mangosteen: (Default)
Things I say non-ironically: “I’m used to occupying a weird spot in the corporate realpolitik orgchart… the big open spot in right-center field where the outfielders aren’t because someone read the play wrong.”

More on that later, but I wanted to get the thought out.
mangosteen: (Default)
In my previous posting, I was following the rabbit hole of an exercise equipment supply chain. Specifically the scenario of "Only a couple of different product variations over several dozen brand names, that is all clearly coming from the same supply chain."

Folks, there is a whole world of possibility, here.

Thinking about it more, I need to find a set of other exercise equipment that meets the same criteria, and then do some Steampunky old-timey thing like "Dr. McGillicudy's Devices of Vigor", complete with ornate scrollwork in the logo and everything.

For example:
Speed Rope: "Dr. McGillicudy's Rope of Velocity"
Wobble Board: "Dr. McGillicudy's Disc of Stability"
Wrist Supports: "Dr. McGillicudy's Stalwart Bracers"

Heck, if you're really good and can sacrifice a little bit of margin, you include a piece of paper in each one giving the story of how Dr. Elias McGillicudy DISCOVERED this MAGNIFICENT DEVICE and how it will help you BUILD YOURSELF INTO A TOWER OF HUMAN STRENGTH WITH THE LITHENESS OF A JUNGLE CAT!

Every now and then, I'm convinced that my inner child has an inner lemonade stand, with a healthy inner balance sheet and inner cashflow statement.
mangosteen: (Default)
I've been doing Tae Kwon Do for about 14 months now. There are a ton of rabbit holes to go down in talking about this, but right now I'm going to focus on approximately one thing, because that's how any of this will get written at all.

For decades, as I had slipped into a more and more sedentary lifestyle, I gradually limited my range of motion to avoid injury. One of the first things to go was the ability/desire to jump; as in "two feet on the ground, spring up, catch air, land". My glutes and hamstrings weren't strong enough to keep me upright under extraordinary load, so I landed straight-legged, jamming my knees. That lesson quickly learned, I stopped jumping except when it was unavoidable, and even then it was more of a controlled stumble.

Fast forward to roughly now. TKD has been going really well, I've been re-learning how to move in my body, and the next belt test requires moves that, well, they'll go a lot better if I can actually jump. Undaunted, your narrator forges ahead with (re)learning how to jump. Supporting my weight through my muscles, fighting the urge to land on my joints, and generally (re)learning how to move.

One of the other steps on the my long journey to physical fitness is general cardio conditioning. Straight-up endurance and not having muscles that go into debt faster than a college kid with their first credit card.*

You know what's a good cardio exercise which requires minimal equipment, minimal space, and varied choosable intensity? Jumping rope. I shouldn't be surprised at how much effort goes into jumping over a rope a couple of times a second, but yet there I was, huffing and puffing and trying to stay vertical after jumping over a rope a dozen or so times.

Well, jumping over something. It wasn't exactly a rope. It was a plastic-coated steel cable, with set-screws to control the length of the cable, and ball-bearings embedded in the handles for your wrist-flicking pleasure. Technology has advanced a bit, evidently. Curious about this phenomenon, I go to Amazon and search for "speed rope cross".**

Go ahead. Do it. I'll wait.

What you'll find very quickly is that there are dozens offered that differ only in two real ways:
a) The type of ball bearing in the handle, of which there are two primary styles
b) The brand name printed on the handles... and there are dozens of different brand names

It didn't take long to figure out what happened. Everyone sources from the same two (probably Chinese) manufacturers, there's a couple of different variations, they buy at least 200 of them to fulfill the minimum order, and then they drop-ship them to Amazon (i.e. "Fulfilled By Amazon") for further sale. I must admit, I'm rather tempted to try this stunt myself, complete with Crossfit-compatible hyper-macho brand name***, if there's a positive margin at all, just for humor value.

So, yes. Jumping rope. Good for you, and mass-customized.



* ...and the free frisbee that came with it.
** I recalled 'cross' being somewhere in the brand name of the one that I borrowed.
*** Just not too many numbers... that's more of a Tactical Flashlight thing.
mangosteen: (Default)
It's going to be a fun day when you turn on the streaming radio-not-radio that's really only radio because it's over wi-fi so there's an antenna involved, streaming into your beautiful unibody laptop into your beautiful unibody headphone amplifier into your beautiful headphones around the world of your ears and brain that does something delightfully abstract in exchange for vouchers predicated upon the future production levels of your planet.

