Invention is a son of a b*tch
Sunday, April 21, 2013
4:22PM - How long it's been
LJ reminded me that it existed today. Well more precisely, it sent me an email explaining how it was starting to fail to believe I still existed and if I wanted to keep this account, I'd better log in.
Monday, June 29, 2009
6:55PM - i can haz BOOK!!
I don’t actually know how this happened, but I appear to be the first person checking in with Lisa having gotten a bit of mail today.
It’s screwy. I never get mail this fast. I got the shipment notice on Friday. We don’t even have mail on the weekend. Saturday pickup is all.
But today, I got home, and the phone rang as I opened the door, and it was Lisa saying hi. And I had this box waiting for me.
And it’s the book. It’s THE BOOK!!
Now I have to go wipe my eyes.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Since setting out as an independent contractor, I've been noticing a lot of personal growth. Emotional and spiritual growth, certainly, but the one that's got me concerned is the physical growth. My most recent travels seem to have expanded my horizons, starting at my diameter.
Fatboy 2.0So I'm outsourcing my personal fitness. To me. I'm going to pay myself to do my workouts. If I work out, I get a reward. If I continue to work out, I'll get more rewards.
The goal is to incent myself to keep going, without making it too discouraging if I take a break for a month for injury or travel or other reasons. The other goal is to make it okay to spend money on things that aren't completely functional, so I'm just going to take the existing amount I spend on books and movies and such and use that as my funding budget.
First, here are the goals that earn pay:
Weighing the Straw ModelThe Politically Correct term “Straw Model” evolved from “Straw Man” which dates back to a time when people would make human-shaped figures out of straw as training targets for weapons training. A straw man wasn't as good as a live opponent, but it was a great place to start. The Straw Model is conceptual, another creative tool for dealing with the unknown, a place to start.
I want to build a financial model for paying myself, but I don't know what the right answer is. So I just make up a model and pick some numbers and then test it a little to see how it works out.
My instinct is to emphasize sustain, so I’ll put 50% into sustain and split the rest. Actually, I'll break it out a little more than that:
Table 1: Reward Model, Version 1
If I work out and log one day, I get 5% At the end of a week, that adds up to 25% Plus another 25% for doing a complete week. Though I start the program without the sustain bonus because it’s the first week.
But wait. . If I miss one day's workout, I lose 23% of my week’s incentives. And I lose 50% in sustain bonus. And I lose 50% in sustain the next week because this week wasn't complete. So one day's screw up costs me 123% of my whole week of "pay." So one day’s lapse undoes over a week of a achievement.
That's a little harsh. so let me try a different balance.
Table 2: Reward Model, Version 2
And that’s okay. This is still the straw model, and I’m adjusting the shape of it as I go. Right now there’s a big hit for the first missed day, whereas a second missed day in the week would be only 10% more pain. So I continue refining.
This time, I think I need to put the emphasis on the daily work, and make the weekly bonuses smaller.
Table 2: Reward Model, Version 3
And now I have a model that I like. It turns out that my initial assumption, that the bonuses were key, was wrong. This revised model looks like it’ll actually help motivate me to do my workout.
Handling the UnknownThe Straw Model is a very useful tool for dealing with a lack of knowledge. The key is to accept that you don’t know and make guesses. As good a guess as you can make, but if you can’t make a good guess, then make a bad one.
Photo by OnlyForward
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
3:43PM - Some Moron Cooking
I thought it would be fun to post the pictures of chocolate goodness I had taken. I’m a photographer, and there is something just sensual about that chocolatey goodness. I didn’t even think to post the recipe, because I was working from a book and I wasn’t sure about how to do it. And more important, the book was in the kitchen and I was in the basement and walking seemed likely to be less comfortable than sitting and just posting more pictures.
So I hope that my dear friend jennawaterford will forgive me for being lazy and not think that I was being intentionally cruel.
The recipe for “Molten-center chocolate cupcakes” comes from Everyday Chocolate
Directions (makes 8 cupcakes): (As told by me)
The major discovery that I wish we’d been warned about is that this thing produces batter so thick it’s almost dough. I thought we’d made a mistake when we added everything, and again when we saw how much my poor old egg-beater was whining about the work. We added a bit of milk which was unnecessary.
