Another Troubled Project

I guess there is a sign that lets IBM know that they can just let one PM go with a day’s notice and that I will just take the project on. Happened to me today. I could tell that the work was not good because our customer seemed terribly unhappy with no matter what the PM did or did not do. Her time was limited and I knew it weeks ago hearing how the management team there talked with her. I now have three projects for them and each one has its challenges.

It does get me that much closer to this personal goal I have for work. Now my so-called “seat” is good until next February with them. Getting closer to the magic month. Next year will see no vacations and my spending on things will get cut significantly. Money will flow into savings because I implement Plan B at the end of the year.

A major change because I have to do major changes. I have to walk away from everything and leave nothing behind but a shadow, a whisper, a thought. I’ve let things go way too long. I know what I need and where I need to be and what it will take to get me there.

Its not just work and play and travel. Its this life I want to have which is not this one. Not this one with troubled projects. But this gets me to the next so I’m happy.

Now its time though for beer and drinking and getting messed up. I walked over 6.1 miles tonight. This was a damned good day all in all. I’ll take the projects and take the work. At least until next year when Plan B happens.

All bets are off when Plan B time comes.

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Questions that have bugged me

See if you agree.

  1. You are cool. How did you get that way?
  2. You are stupid. How did you get that way?
  3. Will you loan me some money?
  4. Can you fix my: [ ] laptop [ ] phone [ ] tablet [ ] life?
  5. Why did you stop doing X for a living and move to Y?
  6. I don’t like X or Y in the house. How do you handle it?
  7. What will you do tomorrow?
  8. I bet your divorce was painful. How did you survive?
  9. People always need other people. When will you meet the next perfect person?

Seriously peeps. If you are so worried about me, what time is left for you? In answer to all the questions above, you should go quantify and qualify your own existence. Like Thoreau said,

If a man does not keep pace with his companions perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears however measured or far away


Most men lead lives of quiet desperation

Take your pick. Most likely your most important questions should revolve around your own lives. I think its because people are naturally curious and want to do cultural or social eavesdropping. Most others actually are lonely even when they have thousands in their spheres. They don’t know what they need. They don’t need what they want. They don’t want what they have.

There is the punctuation at the end which signifies you are waiting. Don’t hold your breath. I’ve decided that most of you are simply not necessary. If you end up in my spam queue on Akismet please welcome yourself. You are in excellent company with the 20 or spammers each week which visit this geography. You can make deals on drugs, read about social disease, and also find out information on special money offers that will make you rich, rich, rich!

Like another friend from the “long ago” told me.

Don’t complain about things unless you intend to follow it with “and I will do something about it”.

Huzzah! Of course this is placed in my subterfuge category because I feel like a fuckhead today and this is my blog.

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Traveling Future Tense

There’s a trip for me coming up in early September. I had wanted to do this back in 2010 but events with Celestix Networks precluded it. My goal is to travel across the United States on Amtrak.

amtrakusaThere are a few ways to do this trip as you can see from the map but I’ll be focusing on the route like this:

  1. San Francisco to Reno
  2. Reno to Denver
  3. Denver to Chicago
  4. Chicago to New York

There is one train line on Amtrak which will do the first three segments of the trip. The California Zephyr reaches across America’s heartland and will drop me off in Chicago after some days and stops along the way to see the places above.


As you can see, I can board the train in Emeryville and reach all the way to Chicago. I will stop along the route though to see the cities stretching from Reno to Chicago.

The times on the train hover around the day long trip to reach each destination along the path on the left that I have chosen.

As usual, each stop will involve city investigations using my preferred method.

For the last part of the journey, the Chicago to New York segment, I have a number of choices. The travel time on the train hovers around 19 hours.

Why not just fly you may ask. What do you see when you fly? Do you see the prairie grasses kissing the sunset sky? Can you feel the winds in the windy city? Do you get intimate with what our country involves? Not at 30k feet I wager.

