The plight of the occasional archeologist

Its come to me more than a few times when asked about a thing I did before. Questions like:

why leave that behind?

or…

did you dig up x, or y, or z?

perhaps…

it sounds sexy and romantic. Is it really?

and then there was…

did you ever meet <insert some famous name here>?

The problem with all of these questions for the occasional archeologist and anthropologist is that our knowledge of the thing is frozen in time. In other words, my real knowledge of the science of doing archeology ended the day I stopped doing it. I don’t think you can simply read thousands of books and still be one. You have to practice it. Anthropology is not some passive science. Its a “doing”.

One day when walking some hills over in Daly City, I stopped doing it and became another thing. Its dawned on me that all my stories pretty much stopped then and there and all I have are these past notions of a thing. Its also dawned on me that things that happen in the past are condemned to remain there no matter what dark arts you practice. You simply cannot make the past happen again.

So the stories, the rather unique feeling of doing it; the wonder of mornings spent wandering far hills with RWR are all gone except for the memory of them which is frozen at each of those moments. Archeology itself is not frozen. It goes on. Anthropologists find new truths and new ideas to test. Life will go on and the sciences become more and different.

For me though, those moments are packed into sets of memories which I can trot out when Arry or others ask me on occasion what it was like. Now its dawned on me that I can only answer what it was like. What its like now, how the sun feels now blasting its way through your bandana on a warm Barstow afternoon, what the mountains look like in a haze of storm clouds which are at the same elevation I am at, what the desert evening looks like without thousands of city lights to defame the sky. None of these things I know now.  I can only apply the filter of the past. The grey colored photo filter that makes the things look crinkled and wrinkled. Lost in some aspect of space and time.  Its a giving up and a release and a taking on.

So the questions however well meant have no answers. I am the occasional archeologist who does not know what its like now. My sum total of crossing those times now is only finding myself on the other side. I’m saddened sometimes by this but I also know that things happen in life and we find ourselves either enriched by things which broke us first or threatened by a thing which we thought of as good.

Ain’t it weird?

I have also thought a lot about this whole platform. This weblog platform of late. Sometimes I feel I connect with the things I write. Other times, they end up in some trash bin. Life is like a trash bin. You can move things to the bin but when you take them out later, you wonder why they changed so much and why the paper of your past is so crinkled up. You can travel thousands of miles. See distant shores. Find comfort,solace, danger in the steps you take. But sometimes, perhaps often, those long trips left more substantive things left undiscovered. Blogging is like that. I admit to only reading a few entries these days. I visit the sites. One is Jonas’ weblog. Jonas writes about the things that let you reach down, reach back, question, wonder, wander.

The occasional archeologist approves. Of course I don’t have the answers to your questions. I don’t even have more questions for your questions. This is my plight. My moments of reaching two roads and taking neither. I’ll always wonder on the day I walked that hill if I had taken another path. Life though cannot be spent puzzling over a decision made in some cabinet you carved out before. I must be on. There are more things to see.

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Coffee on a Sunday Morning

Its a Sunday morning and coffee is the thing. My little coffee pots brews up some respectable Starbucks breakfast blend. It makes the room aromatic first thing and I’m spoiled at this point with the Starbucks blends. I could never go back to the Folgers or the generic Safeway coffee blends. The ground bean from Starbucks makes my mornings more actionable.

Since I deplugged from TV, I now let my Nexus 7 tablet stream radio news in the morning to let me know all the bad stuff which is happening. I still wonder…

When did the world get so messed up?

Answer…

Its always been messed up. It was just messed up differently before. Now we have the “always on” technology which takes everything to our digital doorstep while it happens. Perhaps before there was a latency where a thing happened and we heard about it downstream. There is an advantage to the always on streaming and delivery of stuff. We now know just how messed up things are but our ability to learn is in the “right now”. Is that really an advantage? I question it.

Back in the days of yore perhaps rock art paintings chronicled something. Maybe where the animals and plants were rich. Maybe where there was danger. Maybe a path to take to reach another place. Or perhaps these mysterious paintings were done only to express the wider world. The world of imagination. Where reason avails not and the mind is open to find virgin places where the reason falls by the sidelines. We all need that.

Maybe today, with my coffee and my room with the fast internet, we get things too quickly. We are satiated before we know it. Our need for the quick delivery is tempered with the discomfort of knowing it all. We used to gather by the radio. Now we gather by the rdio.

Almost spelled the same. But the difference is the medium and how soon we get it.

Go out and enjoy the Sunday. Stream or dream. Find or lose. Such is life.

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Heading off to Eugene

I’ll be transitioning between phases of my project starting next week. The first rather intensive phase will end by Wednesday next week and I inherit another project which has languished for some bit of time (like 2 years). But the big news is that I’ll be training up to Eugene, Oregon for the July 4th weekend. The Coast Starlight will pick me up at the Jack London Square the 1st of July and take me away on its grand trip north over night. On the 2nd of July I will get into Eugene and head down the mile or so walk to my hotel.

