Tuesday, March 31, 2015


If it's Tuesday,
It must be Rome


A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO I flew from the States to Israel via Rome's FCO (a/k/a Leonardo da Vinci International) airport.

Then, the transfer from one flight to another was relatively painless.

Not, mind, "painless,' but relatively.

    I don't understand why a traveler arriving on an international flight and immediately - within an hour or three - has to exit the international terminal, go through hand-carry and body inspection, and then RETURN TO THE SAME TERMINAL

    This in SOP (par for the (con)course) at Heathrow, Madrid, and Rome, but not in Amsterdam - or at least it wasn't the last time I passed through.

In their (questionable) wisdom, the Italians managed to compound the foolishness. Perhaps that's why Rome fell.

Leonardo da Vinci International terminal map

At FCO, I was forced to take a shuttle "train" from the arrival terminal to the hand-carry and personal recheck.

The tram was only part of the obstacle course. Add escalators/stairs. (Yes, to be fair, there were elevators, but the wait times …)

When I finally got to the recheck I practically had to disrobe. Shoes off. Belt off. Baseball cap off, Empty pockets of everything, including tissues.

All to save a few bucks

I could have spent a few more dollars ($105 to be exact) and flown from FLL to PHI to TLV, but I've traveled through Philly before. Any inclement weather and it's down to one runway for arriving and departing flights - translation: delays and missed flights are commonplace. IN THE FUTURE, all things being nearly equal, I'll take my chances with PHI.

I have, over the course of my flying "career" been to a number of airports.

I will avoid at all costs Paris (CDG). Unless you speak a good French, you may never get out of the airport.

Miami (MIA) is "OK" and, I think, getting better, but it's focused on the dollar. WiFi is not free.

Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood (FLL) is not in either city - it's in Dania Beach - but it's relatively easy to navigate, has free WiFi, and plenty of TSA lines, including the expedited pre-check for most airlines.

Tampa (TPA) is laid out as a wheel, with trams to each terminal. With moving walkways, it's not bad, but still there are times when there is a long hike.

Madrid (MAD) is, like FCO, spread out and requires long, usually "quick march" hikes from arrival and departure gateways.

Barcelona (BCN) is a far better transfer point than MAD, but most of my flights have been via MAD.

Kennedy (JFK) is one of my least favorite airports, but it ranks far above CDG. In my opinion, EVERY airport is better than CDG.

FCO, once a stop to recommend, has lost my vote. Even its WiFi was down when I needed to send a message to the folks who would meet my flight when it landed in Lod (TLV).

    I'm a relative "old timer" at Israel's primary international airport. It was Lod (load) back then and it's Lod today. It's not in Tel Aviv and the politician whose name it now bears ordered his commander (Yitzhak Rabin) to kill fellow Jews aboard the ship Altalena.

TLV is a better than many international airports. Free WiFi that works, Moving walkways that never go far enough, but they do eliminate some steps. Passport control can be slow, even through there are many lines for both Israeli and foreign passport holders. LEAVING TLV means long, long lines, but unless there is a problem, most lines move along fairly smoothly.

Friday, March 20, 2015


Two HR situations
Worth considering


TWO HR-RELATED ISSUES linked from the Friday, March 20 2015 AdvisenFPN news round-up caught my eye:

While the two headlines may seem unrelated to, say, factory employment, both could impact all organizations.

The first, from the Myrtle Beach (SC) Sun News, reports that court records show a stray bullet struck the dancer in the abdomen after a fight broke out at the club, resulting in loss of a kidney.

It IS an unusual on-the-job injury, but the club owners may have come out ahead - even considering the probability of increased workman's compensation payments - by putting the burden on workman's comp rather than having to defend the club's policies in court for apparently allowing armed customers into the facility.

