quality assurance

Are You a Foodie?

By Linda Mauel

Do you love food? New York has some of the best in the world. I’m a foodie! I admit it! I love the look, taste, smell and textures of it all. And we are entering the time of year that this foodie both loves and hates, looks forward to and dreads – all at the same time. You see, I am, to put it kindly, overweight. So, instead of waiting until the new year and my New Year’s resolution, which has been long ago titled “here we go again,”, I decided to get ahead of it all this year. I joined a weight reduction program the beginning of November. (Yes, I had to get Halloween out of the way first.)

ThanksgivingFoodSo, I am sitting at the hair dresser’s after joining the program and am trying to figure out how to make it work this time. Don’t get me wrong, I have been very successful many other times…until I wasn’t. Looking in the mirror, I decided that I am just too old to stay on this roller coaster and it is time to, borrowing a popular phrase, just do it. Having time on my hands while in the chair, I decided it was high time to figure out what contributed to my past successes and then what changed, resulting in long term failure.

Let’s see. Each time I began by setting some goals (lose weight, get fit, learn to like the new life style), objectives (follow the program, lose X pounds, do Y minutes of activity) and criteria (measure change in pounds per week, change in inches per month, changes in bloodwork per six months), then I learned how to proceed (attend meetings, read material, plan meals and set activities), how and what to measure (what I ate, how it counted towards my daily allotment, minutes activity conducted) and how to keep track of it all (record what I measured).

QA2With all my years in Quality Assurance, I should have known. I had prepared and followed a Quality Assurance Project Plan (aka a QAPP)! And I was doing really good! Then I became cocky and slowly stopped planning, measuring, learning, and tracking. I “remembered” or guesstimated, decided I did not need to go to the meetings or follow the criteria I originally set. Or in other words, I stopped following the QAPP! That’s when it fell apart!

Quality Assurance (QA) and its tools, such as the QAPP, is to many people what this time of year is for this foodie – it is loved and hated, looked forward to and dreaded. Preparing and using a QAPP takes a little extra time but, as shown above, sticking with it will help you to succeed by encouraging you to do what you say you’ll do.  And as discussed above, if it moves (like me) – train it, if it doesn’t move (like my food scale) – calibrate it, and no matter what (like my food and activity choices) – document it. And I can vouch firsthand that if you (and I) stick with the QAPP, your next project, like my weight loss adventure, will be a success!

Have a successful World Quality Month, Happy Holiday Season, and Healthy New Year!

 

About the Author: Linda Mauel serves as the region’s Science Integrity & Quality Assurance Manager. She works in the Division of Environmental Science and Assessment out of EPA’s Edison Environmental Center. Linda holds a BS in Chemical Engineering and a BA in Chemistry from Rutgers University. She worked in the private sector for 11 years then began her 25+ year career with EPA, 23+ in the quality assurance program.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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After The Apple is Green, There’s PIE!

By Linda Mauel

Summer officially begins this month!  Imagine warm summer days in Central Park or at the Jersey shore, picnics with family and friends, and of course apple pie.

There’s a pie for everyone!  Some prefer deep dish, others an open face Tarte Tatin.  My grandson prefers his with a woven lattice top and whipped cream, while my husband prefers his with a full top crust, warmed with ice cream.

Salivating yet?  Grabbing your keys for a trip to the nearest bakery?  Or reaching for your mom’s famous award winning apple pie recipe?  No matter whether store bought or homemade, by the time we each finish our apple pie, we will have finished a Quality PIE also!  “A Quality PIE” you may ask? Let me show you what I mean…

I decided I wanted to serve apple pie (small letter “p”) at a family picnic last week, so I began to Plan.  What type of pie do I want? Where am I going to get it and how do I want to serve it? Also, when (I know with whom) do I want to enjoy it! I bought 2 fresh pies – one lattice and one full crust – from the bakery near the house.  I planned to serve the pies warmed with a choice of ice creams and whipped cream just before sunset.

Next, it was time to Implement my plan of attack.  When shopping for the picnic, I picked up the pies, a variety of ice creams, including chocolate (for dad) and vanilla (for my husband), and of course whipped cream for my eldest grandson.  At the picnic just before sunset, I warmed the pies, and then set them out with the toppings.  The adults savored their apple pie while the kids tried to outdo each other with their unique pie and ice cream concoctions.

I looked around my back yard, assessing faces in the setting sun and Evaluating the reactions to this fun, delicious, sweet and tangy choice of a summer dessert.  I decided that it was a hit and to serve it again – maybe with a fruit salad next time!

I bet you are asking yourselves “what does this have to do with Quality PIE (and why am I reading this instead of getting some pie for myself)?”  Well, many of us cringe when we hear the term “Quality” or “Quality Assurance” and usually respond that someone else handles “that.”  The truth of the matter – quality assurance is a part of all our lives.  Whether working on a project, competing in a marathon, or providing those we love with a delicious apple pie dessert, we Plan, we Implement, and then we Evaluate/assess to determine if all was acceptable as planned and if there are any changes to be made next time.  Planning + Implementing + Evaluating are the fundamental ingredients of The Quality PIE.

Enjoy your summer and may all of your pies be a success!

About the Author: Linda Mauel serves as the region’s Quality Assurance Manager.  She works in the Division of Environmental Science and Assessment out of EPA’s Edison Environmental Center. Linda holds a BS in Chemical Engineering and a BA in Chemistry from Rutgers University. She worked in the private sector for 11 years then began her 20+ year career with EPA in the quality assurance program.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.