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Showing posts from 2017

The End of the Summer - and Things to Come

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For my birthday this year we took off for the coast again. The same place we went two years ago. Of course, Gordon recently wrote about how you never step in the same river twice and no place you return to is ever the same... that said, this particular house was alone at the center of a Venn diagram with circles labeled "beachfront" "hot tub" "available" and "we can remotely afford it." So off we went, and no it's not the same, but getting out of town is a good way to wrap up the summer.



So yeah, I've been out of the loop and things have been quiet around here, but not for long. August will always feel like the end of the summer and the start of a new year to me. Probably because I still remember the feeling of starting a new year of school (which where I'm from is mid-August, right after my birthday).

The past two years really have gone by in a flash. My job is still busy and I've had a lot of (admittedly very cool) travel this …

The Year of Being Agile -- Agile Risk Management, Informed Intuition, the Hard Part

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In our last installment, we collated a list of known risks in our lives and we identified the ones we could do something about. But that's the easy part and it's only a start.

It's much more important to identify the risks you don't know about, the "unknown unknowns" to quote some douchebag. And that's more challenging and doesn't just require objectivity, but also informed intuition.


This is going to touch on some some of my old posts, so I recommend following the links.

Here are the three approaches I've identified that can help you get a feel for where the risks are that aren't objectively obvious:

1. Divination
2. Fragility identification
3. Alternative analysis

Divination Divination loves dirty laundry. I've long found that the Tarot, for example, is better at delivering the bad news than the good. I used to think this was just me or the nature of the cards. After all, different types of divination have different modes, approaches, or …

Project Ivy: End Game

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I started my year-long personal PMPM project in 2016 on the autumn equinox. Therefore it's time to take a final look at what I wanted to accomplish before the project wrapup and post-mortem.

Of course, what I want to accomplish is less interesting (except to me obviously) than how to run a year-long project. So this won't be so much about my progress as the hows and whys of following and ranking progress on a long-term project. Note: see the Index for other posts in this series.

So, with just a couple of months to go, I decided to do a gap analysis. This involves looking at the original plan and comparing it to the current plan and status in order to identify anything else I want to focus on or wrap up before the project ends.

You should know that my project had several different goals that landed in different areas of my life. I tried to create a balance of mental, physical, emotional, and magical/spiritual items so that my project would be well-rounded and I could easily shi…

The Year of Being Agile -- Agile Risk Management, Objective Analysis, the Easy Part

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In the previous post, we talked about adopting the correct mindset for risk management. This is critical, because people are either all "la-la-la I can't hear you" or "OMG it's the end of all things!" about risk. Neither of these attitudes are at all helpful. What is helpful?



Objective analysis and informed intuition.

First, analysis: If you are going to deal with the risks in your life you need to be able to look at them. Let's start easy... with the risks you already know about.

Once upon a time, when we were so young that looking back, I'm surprised we ever survived our own naivete, the fellow who's now my husband and I moved in together for the first time. And someone older and wiser (read, late 20s) suggested we get renters insurance. These days no one's going to rent to you without proof of insurance. But back then this wasn't the case and we were pleasantly surprised to realize that for about $11 a month all of our stuff would be …

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…