Datelined Columbia SC, the Myrtle Beach paper's leed (cq) read:

    An exotic dancer who was shot at a Columbia nightclub is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for her injury, the S.C. Supreme Court ruled Wednesday in what could be a potentially precedent-setting decision for topless performers in the Palmetto State.
The article quoted the dancer's attorney as stating “This is a message to employers of this industry that, if they are going to bring young, often uneducated laborers into this industry to make huge profits, then they need to have workers’ compensation to cover these unforeseen accidents.”.

The article also noted that as far as the state's workman's comp is concerned, the dancer was an employee of the club, not an independent contractor.

While this is one instance for one job type in one state, the state supreme court's ruling could be, as the reporter wrote, "precedent-setting," not only for dancers and the places where they work, but for all jobs in all places in all states.

The second, from England's The Guardian newspaper starts off

    A bus driver wrongly accused of using cocaine has won a substantial payout after arguing that the traces of the drug must have come from passengers’ money.
The driver was randomly tested for drugs using a saliva test. The test indicated he had used cocaine. The driver denied this.

Without further ado, he was fired from his job of 22 years.

At his own expense, the driver had the more accurate hair follicle test for cocaine done by his own doctor. That test was negative, supporting the driver's claim that he was drug free.

The bus company refused to hire the driver back.

He went to court with evidence that, at least in England, paper currency is often tainted with cocaine. According to the driver's legal team, it was estimated that in the UK upwards of 88% of banknotes carry detectable traces of the drug..

The driver's attorney contends that the bus company failed to carry out proper investigations before dismissing such a long-serving employee with an impeccable record

In the England case, the employer might have avoided any legal entanglement by being less hasty in its actions - suspending the driver until it - not the driver - ordered and funded the hair follicle test - and immediately reinstated the driver, with back pay, when the second test proved negative.

Instead, the bus company apparently elected to stand by the initial test and the following dismissal even in light of the new evidence.

Thursday, March 12, 2015


Smoking, selling e-cigs?
Product could be explosive


YESTERDAY I CAUTIONED manufacturers AND merchants to perform "due diligence" on their products.

Today (March 12, 2015) Advisen FPN has a headline reading Smokin’ hot: Man claims e-cig batteries sent sparks ‘shooting from his crotch area’

The man is suing the store that sold the batteries. There was no mention in the article that the batteries' manufacturer also was named in the suit. (If the manufacturer is an off-shore operation - likely - then the importer should be contacting a defense counsel about now.) The battery manufacturer and production location were omitted from the news article.

According to the article in the Arlington (TX) Star-Telegram, the store had a warning posted on its wall stating that batteries not in use should be stored in their protective box. The batteries that exploded in the man's trousers were loose in a pocket. (Were they sold lose? A question for the courts.)

Battery safety is an issue that has found it's way to the Internet in the e-cigarette forum blog where the e-cigs are euphemistically called Advanced Personal Vaporizers or "APVs."

The article notes that battery malfunctions are known within the fire and safety field citing a report from the U.S. Fire Administration in October discussed the dangers associated with e-cigarette fires and explosions. It quoted media reports citing at least 25 incidents involving e-cigarette batteries from 2009 to 2014.

Media reports generally characterized those incidents as explosions accompanied by a loud noise, a flash, smoke, flames, and the vigorous ejection of the battery and other parts.

Eighty percent of the incidents reportedly occurred while the batteries were being charged. A variety of charging sources were reported, including laptop, automobile and desktop USB ports.

Another on-line site, ecigarette Reviewed suggests that the e-cig equivalent of the old "roll your own" is where the greatest danger lies. Under the heading Minimizing the Risk of E-Cig Mod Explosions the site tells readers:

Switching from beginner-level electronic cigarettes and eGos to e-cig mods is a step up in terms of performance, but it brings some additional concerns with it.

The battery you use ceases to be provided with the device itself; you have to find one yourself. But lithium-based batteries, as we discussed earlier in the series, can all fail and in some cases it is catastrophic. There have been reports of bottle-rocket and pipe bomb-style explosions with mods, but the problem extends to all other lithium-dependent consumer products such as cell phones and laptops too.