The beat starts moving and you start moving, bopping up and down on the pneumatic cushion of your carefully calibrated office chair as you start to float down a solid channel of productivity writing things that a some people will read and only a couple will understand, but they're the right people with the right signatures and the right authorizations and that's the only thing that matters really.

So there you are listening to old standbys of your youth, while the new standbys of your middle age are coursing through your veins courtesy of the United States Pharmacopeia and trying to figure out where you left that notebook and coffee cup and extra dozen pens and the chinese-made rubik-esque speed cube that you're finally getting around to solving as the focus drugs finally hit your system.

Bring The Funk Back, Let's Go.
mangosteen: (allwork)
Given the changes in the Terms of Service for LJ, it's time to pack up.
This will take time, but it will happen.

Same name over at Dreamwidth. See you over there!
mangosteen: (allwork)
So, Spotify has a "Songs To Test Headphones With" playlist. I like headphones, and I like songs that push the performance of audio gear, so I start sifting through it.

One of the songs was "Axel F", by Harold Faltermeyer. You know, that song from Beverly Hills Cop which is a effectively a tour de force of a guy in a shoulder-padded suit with rolled-up sleeves and a skinny tie futzing around on his synth set. Also, very catchy and a lot of fun.

So, I start listening to it. I never noticed how utterly spare the arrangement is. There's precisely nowhere to hide in that song. You can hear every note and it's not too hard to look at what the sequencer tracks would look like superimposed on top of each other. It's this little fugue that got a lot of airplay, and now understanding how clean and precise it is, I kind of understand why.
mangosteen: (allwork)
I'm sensing a pattern:

In 1999, a dealer out-negotiated me on a car, so I learned a bunch about negotiation, and now occasionally help friends get better deals on cars by aggressively bargaining with car dealers.

In 2003, our wedding photographer was absolutely horrible, and so I teamed up with a friend and started a wedding photography business so that people wouldn't have the same experience I did.

Just now, in 2016, Comcast raised my rates, and so I'm researching the laws (specifically the Massachusetts Open Wiring Statutes) around getting more Cable TV competition in the condo building.

Right now, I'm going with "constructive vengeance."
mangosteen: (allwork)
How The Party Crew Known As Ziggurat Labs taught me about change, truly appreciating what was, and not regretting the ephemerality of the moment:

Things like ZigLabs exist as a static point in spacetime where the confluence of numerous peoples' lives end up in a specific place, to come together, and to eventually pass each other and disperse.  We were fifteen some-odd people who stood in a circle of time together, and threw the biggest series of parties that Arisia had ever seen, three times in four years.

I will remember laying on the bed at 4am in the hotel room after the ZigLabs Halloween Party along with 10 other people, collapsed in a heap, staring up at the net of LED fireflies on the ceiling. 600 people passed through the party that night, covering four separate rooms, all decorated to within a inch of our collective sanity. When it was done, and the doors were closed, and the sleepers were chased off the couch, and the unfortunate incident was washed out of the rug, we were just laying there, understanding why we did it, and understanding that we may never do it again.... and that was okay.

It didn't have to last; it just had to exist.
mangosteen: (allwork)
So, given the following statements:

  1. "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

  2. "Guns don't kill people, people kill people."

  3. "Don't shoot anything you wouldn't want to kill."

I turn the crank and get "Society would be better off if we had more people who were willing to kill."

Am I missing something, here?
mangosteen: (allwork)
New house.
Everything is finally
(mostly)
plugged in.

Finally have the photo post-production
(and gaming)
machine set up
(also gaming)
Fine.  Gaming, too.
(cool.)
Done?
(yeah.)

Okay.  So.
I realize that I need a picture of myself for something
(Keyn-a-hora!  You clean up so well!)
and I was kind of short on pictures of me
due to the business end of the camera
(Oy! Such a shaina punim!)
being pointed away from me.
(nothing?)
I'm talking, here!
(fine.)

