Saturday, June 7, 2008

Starting P90X Exercise Regiment Review

I have been following the Fit for Life diet plan, and it seems that my weight loss has stalled. I am really disappointed but I am going to implement an exercise program called P90X to get my body where I want it to be. I am thinking about posting a Day 1 picture and updating it every thrity days. I am thinking that posting pictures on the web may be a bit to embarassing for me.

I am really excited. Some equipment is required and I didn't get the chin-up, pull-up and sit-up bar that is absolutely necessary. I have ordered it and will be waiting for it to show up in the mail. The anticipation is killing me. The bad news is that the program requests the user to follow a diet program, but I am still going to stick with Fit for Life.

The protein thing is going to be hard but since I am a vegeterian I am hoping that eating quinoa will work. Well I hope to keep you updated on how P90X is working out for me. I have two relative that use it and they swear by the program. One has only 9% body fat. I don't want to get that trim but that is still impressive.

Well I guess it should explaing the priciple behind P90X. For those of you who are familiar with muscle confusion read no further. Basically, the idea is to keep varying your exercises in a way that doesn't allow you to adapt to an exerise regiment. Where muscles do things in the most efficient manner possible, which minimizes the effectiveness of one's workout.

I have included a few links if you are interested in the program.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Made in the USA: Translation Insurance Policy

Today companies are shipping whole manufacturing operations off to foreign countries. It does matter where really as long as they find the lowest cost center available. Then you have to ask yourself is this really in their best interest? The truth is that it is a good idea but that is not the whole truth.

There are a plethora of reasons to keep some manufacturing at home. I identify this concept as "Manufacturer's Insurance", and keep in mind that this insurance doesn't apply to the United States alone. This applies to corporations in countries such as France, Germany and Japan.

When businesses outsource complete product lines and sometimes their complete manufacturing facilities they lose several things. The two that matter most our control and knowledge.

The political process of other countries is often unpredictable. You never know what they will do and how that will affect business. The host country advantage is that at least your government should have the businesses benefits in mind. Currently, China is rapidly becoming a manufacturing giant. I would argue that with the capitalist drive of their economy and the communist control of their government si bound to clash. It is inevitable and guess who has the guns. Who is to say that companies shouldn't get while the getting is good though.

Every manufacturer knows that production can be haulted for many reasons even at home. The advantage is that when these occur at home upper level management can immediately implement solutions. When they occur overseas it could be months before upper level management can address the problem. The home turf advantage is pivatal to some extent in every business.

The other issue is that knowledge is lost and this is why I maintain that the most complicated processes should be kept at home. This way your company has people that understand the most integral lines, and can train backwards to get up to speed if manufacturing is lost in other countries.

The idea behind my thoughts is that keeping some manufacturing at home allows companies to quickly fall back and bring home lines. There are also the patriotic reasons. It has been proven that our job market and economy can adapt to blows time an time again. The home economy does however purchase many of the products that have been outsourced and this is not a perpetual blow the economy can take at some point it will break.

It has also been shown that when America's economy suffers so does the world economy. America and Europe aer the pins between failing globally and succeeding globally. For this reason it is important that the host economies be evaluated before shipping jobs off. I guarantee that a company can produce a million parts for one-tenth the price and still lose money if no one at home can buy the good.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Self Dependent Problem Solving

Every once in awhile I am faced with a complex problem that seems to overwhelming to address. I am often able to find the solution by employing a few strategies each stemming from the other. The first strategy involves breaking the problem down into smaller more manageable components. I do this by asking simple questions related to the problem. This breaks the problem apart and allow correlations to be made.  It also provides the foundation to maneuver through the more complex components.

Even though the foundation is being set during this part of the process it is almost inevitable that you will find a point where you become stuck. When I get to this point I simply do an Uber-Breakdown of the issue I am trying to tackle, it is important to keep the mind moving. I look at the basics of my knowledge and answer the most basic of question I can come up with. Often this not only jogs my mind but it brings to light some of the more complex issues that I have not developed fully. This has even lead me directly to the solution. A quick note if you have writer's block this exercise will get your mind rolling enough to get you out of the snow.