Also, between the all-purpose flour substitution and the semi-sweet, it was a very dryly chocolate taste. Good moist cupcake, but very not sweet. Loved it.
Friday, March 20, 2009
10:43AM - Sometimes you get the elevator
Sometimes you get the molten-chocolate-centered, chocolate cupcakes.
So I’ve got the cousins over for the tail end of their winter break from school. And after a brutal shopping session discovering that post massive propane explosion in the city’s west end had resulted in the shut down down all the gas station propane filling stations, and the gas station attendant didn’t know how his own tank exchange system works, and…
After a brutal grocery session, it was nice to break out into the kitchen and just cook. And it’s still a remarkable experience to take “the plan” and slice it into a logistically sane set of tasks that I can pass around to various teens. You want a project management lesson, there it is. Skill levels, skill sets, experience, balancing so everybody gets to participate on something non-trivial and of course, getting the job done.
And they are reliably talented. As I let go of the task list, things got a lot less frenetic, and the kids worked magic. All I ended up having to do was work the grill. And we ended up with a dinner of steak, portobello mushrooms with red pepper, pan-fried tomatoes in garlic, baked sweet potato.
And a mouthwatering cupcake for desert.
How was your dinner?
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
11:03PM - The (lemon) Danish Bikini Team
This morning, I arrived at work to a crisis.
Monday, January 19, 2009
7:27AM - The First Timesheet
So I was putting together a timesheet template and coming so soon after Christmas, there are still carols leaking out of my brain.
To the first timesheet, the client did say
"I don't remember approving those hours on thursday"
So I went to my desk and put the timesheets away
till I could find my meeting notes and reclaim my pay.
If they would just sign it, things would be so neat.
I'm updating my invoice, to make Thursday look fine
Figure if I just change it, they might stop the whine.
Sure I'm out a few hours but if I draw a line
The next seat they get rid of will surely be mine.
If I just get paid, won't this contract be sweet.
I think the changes are done, now to save revision 3
So the new version is done, just need a hardcopy
Wonder if this time, the client will hide from me
Cause if I can't get this signed I won't get my fee.
If they would just sign it, things would be so neat.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
1:26PM - Freelancing by Dummy
So after 10 long years, in the middle of the worst economy since the 1930s (or the 1690s, if you take the Bank of England's interest rates as your indicator), I've just resigned from my position as a consultant to become a freelance something-or-other.
Photo by foxy_moron
Monday, January 5, 2009
12:29AM - Back from the dead again
Okay. This time we'll see if writing here sticks. I'm a little distracted, what with quitting my job today.
When I started travelling as a consultant, I very quickly started to find a need for a portable "blogging" solution. I had my laptop, sure, but 10 years ago, a laptop sucked that little battery dry almost before the drink service on the flight had come out.
After a few years, I had it down to a folding keyboard and my Palm PDA. The keyboard was great, folding to something only slightly larger than the Palm, and the two together could be up and running a text editor within seconds of the seatbelt light going off, and I got four or five hours before the batteries died.
The setup was beautiful in its compact simplicity. It fit on an airline tray table. I could share a table in a coffee shop. I could set up anywhere, and I'd write, back then.
Now I go out, and when there's time to kill on an errand, I have note cards, but they're slow and analog. Give me a keyboard where I can spill out my words at the speed of my thought.
I sat at the mall today and read where I'd rather have written. Because I didn't have the laptop. And my phone has a keyboard, but it's not really much fun for anything serious.
If the iPhone supported one of the old stowaway style fold up keyboards, I'd get one in a heartbeat. My phone actually *does* support bluetooth keyboards, but there are no drivers for the old models that are out there and for whatever reason, the last time I looked, I didn't find any.
So where has this segment gone? Granted, I'm the only one I ever saw, but am I actually the only person who ever used this? I don't believe it, seeing the mockups of iPhone keyboards that I've seen. And yet, the animal exists only as hacks.
