Dealing With Loss

The aftermath of Super-storm Sandy makes me ask the question whether a generator should become standard equipment in homes and businesses. My wife has a big family in New Jersey and New York. Many of them have sought refuge this week at a close by lake home they own jointly that has a built-in generator.

At Graff-Pinkert we lose power several times a year. It has become more than an inconvenience. Our phone and Internet service are tied to the electric grid. I’m starting to think we should buy a generator for the office, and possibly at least a portion of the plant. What are you doing about backup electricity?


Sharp, Olympus, Panasonic – Japanese companies that were icons 10 or 20 years ago – are in a terrible state. Sharp may not survive at all, Olympus has been scandalized, and Panasonic just showed a $10 billion loss.

But at least on the machine tool front, the Japanese builders are generally doing well. Mazak, Mori-Seiki and Okuma are prominent world players. In the specialty niche of sliding headstock lathes, Citizen and Star, arch competitors despite interlocking financial structures (Citizen owns a big piece of Star stock), dominate the world market.

As for cars, Toyota has lost its mojo in recent years, and Honda has become synonymous with boring, though they both make wonderful reliable vehicles.

In consumer goods Japan is slipping badly. Even in video game devices Microsoft’s Xbox 360 reigns, but the real money is in the creative part – the games, where the Japanese are also weak.

Is China the next Japan-like bubble to burst? Or is it us? Will Apple or Google be Sony and Panasonic in 10 years?


I am prepared to reluctantly press the lever for Mitt Romney Tuesday, but I have another interesting choice for Congress. My 9-term Congressman is Jesse Jackson Jr. He is an emotional mess, suffering from bipolar illness and is significantly disabled by it. My Republican Senator from Illinois, Ron Kirk, is recovering slowly from a severe stroke, also.

Jackson will probably win the election because he is running against unknown, tarnished, weaklings. What a great system we have. Jesse’s one “campaign” appearance was a robocall, which could have been recorded by an actor. He primarily told his constituents he is sick – but getting better.

Because I am friends with one of his staffers who cherishes her position, I’ll probably vote for Jesse and see what happens.

Question: If your home was being destroyed and you could only take one thing with you, what would it be?

Lloyd Graff is Owner and Chief Space Filler of Today’s Machining World, and Owner and Chief Space-Filler of Graff-Pinkert & Co.

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20 thoughts on “Dealing With Loss

  1. AvatarMarc Klecka

    Lloyd – I can relate to the power loss conundrum. I am entering Day 5 without power here in Cleveland, as 1,200 local power company employees were sent east in anticipation of tough times on the coast. Someone forgot about us! Often losing power, I regularly debate getting a natural gas fired generator. What one thing would I take if my home was being destroyed: Backpack, Skates or Wife … Hmmm? 🙂

  2. AvatarSteve

    If my home was being destroyed and you could only take one thing with me, I would take a window.
    I may not have a pot to p*** in but I would have a window to throw it out of and, if i ever got too hot, I could open it.

  3. AvatarTom

    Personally, I feel that every police, fire, government building should have solar panels on the roof and a wind turbine. These types of disasters be they natural or man made can/will occur. I would rather have diesel fuel/gas going into emergency vehicles or gas.
    I guess if it where me, I would prefer panels on my roof, a small generator multi-fuel natural gas/propane/gasoline as standby. Our energy distribution grid is a severe vunerablility in this country.. Smart grid and panels for everyone.

  4. AvatarJeff Kopp

    Lloyd as smart as you are I cant believe that you really think Jesse Jackson Jr is sick, he is so obviously hiding from the authorities over the whole Blago mess! What kind of job can you get, leave for 6 months and no one questions it, a Senator from Illinois thats what! Meanwhile our state is billions of dollars in debt and the Democrats that run the state are milking every last dime out of the coffers!

  5. AvatarDick

    The one thing I would take is my back-up 1 terabyte hard drive. It has backups of all computers and digital photos, which would be impossible to replace.

    We lost power during the major NE outage that affected the coast to Michigan. At that time I bought a backup generator. I have an electrical background and can safely connect power to the house. That said there are two issues with backup power. The first is safety, esp. with a separate generator. The second is the discipline to monitor the backup system so it is ready when you lose power. Our grid is very robust in the U.S. compared to the rest of the world and we should be thankful for the 99.99% it is up and complain less about the minor power outages. Once a lifetime storms are difficult to plan for and it would seem that each person needs to decide if they want to spend the money to be ready for the next event and spend the time to keep the MG set “emergency ready”.

  6. Avatarmohs56

    Here in south Louisiana we all have generators, and as for what to take with me. My pictures of may wife who passed away 3 years ago, everything else is just stuff.

