Showing posts from 2016

2017: The Year of Being Agile

Edited to add a list of all the posts in this series at the end...

This is reworked and expanded version of one of my early posts on Practical Magic Project Management: Agile Magic.

...In The Black Swan, our hero Taleb talks about the value of constant tinkering, failing fast, and shifting gears quickly. Our world moves very quickly, things change rapidly, and the best way to figure out what works is to fling a bunch of stuff at the wall and see what sticks.

Turns out that software development already figured this out and created a methodology to support it. It's called Agile Development and it's based on constant iterating, frequent feedback, and incremental change. It even has it's own manifesto that goes:

We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it.* 

Through this work we have come to value:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools 
Working software over comprehensive documentation 
Customer collaboration over contrac…

Project Ivy Status Update -- And What's Coming Next

Time for the potentially embarrassing personal project update. (Note: I don't expect anyone else to care about this as much as I do. I'm updating not only because it keeps me accountable, but also because I think a lot of the information is applicable across domains -- that is, you can use it for your own projects).

Project Ivy has been going well overall, but some weaknesses in my plan are becoming evident. This is actually quite normal for a new project. You start with some ideas of what makes sense, but no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy -- even if the enemy is your own life, tendency to procrastinate, and entropy. The trick is to adjust and adapt to what you are finding, rather than deciding to give up.

First step? Make sure your goals are still the right goals. I can't overstate this. People in general are terrible at knowing what they want and, even moreso, what will make them happy. So you shouldn't be afraid of or ashamed to adjust goals as yo…

Low Ocean

I dreamed that I was in an occult/antique shop. The kind that you wish you could find, but that only seem to exist in dreams and Harry Potter books. I was drawn to a dusty glass case. Inside were a handful of picture cards laid out on velvet. Like tarot, but not any tarot I was familiar with. The cards were battered and yellowed, obviously very old. The card that I focused on was titled Low Ocean.

The card was a seaside scene. Stone houses along a sea wall and a quay. However the water had withdrawn far into the distance. Ships were grounded on the sea floor and strange creatures had become beached or semi-submerged in pools on the muddy bottom. The ocean had withdrawn. Curious onlookers were exploring the normally hidden seafloor.

But the card wasn't about curiosity or discovery... it was about menace and risk.

Here's the relevant section from Wikipedia:
An illustration of the rhythmic "drawback" of surface water associated with a wave. It follows that a ver…

Sustain-ability: Real Things

Wait, didn't I say I was unplugging?

Why yes, yes I did. However, it's unlikely that I'll be able to stop writing. If I don't blog or journal, my brain starts doing this endless churning. Did you even read the advice that you should keep a pen and pad by your bed so that you can jot down things that are keeping you from sleeping? It's like a whole life version of that.

Still, unplugging is in full force, though like any actionable goal, it's a process and not a end state. I've already culled a huge amount of TV, websites, blogs, and social media. Mainly news and news-like substances, but also vacu-tainment and click bait. The sources of external data I'm still following have been thoroughly curated.

So what have I been focusing on? Real things, including:

Holiday Stuff -- Getting and decorating our tree. Gifts. Cards. Etc. This year I feel the darkness more acutely and am craving the holiday of lights.

Food Stuff -- quiche and cake for my dear friend…

CircleThrice End of Year Wrap-up (Also Pimpin')

I wanted to do a bit of an wrap-up of a few things on the blog before I take a well-deserved end of year vacation.

First, I updated the Index page. If you want to follow any of my longer series, that's the place to look.

In recent months, I've written a lot on the Mind War and Sustain-ability series. But looking forward, I want to be more focused on directly helping people make changes in their lives. There is a lot of upset and panic out there. For me, the response that works best under those circumstances is to be organized and proactive and productive (that is, to get my shit together). This coming year, I want to refocus on helping other people with that as well. Here are some of my plans:
A revisit of the PMPM series, with additional content.Habit formation and habit change.Mental innoculation against harmful ideas. I also updated my Services page. This was a big year for me, with new readings and a new consulting offering.

If you're looking for a great experiential gi…

Mind War: Part Nine -- Memetic Reverse-Engineering and Self-Innoculation

This post ties directly to the very first post in this series (side note, if you want to catch up on any of my series, the Index is the place to go). I ended that article with only a brief mention of memetic engineering -- the act of deliberately crafting memes and releasing them into a culture. Since then I've learned more and believe that in our current climate understanding how memes are crafted is of even greater importance than ever before.

I'm of the opinion that memes exist naturally as a function of society and communication. These natural memes are the common ideas, beliefs, and assumptions that a society has. A meme is transferable (can be shared with others), has a certain lifespan, and has some kind of effect on the thinking and/or behavior of the parties sharing the meme.
Memes can clump up into more complex forms. These are known as meme-complexes (or memeplexes among those who study this topic and who seem to really like catchy terminology). So how we act, what …

Risk Mitigation Case Study -- President Trump Edition: Part Two, Resurrection

The last post was my Empire Strikes Back... this is Return of the Jedi (but no Ewoks).

