Sunday, May 23, 2004


I suppose it was a benign visit, because if it wasn't I doubt they'd leave such big tracks in the sand:

Domain Name: (Military)
OrgName: The Defense Information Systems Agency
Address: Room BF655A, The Pentagon
City: Washington
StateProv: DC
PostalCode: 20301
Country: US

In a comment for his May 18 Words On the Street over at Via Negativa, I left Dave a note that "I had The Defense Information Systems Agency visit my blog-site today. What do you suppose that means?"

Dave, of course, is real reassuring. He said: "They're makin' a list, checkin' it twice, gonna find out who's naughty or nice..."

"Well, fellas," I responded, "it's been nice knowing ya."

Dave said: "Ah, don't panic yet. As my friend Fred used to say at the bottom of all his e-mails, 'You will be notified in writing when it is time to panic.'"

A little Googling reveals that "NIPRNET" is an unclassified but sensitive Internet protocol router network, what was once called the "Non-secure Internet Protocol Router Net." Owned by the Department of Defense (DOD) and created by the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), NIPRNET is used to exchange unclassified but sensitive information between "internal" users; apparently it is also used to give Internet access to DOD employees without endangering the secure network, SIPRNET - the "S" standing for "Secret." It may have other uses as well.

One fellow with repeated visits from such an address thought at first that his web site was being examined by a robot but he ultimately decided it was a web proxy of some sort. When he inquired further at NIPRNET, the hostmaster told him: "You know all you need to know."

There may be an innocent explanation. What is it?


APRIL 20, 2004 cont'd

Fritz gave me a to the ceiling in one of the 19' lifts waiting to be rolled onto the dock and loaded for shipment. It was a smooth ride up; he drove the lift forward several feet, then put it back into place. We were up in the thin air; 19' is higher than I like to get without an airplane. He shook the platform. "See," he said, "pretty sturdy." He let the lift back down to the floor position and we climbed off it.

We moseyed over to where a couple fellows were taking pieces of the conveyor that brought painted parts out of the drying oven. What goes into the oven at five or five and a half feet per minute comes out at the same speed, except the parts of warmer. The heat cures the paint to some extent, but still the fellows taking the pieces off the chain wear rubber gloves "because it's too easy to leave marks in the paint at this point," Fritz said. "It'll take a couple hours for the pieces to cool down and for the paint to cure completely. The cool-down is as much a part of the process as heating the piece up."

Just standing near a rack of pieces taken off the line, you could feel their heat. These pieces were parts to the scissors mechanism and the bushings at each end were entirely clear of paint. I'd no more looked at them and wondered "Now how'd they do that?" when Fritz explained there had been a plastic plug in there while painting was being done. The plugs had been pulled out before the pieces got taken off the line and put on the rack.

"You need to stage a certain amount of the grey pieces, then a certain amount of the orange pieces," Fritz said, "so that everyone has the pieces they need in assembly." You can't paint all the orange pieces you'll need for the day because you'll run out of grey ones.

I looked at a piece of metal that obviously would become the floor of the platform. Circles of the steel had been cut out of it towards one end, reducing its weight where strength would not be needed. Every pound that you reduce the platform is a pound of payload the lift can put 19' in the air.

We were back at the receiving area near the front offices. I was looking at the tag on a skid of steel pieces. "That's part of our Kan Ban system," Fritz said. I looked at him like he was speaking Japanese to me.

"It's a Fax Ban," he said. "When this skid of supplies is put into production, this sheet gets turned in to the office where it is faxed to our supplier as a re-order."

It is part of the "lean manufacturing" process that Sky Jack is starting to employ. "Some of us have been through the training," Fritz said. "Now it's time to train the employees."

The Sky Jack facility consists of "several buildings cobbled together over time, with three or four additions," Fritz said. Despite the transitional nature of necessity's cobbling, product flows through the plant in quite a logical fashion, from receiving dock, through the lines in manufacturing to painting, through assembling and testing, to the loading dock.

Fritz and I stook at the front desk talking for a few minutes before I said good bye.

Fritz said: "When you have to lay people off, that's tough. That's the hardest thing I ever had to do. I don't want to do that again. It affects how you think about expanding your production capacity. I'd rather have people work some overtime. Then when things slow down, they are still working eight hours a day."


MAY 22, 1998

How long it has been since I had to scrape ice off the windshield. After these days of very warm weather, the cool breeze this morning is refreshing - almost as if one is stepping out of a cabin overlooking a far Canadian lake. A smell that is fresh, a day that is new. How do they live in the smog of their cities, those who choose to?

Blackbirds flirt and do their mating flutter at the curb on Main Street.

Far to the north, clouds blow through. They are the edge of someone else's cloudy day.

Dandelions have gone to seed. Roadside ditches need mowing. Lawns around the farm houses have been clipped close, like the farm boy's summer butch.

Is that the red of geranium in the flower beds at Five Corners? Certainly it looks so.

A pick-up comes at me pulling boat and trailer; a couple fellows are thinking about fish.

The radio tells us about the boy in Oregon who opened fire on his school mates. "Voted most likely to start World War III by his peers." The joke is not so funny now, as they clean up blood in the cafeteria. Not so funny at all.

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