I’ll be seeing the sights and sounds on foot for the next days and try to completely exhaust myself walking lots of hours each day and then finding a likely place to test out the brews from one of the Pacific Northwest beer meccas.

On the 5th of July, I head back from the little vacation. Back to two projects at the same time. Sufficient work to last me until December of this year.

My travel frontier has picked up considerably since I departed from the fractured home. Later this year, end of August, I will head out to Japan for a week. There are places there to visit. I will never exhaust the places to align my spirit with that of Japan. This time though I may get Ryokan to sleep in. I don’t know if I could go back to western beds at this point. The idea of not having to change my style of sleeping on vacation is pretty cool. The cost seems doable too.

I’ve submitted my travel request for end of August and its approved. The vacation time will be only 5 days yet I will be gone 9 days given how I manage the days off.

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Work Times Two

I’ve been working for “Big Blue” now for 9 months. Been on two projects thus far over the 9 month period. My current thing is a rather complex affair where we create a disaster recovery enterprise solution which spans lots of data that is mirrored between two data centers over dedicated WAN links. Today my lead called me and informed me that our customer wished me to take on a new project. Another project languishing in the backwaters of projects which they now need to get done after some years. This locks me in for work until December this year and they’ve agreed to a vacation for me in a few weeks before I migrate in and start doing two projects at the same time.

I’m pretty happy with this. I get to sustain my lifestyle, live where i live and have a suitable amount of money to do things with when I want to do them.

Android Rising

In my previous blog, I wrote posts where I would gather suitable or unsuitable thoughts into one post and then proceed to explore them or present the ideas. I have some ideas about Android.

Android is rising and we are seeing more vendors with more devices with more penetration into a variety of markets. I’ve come to the conclusion that a single walled garden can never compete against the Army of Droids. Much like Windows is doomed to fail against the legion of Linux. Windows has become so much less and I think one day we will see new vistas of approaches to serve up what we need that won’t depend on activation codes, long letters and numbers, arcane licensing. People will use tools and the tools will bridge the gap. Tools will be important.

When hunter-gatherers fashioned their projectile points and tools they learned that some rock material was better suited for a projectile point or scraper while other material was meant to pound plant material.

Android rises at the closed and walled garden’s expense. Because it is open and we can customize and do this and that. But its even more. Its the mindset and the idea and philosophy of it. Its how it extends and works on a variety of hardware. Not just one approved piece of hardware but a variety of things.

This makes Android rise.

Tomorrow is Better

We all know how we reach a place where we have to choose between paths. Perhaps the road of life or the road of choice.

Road-Of-Life

We know each road may have choices on it. We make all the good choices for the worst of reasons and all the bad choices for the best.

But they are our choices.

Lets decide for ourselves though what our paths are. When we let another person influence us or make demands on us we bastardize the approach and we lose.

Enough said.

The Final Thought

There is a final thought. Its this. We must travel. Its not because of destinations that we travel its because of the getting there. We must travel. Much like the hunter-gatherers traveled we must as well. Its in our carefully packed genes.

So hit the road and do the places you have not done. I feel thankful for the trips to Japan, India, Singapore. But those places are not the sum total of the where and when. The USofA has so many places remaining to be seen. I’m traveling more these days. Wanting to hop the rails and see the norths and souths and easts and wests of me. But mostly I want to enjoy the act of getting there.

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Ever thought about how we sleep?

We spend some share of our time in some kind of bed. Here in the good ole USofA, we can get the usual bedding with its attendant frame, box spring, top mattress, pillows, blankets, comforters. Or we can get the Futon with its frame that spins all around and turns into a couch, chair, bed.

futon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You know the drill with this type of sleep surface. It has wood underneath and this thickish mattress on top. You can turn it into other things. Some have only two stops. Others maybe more.

I journeyed from the classic American bed to the above futon years ago and then went back. When I moved to the new place, I determined to make a basic change in sleeping. I don’t have lots of room here so I wanted something which would deal with the room limits. I also wanted something which would make me feel better than the bed I got with the room. Exit the King Bed. Enter the Shiki Futon. I bought a full sized Japanese Futon from J-Life International. I also bought a nice rug for under it to block out the changes from a hardwood floor.

futon1

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are recommended maintenance requirements for this kind of sleeping:

  1. Roll up the futon after you use it. I think that this not only gives back space but it “airs” out the bottom where it could get bad if not managed.
  2. Use fitted sheets. I got a cover but I also use fitted sheets on the futon.
  3. Get the accompanying comforter. Well no. This is too expensive. A cheapo comforter is just as good.
  4. Get the Japanese pillows. Well no again. They don’t look all that comfortable.
  5. Beat it up twice a year. I gather I am supposed to relocate the futon to the backyard twice a year and beat the crapola out of it. This gets rid of some badness and bakes the futon in the heat. Maybe get an old type carpet whacker and beat it up.

