6-Sigma Force

It’s been about a month, and I’ve just let the free time unproductively wash over me. I obviously feel very guilty… give me your best I-believe-you face.

I am once again in Melbourne today.

Second week in a row.

Last week was my regular visit, with all the staff, and all the meeting, and stuff and things. This week I’m here for some training. I have no idea what to expect, but I hear “Six Sigma” is pretty good. I feel like I’m about to become part of a super-hero force. This is just like the Avengers, right? Do I get to be Thor?

I could say that I have no idea why I’m being sent on this training, but I have mentioned process issues a few too many times in various meetings to be entirely surprised at where I have ended up. And I am taking it as extremely encouraging that this training has materialised in my path.

It does leave me burdened with a sense of obligation though…
…to use these new powers for good.

MUAHAHAHA!

(I need to work on my evil laugh)

Day 295 – Not Quite Real

71 – The 100 Best Sci-Fi Movies of All Time

As always, Wednesday is my hectic day at work. It is my own fault; I’ve put all my one-on-one catch-ups on the same single day. It’s just that Wednesday is a perfect mid-point to the week where enough has happened to evaluate where we are, and enough time is left to act on any decisions we make. I know Manager-Tools canon suggests Thursday as ideal, but I think they might be wrong 😉

Between all the work there was a lunch at The Sherlock, dragging along a Test Manager on his Melbourne trip. We’re always trying to convince others of the wonders of a good pub lunch.

And tonight I brought two more converts into the fold with 11″ Pizza. After three pizzas for three managers we decided that deciding on dessert was all too hard and picked two dessert pizzas as well. We had Banana-and-Butterscotch and Chocolate-with-crumbed-Pistachio for dessert. I am full to a level of no-regrets. And it didn’t actually cost all that much either. 11″ Pizza is a well-hidden “secret” just off Little Collins Street.

Dinner was a relatively quick affair as well, so being back in my hotel room at 8pm with no pressing matters on my plate, I picked one of the 100-item-links that I thought might take a bit more time.

Out of the 100 movies, I’ve seen 59. I think I can do better. And especially some of the older titles earlier in the list look like they might be very interesting. I will have to add a few more entries to my shopping list.

A lot of the higher ranked titles are sadly also much more mainstream and commercial.

“Dark City” is a great example of a novel concept executed well; the effects are a little cheesy at the end, but that is easily forgiven in light of earlier scenes of people being reset and the world rearranging itself like a puzzle-box.

“Cube” is another favourite of mine, although I’m not getting much support from my friends on this. The simplest of sets and a minimal cast woven into a very compelling story of torture, betrayal and survival. “Cube 2” was a little more Sci-Fi and I think it might have taken it a bit too hi-tech. I have yet to see “Cube Zero”, as soon as I locate a copy.

“eXistenZ” … I’m not quite sure what to do with this one. It has something, but I am not sure how to classify it. It starts, then a lot of very weird stuff happens, and then it finishes. I’m not sure what genre that is exactly.

I do want to make it my mission to see the remaining 41 titles on the list though. Because the titles I have seen give me enough respect for the quality of the list as a whole that I want to fill in the gaps left in my education.

Day 294 – Comparative Hotelling

72 – Top 100 Hotels & Resorts in the World

Once again I couldn’t get into my favourite hotel here. Dunno what is up at The Grand, but whatever it is, it’s very rude. My room at the Novotel this time is nicer than last time, but it is still essentially a box without a loft. *sigh*

Having said that, it’s clear from today’s link that either of these hotels have some stiff competition on the international stage.

Fine Dining in Mexico.

CAPELLA PEDREGAL, CABO SAN LUCAS (Mexico)

Balcony with Hammock and Parrot.

NAYARA HOTEL, SPA & GARDENS, COSTA RICA (Central America)

Inside the Tank.

CONRAD MALDIVES RANGALI ISLAND (Indian Ocean)

Closer to Home.

QUALIA, GREAT BARRIER REEF (Australia)

I Laugh at your Tree House!

LION SANDS, SABI SAND (Africa)

Old-world Style.

FOUR SEASONS GRESHAM PALACE BUDAPEST (Europe)

I now know my motivation for becoming Influential. It’s all starting to fit together into some grand scheme!