Vacations as a statement

Its my right and I am exercising my right to take time off from work and see the country. The birth county. The place I call home. I may still travel to Japan but I have a feeling that trip will not happen this year. I don’t really feel the inclination to go far and spend the time flying to a international destination at this point. I can Amtrak and see my country in a way that I have not before. This also came about and raised my interest when talking to a fellow Amtrak passenger on my trip up to Eugene. She had criss-crossed the US on the train and was still so excited and positive about the whole thing.

I’ve already requested the time off the first week of September and will soon book all the train tickets. This time no office closures or people issues. This time it happens.

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Chromebook Work and Play

So how much of everyday life can I get done with my Chromebook? My Acer C720 is a capable and rather fun little device which is quite easy to travel with, use in hotels, be on the road with. It does do better with a wifi connection but that’s okay because I can supply that using my hotspot. I got curious though how much I spend doing tasks on it and what things I cannot get done and need a regular laptop for.

  • Playing movies, music. All possible and quite nicely done.
  • Playing games. I don’t play games.
  • Streaming content. Yep. I can do this to my chromecast
  • Editing files. Well, the google docs and this lightweight graphics program handle it for me.
  • Banking, Bill Paying, Other online stuff. Yes, yes, and yes. No surprises there.

What I cannot get done.

  • Uploading music to Amazon cloud. Google Play upload is probably easier.
  • Photo uploading from a memory card is “janky”. Takes a bit of patience.
  • Heavy duty file editing. I probably need my Windows 7 laptop for that stuff.
  • Work. Well, there is a Thinkpad T410 which is only for work.

I would say for about 90% of my daily activities a chromebook works exceptionally well.

Conclusions of some kind

If you are looking to use a chromebook, study your uses. Daily browsing, banking, watching content online, streaming music? You are good.

Photoshop, Office 2013, video editing. Look elsewhere at this point.  For me I don’t do so much of the second one so the use case of the first group of things make the balance swing decidedly toward the chromebook. Its advantages in quick start, painless update, security conscious operating system; all mean I get to play on it that much quicker.

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Final Days at Eugene

This post blends my yesterday which was a travel day and today getting back to the home front. I went for a final few hour walk along the river path to see a part of the trail I had missed the first time.

Got back to the Amtrak train station at 3pm and had a late lunch and then read a bit and waited for my Coast Starlight train. I also got to see the Amtrak Cascades train which is a very different. I have not ridden that train yet but started considering a new plan for September already to get me there.



Here’s the Coast Starlight Train running by the coast somewhere. It has two levels and the viewing car seems to always sit in front of the dining car.

It also has sleeping compartments behind the viewing car and a cafe below the viewing car.

cascadesHere’s the Cascades Train. The organization is completely different although there is a dining car and an observation/viewing car I believe.

These trains run from Eugene to Vancouver BC so perhaps they don’t need the dedicated sleeper car.

Transition Times

There always comes a time to make the transition. I remember in India sitting in my room at the Raintree Ecotel watching the cable movies and news. Oftentimes I would have gone down and visited with the folks in the coffee shop on the first level and was gently talked into having a specialty of the house — Chicken Tikka Marsala. Often with a helping of rice and some Naan. A perfect dinner it always seemed.

Soon the time would come though and I’d catch the hotel taxi back to the airport for the 4.5 hour flight to Singapore.

Them days is gone…

Now I transition on the train. I sit and wait the boarding time and perhaps remember all the great walks on the Eugene trip. Rethink for a thousand times how much better I have it now. I can go on vacations numerous times each year. I starting looking at a trip to Vancouver and then down to Seattle and perhaps ride the Cascades south to Eugene. Still in the formative stages.

The train trip was a delight except for the sleeping part. I always seem to sleep but I am very uncomfortable sleeping in that position and get sore and unhappy. I arrived back in Oakland right on time and got the car and drove myself to the room.

It used to be that the dog Misty would be the first one to greet me. I should have married the dog I have thought more than a few times. Totally loyal. She never cheated on me which scores all the points. Now there is no daughter force waiting patiently. Its all different. Instead my buddy Free is waiting for me to get back. I like this better!