Once, I have addressed and solved all of the different components I've laid I can find myself in a very discouraging point. No solution. From my experience this is a result of one of two situations. Like always I will address the lesser of the two evils first. Basically, you have a bunch of solutions that you are pretty certain play into the larger solution but it is proving difficult to put them together. Basically, you are sitting in front of a jigsaw puzzle. It is best to approach this by putting the pieces that most naturally fit together first. In an actual puzzle these pieces would be the edges. Then you simply build toward the middle. During this process I often find that I was having problems because a few pieces of the puzzle had fallen to the floor and I simply needed to pick them up to put my solution together. By placing the components together without fully addressing the solution you will allow yourself the ability to find the issues that were in the problem that you had forgotten to address or did not realize were a part of the problem. Once, this process is started it won't be long until you have arrived at the solution unless the second scenario is occurring.

On to the second and potentially more frustrating but also more rewarding stumbling block of the problem solving process. Finding that you lack the knowledge to come upon the solution. This is like being able to see your destination across a canyon and not quite having enough material to build the bridge to get to where you are going.

However, you are in a unique position because you have pre-assembled several of the pieces to build the bridge. Now simply assemble the pieces in a similar fashion to how you would have built the puzzle. Eventually, you will find yourself at the edge of the bridge without any more material to approach the gap before you and your solution. The dilemma here is that you may have to discover new materials that will allow you to extend your bridge.  In other words it is time to learn. You do have to determine whether someone else can help provide guidance or if you simply can learn more on your own to get you to where you are going.

If you find that no one can help or your simply stubborn and want to forge forward this next strategy is for you. You now stand at the edge of not a bridge but of discovery. It is important to understand that to extend the bridge towards your goal you must discover new knowledge that you have not been taught. You have to think creatively to come up with theories and test them. At first make sure you use solid concepts and do not venture to far from your knowledge base. It can be discouraging to find that you have done a lot of work only to build a tangent that leads no where and collapses. As you get closer and closer to reaching your goal explore more and more radical concepts that will allow you to achieve your desired solution.  Try to do the minimum amount of work before presenting a new test.

The basic principle of each strategy is to build to the complex through simplicity.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Flat Earth Veggie Crisps Review

I noticed they were using Google to advertise on one of my favorite sites, this one, and decided to give it a little review since I have eaten them. As a matter of fact, I have a bag in my kitchen right now. Flat Earth Veggie Crisps are pretty good and they are definitely healthier than potato chips, but still watch out they are not a totally healthy alternative. Just eat a serving of these chips a day. You will be much better off.

Now, Frito-Lays are really the producer of this brand. This could have both a negative and positive impact on letting people make healthy choices. It is well known that many companies use deceptive practices to lure people into buying their product buy appearing to be a healthy choice. How many fat people do you know that eat mainly fat free products and in addition don't appear to eat all that much. There are plenty of heavy set women at my work that only eat a Lean Cuisine for lunch.

The point is that Frito Lay can either take this brand and build on making it healthier or use it to decieve more people. I think that we will see Frito target healthier alternatives. They have found that this has been profitable. They have released many baked chip products and Pepsi has also strengthened their hold in healthy drink options as soda dwindles as the drink of choice for most consumers.

In any event Flat Earth Veggie Crisps are still a better alternative than potato chips and thy have a unique flavor. I personally do not eat them, because they violate the food combining principles. Try to make small steps towards better health by switching to products like these, while you do the research to inform yourself on the changes that you truly need to make. The answer you'll find is to have a diet that consists of primarily whole foods. You can still have snacks like Veggie Crisps just don't depend on them to help you have good health. If you want get a free bag from Flat Earth.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Chart of Accounts an Organization Structure

By Sean Anderson

The chart of accounts should have a simple and logical organizational structure. More so than that last sentence. I personally prefer to use five digit numbers for primary accounts and 3 digit numbers for sub accounts.

