Dreary Saturday and Starbucks Bound

Yesterday ended my run with the rush to finish 7 months of work in 4 months and was able to turn over all remaining task levels to the program manager that will see things thrugh next steps. I was enthusiastically thanked by our Chief Architect which was a thrill and a moment of extreme happiness at what we did. Our architect team is the finest group of technical resources I have ever worked with. They understand all the various parts of the project, are skilled at building the bridge between our exercise and what we call “steady state”. It was a joy to work on this project the last months and I count a lot of the client/customer folks as friends now too which is great. I also managed to learn how effective ITIL change management works in a real setting and not some book or class setting. This allowed me to participate in the process, file change records, get work scheduled smart, and understand how risk is analyzed by a ItIL change manager. Very rewarding and I appreciate the learning!

Now its Saturday and I’m between projects at IBM although the next one has been assigned and its one of those problem projects. The previous PM was not well received there so there is work to recoup that goodwill and ability to engage and get the customer working with us again.

Its dreary out here today and for some reason my thoughts filter back to other places. I remember once waking up in Akasaka Japan at the rather remarkable ANA Intercontinental Hotel back in 2010 on my first day of investigations. I ordered room service then  and the hotel window was showing rain drops tearing down. The person taking my coffee ordered told me that I would see my coffee in 3 to 5 minutes. In 4 minutes, a doorbell rang to my room and I had my coffee pot. Of course, expensive. Of course I felt pampered. The rain still streaked down but I knew it would stop and that I would motor forward and my feet would take me to Shinjuku after a Met ride. The first day stayed wet overall but the second day dawned early with a kiss of late spring. The skies were pale blues and yellows as the sun touched its way up.

I bet you all have memories of places where you have some connection. A place where you “know” that upon return the forces will all align and the stars shine and the paths that lay before will gladly accept your feet. For me Japan is that place. It welcomes me each time as though it knows I am wearied from the forces of destruction in my life. Divorce, hatred, acceptance of things or not. Japan would always stream its welcome video and let me know I was accepted there. I could let the things go as I tramped the city streets getting completely lost.

I stopped once for coffee and remember starting out the window. Perhaps I knew I would never reach this particular coffee place again so the Latte tasted special good and the people were in their little wireless world. I saw school girls giggling. Day workers staring absently at the clouds parting. Older folks like me traveling their paths that all stopped with the coffee. I sat for an hour or more and felt no need to leave but leave I did. My fee took me down the street to other places and the rain had stopped.

Then I flash forward to this Saturday and this Starbucks. Japan is a memory but I’ll go back this year. The divorce is a memory and now I live as I want and do what I want with what I have left. I’ve finally found the path to happiness living with a bunch of guys that all talk, eat but also curb the desire to explode on a person’s solitude. They understand. At home, I never was understood and I never understood the things which had happened.

So, Starbucks and history compete for my time and I’m glad to have the memories of India, Singapore, Japan. I hope your Saturday is well balanced or not and the barista has made the coffee that builds your life. There is despair. Hope, Happiness. Sadness. Much like Eclesiastes says. I may drive down to a hole in the wall Indian place for dinner because I can. Its a 30 minute drive and I can have rice, Chicken Tikka Marsala, and some good garlic Naan. I can drive around Milpitas and wonder.

That’s a plan for today’s dreary day!

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Project Management is…

Hard work. Its dawned on me more than a few times that doing this PM thing is draining emotionally and mentally. I’m at the point of putting down one piece of hard work and taking up another. It seems the work is even harder when its a “problem project” which needs rescuing.

Stressful. There are not a lot of “thanks for a job well done” and the nerves seem to crack and break. I’ve been on a project for a demanding client for 5 months and it got done. I have a week of no stress and then I hop back on the bandwagon.

Good and Bad. It has its ups and then its downs. I get a sense of little accomplishment sometimes but often the sense of failure overwhelms and I want to log back in, vpn out, do something to fix a thing which I know cannot be fixed until the next day. It makes the good not so good and the bad horrible.

Waiting. Its horrible waiting. You get a good thing done and wait for the next bad thing. Recently, I had about 7 instant chats all going at the same time about completely different issues. Which one to do? I typed in each window a number. I told 1 he had my attention. I told 2 he had to wait. I told 7 to take a number :-). This worked until I figured out that some number like 6 was our chief architect. Another time I waited and waited for a thing. It never did happen until I went to bed and then the team lead in India made it happen. Sometimes the timezones are your friends and other times they suck the big one because you have to




I don’t really like waiting. I never did since I was a kid and my Mom told me Santa would make me wait until I had gone to bed. Now I know that Santa was watching me through the window and made me wait. Darn him anyways.