So the transition ends and I’m home and heading to work tomorrow. Its a 5 foot commute so I should be right on time.

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Day 2 – Eugene

Today set out after breakfast out and watching some morning news. I did the northern part of Eugene along the Willamette River walk and then back to central Eugene along a different path. Very nice walking today and got to see a beautiful park and walking trail along the river, rose gardens, and lots of access to the city.

I enjoyed today’s walk even more than yesterday’s since I got to see a beautiful location by the river, local businesses and historic districts, city scapes. Walking this way really is the difference for me. As I sat at a park bench this afternoon dwelling on the times I’ve done this, came away with a few key things about this kind of tourism.

Thing 1. Its not impacting. No car or bus or even subway or train are used. The main impact is your feet on the sidewalk. The level of impact is so little and the pace so sustaining that one gets to see many things that otherwise are lost as the tourists scratch their heads at bus rides and transfers.

Thing 2. You can cover a great distance on foot believe it or not but you never see the thing on the next block which may be earth shattering, unreal, life changing. And that’s okay. Life is that way too. I remember walking in Tokyo thinking that the blocks to the left and down and then to the right could be completely different. In Kyoto with temples being the norm, missing one on the block over to the right but seeing three on the path I chose seemed to be okay. You don’t need to apply yourself for Thing 2. All you need to do is decide that the city stretches out to greet you with its sidewalks and people and streets. Some cities are better meant for this kind of tourism.

Thing 3. Its good for you. Lets face it when I do this, I often drink beer at night and eat way good. I feel that I have walked the distance, covered the paths, and I have deserved that third beer or hamburger or chili dog (like last night). Maybe some of the desire to do this is because I walk every day. But I never walk this far every day. There is a difference in goodness between the two. The walking every day is supposed to be at a generating pace which makes me feel good and may raise my heartbeat just a bit. The pedestrian tourism is good but it takes longer. I have to apply myself for the tourism and accept the fact that I will make mistakes. Google Maps on my Nexus 5 is my friend!

Thing final. This is my thing. You may hate it. Your feet will be sore, your legs tired, you may get blisters. I don’t get blisters but I do get sore after hours of walking. So what? Who cares. My form of tourism is not for every city; but when I visit a Singapore or a Tokyo or a Kyoto or a Singapore or a Sydney and now Eugene; I wonder what other places are meant to be seen on foot.


Today is the last full day here. I end the vacation tomorrow and will head back down to work, my house mates, my life there. Work awaits me. I’ll apply myself to it with clarity based on the miles I covered these last days. The things I got to see when my two feet lovingly caressed the streets and paths.

Eugene earns my Pedestrian Tourism of fame award! I may not be back here because there are so many other places which are deserving of the same inspection. I don’t need to leave to some far away shore. I am wondering if Seattle is the same way. I think in September, I will just have to find out.

By the way, Happy 4th of July too. The holidays have ceased to mean things to me besides days off from work. I think they were casualties of the divorce when I felt completely taken advantage of and used for those years. I’ll never feel for any day again except maybe Veteran’s Day.

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Day One at Eugene

Today was one of those great days. I walked probably 10 miles today in about 5 hours. I had setup the south part of Eugene to go see in no particular order. I walked streets today that were industrial, residential, urban. I took a walking path which let me see an ambling stream, birds playing in the water, and the occasional walker or cyclist nodding to me.

I designed the trip to kind of be a big square but it never works out that way for me. When I do the pedestrian tourism thing, I just go. I ended up about three miles from the hotel but on the correct street. There waiting for me was a Starbucks only about .3 miles from the hotel. There I appreciated the no-walk moments with a Vente Iced Caramel Macchiato and considered the day I had. I’ve done this in a few cities in a few countries and I’ve come away realizing that many of the cities are easy for the pedestrian tourist to experience. Eugene gets added to the list which include from the past Singapore, Tokyo, Sydney, and Kyoto.