Keep Calm (and Carry On)
Since the election happened there's been a lot of, well, flailing around. But just because some things are bad right now (lessons learned implies you have your eyes wide open) doesn't mean we have to get fatalistic. In fact, panic and fatalism are the worst responses to, well, pretty much anything. They are extremely unhelpful in every circumstance.

The most distraught people I've seen are suffering from major cognitive dissonance. Their idea of the world and their idea of what the world was going to be are way out of alignment with reality. If you can remain clear eyed and objective -- both about the things that actually impact you (note, different than things you may be concerned about or care about) and what changes are occurring -- you will be in better shape, practically and emotionally.

Remember that fear leads to anger... which explains pro-Trump voters as …

Risk Mitigation Case Study -- President Trump Edition: Part One, Post Mortem

I've been on a bit of a media blackout sabbatical. After major ancestor work on Halloween, I had a quick work trip to our Northern neighbors (yes, I came back). Then a pile of mundane day job work as well as some magical self care.

So, let's get to it. I'm going to skip both the Monday morning quarterbacking and recriminating and skip right to the practical (as is my habit).

Let's start with lessons learned. In the business world, this is called, charmingly enough, the post-mortem.

1. You can't plan for the worst case scenario if you aren't willing to acknowledge its possibility.

Some very smart people I trust were forecasting this outcome (one of them sleeps beside me in bed). But I admit that I had a hard time believing it. I was focused on the polling numbers at a site I trust (which turned out as wrong as everyone else who tracked the polls). So I was surprised, though not as shocked as some obviously were. I did learn a lesson from 2012 -- there were many,…

The ROI on Family

We've been honoring our beloved dead for several decades now, but it's only in the last eight years or so that the work has expanded beyond the confines of this time of year. I wish we'd done it sooner. Because of all the spiritual practices of our household, the one with the best Return on Investment is our work with the ancestors.

I'd describe my entire religious and spiritual life as, well, relational. I'm always focused on the relationships I can build. With Deities who've shown an interest, with spirits of place, and with my actual relations. The most reliable and most supportive are, by far, our beloved dead. After all, they have a vested interest in seeing our family do well and a much better grip on the challenges and issues of the modern world than a lot of ancient spirits.

Plus in my case, the Deities I work most closely with are not gentle. They're tough and they challenge me. They aren't nurturing. My family on the other hand? Well, they wat…

Sustain-ability: Too Much Shit

I've written previously about the death of the middle class. One of my points was that it's hard to find mid-level quality items -- everything is either really expensive or it's shit... and there's no shortage of the latter.

Since we have a teenager who seems to be growing out of clothing before they're even worn, let alone worn out, we make regular runs to Goodwill to donate. This seems fair because, since the kid has a clothing budget, there's a lot of shopping at Goodwill too. So it makes for kind of a nice loop.

Recently I had a car-full of stuff to donate. Some clothes and shoes, a couple of coats that stopped fitting over the summer, and some pet supplies for our cat (RIP). I took a cruise past the Goodwill truck nearest to me and they weren't open. So I drove over to the bigger, permanent facility. I was floored by the huge amount of stuff, both wedged under the unmanned truck and almost completely filling the parking lot. Just, all kinds of STUFF. F…

PMPM - Project Ivy: First Steps

This is part of a series that touches on practical magic project management from the perspective of my own personal 12-month project. Here are the prior posts:

Case Study: Project Ivy
Eating My Own Dog Food

The point of this series isn't to brag (or to whine) about my progress. It's also not going to be an overly personal info. dump (I don't get very personal here as a rule). No, I figure that this series will be useful for a couple of reasons:

First, because I'm a believer in taking advice from people who follow it themselves. A business mentor should have a successful business. A spiritual teacher should lead a spiritual life. Someone offering advice on practical sorcery should have their lives magicked pretty well in line. And if I'm going to provide advice on setting and meeting goals, well, I should be able to do so myself.

Second, because no one is ever perfect and no one is ever done. My life is reasonably successful and settled, and I'd be ashamed to give…

Services -- Mini Readings

Since I've had to up the prices on my larger readings because of the time they take, I've been considering including some smaller offerings that are more accessible to more people. However, it's important to me that any readings I provide be in line with my philosophy of divination: not fortune telling, but fortune creating.

The Black Swan and Multiverse readings are robust tools for helping you react to what's coming in a proactive way and find your best path to your goals. The Life Crafting reading is a powerful combination of the two. These readings go both broad and very, very deep.

But because of their scope, they take a long time to do and result in a huge writeup that can take a major effort to absorb. Along with the expense, that may not be what everyone needs or is ready to handle.

So as of today, I'm rolling out three new readings. These readings are much smaller in scope with less interactivity, but still provide the kind of proactive guidance and value …