Archive for April, 2019

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Philosophy Tuesday

April 30, 2019

“Management’s traditional assumption is that employees are recalcitrant and irresponsible. As a result, they design both equipment technologies and organizational technologies to ensure compliance, minimize employees’ scope of discretion, and reduce their reliance on employees’ skills. And management should then not be surprised when employees respond by apathy and antagonism — a result which in turn comforts management in their initial assumption that employees are recalcitrant and irresponsible.”

Paul Simon Adler (emphasis mine)

 

(This is such a great reminder.  When we approach people as jerks (or etc), we very much tend to get jerks back.  We are leaving them no other avenues for expression.  And then when we, surprise surprise, get jerk back we get that little rush because, by gosh we were right, and thus we totally get to justify our initial jerk interaction.

It is well worthy to be mindful of this downward spiral, not only in the field of business* but everywhere else in our lives as well: friends, family members, our children, people on our sports teams, hobby acquaintances, supermarket clerks, people at the DMV… and even beyond to those of differing groups, views, upbringings, social status, origins, life experiences… The list goes forever on.  No matter whom, it remains that when we relate to another or a group of others as a particular way, that’s what tends to come back to us.

Our listening is incredibly powerful.  When we listen to people as small, we get just that.  When we choose to listen to someone from and as an empowering place, the possibilities for great things opens wide.)

 

* The quote itself comes from a research paper looking into the NUMI plant, which was a closed GM plant that was re-opened as a so-called venture with Toyota, although really it more or less was a case of having Toyota run the joint.  Prior to shutdown, the plant had been a poor performer, with lots of employee trouble.  Upon re-opening, nearly all the employees were re-hires.   Under Toyota’s management style (which involved a very different “management vs worker” dynamic), the plant’s productivity, quality, and profit rose tremendously, employee turnover and sick days dropped, and worker satisfaction reached towards the nineties.

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Architecture Monday

April 29, 2019

Now this is a thing of sinuous beauty.  Four intersecting cylinders, shaped and carved by ellipses to form a striking curvaceous form, rendered all the more amazing by the fact that it’s all brick.  Jutting directly out of the water (a bridge is needed to access it it) it’s like an ancient landmass rising directly from the fjord.

The brickwork itself is amazing, custom glazed in hues that vary from the water towards sky, its regularity interrupted not only by the curving forms but also punctuated by special oversized (and circular!) bricks.  The windows and brick merge together to continue the forms, and the whole thing dances in its interactions with water and sky, light and shadow.

Inside, all those curving forms make for some lovely spaces that also boast views out of the great windows towards the city and landscape beyond.  And check out those details, like the circular elevator and wrap-around stair or the conference table with a chandelier that takes reflected sunlight and spreads it throughout the room.  Great stuff.

What a delightfully sculptural and sweet building.  Nicely designed to fill its role, a great mix of indoor and outdoor spaces and a fitting ambassador welcoming you to the city.

The Fjordenhus by Studio Olafur Eliasson and Sebastian Behmann.

Bonus video!

 

 

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Wonder Wednesday

April 24, 2019

Enjoy some jaw-droppingly amazing photos of the equally amazing Falcon Heavy launch from a couple weeks back. Really, some incredible shots here:

Plenty more at SpaceX’s Flickr Stream!

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Philosophy Tuesday

April 23, 2019

“It taught me – it gave me greater appreciation and understanding for the present moment. By that, I mean not being lost in thought, not being distracted, not being overwhelmed by difficult emotions but instead learning how to be in the here and now, how to be mindful, how to be present.

I think the present moment is so underrated. It sounds so ordinary. And yet, we spend so little time in the present moment that it’s anything but ordinary.

“I remember getting told off once at the monastery. So I was a very naughty monk.  I can’t even remember now why. I think I’d read a book or something in the library that I wasn’t supposed to read or something. And I was given a task to do, and it was to cut the grass. And it was to cut the grass with a pair of scissors. Now, at the time when I was doing it, at least for the first kind of hour or two of doing that, in my mind, I was just busy talking to myself. This is ridiculous. This is crazy… So stupid, la-la-la-la…

And really kind of just building up a lot of frustration and anger. It was entirely my own kind of doing, that stuff. And I was kind of creating this tension in the mind and in my body. And at some stage, I think I remember just kind of just laughing to myself at the absurdity of it. But through having let go of that storyline and having let go of that tension, all of a sudden, I was kind of released from that story.