I also took my new camera along for the walk. This is the first new camera thing I have bought in years. My old camera that faithfully took pictures for me in so many countries gave up and would not start any more. There will be a new Google+ Photo album for this trip and I’ll gather the photo’s taken with my Nexus 5 and the camera.

Tomorrow will take me to the central and northern part of Eugene. A place of trendy restaurants, walking trails that accompany a river, and shopping malls and more touristy type things.

Stay tuned. The Eugene adventure has just begun!

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Day 1 Eugene via Coast Starlight Train 14

I boarded the Coast Starlight Train 14 last night at about 940pm. I first met a lady to talk to that had traversed the entire US on amtrak from east to west and now was heading back on a different route. This is a thing I want to do so we discussed her challenges, how she did it, packing, routes on amtrak. Very interesting. I tried to get her to write a blog or something about her adventures on the train and there were some. You always have people and place adventures riding the train and her ride was no exception. Then she left in Martinez for a night with family and I got this young, funky blonde 20-some year old who was leaving Fresno behind on a one-way ticket to Salem, Oregon. Kudos Katie! I’ll most likely never see you again but you are the real thing. I enjoyed the discussion immensely and you are a nice looking woman as well :-).

I got to Eugene about 30 minutes late and I was impressed by my first walk from the Amtrak station to the hotel as it being a bit like San Francisco and Berkeley but with its one unique character. The hotel manager let me know this was a great weekend for visiting with the holiday fireworks and concerts and other stuff.

I got to my room at the hotel and set up the world class infrastructure I travel with. It comes down to this:

4 port power strip at a portable size and valued from 100 to 240. Very important for the last part if you go elsewhere.

5 port Anker USB Charger. This is the real thing folks. This will charge two tablets, a Nexus 5 phone,  and headset at the same time with no sweat. It is also rated from 110 to 240 and again this is important.

2 USB power cables. My Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 charge from the same type of cable! While this sounds like a minor deal, it is not. Forget a unique cable on the road and you may be lost unless you happen to be in Singapore or Japan.

So the way I work it is to plug the 4 port power strip to the hotel electric. In this case, they did good and have a outlet right on the desk! Hooray! I don’t know how many hotels I’ve been at that could not get this right. Why, I wonder, do they put desks in so carefully but give us no electrical outlets except under the nightstand and by the AC unit some 7 feet away.

Anyways, I digress.  My goal is to have only one outlet for all my stuff and that’s the 4 port power strip. Everything comes off that like the Anker, the power strip for the chromebook, etc. I should mention even my Tmobile hotspot can charge via the same sized usb cable. Much coolness there!

So now, its all in place and I’m ready to throw the wifi switch and power up the usually underpowered and underwhelming hotel wifi connection. I always feel blah about it because they could do better but just don’t.

Now I’m ready and the infrastructure is in place, clothing hung up, AC is on. Time is ticking slowly this afternoon. Travel mode is engaged and work is not. Tomorrow I’ll chart out a few hour walk to get me seeing Eugene. Same for Friday.

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Eugene Oregon Bound

Another almost weeklong trip coming up starting tomorrow. I board the Amtrak for a long holiday trip spent walking around Eugene Oregon, sampling the foods and beers, and checking out the city. I’ve been through Eugene a few times but never have stopped. Its a great stop along the Coast Starlight route.


I’ve ridden the route up to Portland in the past and would like to extend the trip on up to Seattle and then perhaps Vancouver BC.

The train leaves at 935pm tomorrow night from Jack London Square Amtrak Station and I ride the night away. The following morning after breakfast in the dining car we are close to getting in to Eugene. Get to see some wonderful country in the morning.

Once I get in to Eugene at around 1pm, I hike the mile to the hotel I am staying at and setup basecamp which means getting stuff unpacked and preparing to do absolutely no Microsoft Project updating for critical projects deliverables, phone calls with surly SAN specialists, and great discussions with the client. I really like the client I have now quite a bit and the interaction as a representative of IBM is plenty cool.