There are many concerns to address when coming up with a chart of accounts. Short and long terms considerations have to be taken into perspective. Many accountants would disagree with me whole-heartedly but this is the one time in accounting that you should avoid being conservative. I like to create a chart of accounts that can weather the storm of business to come. Dream about where you want your business to be, take into scope international possibilities and make your accounting structure flexible so you can quickly adapt to business events.

When developing a chart of accounts consider the business type, industry, business function, standard industry practices, the needs of managers, the possibility of inter-company transactions and the flexibility of your structure.

The number structure should look something like the following
00000 - Short-term assets
10000 - Long-term assets/Intangible Assets
19000 - Depreciation and Amortization
20000 - Current Liabilities
30000 - Liabilities
(I like to have short-term notes and long terms notes correspond to a similar the digit extension 25860 - Short Term Note Payable 35860 - Long Term Note Payable and even the A/R and A/P are on different sides of the accounting equation I line them up as well. It is a part of a better logical structure and assist in memorization of accounts).
40000 - Equity
50000 - Income
60000 - Operating Expenses
70000 - Administrative Expenses
80000 - Taxes/Interest/Extroadinary Income(Expense)

If you really want to spend time developing a chart of accounts you can try to best align closely related income and expenses. Keeping in mind that if payroll expense for plant workers is 60100 that 70100 should be salary expense for sales and administrative employees.

Now to specifically address some of the considerations above. Will start with business type. This is important for obvious reasons. Business revolving around service are obviously going to differ from those revolving around products and retail. For example a manufacturing has to keep track of inventory traveling from cost center as it develops from raw materials and purchased parts to WIP (works in process) to a Finished Good. While a retailer may only need to keep track of inventory and a service potentially may not even need an inventory account.

The industry from within a company operates is also important to consider. This is predominantly due to GAAP you want to be sure to setup a chart of account that will allow the business to remain conducive to the industries standard accounting practices.

Other concerns include the needs of managers. For instance managers typically like a smooth trend of expenses. I personally, don't think this is highly important but you may have the need to setup up several accruals that operate from a budgeted number or you may want to setup a permanent accrual to eliminate the need to perform that operation monthly. It is really only necessary to true this account up at the end of the year if payment amounts are based on an estimate.

Inter-company transactions are also highly important especially when dealing with foreign businesses. The foreign factor involves minimizing tax liabilities while still managing cash. After all you don't want to get all your cash tied up in one country. This is all done through transfer pricing, which I am not yet qualified to address.

Finally, leave yourself some breathing room. Make sure you are always able to add necessary accounts in a logical manner. Business evolves you chart of accounts should evolve with the business. Well this should help with the development of your chart of accounts.

Discover Card Platinum Application

Check out the Discover card for personal and business use.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Myth of Human Resources

By Sean Anderson

I went to business school and became an account. Many of my friends wanted to go into human resources. They took a bunch of hippy idealistic business classes and some where along the line we've lost touch. The myth really started before college though. Even back then I would hear people say I want to go into human resources to help people.

Well that is not the goal of this department. They do tend to treat each other well, and take part in a lot of perks that nobody else in the company receives. They also keep on hand one sacrificial lamb called a recruiter just in case cuts become necessary.  However, that does not qualify as helping others, as a matter of fact that is helping ones self. At my company human resources gets upset if we walk through their department or use their copier. It has a big sign on it that says for HR only.  At the same time they don't have any problem drinking the coffee my department makes and grabbing food we bring.  It has been like this at several companies I've worked.  The big old double standard.

The reason that the human resource department acts like a bunch of whining brats is that they had some false premise about their jobs. They then use that as excuse to do what they want and everyone else hates usually hates them.  The point is a path of good intention doesn't lead to goo because companies have a much different need.

Human resources is a tough job. The decisions made by this department heavily influence peoples lively hoods. What insurance they receive, whether or not they keep their jobs and what programs might need to be cut to reduce costs. The job of the Human Resource department has little to do with planning the company picnic.

