The world of bloggers is down by one today as Nate Dogg has shut down callmehoss.blogspot. It also indicates the transitive nature of the virtual universe - from blogspot to myspace in this case. In the real world, a so-so day at Knoll frought with the perils of complexity. We keep finding new wrinkles in the fabric of what we're doing that are confounding our progress, but half of the learning is, I think, finding ways to move forward in the face of dead ends. After work I battled the heat over at the court in Macungie Memorial Park then made fettucini alfredo and settled in to watch the Pistons extend their season to game six.
posted at 10:48 PM - comments
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
First day back in a shortened week; the morning was split by a trip to Upper Perkiomen Middle School to officiate a balloon-powered car race and the afternoon by a meeting with Knoll's database manager. After work a ride up to scenic Topton and the shiny aluminum dome of The Lutheran Home on the side of the mountain before looping around through cow country back to Macungie. Rides in the Lehigh Valley are more fun because you get to see, like, four towns in 15 miles: Alburtis, Topton, Longswamp, and Macungie on today's journey before heading home for a much-needed shower, leftover dinner, and wedding stuff.
posted at 10:20 PM - comments
Monday, May 29, 2006
Memorial Day on the east coast: to Philadelphia on Saturday for a ring-related stop, a cheese steak sandwich, Independence Mall, and Kelly Drive. We saw the Liberty Bell, took pictures of Independence Hall, walked through the colonial district, saw the Delaware, and visited scenic historic boathouse row. It was a full day that left our feet tired and legs sore when we finally sat down at Johnny Mananas in East Falls for a burrito on our way north to Lehigh Valley.
Sunday was wedding day. Not actual wedding day, but really almost as important. We picked a date and made a startling amount of progress into other details. (One wonders how this sort of thing was accomplished in the days before the internet?) Monday was a bit more of the same, though more casual. We discovered - to our vast surprise and dismay - that Philadelphia's museums were observing the holiday by NOT opening on a Monday, so our original plan of going museum-hopping was out. So instead of venturing, planless, back into the city we investigated Macungie a little more in the form of a walk through town and the park with frisbee in hand. By mid-afternoon, though, we needed to get on the road and that was the visit; Rita's frozen smoothie thing in the car for the journey south to PHL and now it's 'see you soon' and 'miss you' like we've done many times before.
Last day of the week and Diane's birthday (observed) at work but the day's real excitement is Jenelle's pending arrival. As always NWA is working against us, this time in the form of an air traffic control delay at PHL. Compounding the wait for me was a sudden soft rain that saturated the Lehigh Valley and soaked any chance of outdoor activity after work.
posted at 7:22 PM - comments
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Another day at work, but this one different because I was the only team member onsite today; I told Ryan good luck and Go Blue! last evening as he departed for collegiate ultimate frisbee nationals in Columbus this weekend. That left me at Knoll with some analysis to crank out and some interviews to complete. As a team we're reaching a critical mass of information, insight, and (as yet, potential) impact. Projects like this and MAP make me understand the appeal of consulting... if the big consultancies could wrap up that pesky 'travel every week and live in a hotel until you're 58' thing I'd probably be down.
I rode the bike on the big hills around Macungie when I got home. Results, apart from burning quads, include my fond dislike for oil and gravel roads. Mountain Road, which winds up the mountain from here, was tarred and stoned this afternoon and now it isn't rideable anymore. Blast.
A sunny day in the Lehigh Valley, but I spent the day indoors analyzing data and trying to find the answers to a myriad of interwoven problems. No problems got solved but I think we may have found an immediate solution to an ongoing issue that is, for all intents and purposes, a dam that blocks off a few percent of the steady stream flowing into the company. What I'm finding during my MBA projects is that these organizations have almost no control over these little glitches - the enormity of the structure prevents any changes to the foundation.
After work I tried to play some hoops but the local high schoolers had taken over the court en masse so I retreated and will try again later. In the meantime, there's plenty of correspondence to take care of and dinner is brewing.
BrownCow history indicates that two posts in one day mean big news, and today's supplement is big enough to warrant it's very own big news button.
