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Mr. Holland's Opus

May 6, 2009

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My last blog post was addressed to Crook County (Oregon) High School officials and others who could help decide the fate of vocational and technical programs in the U.S., which often are the first items on the chopping block when funding for education is tight. It featured an item from News/Talk...

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The wind business: Following a passion

May 5, 2009

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This has been a busy few weeks for Eric Isbister. The chief executive at General MetalWorks in Mequon, Wis., north of Milwaukee, held an open house Friday to celebrate 10 years since he and his wife, Mary, took over the fabrication business. Late last month he braved the halls of Hannover Messe,...

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Don't keep the fire burning

May 1, 2009

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I check out weekly news feeds for reports involving metal fabricating, forming, and welding. It's a great way to get a quick feel for the industry and find interesting leads and tidbits for stories.In checking out these leads, I find a common story appearing almost on a daily basis: Welding...

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Panic? Pandemonium? Across?

May 1, 2009

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Panic? Pandemonium? Across?It started in Mexico in late March and spread rapidly; within a month, cases were reported in 11 countries. It"s swine fluH1N1, specificallyand in its wake are anxiety, nervousness, overreactions, and jammed emergency rooms. The outbreak itself was an epidemic, and it"s...

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Fewer malls, more factories

April 30, 2009

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I have a feeling something good's going to happen in manufacturing. Maybe not this year or next, but good times are coming.Yes, this is an odd thing to say just days after those dreadful GDP numbers were released. Gross domestic product declined by 6.1 percent during the first quarter, the...

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Keep voc-tech programs alive

April 29, 2009

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Crook County High School, educational institutions all across the U.S., and Congress, we're addressing you. Please listen.Last week's "Welding Wire" newsletter featured an item from News/Talk 1110 KBND, Bend, Ore., about a high school metal and welding class that likely will be cut in...

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Lessons learned from Big Blue

April 27, 2009

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Did you hear IBM's getting into the water business?That"s right, the water business. Specifically, IBM managers are looking to change the way water is managed through digital sensors and computer networks. This is coming from a company that grew up in the era of mainframes and transformed the...

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Surprises from a robotics company

April 24, 2009

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Spring is the time for showers, flowers, and open house tours.When April rolls around, technology developers and service providers open their doors to supply chain partners, customers, and even employees. It's a cost-effective way to reach out and share knowledge about what's happening in...

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One bag of garbage

April 22, 2009

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It's one of those days—a day with a calendar reminder that we are to celebrate or commemorate something or someone. A day in which we are supposed to incorporate some sort of activity to honor the day's designated honoree. Today is a double whammy— Administrative Professionals...

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A good wind blows

April 20, 2009

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Some ugliness emerged Friday just south of Grand Rapids, Mich., where fights broke out at Wayland Chevrolet on the same day dealership employees learned they would be losing their jobs. According to the Associated Press, the dealership blamed its fate on the ailing auto industry, and on the...

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Worker retraining: Easier said than done

April 17, 2009

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I've got to leave work a little earlier than usual today. Actually, this is nothing new. It's been going on for about 12 weeks.I started taking a Spanish class—Occupational Spanish 101 to be exact—at a local community college in the hopes that I could beef up some...

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Hot off the press!

April 16, 2009

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April 15th has come and gone, and no doubt many of us used the occasion to visit the post office, drop a check into the mailbox, and curse the federal government. On a closely related note, you might have noticed that on the same day the Federal Reserve System released one of its economic reports,...

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Thwarting piracy

April 15, 2009

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Real life often is every bit as fascinating, suspenseful, and unbelievable as a bizarre movie plot—sometimes even more so. The past few days, I watched with incredulity the coverage of the recent Somali pirate attack on the U.S. ship, Maersk Alabama, in which Captain Richard Phillips was...

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Would you want to work here?

April 13, 2009

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A visit last week to an OEM of construction equipment made me feel good about manufacturing in America. Based in Salisbury, just north of Charlotte, N.C., Power Curbers Inc. plasma-cuts, saws, welds, and machines parts for curb-making machinery. Like many connected with the construction industry,...

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Spraying to all fields

April 9, 2009

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The baseball season started earlier this week. Temperatures in the Chicago area barely crept above 50 degrees this week, with snow falling on Sunday, but I witnessed baseball on the television. All is right with the world.So in the spirit of baseball, I'm going to cover a lot of area. Hitters...

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