It also, has to deal with helping people when they don't want the help. Half the safety policies are really good but people always find a reason that they hinder their job and shouldn't be followed. Really it doesn't make sense, but if your in Human Resources your still going to be hated. Why do people resist changes that make them safer, who knows.

Even the job of a recruiter stinks. You have so many people seeking the same job and often times you'll hear situations that will make you want to hire someone unqualified for a job out of empathy. So, you just avoid those peoples' phone calls or tell them no. The other part of the time managers are raining down on you because it is really hard to find qualified employees.

Next time you think about seeking a job in HR think about the need to decide whether or not the companies survival is more important than the jobs of 500 employees and their families. If your lucky the solution will be cutting out their health insurance. Don't fall for the HR myth decide to get educated in a field where you'll make more money and be appreciated. Once you make your money help people all you want just don't dilute your professional ambitions with these notions.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Tax Professionals vs Tax Software

Well this isn't a major dilemma. Why would you choose to use a tax professional over tax software. Honestly, I can't see a reason that you should. You may even want to just do your taxes yourself. The directions are relatively straightforward, that is if you have the attention span to stick with them.
TurboTax - Do your Taxes for Free - It's Easy

I personally do not do my own taxes and I am an account. I take my taxes to my aunt who uses TurboTax, and she does them for me. I pay her $30 bucks and I am on my way. I just hate doing taxes. I took two tax classes in college in they were the two most painfully excruciating classes I had to endure. As an accountant I have been ruined when it comes to those classes. It is like being asked to pet the dog who just bit me. Really, the only time you should consider a tax professional is if you earn quite a bit of money, and you have quite a few perks that come with your job. Yes those can be taxable.

For instance, if you are on the Runzheimer plan at your company. Typically, you would be a sales guy. Then if you don't drive a certain amount of miles per year you may have to claim a portion of the cost as taxable income. If you drive over a certain amount of miles namely 30,000 you have a tax asset had the end of the year. In laymen terms you get a deduction.

If you are like most people, and have basic circumstances stay at home purchase the software and just answer the basic questions you are asked. Make sure to answer them honestly, don't think of ways to answer questions that are advantageous. Tax software is also being created to handle more and more complex problems. It is amazing that they are still able to achieve the better results than many of the tax preparers out there. Remember many of the people at H&R Block are making $7.00 an hour. They are just running numbers through a program.

At the end of the day tax software is being used either way. You can run it for your business or do your individual return. Again, unless you have a complicated corporate structure or partnership you don't need a professional. If you are filing a personal return you should be good, possibly even if you are on the Runzheimer. I've never had to deal with this type of situation. Hopefully, throughout my career I can stay away from taxes as much as possible.

These are two tax software options I recommend:

TurboTax - Do your taxes for Free

Free Online Tax preparation Software / E-File

Hit up each site review the features and figure out which software you prefer. Both software really lay out the information in a user friendly way. Besides you do you taxes in your underwear and don't take the shit from some hourly so called tax professional. If you don't need a CPA you can take care of your taxes using these options. In college I used TurboTax to file a return for a corporation including AMT and for a two different types of partnerships. I got an 80% on the partnership returns and a 97% on the corporate return. I kind of did the return for the partnership the day I had class. Fortunately, it was a night class.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Diet Without the Cost

By Sean Anderson

I have lost thirty-five pounds in a little over a month. It wasn't easy, but I changed my eating habits. I am a young male who at a recent health screening was told that I was abnormally unhealthy for my age. I was 6'3" and weighed 245 lbs. I didn't think that was that bad, I wanted to lose some weight but most friends told me I shouldn't worry. Then came the dread day of the health screening. I was told I had really high cholesterol, and I was prompted to change my lifestyle.

I began by reading Harvey Diamond's book Fit For Life (new it cost less than $10), which I got from some of my super fit friends. Well I also decided, after some research on the Internet, that cholesterol comes from animals and decided I wouldn't eat them anymore. I basically, became a vegetarian with the exception of fish. I have already successfully lowered my cholesterol and I am 20 pounds away from achieving my goal of 185 pounds. Well I have been successful, so you should ask yourself, "Well what did he do?"

