Posts

The Year of Being Agile -- Active Management

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Like any self-contained and self-referential system, agile has its own rather odd sounding terminology. For example, each team has a ScrumMaster and a Product Owner. The ScrumMaster is the person who keeps the team on track... not by telling them what to do, but by encouraging them to follow the process of agile. The ScrumMaster schedules the daily scrum meeting and keeps people on task. He or she touches base with the product owner to make sure the backlog is updated and prioritized for planning. And also runs the planning meeting, including making sure that team tasks (which are called stories -- again with the special names) are correctly framed and defined so the team understands what to do. The ScrumMaster tracks the team's velocity and uses prior information to help the team make better estimates for the current sprint. He or she is the team's main interface with the product owner.

The product owner, on the other hand, is the team's face to the customers. The product…

Sustain-ability: Household Magic -- Running a Kitchen

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Note: The Index page has been updated for the month

Hearth is such a nice word. Such a cozy and comforting term. And many of us long for a lovely open fireplace in our house so that we can do magic at the hearth. But before you get all maudlin in your urban apartment or condo, you have to remember that originally the hearth primarily for heating and cooking (as well as magic). In the modern home the closest thing to a hearth isn't your fireplace, it's your stove.



Our kitchen is the heart of our home and it's no coincidence that our house has the kitchen roughly in the middle: open to the dining room, partially open to the living room, and with a door to the patio where we grill and eat in the summer.

When the kitchen runs smoothly the house runs smoothly (regardless of what the bathrooms looks like or whether the laundry is, once again, out of control). Here's what a smooth running kitchen looks like:

A well-stocked pantry. This is the bank in the heart of the house. Wh…

Sustain-ability: Making Things Ourselves

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Andrew made a comment on my last post about handmade things being one of those nice things we can still have. I agree, but with one caveat. Buying handmade has been co-opted and to avoid that pitfall, you need to buy carefully.



Etsy is a perfect example of this trend. When it started, etsy was specifically for custom handcrafted items as well as resale of vintage items. But if you do there now, you will see something very different going on. You will find lots of items that, which technically handcrafted, aren't custom. In fact, the same items appear again and again. This is because they handmade in a factory-like setting abroad. This reduces the transparency of the items you are buying. The maker and buyer are separated by a middle-man -- the seller. This means you can't know when you are buying if the actual makers are treated well or compensated fairly. You hope they are, but you see that they are many many identical versions of the item being sold by different people on et…

Mind War: Part Ten -- This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things

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Posts have been thin on the ground. I'm in a funk. Due, no doubt, in part to Retrograde All the Things. One result is that everything I write just sounds like the most hypocritical crap. So I figure, why not leverage all this crankiness into a Mind Wars post.



I start by presenting the following for your edification. It's worth a full read.

A case study in co-option. The manipulation and appropriation of symbols for uses that aren't transparent to the audience. This is a particularly nice example because the HER fund certainly isn't evil in terms of investment opportunities. But it's a FUND, you know. One that relies on that bull to keep charging. And in all its virtue signaling, it's completely insider art and part of the system it purports to critique. The bull on the other hand celebrated that system, but from outside of it as a piece of guerrilla art -- a very expensive piece, the artist must have had a solid portfolio himself.

And the controversy and argume…

The Year of Being Agile -- Responding to change over following a plan

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As part of my year of being agile, I'm going to explore each of the four values in my Agile Magic Manifesto in order to a) help create actionable items and b) define my own plan for the year (one of the secret benefits to blogging is that writing about stuff helps you get shit straight in your own head).


If there's one thing you take away from CircleThrice, take this: Planning is necessary, but it's not sufficient. Obviously I believe that planning is a good thing. Check out this whole post on why. But in order to be successful you need to a) get started and keep going and b) adjust your plan as you go. The latter is what we're covering here.
Responding to change is absolutely necessary in order to reach your goal. Because everything changes -- all the time. It's the nature of reality. And in our current reality things not only change, but they change rapidly, unexpectedly, and abruptly. You have to be on top of change because if you aren't, your plan will rap…

On Age and Time

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Time for another weekin the desert. This is something of an annual tradition at this point -- though this is a spring trip and not a height of summer one (maybe we are finally wising up). It's also become a tradition because CircleThrice is two years old this month. Which surprises me greatly.



The theme of this year's visit home seems to be the passage of time. As you see those who came before aging, and you think about the changes in your own life, it brings home the gift that is a lifespan. I'm personally a big believer in reincarnation. I think there's some very good evidence of it (more than for most metaphysical concepts) and it just has always made sense to me on a visceral level. But moreover, as I look at my life with additional experience (age may not confer wisdom, but it does seem to provide perspective) it gives me a great deal of comfort to think that after this life is another opportunity. Not because my life is bad, but because the experiences of life an…

Project Ivy: Pivot

It's been about three months since my last status update. And what a very busy three months it was!

After a relatively quiet winter holiday season, the year kicked off really fast. There were two major international work trips (with all the associated prep work). And then as soon as I returned, I managed to get sick as can be. And this is where the importance of project flexibility comes into play.
If you've been following along with these status updates, you know that getting regular outdoor exercise was a major goal for my personal project. Now, admittedly our very icy winter weather did put a crimp in that, but overall I'd been making good progress... even through the work trips. See, traveling in international cities usually involves a LOT more walking than I usually get at home. So despite being outside of my normal routine I was walking a ton and feeling good.
You know what does interfere with outdoor exercise in rainy weather? A terrible, lingering upper respiratory…