I'm considering a netbook as a poor substitute for my old ultramobile setup. A 10" block isn't going to fit in my pocket the way the 5" diagonal of the Palm.
But something is better than nothing. Right?
Photo by alles-schlumpf
Current mood: awake
Thursday, October 2, 2008
I use Mobipocket Reader, on windows and on my phone (Window's Mobile).
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
12:56AM - A treatment for crabs
So I made an origami crab...
Thursday, October 4, 2007
8:29PM - Editable Inevitable
A comment from lisamantchev suddenly made me realize just how long I've been sitting on her manuscript and in a fresh heap of guilt, I've been thinking about the problem. Not that she meant to guilt me, she was just talking about a conversation with her agent, and it occurred to me that I really don't want to be holding the potato at whatever point she's in a sale situation. Partly because I don't want to stress her out, period, and partly because she'd not hesitate to kick my ass, but she'd be all nice about it and I would feel so incredibly guilty.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
10:24PM - JK missed her own point.
Please be advised that I'm about to add to the vast ecology of articles on the internet that discuss Harry Potter and Specifically Book 7. If you are likely to feel that this is a spoiler, then stop reading the internet and start reading the massively hyped book so you don't have to whine about the spoiler. Okay? Okay.
Like all the other screaming schoolchildren, I read Deathly Hallows early in July, and mostly enjoyed the read. It certainly made up for the almost pointless book six, in my mind, and I liked the sense of having progressed from the preparatory stuff to the end game. I have to admit, I mostly liked the end sequence, despite some really annoying bits about specific characters' brushes with death. But in the end, I wasn't satisfied, and I set it down figuring I'd just forget about it. Except I haven't forgotten about it, and today the lightbulb *finally* clicked. I know why I didn't like Harry Potter 7. It's that damned epilogue.
Not the fact that she has one, because really she needed that. But in going decades into the future, the author dropped one a fundamental piece of the story.
From the start, the books have been about Harry Potter and Hogwarts, his true home. Privet Drive was the unpleasantness before he could go Home, and take up this wonderful life that he'd never known he would have. Each book has been evolving his place in Hogwarts, but also marking his progress *through* the seven years of wizarding school.
Rowling isn't stupid. She understood that Hogwarts was important, or else the final battle would have been somewhere that offered more spectacle, like London-town perhaps. And it was right that the showdown should occur there, in the place that has been important to Harry and to his nemesis. But my big epiphany is that that she fumbled that thread at the end
When all the dust has settled, when this great distraction of his mortal battle with He-Who-Needs-A-Hairpiece is done, the story remains that of The-Boy-Who-Lived. And The-Boy-Who-Lived would have needed to put all the excitement away, and finish his final year of classes. Before the author flipped us twenty years ahead, I really think that she owed us the finish to Harry's story, which would have been his finish at Hogwarts. It offers a degree of closure and completeness that seems to be lacking from the implicit ending in the epilogue she did give us.
I'm a little staggered by the resonant righteousness of the idea. And I'm thrilled that I found this idea, because I can't articulate what, but it makes me feel like I've learned something important about story construction. Of course, that might just be my imagination, but at the least it's fun analysis.
Think about it, won't you? Yes you, the only person left still reading me. Harry should have gotten his moment on the podium, accepting his diploma with all his friends around him. Looking out into the new world, finally at peace, and in his proper place. Right? Am I wrong? Is Harry Potter and the Mid-Life Crisis a better close than Harry Potter and the Commencement Address?
You're all I've got, so I'm hoping you'll react. ;) Cheers.
Monday, June 4, 2007
9:29PM - The Wrong Verb
Every once in a while I get these opportunities or prompts to look at things differently. And I've been looking at my life and what pleases me and what doesn't and I suddenly realized, the things that currently don't please me are also the things where the verb, the action is wrong.
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
Care of xkcd.com
Sunday, April 22, 2007
11:30PM - Sidekick Shuffle
So one of the things I did this crazy weekend was some design work for the lisamantchev and I have to say, I'm really tickled with the challenge she set me. See, she's one of the people contributing to this International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant thing and needed a design to go with her story.