  7. AvatarJ Dvorak

    Take pictures and pets. Everything else can be replaced. Generators are cheap!!! Compared to what information or potential sale you could lose in an outage, the cost is really cheap!!!

  8. AvatarEric

    After a windstorm a couple years back that left our business without electric for 5 days we finally broke down and bought a natural gas backup generator. We can’t run our machine shop or anything but we can keep our phones up and take orders and ship and receive inventory. It also takes care or our boiler so we don’t have to worry about every pipe in the building freezing. We though it was a little excessive but with our rapidly failing infrastructure we have relied on the generator more than I would like to admit.

  9. AvatarKelly

    Have natural gas generators (10KW) at work and home (only maintenance – oil change every 2 years and battery every 4).
    Obviously my wife but if its a thing we can take it would be my rifle.
    I saw Kirk in a campaign add yesterday helping out a fellow repub he looks to be coming along pretty well.

  10. Avatardave

    One thing to take, obviously just the family & dogs.

    As for true things, it would be all of the photos.

    We have no back up power at work. At home I have enough generator to run the well and keep the freezers & fridge cold. We keep enough food & fuel on hand for at least 30 days too.

    The fellow who would take only his hand gun likely thinks he could take what he needed with it. But not in my neighbor hood where all the neighbors are well equipped to “repel boarders” as it were.

  11. AvatarClayton Smith


    LLOYD STOP THE PRESSES!!!!!! Good for you!!!!!

    I had to read it three times…”I am prepared to reluctantly press the lever for Mitt Romney Tuesday”. Well I’m prepared to give you a big fat Christy Kiss. I’m not even concerned about JJ jr……at least you’re half way there!

    I’ve got to call my twenty year old son and my nineteen year old son who drove vans for Romney’s entrourage when he came to Jacksonville yesterday (he now has two photos with Romney) and do you know what Lloyd…..he – Romney – remembered him and thanked him for his service yet again. Wow my faith in mankind is restored…..of course now I can’t use you as an example in the scurrilous fashion I have been doing – I’ll miss that – now I must explain that you took Abrm. Lincolns admonition……”It is time to think anew”. Like Reagan as a life long Democrate said about voting Republican for the first time “When you pull that Republican lever; it only hurts for a minute and then you’ll feel just great”

    Clayton Smith

  12. AvatarDave

    We installed an automatic generator years ago and have never regretted it. It has kept us from having to leave our home many times. Our offices are in our home, so we can keep operating during frequent power outages. It runs off our 1000 gal. propane tank. We have a well, so if the power goes out, we also lose drinking water. The generator doesn’t power everything, but it takes care of the well pump, furnace, freezer and refridge, microwave, computers, phones, garage door, TV, etc. It was well worth the investment–but keep in mind it does need to be maintained regularily so it’s ready when you need it.

    But, I do feel a twinge of guilt when our place is one of the few lit up and the rest of the neighborhood is dark!!

  13. AvatarPaul

    My mom always said she would take the pictures (and we knew that was after she had us with her). Most of the pictures were lost when a pipe broke when she was gone and flooded the house. I thought the gun was for protection not for taking what you wanted. When I lived on the dairy farm we had a large generator so we could milk and feed the cows. It was a good feeling to be able to handle loss of electric. Now I’m just a city slicker and must look to others for help if there is bad weather. And often think I should invest in a gun for protection.

  14. AvatarJohn "Jack" Frost

    Me! If the family is with me, together! Let me explain, if your house is crumbling looking for some material thing may be the reason you don’t escape. I don’t know how big the market is in the U.S. for auxiliary generator, it must be billions, the pictures of lines of thousands with red gas cans waiting to get fuel for their generators would deter me from investing. Having lived in Brussels for 20 plus years where all utilities are under ground, come rain, snow and flood we always had power. How about using that portable generator money for a good, well engineered grid. Just a couple of storms and it will pay for itself.
    For all who may be interested in how we have come to this proposed economic system of change, there is a great new book “I Am the Change” “BARACK OBAMA and the CRISIS of LIBERALISM by Charles R. Kesler. It is 260 pages of very enlightening politics.

  15. Avatardan k

    I wonder….how bad does it have to get before the NAT GAS stops flowing?
    I wonder if there hard-hit places in NY and NJ that do not have gas service at this point?


  16. AvatarSteve S.

    Would take my dog and guns for sure.We also installed a generator back in 2000 after losing our power for 2 days.We had frozen pipes in the walls and of course they leaked.The cost of the gen was cheap compared to having water running inside the walls.That was a lesson hard learned.And for Dan K, I was told by nicor that if the powers out it doesn’t stop gas supply,Unless there is a break in a line close to your location.Comed will also refund you the cost of natural gas,for length of the outage.


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