Day 268 – Essential Preparations

98 – 100 Tips to Prepare for a RTW Adventure

There was a lot of preparation involved before I was ready to travel to Melbourne for work. Luckily I had a handy advice-page to help me through the rougher parts.

Get rid of your belongings

Check! … Sold my trusty 20kg PC and my handy touch-screen tablaptop and converted them into an XPS15. Now I have everything handy in a single package that is convenient to carry around.

Find a way to earn extra money

Check! … I write a blog that literally has multiple readers. I haven’t put any ads up, but I plan to make up for that in volume. I’m sure my check will be in the mail any day now.

I also strategically got a management job 19 months ago, which helps.

Decide on Travel style

Check! … I’m no good at camping, so I’ve opted for hotels. I also decided on flying to my destination; I’m sure it is a little more expensive, but the hours I save translate into at least another 3-4 blog posts, so that’s practically money in the bank.

I considered walking, but someone told me it’s far.

Exercise and get in shape

Check! … I know there’s always more I could have done, but I’m in good shape and more than ready for the long treks to and from the office. Even the longer slogs for dinner should barely be an obstacle. I probably can fit in a few desserts as well.

The unusual essentials

Check … I travel with my bluetooth headset for entertainment. I’m not sure that’s too unusual, but it’s definitely essential. I guess I could live without the mouse for the laptop, but it’s too much of a hassle operating this thing without.

Is a razor unusual? Is my medication? I think I’ve thought of everything that’s worth thinking about.

Do you have enough blank pages in your passport?

Check? … I … I think I can get there without my passport. But I checked, and there is room… I guess?

Sell house or notify landlord

… Pardon?

Get cash for each country you know you will be visiting

Melbourne isn’t a country.
What the hell are you talking about?

What does RTW stand for?

*click*

Uhm.

Guys…

Forget I posted this, okay?

Day 238 – Another Destination

Travel to Melbourne makes for very long days. It is now 10:15pm and I am sitting down and unwinding at last. I haven’t had a shower yet, but that’ll be a thrill in its own right that only someone without a shower at home at the moment can understand. I’m going to send Abbey some thrilling shower pics… of the shower… all by itself… trust me, it’ll work.

I am not where I normally am.
Apparently there is a Grand Prix somewhere about the city and it has driven me out of my usual haunt. I think I disapprove, but at the same time I’m embracing the novel of the Novotel.

The hallways are maze-like and claustrophobic. The rooms are studio-apartment-like and face inwards to what looks like a shopping plaza far down below. But there is a certain compact charm about it. It’s weird not having a balcony though.

The taxi in Sydney was quick to hand me his card and suggest I send him my flight number for a pickup upon my return. I prefer the pot-luck of whomever is in the ranks at the time. And even if I did, he wasn’t a particularly good driver; I’d choose one of the earlier drivers I’ve had over him. He seemed a bit distracted from his driving, like he didn’t really want to be there. This also meant he was on the phone with what I think was a friend saving me from having to dodge a conversation I wasn’t interested in. I just disappeared into headphone-land with my personal musings.

The flight itself was a little rocky, but not overly so. Cloud cover at both ends, and rain in Melbourne. But the other passengers were clearly more uneasy on average than they usually are. I’m chalking that up to the Malaysian Airlines flight that’s still un-recovered. It’s odd how that makes people act like suddenly all flights are suspect… as if our plane was going to disintegrate with the very next shake or rumble.

The pilots were actually very good all things considered. You can always tell by the landing. Some just have that light touch that shines through when the rubber hits the road once more.

And now I feel a bit disoriented.

What do I normally do at this point in the first evening?
Without the internal-stair-climbing something just doesn’t click.

Oh yes.

Shower time.
And then my Kindle I think.

Day 211 – Working Late

Wednesday is always the biggest blur of my work-week.

Wednesday is one-on-one catch-ups day with my staff. I only have 5 staff to worry about, but at 30 minutes each that takes about 3 hours out of my day all-up.

Doing one-on-ones right is so far the biggest benefit I’ve gotten from listening to the Manager Tools podcast. It’s not that it is particularly hard to regularly catch up with staff, but a good understanding of what it is actually for and how it helps does direct me better in getting the most out of those 3 hours in my week.

