Posts

Sustain-ability: Bitches Get Shit Done

Image
So, for the past couple of weeks I've had reason to be a bit emotionally under the weather -- sad even. The reason doesn't matter. But due to a couple of techniques, I've been in the upside position of being able to objectively evaluate what I'm feeling and see how it's impacting me... and therefore to do something about it.


As a disclaimer, this isn't about clinical depression, I'm not a medical provider, and I don't give medical advice. In fact, this isn't even about me so much as it's about this process that I went through that I found helpful. Your mileage is totally going to vary.

First, the new things in my life that helped me:

1. Mindfulness practice. In recently months I've been much better about meditating. This is due to a recommendation by Gordon over at Runesoup for Headspace. So credit where credit is due and both are highly recommended. This also happened to be a goal of my PMPM project (kicked off last year and blogged about o…

The Year of Being Agile -- Agile Risk Management, Part One

Image
This is part of a serious of posts on using the agile development method as a PMPM (Practical Magic Project Management) technique... go see the Index page for links to the full series.

OK, first off full disclosure: Agile doesn't have much time for risk management. It's not that the methodology is against it in any way, it just doesn't address it. I think this is because it was developed to mitigate particular risks (the risk that you might put in a ton of work building the wrong thing) rather than addressing risks in general. However, the core features of agile can be used to address risk -- and I think there are very good reasons for doing so.

Still, I'm going way off book here, based not on the official Agile Methodology but on my own experience and interpretation.

But first, let's take a look at how risk management is currently practiced:

Formal Risk Management


Identify the risksAnalyze the risks for likelihood and consequenceRank the risks based on a combination…

Sustain-ability: The Other Option

Image
This is a personal story about how the modern world isn't set up for sustainability and how we managed to get around that fact recently (and I promise every word is true).

Our household has two cars, both paid for, and both a bit long in the tooth. Our older vehicle is a small SUV that we purchased new just a few months before the budding psychonaut was born. It's currently 15 years old, with not as many miles as you's expect. The other car is a hybrid and is currently 10 years old. We bought it used in 2011 and it's also in really great shape... or it was.

Last week, we were driving the hybrid when the car suddenly went "ping!" and all the dash lights came on. And I mean ALL the dash lights. The anti-lock break light, the check engine light, and several mysterious lights that were nothing but red and yellow exclamation marks (that can't be good). In addition, the little status panel started announcing that we should CHECK HYBRID SYSTEM and CHECK VSC SYST…

The Year of Being Agile -- Active Management

Image
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

Image
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

Image
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

Image
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…