I did research up front to find a decent vendor and came up with Jlife. They got me the futon and custom cover in a week. Not bad! I also found a great write-up that I return to every so often to get a sense of not only another’s maintenance but what someone has done over the years to maintain the comfort.

The final question from my kids and friends is “what’s it like to sleep on the floor?” My answer…

I am not on the floor. I am on a futon which superimposes a firm and easy to deal with mattress on a rug on a hardwood floor. I have slept the best yet on this the last few nights. I am not sure why. There is a few days to get the thing to “relax” which I am still doing.

My room opened up completely with getting the futon. I have room that with a king bed in here I did not have. I bought a cheap shoji screen to separate my sleeping from my living and working area. I also bought a “fuf” chair which was fun to take out my anxieties on.

Now my room is my own and I like it. I would wake up on the King Bed and feel really no better than before. Maybe slightly refreshed but still not completely rested. The futon has granted me more comfort and I feel safer. There is nothing to fall out from or struggle with.

Finally, its not for everyone. Its a commitment but the level is not high. You have to do the same basic steps with the classic bedroom set. Flip, turn, work on. Don’t you want a change though? Maybe strike out in a new area which may challenge or make you feel differently? Not just be a minimalist but be a new you. Its never too late to make yourself into the new you. For me, things fell apart some years ago but you know when you take a jigsaw puzzle apart, if you don’t lose that essential middle or corner piece, it all fits back. Now my life is a thousand piece puzzle but I’ve found replacement pieces that work even better.

 

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Managing Projects is Like…

I’ve been doing the project management thing for awhile. Well, longer than awhile. Perhaps awhile+.

dilbert-project

 

 

 

 

Dilbert says it best perhaps. But it calls out the facts of the project:

Projects have a life of their own. Each and every project I have done has run its own circuit of life. Their heartbeat may be called scope. Their longevity may be called requirements. Acceptance governs all and is the sweetest thing to hear from a customer. It means that the current lifecycle has run its course. Fret not; though. Projects often have brand new life events and soon their heart beat spawns new longevity. New requirements are borne and we then run the gauntlet of that project’s life span.

Projects can rapidly go from on track to complete garbage. I have been a victim of this more than a few times. One suckass company in Palo Alto I did professional services project management for had the capacity to take a pretty well-defined project and take it to the garbage level and then expected me to take them out of it. I hated that. At the current place, customers are bigger like oil companies and aerospace industries which need our expertise. They pay me full-time to exercise my skill to ensure that a project does not nose dive. I am successful at this. Its only when I work for a bullshit company are the results bullshit. Go figure.

Projects can become other projects which bear little similarity to the original. Yes this happens. A project while having its own lifecycle and morphing all around can also change. This is the beast called change management. Its best to know the beast and tame it but projects must have risk and change or they really are not actionable. Someone asked me once at the said BS company above how to remove all risk. I just stared at him. No risk; no project basically.

There is probably a lot more that normal humans will never get. Project Management is half art, a bit of skill and determination, and what a chief architect called me once at IBM — tenacious. I just don’t like admitting defeat when victory can be grabbed by simply exerting more effort. The hours, the billing, the amount. None of that count in this stuff. What counts is the acceptance. Once you have that the whole damn thing can morph. We can do change management and risk avoidance around it and corral it until the next risk or change.

Its all in the game of it. You have to know how to move pieces around the board. Make MS Project behave. Find someone that can really do excel magic like my buddy Sunitha. Sunitha could take an excel spreadsheet and make it dance, exercise pivots and lookups and all that stuff. Luckily she was on our team and would always give us a webex to help out.

Finally, the goal with it all is to reach closure. Closure is acceptance. Risk is good. Change happens. Projects live their lives. Either live it or live with it.

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Bringing it all together

Second post! Whee!!! Love the build your own thing with the site and Linode. The server is running Debian 7.5 64bit. I got the smallest virtual machine for $20.00 a month and things are flying. I did some tuning suggested by the documentation on Linode for maximizing performance on smaller virtual machines. This to me is nicer than the Amazon EC2 solution. I feel more in the ownership mode.

I will not be adding the old content back. Ever. The site will be new with new drivel and stories and commentary. The old stuff I still maintain but I don’t see the value in adding it back.

Fresh start means new drivel! Thanks for the 2 or 3 readers of this thing sticking with me through the process. I will be sure to disappoint you :-)

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The New Place

So this is the new place. Almost like the old place. I may or may not add all the old content here. The detritus of 5 years of this and that. Lnxpowered.org lives! Thanks to LInode and some friends asking now and again if it would.

I guess I cannot be without it.

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