So I start going through weddings.
I used to shoot a lot of weddings.
Maybe I handed a friend the camera for a second when I was off-duty.
And there's--
(oh.)
I promised her pictures for her okcupid account.
and I promised *him* pictures from London.
and *her* pictures from Paris.
and
(stop.  it's okay.  close the window.)
that's not gonna happen, now.
(walk away.  get some sleep.)

...

(I'm sorry, man.)
Yeah.  Me too.
Me too.
mangosteen: (allwork)
Meta: A comment that deserves a post.

Another take on ROCKY.

ROCKY is the first movie in the series.
The contents of ROCKY II-V are a 15 minute montage at the beginning of ROCKY BALBOA, which is the only sequel.

In this case, the ROCKY series is about an American icon who everyone poured their hopes and dreams into, and he came out the other side broken and bruised, with one small chance to actually be his own man.
mangosteen: (allwork)
When I was in professional services, one of the things that I noticed I did was I ran a very specific list of diagnostics at the beginning of a customer meeting.

  • Who is the most important person in the room?

  • How technical is this group of people?

  • What kind of mood are they in?

  • Do they appear to be in a hurry, or are they settling in for the long haul?

    • It's a good proxy for "Do they want to be here?"



When I was doing wedding photography, and I was touring the venue the day before an event, I'd run through:

  • How light/dark is the venue?

  • How is the event going to proceed through the space?

  • Where are likely places to take the formal shots?

  • What are my restrictions on movement through the space?

  • Are any of the relatives with us on the walk-through, and are they taking pictures of whatever I take pictures of?

    • That last one is important because those are the people most likely to stand in front of me while I’m trying to get shots.



Assumption: Anyone who has enough experience in a field runs through a diagnostic list to start doing triage on approaches to getting the job done.

Query: What is one of the lists that you run through for your hobby/profession? For bonus points, explain why a couple of the more obscure points are relevant.
mangosteen: (allwork)
I live in one place, although most of my co-workers would be hard-pressed to tell you where that is.

So one of the things about flying as much as I used to do, is that it's easy to get into a mode where *place* doesn't exist, per se. That is, the notion of place is purely instrumental; a customer's office must exist somewhere in 3-space, and I suppose this place is as good as any. Airports kind of count as places, but mostly don't; they're meta-places.

There are plenty of books, fiction and non-fiction alike, that document this phenomenon... where the only sense of place you get as a road warrior is the airport you touch down in, because you *have* to know those well enough to get to the next point on the line efficiently. At least for myself, airports are also these interesting beacons of civilization... if one is working normally, so many other parts of the infrastructure of human civilization have to be working normally that things are basically okay. It's comforting.

The service industry knows their most profitable customers. Marriott Hotels are experts in catering to the kind of constantly moving, high-cognitive-load travelers that make up the bulk of non-glamorous business travel. "Don't worry. Your room has the same 2.5 square feet of nightstand space it has in every other Marriott. You don't have to worry where to put things, how to contact the front desk, or even how to read your bill. It's all the same the whole world round." You go from the meta-place of the airport to the non-place of where you landed to the uni-place of yet another Marriott.

Like I said before, normally I don't remember all that much about the places I visit on business. I mean, sure, there are individual restaurants that I'll recommend* and general impressions I get of places**, but it's not like I get involved in the daily comings and goings of the people who live there; it's a high-resolution background image in the video game of consulting.

This all sounds pretty dire, but it's not. It's not like I didn't stop living in Boston during all of this. Friends, connections, comings, goings... all the parts that make up a real functional life. I think one of the reasons that I constantly asserted that I lived only in one place is because I couldn't imagine living in *two* places. Two sets of connections, social calendars, obligations, and all the general freestyle *adulting* that has to happen when one exists in two places.

The closest I ever got to that impossible situation was when work flew me to San Francisco twice in the span of two weeks. for about 5 days each time. Now, the thing about two weeks is that, presuming Godzilla doesn't show up, nothing really changes. The storefronts stay the same, the people on the street are the same, and weekly activities are still happening weekly. The fact that I have plenty of friends there already, helps. It was great to tell people "see you in a couple of weeks" and ask "is this event still happening on Fridays? Cool. I'll be there again." It was incredibly normal. My hours were more normal because I *had* a life outside work, and there was a certain ease with being able to just get into the rhythm of *living* someplace instead of immediately teleporting out.

