Today is Tomorrow

By January 30, 2018Uncategorized

Mmmmm, hot yummy buttered popcorn, my remote and the ever-hilarious Bill Murray. Is there a better way to spend a blustery February evening? Bill Murray as TV weatherman Phil Connors keeps me in stitches.

In case you missed this classic movie (1993):

In Groundhog Day “Phil” is loathed to cover the annual Groundhog Day festivities in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. After all, he believes his talent level is above that of covering a groundhog prodded out of it’s winter den for an annual weather forecast and thus he wants little to do with the event.

Unfortunately for Phil, he becomes trapped in a time warp where he relives Groundhog Day over and over again, going through the same exact events. Luckily for Phil, he can carry his knowledge over to the next day and avoid some of the pitfalls that he was previously susceptible to.

You wake up, go to the site, knowing full well that you are going to have the same heated arguments with the contractor that you had the day before.

I am fairly certain that Ramis & Rubin had been hanging out at landfill construction sites and were enjoying a good laugh on me when they wrote this screenplay. As a quality assurance inspector, I have been there many times in my career. You wake up, go to the site, knowing full well that you are going to have the same heated arguments with the contractor that you had the day before.

You learn from each day and try new tactics with the contractor, to no avail — the contractor is not willing to budge from their ways. As this pattern continues, you find mounting tensions too much to bear and before you know it, you find your arms in the air, face towards the heavens as your screaming voice demands the universe explain: WHY THE HELL DOES NOTHING CHANGE?!?!? (okay those might or might not be the actual words I have hollered but you get the point)…

Have you ever felt like this? How about feeling like you’re repeating the same day or same thing over and over?

How many of you have taken time to consider our industry? Is it stuck in a rut? At least, in the United States where I have most of my experience, to me it feels that our industry is often stuck in the same rut day after day, year after year. Sure, we have made such huge advancements in the geosynthetics industry in 30-plus years, in that we can now construct geosynthetic containment barriers verified with zero leaks! But who is really taking advantage of this ability?

State regulators issue guidance documents that tell us to cut a destruct on every single seam (including repairs) in a landfill installation. Dear God above, do they not know that Swiss Cheese doesn’t hold water?!

  • We use 20- & 30-year-old specifications that are a cut-and-paste mess. We mix materials, fail to specify materials correctly and mandate non-destructive test methods such as a “Prick Test” for double fusion wedge welds.
  • State regulators issue guidance documents that tell us to cut a destruct on every single seam (including repairs) in a landfill installation. Dear God above, do they not know that Swiss Cheese doesn’t hold water?!
  • Technologies such as electrical leak location surveys (ELLS) that significantly improve the chances of completing a project with zero leaks are simply not being utilized.According to an article by J.P. Giroud, ELLS were only being used on 2% of the geomembrane liner surface area installed in the United States as of 2014 compared to 21% for the providence of Quebec for the same year!

But, lets put aside technological advancements for the time being. Phil did not need some great technological advancement to change his situation — it came by not only examining the details of his day but also from self-examination. Phil had to look at each component of his day and try to change it — in actuality, it really took changing his heart to where his actions proved that he actually cared about others and the consequences of both their actions and his actions.

This same self-examination is required in our industry. While there are plenty of success stories, there are also plenty of areas to improve on the things we are already doing.

We need to promote change in the industry and I am determined to help all of us get answers so we can move to a better place and escape our time warp.

Some of these are just commonly accepted practices that have been done for so long that we just take them for granted or assume there is no better way to improve them. This kind of unrelenting repetition of an unchanging environment where we do not grow from our past and move forward to a better future eradicates our hope and motivation. All too often we find ourselves not caring, not innovating or just giving up and walking away all together.

So, I am dedicating 2018 to asking our industry tough questions for which I don’t have the answers, things that to date seem to have been overlooked, shelved or ignored as an industry. We need to promote change in the industry and I am determined to help all of us get answers so we can move to a better place and escape our time warp.

So as Phil would say “I’m not going to live by their rules anymore!” As far as it depends on me, I will push myself and my industry! I will challenge all of us to acknowledge our shortcomings and then become “Implementing Innovators” who see a better tomorrow and then create that tomorrow.

These blog posts promise to be eye openers for some and hopefully will start dialogue that moves us forward as an industry.

After all, just like the movie, we must change today in order to get the tomorrow we so badly want!

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