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Sustain-ability: Bitches Get Shit Done

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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

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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

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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

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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…

The Year of Being Agile -- Spiritual collaboration over contract negotiation

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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).

Lets say you are in the midst of a project and you need some information or a decision or some help, from a stakeholder. Which tactic do you suppose is more effective: 1. Call legal for a contract review, create a formal addendum for the interaction you are proposing. Send it to their legal department. Babysit four red line versions between the lawyers. Get the appropriate signatures and then move forward. 2. Pick up the phone and talk to the person you need help from and just ask.
Obviously in an agile project, the latter is going to be more effective. But it's also probably only going to work if you have a preexisting relationship. Now, a preexisting relationship may involve…

Taxes Fucking Suck Sale!

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Taxes fucking suck. So I'm having a Taxes Fucking Suck sale on all my services through the end of June! That's enough time to get your taxes back... and help me pay mine!

First, go take a look at the services I offer
Anything look interesting? Because from now until June 30, all of my divination is 25% off! That includes my Multiverse and Black Swan as well as the major Life-Crafting divination (which is enough data to honestly change your life). It even includes my mini-divinations -- even more affordable for the next few months. Just use the paypal links below instead of the ones on the services page.
But even more amazing, I'm offering my PMPM consulting services at 33% off through the end of June as well. That's a $50 an hour savings to work directly with me (skype, phone, or in person if local) on defining and meeting your goals. Your own professional project manager, with bonus magical experience. And that price will be good for as many sessions as you want thr…

Sustain-ability: Nourishment

This is not the first time I've talked about nourishment here on CircleThrice. But I feel like it's particularly important to revisit this concept right now as the Western world seem increasingly, well not just empty, but outright deprivational and harmful (like the cultural equivalent of the Standard American Diet).

The way that the phosphoric acid leaches calcium from your bones, vast stretches of popular culture, most media, and general social interactions leach the joy and magic out of your spirit. It's worse than the spiritual equivalent of white sugar or flour, which at least taste good in the near term (though it's not good for you and moderation is key). You need to treat this material the way you do propylene glycol or artificial food coloring or partially-hydrogenated vegetable oils -- as without redeeming qualities and completely toxic to your system.

You know there are times when you can ease into a change. You park further from the entrance and take the st…

PMPM - Look where you want to go

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Stick with me, this is relevant.
We've been watching a show that my husband found found online someplace (we only have basic cable with our internet) while I was traveling. At first I was skeptical, but he said he really liked it and couldn't wait to show it to me when I returned. He was right, and we've been hunting down old seasons and watching it for about six weeks now.



The show is called Canada's Worst Driver. It's a reality TV series where they find some of the worst drivers in the country (nominated by a friend or family member) and they all try NOT to be the last person left on the show. They get intensive driving lessons and complete in various challenges. Each week the best person graduates and gets to drive away. At the end, the final worst three try not to "lose" and get the hideous Canada's Worst Driver trophy. So it's like the reverse of the typical show.
I appreciate that it sounds kind of lame, but I actually really enjoy it. Firs…