And all of a sudden, it actually became quite a pleasant activity. So it’s a really good example of how, look, the activity is what it was. I got to define the experience of that activity by how I was relating to it with my mind. And so in the monastery, you’re constantly kind of challenged. You know, if you’re sweeping the floor are you sweeping the floor whilst thinking about something else that happened in the past or looking to the future, hoping something will happen in the future? Or are you simply present with the sound and the sensation of the broom?

And it’s such a simple idea. But if it’s done sort of repeatedly over time, then it has a really sort of transformative effect on the mind.”

—-

“And I sometimes think that, in our search for happiness, we make so much noise – if not externally, in our own mind – that actually we miss the very thing that we were looking for and we realized that, oh, actually it was here all along. So I sometimes worry about this kind of search for happiness or trying to be more happy. And that, for me – I can only speak from my own experience – but the framework of meditation was so useful where there isn’t really this idea of trying to be happy. It’s more simply creating a framework where we let go of all the things that bring us unhappiness.”

Andy Puddicombe (emphasis mine)

 

(Lots of great stuff, and I especially like that last bit – searching for happiness or trying to force happiness is often not particularly all that useful or productive.  It’s throwing happiness icing on top of a mud pie.  There’s still so much mud there, that it’s nothing but a fragile veneer (that, probably, creates more mud of resentment that lies on top of the icing).  What mindfulness, being present, and ontological inquiry and discovery allows is to recognize and let go of that which is making the mud within us.  To get rid of the mud.  Clear the plate, and allow the happiness (and joy, fulfilment, etc) to rise up naturally – and authentically – from our own self-expression.

Also, I very much like and it totally deserves being doubly highlighted: “And yet, we spend so little time in the present moment that it’s anything but ordinary.”)

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Architecture Monday

April 22, 2019

Oh yeah!  An old Water Pumping Plant turned Artist Studios and guest house.  Lots of great stuff here, let’s dive right in…

The former pumping hall is a thing of beauty.  40+ feet high and with gorgeous and ginormous windows it’s perfect for a flexible studio.  To add even more flexibility, the old gantry crane has been repurposed to support a movable mezzanine deck that can used either for offices or to support and make the art below.  I love the studio’s minimal deco styling and the strong contrast of white and rich black.  And oh those tall and narrow windows, so elegant, lending a stately air as they pull the space heavenward and let light cast deep within.

As cool as that is, though, the reinhabited attic is divine.  Taking advantage of the original and expressive trusses (designed to allow the hall below to be column free), the lounge and attached guestroom calls to me to go and hang out.  With a few newly added windows it’s a different kind of soaring space than the studio below, the structure vaulting upward cathedral-like and creating a lively mix of light and shadow.

Great stuff, and awesome adaptive reuse.  And a lucky find for the artists!

Water Pumping Renovation by Wenk and Wiese Architects.

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Impressions of an Electric Car Driver (@ 1 yr)

April 21, 2019

The year sure has gone by quickly!  Yet here we are, one year of all-electric driving, both near and far.  Time to reflect anew!

The basics:

RWD long range version.  10,800 miles driven, with an average watt hours per mile of 210.  Maintenance has been zero except for a tire rotation.  Home base is in the SF Bay area.  Two long trips taken thus far (one to Reno, one to LA), with another upcoming.  And for reference sake, my previous car was a VW GTI VR6, which I liked a lot and drove for many years.

The super short answer:

I love it!

More detailed answer, starting with… Driving experience:

It’s great.  All I wrote about in my previous post still applies, the car is an absolute joy to drive and I still get noticeably jubilant while driving.  The sweet, smooth, powerful, and deliciously controllable electric drivetrain coupled with the car’s low centre of gravity make for a wonderful and potentially spirited driving experience.  And the precision, especially at slow speeds, makes both gnarly traffic and parking lot parkour a breeze.