There's also a new feature to the left; over the coming days and weeks, months and years, clicking on the little blue box will link to the latest details about Jenelle and me.
posted at 8:17 PM - comments
I'm back in East Greenville at my desk doing business and engineering, together. IMDC was great; a paper challenging naval practices and advocating change is bound to create discussion and that's exactly what happened. Wolverine A at the Union was full - with a few people standing in the back - to hear about Multiple Different Platform and Empty Ship fleet architectures.
After the conference, we had an afternoon together that included watching parts of Hale Auditorium be demolished by a huge and oddly life-like excavator. In the evening, Thomas and Elisabeth (friends from Belgium... they'd stayed at 409B for the conference) treated us to Indian food for dinner and we sat in huge sofas at Espresso Royale Café until closing. Jenelle and I drove home thinking that we really enjoy Thomas and Elisabeth and talking about a hub-and-spoke vacation centered around Liege.
Yesterday was a business trip to Maryland Office Interiors in Baltimore to see the specials process from the outside in. It was a good trip, but lots of car time to get a small amount of face time down there. It seemed kind of like a day off, though, which is a good day for me.
Today was a little slower - back in the office doing the information gathering thing -but tonight has been busy by choice. It started with a ride up the big hill to the west. I'm starting to enjoy the hilly rides, it's a quick way to get a good burning bit of exercise. Then back to #312 for fajitas, packing, Pistons, and presentation prep. Watching the Pistons has not been a source of calm this series, which has probably had an adverse affect on my ability to focus on the IMDC paper. However, crunch time has arrived and efficiency is the only option. I'm headed to the airport at 4 tomorrow and the talk is at 11:45 Friday morning, followed by a weekend in Ann Arbor.
Week two kicked off today with more Knoll excitement. Our direct manager's birthday was the main event, but we got more good data and had a good project status update meeting with both of our bosses. Then poring over a giant stack of error reports and the day was done. In the evening I shot some hoops in the park and then came home to make sloppy joes and watch the Pistons. The sloppy joes were good, the Pistons were not. That is a team in need of a boost from somewhere. Now it is more or less off to bed ahead of a trip to Baltimore tomorrow to meet a contract furniture dealer.
posted at 10:04 PM - comments
Sunday, May 14, 2006
I've been all over the place today, physically and metaphysically. It was cold in the apartment this morning, which always means that I pull the covers high over my ears and shun the start of the day. When I did get up what I really wanted to do was ride; my rained-out hills yesterday were not enough to get me tired so I set out to ride the Macungie/Emmaus/100-29 triangle which starts with a monster (for me) climb south out of town and then turns abruptly downhill for the second third before finishing the triad with a bit of a cool-down over the three miles back into Macungie.
After the ride I did something very pedestrian - going to Best Buy. For me life is wireless and being confined to the table within 6' of the modem is not acceptable. As such, a wireless router has been acquired to make the whole apartment productive, present and future tense. Then, with some IMDC work to do I logged onto APHC's website and browsed around the archives and settled on Duluth, 24 April 2004. Big mistake. A young folkster named Jerree Small was a guest and she was awesome and got me thinking about music, so I went hunting. To NPR to track down a song I heard a snippet of, "Avenue B" by Ukranian-punk wunderkind Gogol Bordello. Onto the web to track down some Johnny Cash, Juelz Santana, and Black Eyed Peas. And ultimately, back to Jerree Small.
Tonight is also the end of The West Wing. It started off so hot, then cooled before a late resurgence, but I've enjoyed the framework of a fictional government to reflect on our own and Sorkin's teleplays were unmatched. The characters' everyday-people emotion gave us hope that there was more to our country than the starchy talking heads who populate C-SPAN and the outcomes of the ficticional plotlines gave us hope that there was hope for our non-fiction country. And it was funny... the kind of funny you have to be an optimist to get.
With internet at home (for the first time in my adult life, I realized) I've gotten plenty 'done' since last post, ie I have looked up every boat project I ever worked on and got all caught up on my corporate blog reading. I stumbled across what I'd always said would be a cool Chris-Craft: one with a rumble seat. Most exciting was the picture below of the results of my toiling for many a summer day to ensure Jariya had the coolest stern around.