But even with all that, there is a time where a person needs to engage the travel genes and get away from the churn and turn of being a Project Manager.

Eugene has a variety of touristy and foody and beery delights awaiting me. I plan on drinking in the evenings, eating during the daytimes and putting about five miles each day on my shoes with long hiking trips around the city, down the river there, and seeing history, commerce, government, culture as much as I can.

Did I mention getting the HELL out of dodge? Yeah, that’s a good thing. Finally I’m able to take vacations and do travel again. Its like a narcotic for body, mind, and soul for me. The longer train trips get me involved in the minute by minute details of just sitting without the usual stuff. Doing some notes in EverNote. Perhaps catching up on reading.

Very much looking forward to engaging travel mode as the train slips me away from all this to all that. I’ll be blogging here like normal each day spent in a new place. Too much fun!

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What I learned from Google IO

I am no developer. I would classify myself as homo habilis — the tool user. I learned a number of valuable things being a tool user:

Android is Evolving  and Innovative – No one should ever doubt that the razor’s edge is sharp. Android L is going to shake things up on how we use devices, how they interact with us, how the ecosystem will innovate to make the users, the tools, the environments all line up. Our applications and how we interact will evolve.

Chrome and Android will get closer – No doubt about this. These are two train stops on a journey. Will they become one? I doubt it. Will we have integration points along the way? I hope so. Each ecosystem can become more rich and varied with the other. Chrome boxes and chromebooks and Nexus devices. They are part of a continuity of how we use things and how they respond.

Google Nexus – don’t count it out.  The Nexus program will not simply be replaced or will Android Silver take its place. I think each has a place. I believe that Android Silver will take over the GPE landscape and offer high end devices at high end prices with reasonable updates. The Nexus landscape will offer Android the way many of us want it. Pure, fresh, no skins. But its also a development and R&D platform. It lets developers, documentarians, users all come together at a mutual place to experience new hardware. I think Nexus should stretch even more boundaries. How about Nexus Watch, Nexus Tablet, Nexus Phone. All built is reference platforms but also for those us who desire the pure thing. The other thing is I like flashing things like custom ROMs and kernels and recoveries. I like extending the device with a kernel that makes it last longer; that stingier on battery; that gives us functionality. We need Nexus. The commercial entities need Silver.

Google and its Android One – There is something to be said for introducing Android at price points that extend it even more. Quickly deliver devices at price points where the devices can even turn into mini web-servers and unite schools, communities, villages, countries that will have wireless by another Google project or by Satellites. Information is not only data but access to data as well. All the search results in the world will do naught if you have no way to reach them.

So it all comes back to Android evolving. The platform grows by adopting and adapting and being open. Open things always evolve and closed things go the way of the Dodo birds and dino’s. They are king for awhile but people’s nature is to want more. They want their vendors to go do more for them. Maybe do it cheaper. Do more. Android delivers so well there. Other closed ecosystems simply cannot compete. Its like a Hunter-Gatherer group using cryptocrystalline chert for a projectile point and sharing the tools but more importantly the technology versus a group maintaining a lock on how a technology is used and only the few can ever learn or adopt or adapt. Guess which one thrives in the annals of human history and prehistory. Anthropology tells us how this works over and over again.

Android evolves and we all do. It becomes like the spear point that is not only a tool but a system. Without the spear point, the rest of the tool is meaningless. Without the delivery device, the spearpoint is less than useful.

I’m not claiming that its Apple that is closed or that Microsoft or Blackberry are closed or open. You all walk your paths. You know how things work. Linux has walked the same frontiers. It has proven over and over again the value of an open technology where everyone that feels like it can contribute. We don’t need ivory tower technology.

Innovation also makes us feel better; more apt to evolve and use. Use what you will. Your ecology and ecosystem works for you. But things are moving faster and faster. Its not just about screen size. Its about mind size.

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