Day 138 – Planning a Build

Today, a first attempt at video production. It’s a bit primitive; no audio. My goal was to find out the recording quality and whether I could get it through my available tools into a shape that would work on YouTube.

I’m going to build a gingerbread house based on a design for an actual house. So my first step was to print out the floor plan and exterior image so I can work out all the required baking.

The video below deconstructs the floor plan into a set of surfaces I will need. My next step will be to calculate all the dimensions for the various surfaces before cutting them out of cardboard as a template for the baking process.

As you can see, I’ve numbered all the surfaces as well. I don’t want to get my walls mixed up during construction.

Day 97 – Task Scheduling

Worn Out

I wasn’t expecting too much from today. I was up till 2am sifting through photos, and I didn’t want to let my wake-up time slide too much, especially since I need to be perky at 7am tomorrow as well.

Who knew sorting 1500 photos down to the best 300, and then cropping and scaling them for Facebook was an 8 hour job?!

In the end I dragged myself from bed at about 9:30, spent a half hour on the computer before finding the shower, and then another half hour before heading for my massage appointment.

Small tip: if you do any kind of travel for work, try to schedule a massage for after you return. You’d be surprised how many knots and impingements lugging bags through air travel induces!

Add-on small tip: if you are part of the staff at a substantial birthday party, defer the massage until you get through that as well.

Pro-tip for experts: schedule two separate massages; one after the flight, and then another one after constructing, running and deconstructing the party.

I Don’t Feel Like Doing

I had brought a coffee home after my massage, and was ready to spend the rest of the day in front of the computer, delving into Javascript, Razor and MVVM until my brain gave out.

I had a slice of bread with some sprinkles with my coffee, and I got started.

It was that kind of day.

And then I started to feel guilty about the state of the house. You see, preparing for a major party leaves a certain amount of wreckage in your personal life in the lead-up.

The vacuuming can wait… because the final party prep comes first.

That ironing board can stay in the living room, because there’s a few shirts there that still need ironing… after the party is over.

The washing can wait, because really, I still have 2 completely unused pairs of underwear… after the party will be soon enough.

I blame my plummeting blood-sugar, but it just reached the point where I had to do a few chores. Just a few… to make that itching feeling in my brain go away. No, I can give it up any time I want. Honestly.

Chore Scheduling

And I’m not sure if the following is going to make me sound a little insane. Or if perhaps you can relate. There must be other people doing the same. I suspect at least Randall Munroe does the same based on one of his early xkcd comics.

Whenever I have a bunch of tasks to do, I instinctively start sorting and scheduling them for maximum multitasking efficiency.

I have two loads of washing to do; each takes about 55 minutes on the usual cycle, and it takes about 5-10 minutes to hang a load out, so I can fit two 45 minute tasks alongside the washing.

But before I do the washing, I should get the current washing off the drying rack so that I can move it out of the living room, because it needs a vacuum. Otherwise I’d have to defer the vacuuming till everything is dry again. I start folding all the currently dry clothing first and putting it in a basket to carry to the bedroom.

Okay, there are a few un-ironed shirts on hangers as well; I hang those in the wardrobe first. As I walk to the other side of the house I spot a few things on the floor that will get in the way of the vacuuming, so I put those on the bed/away as I walk past to streamline the later chores now.

This takes me past the study twice where I briefly stop each way for an ongoing intermittent IM conversation with a friend on her study break (I am assuming). I also open a few tabs for topics that came to mind to check later, as I was folding the laundry.

On my way in the living room I consider the pile of boxes that landed in the kitchen after the party. I have to move those to vacuum, but nowhere to put them now. I’ll defer that until the living room is done, then they can sit there once it’s already clean.

Next up, I fold away the drying rack and put it in the hallway. Then the ironing board goes back into the laundry on its hook. And on my way back the vacuum cleaner comes along… I like it when I can chain the trips between rooms so that putting something away combines with bringing something back the other way. Traveling Salesman Problem FTW!

Vacuuming the living room doesn’t take very long. Right afterwards I put back the drying rack for the load of laundry that is nearing the end of its cycle, as well as finding all the boxes in the kitchen a spot on the carpet.

And then the first load gets hung out.
And the second one goes into the machine.

Which also means I can now put the clothes basket back in the bathroom… up the hallway, and back down. Nothing to take back on my return trip. 🙁 It combines with another IM message though. Oh, and cancelling my Pump class at the gym; I should not wreck all the good work the massage did by lifting weights straight afterwards.

Before moving on to the kitchen floors, I briefly detour into unpacking the dishwasher. The dishwasher and the cupboard for the plates are about a Tai-Chi-lunge-distance apart… which is the quickest way to move the contents from one to the other. And presumably good exercise?