I also very much enjoy the car’s quietness, gliding along residential roads or in lots without a constant wheeze in the background.  And while it was odd at first, I’ve come to appreciate the silence at stoplights.

Comfort wise, the car is a win as well.  At the end of both long trips I’ve felt much less stiff than I’m used to, a bonus due (I’m guessing) to the lack of constant engine vibration.  All around the car just feels good.

Range experience:

There is a shift in thinking that’s needed regarding electric cars.  I’ve had more than a few conversations with people that veered off into interesting directions until the new paradigm of “fueling” was understood:  the traditional notion of “fueling up” is only applicable, or a concern, on very long trips.  On a daily level, there is no such thing as “stopping for fuel.”  When I go to work, I plug in.  When I get home, I can plug in.  When I go to a store, often I can plug in.  What this means is that, without taking any more time out of my day or requiring that I drive to a specific location, my car is always at the ready.  At the daily recommended charge level for battery longevity I have around 270 miles of charge at my disposal.  I can, essentially, start each day “fully fueled”, and 270 miles can get me me pretty far out and back for a day trip.

So when it comes to the idea of “Range Anxiety”, I have none.  And this is with almost exclusively charging only while at work, sharing the charge port with two others.  I’ve only charged at home about 4 times (and even then using slow 120v charging).  The only time I even need to give serious thought to range is on those very long trips, and for that the onboard navigation/planner makes it simple.  Type in a destination, and it will tell me when, where, and for how long to stop at a supercharger.  Charging does take more time than gassing up at a traditional fuel station, but if you’re stopping for food anyway the time delta is not all that big.  And with the new superchargers set to roll out with double the charging speed that delta will decrease even further.

Ownership experience:

One of the nifty and still weird/need to get used to things about the car is the over the air updates.  Get in the car, get a notification, start the update, and ta-dah!  My car just got better.  In many ways, too:  added features (Free integrated dashcam!  Sentry mode!  Dog mode!  Atari games!), general UI improvements (I admit, I was weirdly overjoyed when I could set things to Celsius and 24h time), and, most crazily, in performance.  Extra power, extra regenerative braking, traffic awareness, and blind spot detection are all things I’ve gotten after an update.  An extra little dollop of range is even promised in an upcoming update.  That’s really cool!

Service appointments are practically zero, as there’s no maintenance on the car (the manual literally has only three service items on the schedule, which besides tire rotation is on a 2 year and 4 year timeframe) and when you do need one there is an easy online scheduling system.  Depending on the nature of the service Tesla will try to bring a mobile truck out to you.  This all adds up to super amounts of convenience, with less times I need to go out of my way to do a thing (gas, maintenance, etc) to keep the car running.  Overall the car is just cleaner and easier to own and operate.  And less expensive as well.  With the maintenance almost non-existent and the energy costs per mile lower, the car needs very little ongoing investment.

Right now the few times I’ve done home charging I’ve been on 120v power, but I’m getting a 240v outlet installed in the coming weeks.  That’ll be nice for two reasons, firstly for the quicker charging (24 miles every hour vs the 4 on 120v), and two, due to the higher voltage it’s more efficient, using less watt hours of energy per mile gained.

One niggle I do hope gets fixed in an update sometime is playback from a USB stick.  Right now it’s pretty hit or miss (without any pattern I’ve discerned) whether playback will resume upon re-entering the car.  Which is a bummer enough for music albums but would be really a pain for audiobooks or the like.  Fingers crossed.

Conclusion:

One year in, I’m still very much loving this car, and can’t see myself ever going back to owning an ICE unless the situation truly dictates it.  I’m sure I’ll still need to drive an ICE from time to time, either because I’ve rented a truck for hauling or a car for some super-long-fast or special kind of trip.  But I’ll probably be pining for mine the whole time.

Great car, and looking forward to many, many, many years of joyous driving with it.

Any questions or wonderings?  Feel free to ask away below.

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It’s begun

April 18, 2019

Well well well, what have we here