In other news, what started out as a perfectly wonderful Saturday has turned into something of a rained-out Saturday afternoon. I'd planned on taking the bike up into the hills to test both the newly-tuned gears (by a mechanic who made the cover of Bicycle magazine, no less) and my badly-in-need-of-tuning legs (which have never been near Bicycle magazine) on the big ridge just to the west. Instead I'm polishing my IMDC presentation, "CONCEPT DESIGN ANALYSIS OF THE FLEET/FORCE MULTIPLE DIFFERENT PLATFORMS AND ‘EMPTY SHIP’ EMERGING CONCEPTS" and fixin' to watch the Pistons' game. Maybe a little later in the evening the roads will dry and I'll get out...
posted at 4:57 PM - comments
Friday, May 12, 2006
One week down, twelve to go. I didn't get paid for this week (yet) but it's hard to feel like I need to be compensated: Ryan and I spent the week getting oriented within the CPD group and learning the systems and protocols that they use. Plus, we had no fewer than three meals on Knoll and quite a few snacks from around the cube farm all week. Edible swag is my new favorite thing, I just decided.
After work I headed home and arrived just in time to get the cable guys to do their thing - correctly - and then turned around to get to Emmaus to drop the T2k at South Mountain Cycle and then head to Macungie Memorial Park to shoot some hoops.
The first really smooth, feel-like-I-belong-here day at Knoll wrapped up today. We got great input from advisors, got good insight from employees, got gobs of data from IT, and got to a place where it suddenly feels like we can do this. As with MAP, the stages are known but not demarcated; there's no timeline to move from "we'll never be able to do this" to "we can do this" but less than a week is solid.
Outside of work, there was cycling on Tuesday evening (some 15 miles total, to Emmaus and back and then a bit of a vertical lariat to really build the conditioning) and a dinner with the site VPs and GMs of Knoll at a local tavern on Wednesday. I think the welcoming demeanor and pleasant atmosphere last night really contributed to the positive feeling today at work. A really excellent chicken cordon bleu and a table of business men not afraid to order wings while wearing business clothes helped, too.
'Pleasant' is my current favorite word. So much of our lives is spent hovering somewhere below this point that I think it's worth being stoked when things go well enough to be pleasant. It is simple, uncontrived, and meaningful... in a word, pleasant. Excitement is good for a person and contagious, and I think that expressing your pleasure over something being pleasant falls into this category without the necessity of irrational exuberance that is so taboo in these post-Greenspan times.
On wifi from Macungie library for what I hope is the last time, as Service Electric Cable will allegedly install internet in #312 tomorrow. In the meantime, a rundown on today:
Today was our first day at Knoll. It was a typical first day, with paperwork to be filled out and ID badges to be made and computer login trouble. Once we were settled, though, I think some progress was made in understanding the complexity (or at least the order of magnitude therein) of the system we're dealing with. Tomorrow will be the real proof of the pudding, though, when the supervisors return from a business trip and we'll start getting into the nitty gritty.
Back at home in Macungie, PA, I'm settled into the apartment. It's too big and I miss my things - the things that make home home - but it will totally work and is pretty conveniently located. There's some food around now and with lightning speed I'm sure life here will seem routine.
I'm on wifi at the Lower Macungie Township Library, getting oriented in Lehigh Valley. On my list are the national velodrome and a trip to the grocery store. I should have gotten this stuff out of the way earlier and arrived prepared, but somehow I had forgotten what a pain it is to move to a totally new city (or in this case, a totally new cluster of small towns).
The new apartment is what it is... I miss my furniture, walls, kitchen, and concrete floors already but 312 is going to be fine for the summer and it is free. Choosing not to move my stuff the 572 miles from Ann Arbor was an easy decision and I'm already looking forward to parking on the couch in August and reading a book.
Since posting last I've also been to the UP for a day of 'working' around the house with Dad, a canoe trip down the Cedar River with Mom and seven eagles, and a 30-mile bike ride on a carbon-stayed Lemond with the gang from Mr. Bike. The later of these proved what I thought: cycling can be fun and social. The crew at the front - four other guys - were interested in my presence and were hopeful that I'd be back next Tuesday. I've ridden thousands of miles on hundreds of trips and this is the first time somebody has asked me to come back.
We also went to a Tiger's game. It was really fun. They won, handily, and it was just a great thing to be at the park, to see people out and about in big D, and to spend time with friends. Baseball kinda passed me by while I was growing up and I'm still not nuts about it, but I think I'll always be a little more open-minded about taking in a game after our experience last Sunday.