I am going to answer that for free. I basically, followed the Fit for Life principles. The way in which we eat foods is very important. Foods should be eaten raw as often as possible and they should be combined with other non-conflicting foods.

The idea behind eating food raw is that any man induced change is considered processing. This alters they make up of food, and it becomes less usable to the body. The body in turn spends time coping with things that shouldn't be in you and begins to store fat to handle the extra work load. For instance, once vegetables are cooked above 120 degrees enzymes become misshapen and the body can no longer combine with them. Enzymes are like puzzle pieces so if they are not the right fit they can't be used. This doesn't mean don't eat bread and other foods you might enjoy like pizza just limit your consumption of these types of foods.  My Aunt follows the diet during the week and does what she wants during the weekend.  Oddly she finds that she splurges less and less on the weekend.

Another, little tidbit related to eating raw can come through reasoning. The world is over 70% water, your body is made up of over 70% water so wouldn't it go to reason that your meals should consist of high water content foods like fruits and vegetables. For instance, if you decide to eat a 6 ounce steak wouldn't it be wise to eat that with a large salad.

The next major principle is food combining. This principle is a result of they way your body digests food, the amount of time it takes to digest food, and the natural daily cycle of the body.

The digestion of food is important because this gives us a guide of what foods don't belong in the stomach at the same time. This one is really easy don't mix starches (aka carbohydrates) with proteins. Simply, because starches need alkaline in order for digestion and proteins are digested when the stomach emits acid. If the two are mixed they neutralize each other and it delays the digestion process. Basically, causing the body to be inefficient and inefficiency results in fat storage. Plant products become starches when they are cooked. So, don't eat a hamburger patty in the same sitting as a hamburger bun.

Things get a little bit more complicated here. I will start with the time breakdown of all meals. Fruit is in the stomach thirty minutes, vegetables an hour, starches three hours, proteins four hours and improperly combined meals are in your stomach eight hours. The problem is that when certain foods are in your stomach too long they spoil and create a toxic environment for your body, which results in fat.

To keep this simple don't eat fruit within the time frame that foods are still in your stomach. Fruit is the most likely to spoil and create problems. So don't eat fruit for an hour after vegetables or eight hours if you've combined a meal improperly. Eat fruit by itself. Vegetables and neutral foods that are naturally starches and proteins (examples are beans and soy) can be eaten with either are starch or protein meal.

This principle is not entirely set in stone tomatoes and avocados are two fruits that can be eaten with starches and vegetables. Bananas should be eaten separately from all other fruits, but failure to do so isn't that damaging. It is one of the key principles.

Now we turn to the natural cycle of the body. The body rotates three digestion functions that adjust to your sleeping habits. They are digestion, absorption and expulsion. For a normal person digestion begins at about noon, then absorption after eight at night and expulsion after you wake up to noon. If your not awake during the expulsion process have fun cleaning your sheets. This means in the morning you should only eat fruit, and at night you should end up eating your heavy meals containing starch or protein. For lunch have a salad.

You'll notice that you'll be hungry if you eat according to this pattern. Simply, keep fruit and vegetables around and do a lot of snacking.

In addition, to these principles I avoid high fructose corn syrup, mono sodium glutamate and vinegar (Fit For Life idea) at all costs. I also, drink as much water as possible. I probably, average close to 100 ounces of water a day. Harvey Diamond suggests distilled water, but I am personally not incredibly picky.

I suggest buying the book, using will power and adopting a mentor. At the time I watched Ultimate Fighter and chose Mac Danzig a Vegan as inspiration. He ended up beating a cattle or dairy farmer to take first place in the show. I might be a Vegan one day, I have serious concern for what would happen to animals without an economic use. If you can't succeed doing this give up and be happy with who you are. I do guarantee the result and increase in energy will make you a happier person, but don't let a weight problem make you depressed. Always focus on happiness.

Abebooks: Classics to Contemporary - Shop Now.

Do a search for Fit For Life to buy the book now.