Understanding the process of “thermal runaway” and what you can do to minimize the risk of e-cigarette mod explosions is essential for all vapors venturing into APV (Advanced Personal Vaporizer) territory.

Photo courtesy of ecigarette Reviewed

While the majority of e-cigarette batteries are from China, batteries also are manufactured by many other countries, including the U.S. and Canada. A comprehensive list of points or origin is available on the Alibaba.com site. The batteries' manufacturer was not identified in the Star-Telegram article.

Among the questions the court probably will hear are

  1. Did the merchant do any research on the product's safety history?
  2. Was the warning sign to keep batteries in a box prominently displayed?
  3. Was the customer warned about potential dangers?
  4. Was any sampling done by the merchant or did the merchant have evidence that sampling was done at any point from the manufacture of the battery to the time it was sold?
  5. Did the customer keep the batteries in a battery box?
  6. How much responsibility do each of the players have - the merchant, the customer?
Unfortunately, it is unlikely that there will be a post-decision article in the Star-Telegram; that. sadly, is the nature of most newspapers. Perhaps a court watcher in the Arlington TX area will follow the case.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


Everyone gets sued
For dangerous product


Dangerous Chinese products in news - again


AN ARTICLE FROM ADVISEN FPN titled First-party coverage for toxic flooring cases: Chinese-manufactured drywall cases may provide insight reminds manufacturers and merchants that if they want to avoid the hassle and expense of legal actions against them, they need to pro-actively test vendor-provided components.

Business Law 101 rules that if you sue over a faulty or dangerous product, you sue EVERYONE in a search for "deep pockets."

While the Advisen FPN article focuses on the latest Chinese import - flooring - it also sees a relationship to another Chinese product that brought both dangers to health and a lot of legal activity - drywall.

The article fails to mention dangerous toys and tires made in China, both of which caused a flurry of legal action.

The question for manufacturers that use vendor-supplied components in products bearing their name, and to a slightly lesser extent, merchants who sell the products, is not "Is the product safe?" but "Did we do due diligence to prove the product is safe.

The U.S. government generally is quality and safety conscious (one exception being the Challenger disaster).

I once worked for a company (Leslie Controls) that made valves; its primary customer was the U.S. Navy. The valves ranged in size from 1/4-inch diameter to 48-inch diameter, "diameter" being the size of the hole through which fluid or gas passed.

All vendor products were sampled. No exceptions. Small threaded fasteners (a/k/a "screws"), gaskets, metal castings - nothing got past Leslie's inspectors.

Samples ranged from a very small percentage of a vendor's product to inspection of each unit. The vendor's past history with Leslie determined the sample size.

And then the Navy sent ITS inspector; the sailors even inspected the product's documentation.

If a Leslie product failed at least the company could prove it did its "due diligence." Needless to write, the more critical the valve, the more severe the inspection of parts and finished product. Leslie valves are used to catapult planes off carriers and to control a submarine's dive and surfacing, among other things.

If a valve failed, Leslie might still have to defend itself in court, but it could prove it DID do its "due diligence" and that might be sufficient to at least reduce its liability.

I've written in the past that manufacturers have an obligation to assure that the parts used in their products are safe and suitable for the product's function.

I've also written about a merchant's obligation to inspect incoming product.

The first 35 mm camera I ever bought was a - full name - Honeywell Asahi Pentax H3v.

This was back in the day when Japanses products were still of questionable quality.

Honeywell, in order to protect its name, inspected each Pentax that bore its logo on the pentaprism.

My H3v went from my hands to a friend's, then to the friend's son-in-law. Were it not for the convenience of no-film digital cameras, I suspect the H3v still would be in use.

I suspect Honeywell home thermostats are made in China, but because I know Honeywell's reputation for protecting its name, I would reluctantly buy this Chinese product.

