long I succumbed to the call of an earlier bedtime.
My “Eureka!” Moment
To give things a little context, specifically weather related, there is a bit of a rain and wind storm that’s been going on the last two days here in Northern California. The conditions have affected my sleep with the winds being loud enough at times to wake me up. During one of these brief episodes early Saturday morning I started thinking about an article written by one of my manufacturing clients. The article was part of Christian Frueh‘s quality management series, specifically his third in that series “failing more often: gaining for randomness and volatility“. There was one concept in particular, the idea that being tested to the point of failure leading to improvement. My mind drifted a bit as I considered some real world areas where this concept would have a huge positive impact and instinctively had to get up and write about it. 🙂
Things You Want Tested While House Shopping
If you’ve followed this blog recently you probably know that last summer my family relocated to El Dorado Hills. We’ve been holed up in “temporary” accommodations since the end of the summer. The house shopping process has not gone exactly like we might had hoped. It’s been an educational process though, and we’ve had a few near hits. One thing is certain, testing things to the point of failure is extremely valuable as a house shopper.
The Beautiful Oak Tree
One fantastic thing about the Sierra Foothills is the amazing oak trees peppered across the rolling hills. From fall to late spring (early summer on a rainy year!) the lush green hills stun you with their beauty. One big oak tree in particular is an actual “feature” of a house that we have considered making an offer on. The tree is both a blessing and a potential curse. You see, this particular tree is quite old and majestic. If it were to be badly damaged or die the value of the property in our eyes would drop significantly.
Remember those high winds I mentioned? If that old oak survives those winds, it’s probably in pretty good shape. We’d certainly have an arborist check it out if we were putting an offer on that house. What the arborist could not tell us is what would happen to the tree in a heavy wind storm. Only knowing that it’s been through several in just the last few months can tell us that.
The Drainage Problem
El Dorado Hills appears to be a mix of iron rich soil and granite. The presence of rock does make one feel more comfortable about how stable the hills will be during heavy rains. In December we had some incredibly heavy rains, with several large storms back to back. The area shed the water off as if it was built to handle these types of storms.
One house that we had our eye on and showed a lot of potential for our needs had a sudden price decrease recently. Great news, right? We learned an inspection report had revealed a drainage issue, among other things. There was actually water under the house in at least one significantly sized area. Heavy rains are a great test of roofing materials, gutters, drainage and grading. Imagine if we had purchased this home last summer only to learn about this later? Yikes.
Forest and Wild Fires
Before humans started building houses and more specifically, had the ability to contain wild fires, the forests were far more healthy. Fires would clean out the under brush periodically and cull unhealthy trees leaving a fertile environment behind for new healthier trees and shrubs to grow. I remember flipping through “Fire in Sierra Nevada Forests: A Photographic Interpretation of Ecological Change Since 1849″ at a family members home and seeing a compelling visual history of this.
Many fires today are catastrophic, leaving nothing but charred earth and tiny charred stubs that were once fully grown trees. Our forests would benefit from more frequent failure and restoration of the more natural cycle. Last year the King Fire near Pollock Pines consumed 97,717 acres, 12 single residences, 69 other minor structures and caused 12 injuries. Here is a picture I took of the King Fire, from a very safe distance:
Frueh’s article gave me a lot to think about and as the brief bought of “Eureka!” moment insomnia indicates, hopefully this will have the same affect on you. Without the insomnia, of course.