Name that reporter
You may have noticed a new byline in this issue of Tire Business and wondered, ``Who the heck is that?''
Well...in our never-ending quest to add hard-to-pronounce ethnic-sounding names to our staff roster-Zielasko, Fedchenko, Mikolajczyk, Aichlmayr, Davis...Davis?-reporter Lisa Aichlmayr has willingly accepted the challenge and changed her name to Hockensmith.
She'll likely miss the creative attempts at spelling Aichlmayr-no E's!-but has decided to go with the more pronounceable surname. However, she has declined Marketplace's suggestion that she either add Aichlmayr to it, or drop ``Lisa'' and just go with the one-name moniker Hockensmith. Kind of like Bond...James Bond, only with a little less attitude and a little more German harshness.
Actually, let us forsake this silliness to congratulate Lisa and her husband, Dan Hockensmith, who got married in May at Akron's historic Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens-a national historic landmark and former estate of Franklin A. Seiberling, Goodyear's co-founder. The Tudor-style home, described as architecturally brilliant, took somewhat of a backseat to the glow of Lisa and Dan on their special day. The only thing missing was tire-shaped table settings. Congrats!
While some bosses may believe their employees should feel simply honored that they're allowed to work for them, competition is indeed always keen for professional, reliable, well-trained workers.
Getting them to hang around-that's the trick.
In many tire and auto service establishments the revolving door keeps spinning, oftentimes with a tech bolting for greener pastures-meaning a shop down the street for a few bucks more. Just giving them complimentary coffee and their own parking space (next to the Dumpster behind the shop) won't necessarily cut it.
Among the quirkier perks offered employees, Microsoft Corp., for instance, has conducted whale-watching excursions. Online search engine Google has an on-site masseuse for its minions.
A recent edition of Cleveland-based Inside Business magazine spotlighted a local business, Hyland Software Inc., and sketched out some of the perks the firm's 380 employees enjoy, such as:
* An on-site diner with choice of fresh salads, full-service deli, grill, seafood and other daily entrees;
* A Montessori-based child enrichment center;
* Free, all-you-can-drink fountain beverages;
* A subsidized hair salon;
* Free membership to a nearby recreation center;
* A masseuse;
* A pair of two-story, indoor slides;
* Dodgeball and paintball tournaments;
* Paper airplane throwing contests;
* Weekly movie nights; and
* Free tickets to Cleveland Indians baseball games.
With some minor modifications, perhaps several of those could be re-tooled for a tire shop. How about a grease gun tournament (take your best shot at 10 paces)? Or a subsidized tattoo parlor-as long as the dealership's name is among the tattoos. A free, all-you-can-drink water fountain? Brake drum-tossing contests? Reduced-cost manicures-with special focus on removing grease from under techs' fingernails?
The choices are endless. With a little creativity, yours can be a place employees can't wait to get to every morn. Maybe they'll even get some work done.
There's been a smoldering debate about whether petite Indycar racer Danica Patrick had an unfair weight advantage over the guys she was competing against in the Indianapolis 500.
In a sports roundup, Los Angeles Times staff writer Jerry Crowe suggested: ``If it's such an advantage, why don't the owners just hire jockeys to drive their cars?''
Hold the phone
It's a pet peeve Marketplace has addressed a number of times: Drivers chillin' on cell phones rather than concentrating on the road ahead of them-or, in some cases, alongside them as they drift left of center, oblivious to everything around them.
Now a research team at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore has pretty much punctuated our point. It found that imaging tests have shown the brain directs its resources to either visual input or auditory input, but cannot fully activate both at the same time. That even goes for people chatting on hands-free cell phones.
Steven Yantis, a prof in the university's department of psychological and brain sciences who led the study, told Reuters that ``directing attention to listening effectively `turns down the volume' on input to the visual parts of the brain. When attention is deployed to one modality-say in this case, talking on a cell phone-it necessarily extracts a cost on another modality-in this case, the visual task of driving.''
The researchers tested volunteers aged 19 to 35 by showing them a computer display while they listened to voices in headphones. At the same time, Reuters reported, the subjects' brains were scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging. When they paid attention to visual tasks, the auditory parts of their brains recorded decreased activity, and vice-versa.
Perhaps the same finding holds for kids doing homework while watching TV or listening to tunes. Can you hear us now...put down the cell phone and drive-your life may depend on it.
Cashing in on a dream
Arlene Keith, 42, always wanted to be a biker chick. Finally she's realized that dream.
The resident of Orange, Calif., a single mother with a 16-year-old son, has been battling cancer for more than a decade. In May, on a mother/daughter road trip through the Pacific Northwest to say farewell to family and friends, Ms. Keith won $309,213 and a Harley-Davidson Motor Co. Fat Boy motorcycle when she hit the MegaJackpot on a Harley-Davidson penny slot machine at a casino in Canyonville, Ore.
Normally, delivery on a cycle won playing the slots can take more than three months. But Ms. Keith told Harley-Davidson and IGT, the gaming machine developer, that she had only days or weeks to live and wanted to ride her new hawg before it was too late. So the delivery of the bike was rushed to the nearest California dealer.
``I have a lot of friends that ride, so I really want to get out on the road with them,'' she said. ``Now that I have my new bike, all I have to do is learn to ride.''
Happy trails, Arlene.