The old expression "the best defense if a good offense" applies to products as well. The best assurance that a product safely meets its purpose is for it to be checked at the component level and checked again as a finished product. If the merchant selling the product is less than 100% certain the company putting its name on the product performs its own QA/QC, the merchant, especially names such as Wal-Mart, Target, Lumber Liquidators, Boeing, and Northrop-Grumman need to do their own QA/QC sampling. It makes no difference if the product is a small toy (covered in lead-based paint) or flooring or a jumbo jet, being able to prove due diligence is critical.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


Senators letter well-meaning
But damaging to America.


CAVEAT: I find almost everything the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington D.C. does either is not in America's best interest or is done with an underhandedness unparalleled since at least FDR's reign.

But . . .

BUT I THINK what a number of senators did regarding the president's "negotiations" with Iran is unconscionable.

Mind, I agree with the senators that the man in the White House is selling out America and its middle east "allies," primarily (and alphabetically) Israel, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia - Israel because it is Israel, Jordan because it is one of the most liberal - comparatively speaking - countries in the Arab world, and Saudi Arabia because it's brand of Islam is different from Iran's brand of Islam.

It's pretty much a given that the incumbent is a liar who has done little either for the U.S. or its allies, preferring to get under the political sheets with extremists. He bows to foreign potentates and refuses to condemn Islamic extremism for what it is - Islam run amok.

The gentleman has destroyed any shred of respect - or fear - the world's nations may have had for the U.S. He insults America's allies in the most embarrassing ways. Even his most inept predecessors - save perhaps Jimmy Carter - caused less damage to the nation's image and Americans' pride of country.

For all that, I think the senators' public hanging out our dirty laundry was impolitic.

If nothing else, it sends a message to "the world" that our national promise is only valid while the chief executive who made the promise remains in office.

The president has taken too many liberties and ignored the Constitution which created three distinct, but equal, divisions of government.

I don't think that even FDR would have shown the absolute chutzpah as the current incumbent. Even LBJ, who had more on those in Congress than even J. Edgar Hoover, never tried to rule by fiat.

The only reason I don't encourage impeachment is because his successor might be worse.

What this country needs is not a good 5 cent cigar but an honest president such as Harry S Truman, a reluctant politician.

Monday, March 9, 2015


Get it right


Plan for All-Hazards Events


MY TRUSTED SOURCE for links to Enterprise Risk Management/Business Continuity/COOP* - Advisen FPN - provided a link today (Monday, March 09, 2015) to an EHS Today article heded Emergency Response Plans: Take an All-Hazard Approach

The opening paragraphs set the tone:

    No matter how thick the binder containing a facility's emergency response plan is or how many times it has been reviewed and amended by consultants and professionals, it only is as strong as the abilities of the people performing each of the roles.

    An organization's ability to communicate the elements of its response plan, as well as its dedication to training, drilling and exercising the plan regularly are the keys for a successful outcome when there is an emergency.

The article then proceeds to define the elements should be part of every emergency response plan.

NOT TO BE OUTDONE, our friends at the (U.S.) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offer - gratis, free, too! - its Guide for All-Hazard Emergency Operations Planning.

Both documents and similar documents that can be discovered with a Dogpile or Google search of the internet are worthwhile.

The FEMA document states as its purpose

    One goal of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is to develop, in partnership with State and local governments, a national emergency management system that is comprehensive, risk-based, and all-hazard in approach.

    Crucial to this system are emergency operations plans (EOP), which describe who will do what, as well as when, with what resources, and by what authority--before, during, and immediately after an emergency.

    This State and Local Guide (SLG) provides emergency managers and other emergency services personnel with information on FEMA's concept for developing risk-based, all-hazard emergency operations plans.

The EHS document recommends that practitioners Look for new risks while not abandoning previous research.

    Twenty years ago, emergency response plans tended to focus on fires and spill response. These plans met the letter of the law, and most still would be adequate to satisfy certain regulations. But being prepared for emergencies is much more involved than having clear exit routes and the tools and supplies onsite to clean up a spill. The risk of business interruptions stemming from natural disasters, acts of terrorism and workplace violence also need to be considered. Taking an all-hazard approach increases efficiency and helps simplify training.

