Hoppo Bumpo (n): A children's game. Played by folding one's arms and hopping on one leg. Aim is to bump opponents, so that they lose their balance. Last person standing wins.

November 14, 2008


In a flush of enthusiasm in my youth, I started studying for an MBA. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but fourteen years later it remains unfinished. The complexities of business economics and company accounting and reporting are just hazy memories. Any fragments of fact about mid-90s Australian industrial relations, are now antiquated. Hours of study gone; knowledge vaporised.

Except, that is, for this ...

I did love studying the manufacturing process. It introduced me to a strategy used in production that I felt I could embrace and call my own. My mantra; my life-philosophy: its a concept called just-in-time. In the manufacturing world this is the process of having your equipment, resources and labour available only in the amount required and at the time required to do the job. (A concept employed by the Ford Motor Company on assembly lines as early as the 1920s). Stock is produced just when needed - no earlier, no later.

Of course, I could see immediate application: exams. Why waste valuable intellectual real estate storing facts ahead of time, when cramming at the last minute might work? Then it was household tasks. Ironing? No need to spend hours starching and pressing - simply iron-as-you-go. Genius. And so started the slow decline: everything happening just at the time required (belated note-to-self: composing wedding speech during the reception is cutting it fine). From the outside it might have looked a little bit like procrastination or disorganisation, but it worked for me.

However, years later - as just-in-time has become part of the fabric of my very being - I think I may have discovered a failing.

With Mr HB away and the boys ill, I have discovered that its not a good thing to buy food just as you need it. Or nappies. Or toilet paper. If you can't leave the house, you are in strife. Thankfully, my kind parents have bailed me out. They have shopped for me and made sure that we haven't had to resort to eating tinned water chestnuts and putting Bargy into left-over newborn nappies.

But it has got me thinking.

With a young family relying on me, maybe these days I should be thinking more Baden-Powell, than Henry Ford. What if we're all sick again? Or heaven forbid, there's a natural disaster? When everyone is well again, I think I should head out and stock the cupboards for that proverbial very rainy day. Never mind just-in-time ... I'm moving immediately to Hoppo Bumpo's new just-in-case strategy. This will almost certainly entail an emergency plan, a flashlight and of course ... a lot of toilet paper.

What do you have at your house just-in-case?


  1. Somehow, having a treadle sewing machine makes me think that part of my life is "off the grid" just in case. You know, if the power goes out, the first thing I will do is start sewing up a storm! lol!

  2. One of my friends has 2 pantries - one for everyday use, and one to store replacements for the everyday pantry. Just in case. I know where I'm heading if there is a natural disaster!

  3. wine! we might run out of food, but it would be an awfully long time before we'd run out of a nice drop of red. and I rarely run out of nappies as each time they're on sale for $29 I buy about 6 boxes and hope to get the size right!

    also never like to be out of kids panadol

  4. I actually have a degree in manufacturing but I never ever use just-in-time at home. It never worked at the manufacturing company I worked for, and it certainly doesn't work at my house!
    I always have extra toothpaste, toilet paper, tissues, washing powder, tinned tomatoes, 2 minute noodles, snack tins of tuna, and vegemite and coffee.
    I figure I can last on all that for at least a week!

  5. It's feast or famine here, and that goes for dog food, toilet paper, nappies, asparagus, soy milk and fabric. Oh alright, we've never managed to run out of fabric. But don't tell Mr Bell, or he won't let me buy any more.

    Also, I've stocked up on mechanical pencils today. Bought a 4-pack. Don't like to be without.

  6. :) I never thought about this...
    bread, coffee and rice!
    (I have no child at home nowadays)

  7. I seem to follow the boy scout school of thought - always be prepared! I only ever shop for groceries once a week, and if it weren't for fresh milk and vegies could probably live quite happily on my pantry store for a couple of weeks. i do however seem to shop for fabric and craft supplies several times a week!!

  8. Feast or famine describes around here, too, being self employed. So, while I personally am the cupboards overflowing, a years supply in reserve, ready for that disaster that is just waiting, kind of girl, our state of finances, esp currently, has made us not just just-in-time, but two steps late, a good part of the time. Drives me nuts. All my reserves disappear during the poor times, and just when I get us all restocked during rich times, the poor times hit again. It's a vicious cycle, I tell ya!

  9. Oh, I sat under Baden Powell's toadstool, and yet I still employ the 'just in time' approach to life. With the exception of my pantry and freezer. They are both stocked like the great depression is on the horizon (shite it may well be now!)...much to Mr S+Ls confusion - he never thinks we need to shop as the supplies are always ample. His speciality though is buying toilet paper in bulk, I think it's a man thing.

    Everywhere else in my life? Just-in-time.

  10. Given the lack of sewing I've been doing, I seem to have acquired a 'just-in-case' fabric collection, it matches nicely with my 'just-in-case' bead collection.

  11. Post 9/11 we had a great deal of water and food that required no cooking. Ugh...canned food must only be great in an emergency.

    I still keep a good stock of toilet paper, cat litter and cat food. The rest is luxury. ;-) However, we do have a full pantry, fridge and freezer. And I finally talked dh into a generator a couple of years ago.

    Oh and we have enough books to last about 2-3 lifetimes. ;-)

  12. ooooh I think I am a bit like the just in time HB! Not much in my cupboard for just in case. But wait, whats this at the back, seems in an emergency when we are heading off to the bunker that me and Boo will be bringing a Betty Crocker marble cake packet mix with extra fudge topping. Hey what's an emergency without a cake I say!

  13. living in 2 households doubles this dilemma.......just yesterday I went shopping to stock up on basic supplies for when I come back i have them immediately,this includes UHT milk, oats for my muesli mix, toilet paper , mayo and chilli jam!!

  14. I am a big storer of supplies. I always make sure we have stocks of toothpaste, soap, toilet paper, deodorant, dishwashing powder and always have a stash of chocolate somewhere for emergencies!

  15. we seem to always have large supplies of the following:
    children's panadol
    insect repellent
    bleach and
    toilet cleaner.....an odd collection I know

    But one thing I do have organised just in case is where all the important things are should there be a bush fire. Surrounded on three sides by bush leaves you little time to gather anything should the unthinkable happen.

    Passports birth certificates insurance and other important items are ready to go. I also know where th dogs lead and the cat carrier are at all times.

    A bush fire plan is a just in case we have in this family :)

  16. I too live my life, not so much just-in-time as about 10-20 minutes late (for everything!!) I think perhaps ad libbing my wedding speech was a little too lax somehow (and I'm sure our 200 odd guests thought so too). Was lovely to meet you today too. Hope you enjoy the book!

  17. I'm terrible at stocking up, but pretty good at a regular shopping schedule. So I rarely run out of anything, but a disruption in the shopping would completely ruin the whole system. We have a drugstore/grocery store just a two blocks over, so unless there's a huge emergency, I can walk over and get what I'm out of.

    However, I try and make sure there is always at least one back-up bottle of wine in the house.


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