In effect, I was living in a place where I didn't live, and when I left the second time, it hurt just a little, like I was moving away and leaving friends behind, because I was.

I'm glad I did, though. It was delightfully impossible.



* ...which looks a lot like being an experienced traveler, but somehow misses the mark for me.

** The drive on Texas state route 121 up to Plano from Dallas reminds me nothing more of a giant's offspring having spilled their bucket of Duplo blocks all over the ground: random rectangles, having no relation to any other features, man-made or otherwise.
mangosteen: (allwork)
Observation:
In business and in life, it's useful to have a meta process going in your head about the level of the conversation. Are you discussing things at the same layer of abstraction as everyone around you, and if you're not, is there a reason?

This is how you get the geek vox clamantis complex: "This won't work. The salesperson is deceiving you. 'Strategic advantages' won't matter if it takes up too much RAM. The latency will be ridiculous! WHY DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND?!?!?!"

Which, more often than not, tends to be a case of a conversation being held at a different level.

Which, to be fair, can sometimes result in "IT being told to implement something impossible because it was sold to the C-suite without further input."

Which, in turn, results from IT relegating itself to an "implementation engineer" role and not making the effort to make the partnerships with the higher levels of the organization.
mangosteen: (allwork)
"So, hm. Looks like we have to do this again, and we fired everything off a week ago."

"Yeah, I hear ya." *rummages through a barrel*

"Eyewitness? There was a camera. Following training? He wasn't. Violent Crime? Not even close. Grand Jury? Still has some staying power, but we just used it."

"Wait-- I got one. At the bottom. Looks like we didn't need this one last time."

"Yeah?"

"Oldie but goodie. 'One Bad Apple.'"

"Good man. Send it out."
mangosteen: (allwork)
I'm in Tokyo for the next week or so. Having flown in yesterday evening, the jetlag beast has triumphed in ways that I've not experienced in years, so here's a couple of random observations from way too early in the morning:

Streams: In Tokyo Central Station, people moved in streams. Being a bit taller than the average bear around here, I could get a really good view of it. Outside a stream, motion would seem completely unpredictable and frustrating. Inside a stream, you could move at full speed through the station. This then became a game of looking at overhead signs, looking at the people beneath them, and seeing if the stream you were in was going to take you there.

Coins: Japan is a very cash-based society; credit cards exist, but you can't assume anyone smaller than a big store chain is going to take them. Combine that with the smallest bank note being ¥1000 (~$9), and it's easy to accumulate coinage at a rather astounding rate. This brings Change Management to a whole new level.

90% Clever: If you're traveling from the US or Canada, the good news is that you don't need plug adapters, and most modern switching power supplies will handle the change in voltage/cycles. The bad news is that no outlets have a third hole for the grounding pin, which means that your typical three-prong laptop power adapter may not fit. I can neither confirm nor deny that this may have happened to the author.

Packaging: I've finally had my first moment of "not buying some food object because I was vaguely freaked out by the amount of packaging they were going to swaddle it in." I get it. It makes sense. Space is at a premium, so consumable gifts are a thing, so a lot of things that I would not normally consider gifts, are. And yet.... HOLY CRAP IT'S JUST A CREAM PUFF!

Food: Random fried meat cutlet with curry and rice is a comfort food of mine, but it was not until yesterday when I discovered that adding on diced pineapple, scallions, chopped peanuts, and a couple of dashes of hot sauce was a Thing of Beauty. That restaurant gave me the opportunity to make my comfort food comfier!

So that was the first couple of hours wandering around Tokyo Station. More later. I should attempt to get back to sleep.
mangosteen: (allwork)
Since Friday afternoon is typically when the Nerf wars break out around the office, people got to talking about different shooting styles.

A couple of people are very much run-and-gun.
A couple of people are the snipers.
"And then there's M, who sits there on his cube/porch with a gigantic Nerf shotgun, saying "get off my lawn", and hits people with single shots from 20 yards away."

I'm basically okay with that image.
mangosteen: (allwork)
Yesterday, I used my most hard-earned powers for good, instead of just for profit.

It was a good day.

"..."

May. 9th, 2014 10:06 am
mangosteen: (allwork)
Something I wrote a while ago, which seems relevant again: A lesson my dad didn't teach me.

RIP, [livejournal.com profile] radioactiverich.
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