Of the two documents, the shorter EHS one probably will prove more useful for the less experienced practitioner, but it - due to its length - is a tip of the iceberg presentation.

The positive bottom line to both documents, however, is their focus on an all-hazards approach.

Too often practitioners, particularly those coming to ERM from an IT/Disaster Recovery background, tend to focus on one, perhaps two, processes and the immediate risks specific to those processes, ignoring in some cases an organization's raison d'etre.

Neither document qualifies as ERM 101, but they both are instructive.

Taking the time to read the EHS short effort and downloading for later review of the FEMA document would be a good use of any practitioner's time = even a "pro" can use a refresher from time to time.


* Continuation Of OPerations and has nothing to do with co-ops or brands.

Thursday, March 5, 2015


Hurry up and wait
Someone cut the fibre



In the "old" days of copper wires running between the Ma Bell's Central Office to the station on the desk or table, if the line was cut - or since most were strung on - what else? - telephone poles, blown down by wind or struck by lightening, the techs rushed out, found the malfunctioning wire and spliced the wire.

Then, in its wisdom, Ma Bell put the wires underground, protected from wind and, generally, lightening strikes, but still at the mercy of water, creepy-crawlies, and turkeys with backhoes.

Again, locate the wire break and repair it.

Granted, it wasn't quite that simple, but "pretty close."

Now . . .

NOW COPPER HAS BEEN replaced by fiber (or fibre) optic cable with not a few very thin optic fibers cocooned inside, but hundreds of very thin optic fibers.

Techs need the patience of Job to splice each wire with it's matching wire.

Just splicing any wire with any wire won't do.

So this afternoon I am waiting for Ma Bell's technicians to splice a fiber optic bundle - no telephone, no Internet. I do have a cell/mobile phone so I am not completely isolated, but it's pretty quiet in the neighborhood.

According to the Helpful Harriet who works in Ma Bell's tech support, typical outages are about 24 hours.

The sun is shining brightly here in southeast Florida. There is barely a gentle breeze. True, we HAD a little (by Florida standards) rain a few days ago, but "5 will get you 10" that the outage was caused by Barry the Backhoe Guy whose boss failed to check for buried phone, power, gas, and water lines. (I suppose it could be worse; what if a gas pipe had been severed or a water main broken?)

Trouble is, I'm expecting IMPORTANT CALLS AND EMAILS - really. I'm scheduled for surgery tomorrow and I need some pre-op information. My daughter, overseas, is pregnant with my twin grandsons and could go into labor at any time. Fortunately, my favorite Son-In-Law knows our cell numbers . . . I think.

We're spoiled by the Internet.

While The Spouse does a lot of business on the phone (I heartily dislike the device), we also do background stuff - researching products and prices - via the WWW. Our Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is to research product and prices then order on-line (unless the merchant is nearby).

One thing about the severed cable, it gives me an idea of how a new born must feel when the umbilical is cut . . . alone, isolated from Mom … Mom, where are you?? I can picture Eggbert and Eggberta having a conversation on separation issues. (OK, Eggbert probably was before your time. Look him up on the WWW.)

Ma Bell's Helpful Harriet promised that we will be credited with a day and a half off the next outrageous bill. I'd rather have the service, but Helpful Harriet's repeated apologies - something you learn in CSR (Customer Service Representative) school, no doubt - and the munificent $10 credit on the next bill will have to suffice.

Progress brings complexity.

Remember when almost anyone could tune a car's engine; when a really good mechanic could listen to the motor and know not only that something was amiss, but what that something was - and what to do to fix it sans a car computer? Rare to find such a person today even in the tulles (boondocks, sticks).

Progress sometimes can really slow things down.

TO ITS CREDIT, Ma Bell had the cable spliced before dawn - maybe 15 hours after the cut. Good work.