Friday, April 20, 2007
Almost two months after I got the word that I'd been promoted, an envelope showed up at my door with a new employment contract that I'm apparently supposed to sign.
I've sent a more conciliatory email since then (I hope it was taken that way, anyway). I'm not saying they didn't earn my temper, but they deserve credit for how much control they've put into their processes compared to the days when I first signed up. And I need to remember that I'm under a lot more scrutiny now that I'm... well... not management... how about upper-level peon.
Educational. I shouldn't have needed it.
In case the employer is peeking, sorry for the confusion.
Current mood: Mortified
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
6:29PM - Plato's "Republic"
In his "Republic", Captain Plato sailed, in brillig infamy
Monday, March 12, 2007
So one of the perks of being lisamantchev's sidekick is getting the advanced class on the whole publication process. And now that she's gotten herself an agent (who is a respectable technical geek that I got to meet way back before they were all officially a couple) it's a massive step forward in the road to getting me an autograph. (And yes, I know I could get her to sign my copy of the anthology she's in, but I'm holding out for her hardcover. It'll be cooler.)
I remember a radio program pointing out something monumental about the 1984 United States Presidential Election in which the late President Ronald Reagan won a landslide victory. In fact, his opponent, Walter Mondale, obtained only 3% of the roughly 540 electoral college votes.1
Three percent. 13 votes.
And the brilliant observation wasn't that it was a small number. No, the speaker managed to quantify the defeat in very human terms: Walter Mondale had beaten *me* by only 13 college votes. I didn't even run.
The radio program, I should admit, was a comedy, but there's something magical in that misguided bit of trivia. (Anybody able to attribute the comedian should drop me a line, please, he deserves credit). Sure it's funny, but at a completely different level, it suddenly made me picture myself *in* the presidential race. Only for a little while, what with not being American or Interested in the position, but thanks to Walter Mondale, I had a whole new way to look at the world.
I mean, sure I didn't win the presidency, but heck, even Walter Mondale only got 13 more votes, and he had to campaign way harder than than I did.
Blurbs are written by the most successful writers you can find who are willing to say something positive about your book. Stephen King writing about how your book is a terrifying perspective into the depths of the human soul and that you are the logical successor to Stephen King is going to cause all the Stephen King fans to at least take a look at your writing, and there are an awful lot of Stephen King fans.
Stephen King is a massively published author. I am not published at all (not anywhere that counts). Clearly, if it were to be a choice between Stephen King's blurb or my blurb on the back of her book, there is no question that she should pick the one from Mr King. That's just a no-brainer.
But here's where my Mondale effect kicks in. Because now I can say, "Yeah, I wrote a blurb for Scrimshaw, but they picked Stephen King over me." And on the one hand, it's a lop-sided competition, but on the other hand, a little tiny corner of your brain has just accepted the absurd proposition that I have any place in a literary face-off with a Name.
And that may still leave me the loser, but hey, I faced off against the master of contemporary horror, what have you done lately?
So I'm working on my blurb. I don't think they'll be talking to Mr King about her book. (They haven't mentioned it to me) But I'm betting on her getting published, and I know I can lose to whoever's blurbs get picked.
I'm just good that way.
A bold, genre-busting tale of derring-do, of pathos, of bitter conflict, and lasting friendships, Lisa Mantchev's Scrimshaw is a brilliantly executed tour-de-force, a rousing romp, where all the world's the stage, and only the players can save it.
(Okay, I was just goofing, but is it bad that I actually *like* that last part? Damn you, Stephen King, you've thwarted me again!!!2)
1For anybody left ignorant of the electoral college after the 2000 election, the popular voting in the United States is subdivided into electoral college seats, and each seat is won individually. Mathematically, it's a wonderfully democratic system, but I guess the Americans aren't good at math because they then screw it up by assigning all the seats in a state to the candidate who wins a electoral college majority in that state.
2The first time being Lawnmower Man.
Thursday, March 8, 2007
8:41AM - The Machine is Us/ing Us
Check out Michael Wesche.
Current mood: enraged
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