Picking the right day also makes a big difference. Middle-of-the-week works particularly well because there’s enough time before Wednesday for staff to achieve some things, and enough time after Wednesday for us all to take further actions based on what we discuss.

Adding in another 2 small meetings basically left my whole day looking like Swiss Cheese.

I wish there was an interesting story somewhere in all this, because basically my brain is fried. And I still have a presentation to write and some research to do before tomorrow morning… as well as an early start at the office. *groan*

Day 210 – Travel Fatigue

Theoretically there should be seas of time.

I wake up when breakfast is at my door. Once I’m showered and dressed, it’s a 5 minute walk to work. When I leave Sydney my calendar looks no different from the way it does normally. After work, I have nowhere else to be, so I have dinner with my colleagues and I’ll end up back at the hotel around 8pm-9pm.

And yet…

During the day it feels I’m in a constant rush to see everybody that needs seeing. Additional meetings materialise out of thin air to fill every available minute of the day. After I get back to the hotel in the evening I keep telling myself I’ll get some extra work done, but after I’ve settled in and had a little bit of relaxation it’s suddenly 10:30pm already, and if I don’t get to bed around 11pm, then waking up the next day starts getting harder.

I’ve tried to work out what it is, but nothing stands out in itself.
Is travel for work really this inherently tiring?

Day 209 – Flight and Flames

Travel is a Zen-like state now.
I realised as I was walking to the gate in Sydney today that I’ve got my routine so well practiced now that I’m not even thinking about travel anymore. I just listen to my podcast or read my book and go through the motions on auto-pilot.

Clearly I’ve arrived at station unconscious-competence.
Or maybe conscious-unconscious-competence? … How meta can I get?

I pack my bag so that I can easily get to my ticket and booking papers. I keep all my electronics within easy reach for the X-Ray scanner. I sit at the gate so that I can easily get close to the front of the check-in-line when they call the tickets.

On Virgin, I usually book towards the back of the plane. I saw a row with only the window-seat taken one row from the back. By taking the aisle seat I was almost certain to have a free spot next to me, unless the plane ends up fully booked. Tip: single travellers rarely pick a middle seat between two full spots if they have any other options left.

By getting to the front of the queue I have an excellent chance of getting my luggage right over my head. Which isn’t important for anything other than being the first person off the plane at the other end. Tip: this only works if you know the airline is likely to use the rear exit. Also… only if you don’t have checked luggage, otherwise you’ll be waiting at the carousel anyway.

Every step of my journey is a well-practiced juggling routine.


There is something terrifyingly beautiful about bushfire.

I’d seen it on TV and video before of course. But at the tail-end of this trip I was surprised by an in-person view of a grass fire creeping over the hills. As we were coming in for the landing it still looked very cloudy around the hills of northern Melbourne. It looked like fog, so I didn’t think anything else of it.

But then it became clear the fog was attached to tendrils that were attached to fire.

On the one hand I was sympathising with anyone down there near any of the fires. On the other hand I was wishing my flight was a few hours later, because the thin fire-caterpillars in the grass would have looked all the better for it. Fire is beautifully terrifying.

Day 208 – MEL Now/Nov

I’m looking forward to seeing how well my new laptop-bag/pack will work out when used in anger.

I took it to Wet’n’Wild today where it did an excellent job at concealing many food-items inconspicuously. It’s a little too bulky to sit nice and upright in the locker, but flat on its back works well. It isn’t as large as it looks; that might just be the eye-popping orange.

Tomorrow morning I’ll take it in to work with my laptop and some shower stuff.

But then tomorrow evening it’ll get a quick re-pack for its first trip to Melbourne. If this works well it means one less bag to lug around, because it’d replace the messenger bag for my laptop on these trips. Maybe I’ll be less in need of a massage on my return. But to be safe I’ll make another booking for Friday anyway. Although I’m afraid she might try to relax my ITB again, which… isn’t relaxing.

I’ve also spent a chunk of this evening preparing for another Melbourne trip. One for personal reasons. One for reasons of PAX. I’ve never been to a proper Con of this nature, and I cannot wait to see what it’s like. Although I do have a lingering fear that this will inevitably lead to holidays to the US in the future. It’s still 9 months away, but the hotels may need sorting out sooner rather than later; it’s right before Melbourne Cup Day, which has a high likelihood of disrupting everything around the city. Best to be gone before that storm hits.