Doing the rest of the floors takes about half the remaining washing-load-time.

And somewhere along the way I manage to gruffly schedule dinner plans around Abbey taking the dog to the vet. Both the gruff and the dinner plans are precipitated by the realisation that I haven’t had any food since my noontime breakfast of a slice of bread. Oh, and a coffee (~500kJ for the coffee, 1000kJ for the bread).

With all the clothing hung out, and some Noodle Hut eaten, I feel a lot better. Also, the house is now mostly tidy and sorted.

Yes, the inside of my brain is probably an OCD factory.
No, it works fine that way, thanks for asking.

Not that hard

After doing this task scheduling as long as I can remember, it’s almost instinctive. Writing out what I did took more thinking than actually doing it.

It doesn’t always go equally well; I get a special kick out of the days when all the tasks that involve moving between places just neatly dovetail into each other like the ironing board and the vacuum cleaner did today.

And sometimes plans need to change on the fly. When gardening is involved, the weather can nudge the plans around, causing some half-way re-scheduling. Plans are only perfect until the moment you start executing them, and the Real WorldTM happens to them.

Day 94 – Mostly Travel

Today was the final half of our planning day, and I think I can officially call it a success. Tiring… but very successful.

The breaks were a blessing; at about 10:30, morning tea arrived. Too many cakes for 8 people, but we didn’t let that deter us. And then lunch at noon was even more overwhelming. So many sandwiches and wraps that we ate to bursting and still had half left to pass along to the developers downstairs.

Now I just need to write out the notes next week so we can tell everybody what we figured out. But…

I have a long weekend first though.

Blue Skies... Nothing But Blue Skies...
Blue Skies… Nothing But Blue Skies…

It was reassuring to land in a city that wasn’t covered completely by smoke, although the reality is scary and dismaying enough as is. Quite substantial portions of the Blue Mountains are still on fire, and probably will be till at least Monday when the weather is due to change.

I don’t know anyone that is in active danger, luckily, but there are already many houses lost and even a death which hopefully will remain singular as this passes.

Shortly after I took the picture above I nodded off in the taxi, which slowly struggled through the traffic. Intermittently I’d catch glimpses as I startled awake of the massive traffic between the airport and the city. I think all up it took 45 minutes to make it to the harbour. And then only 45 more to make it all the way home from there.

Once I woke up again I switched to reading another chapter of Ice-and-Fire, only to be startled by the taxi driver holding up a middle finger to some traffic… shortly after which a motorcycle overtook us in a fashion that forced(?) the driver to dodge into the lane to the left where another car was just merging towards me. No damage and no honking, but still, slightly unsettling all the same.

It makes me strongly consider keeping the card of a good driver next time and just order the same driver every time I need a taxi. I’ve had some good ones in the past, and I hadn’t realised their tremendous value until today.

Anyway, now I am home. And quite weary. And preparing for a party tomorrow, which I will undoubtedly blog about. There is a certain amount of thematic dress-up involved, so prepare for not-your-usual-Jerry!

Day 93 – I’m Still Standing!

Today was a great first half to the planning day I mentioned yesterday. As much as it was looming a bit in my mind as it approached, the 4 hour block of solid meeting filled itself with a very fruitful conversation.

Our management group consists of both development managers and test managers, and there was a very good amount of back-and-forth over the strategic topics that we covered.

We started with a SWOT analysis covering a broad mix of feedback, risks and initiatives. Followed by grouping Weaknesses and Threats into thematic buckets to form our objectives. We ended up with three broad objectives and a clear idea of what our future-state on these needs to look like.

Tomorrow we’ll dig into the detail to get ties these to measurable goals and concrete projects. If that goes only half as well as the first half of our planning day I’ll call it a great success.

We also had The Architect come into our meeting to give some perspectives on the broad themes for our IT strategy, and within 30 minutes we had a half dozen opportunities in that space to tie our own objectives to.

If all the above sounds very abstract to you; basically we’ve looked at what we do well, and what we do poorly, and then tried to map out the big targets with the biggest pay-offs to start turning our weaknesses into strengths over the coming year. And tomorrow we will turn all that into the actual on-the-ground action to take towards those targets.

Also… the whiteboard was brilliant.

I had never worked on a glass-surface whiteboard before, but the sheer joy of using an eraser and have the marker come off effortlessly! … I could have enjoyed wiping the whole plan off the board again. (But I refrained!)

This is all very tiring work though. My brain feels flat, so now it’s time to recharge for our next 4 hours starting at 9am tomorrow.

I have to remember to print my boarding pass and say bye to my team before I go into the session, because odds are I’ll be off to the airport almost immediately after.