Wanting to be done and knowing you cannot. Its like a 5 pound chicken laboring with the 10 pound egg. You get it done but wow! It sure takes a lot of work.

Finally, don’t dream of being a PM unless you have drank a sixer of beer and are in some alternate world where the PM God rules and all the others labor mightily and write blog posts why being some other manager or executive sucks the big one.

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Big Screen TV on the Cheap

After moving out, I lost the comcast cable box and television we had at the house. I can still login to xfinity and watch the streamed movies and I have a Netflix account as well. But the whole thing seemed less than spectacular on a laptop screen. I started shopping around at Amazon since I have prime for a suitable replacement which would allow me to watch the movies and stuff from my Nexus 7 on a big screen. Enter this bad boy.



This thing plus the cheapo Samsung 22 inch TV I bought gives me entertainment in my room for about $220.00. The chromecast is almost idiot proof and watching my history and archeology documentaries, movies, and TV shows is very nice. The price for the Chromecast is at $35.00 which means I can stream stuff so cheaply and see it so decently from my list of supported applications like Netflix, Google Play Movies, HuluPlus and a bunch of other applications which I am still looking at.

On the Nexus 7 with a custom ROM like Mahdi, the display is stunning on the Nexus.  My room has limited desk space room so I needed some smaller entry which would still offer decent video.

This all works so well. Life is much nicer with streamed movies and other stuff. No strange viewing angles like on the laptop. Moving around and doing other stuff is easier with my entertainment center. As I suspected though, the Nexus 7 tablet is the centerpiece of the Mike force digital empire. Its just the best tablet I’ve ever owned.

If you are looking for something on the cheap that will give you edutainment; I highly recommend a cheap Samsung TV which will do HDMI and decent screen resolution plus the Chromecast. If you use Chrome as a browser, you can cast tabs and I’ve done this on my chromebook a few times.

Thanks to Google for a slightly disruptive media thingy. Plug in and go! Could not be much simpler. Might as well get a Nexus 7 2013 model too :-).

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Weekends and Blogging

This is my last weekend on the current account and its a working one. I get through next week with them closing out final work tasks and projects, upload all my files to our Notes teamroom, say some goodbyes to folks I really enjoyed working with. Then its a week off and I pick up sticks and travel with the daughter force to Santa Barbara for a week on the Amtrak. She puts up with the slow pace of the train but like most speed-based teenagers she would prefer to jet down and have the time. To me, the train is the perfect expression of the trip having me and not the other way around. She deals though and will also enjoy the food on the train and the upper viewing car. We’ll leave at 830am from Oakland and get in by 5pm after an amazing ride (at least to me).

This is really the last weekend where I can visit the fractured home and walk in. Things change as the new guy moves in and their apartment escape goes away. I’m applauding this because its yet another closure sign. I know others would not agree to so easily losing a house but to me it released me from a rest of lifetime debt for something I would never willingly live in again. I started hating the house almost 4 years ago.

Its a month now living in the room. I interviewed at Wells Fargo and perhaps could have had the job. More money but I felt like more BS too. It seems the inner voice was telling me to not do it that there would be too many controls and limits put on me. I enjoy the work from home thing which I don’t have to call in and pre-qualify for. I don’t like offices that much where you have to show up and sit around unless I feel that there is a value. I did not care for the person I would work for that much. She seemed to have no real emotion to things. No drive. My current IBM manager is exactly the opposite. Very charismatic and lead by example oriented. The Wells Fargo leader seemed to share inside jokes a lot and I did not care for the team mates that much that work would focus on. Perhaps its just me though but more money is not the only thing. You have to live with the folks day after day. This was not the new and shiny next thing.

I’ll be glad to be off in a week. Enter travel mode. Be inbetween accounts. Hit the road with the daughter force for the coast and city that I also love. Its Sunday! Go out and be boring.

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Almost Vacation Time!

The days on the current project draw to a close. I’m putting the finals on the thing that driven me since October. I finished the last big piece a week ago and turned over a very complex environment to what we call steady state teams for their maintenance. I leave the current account on the 28th of March. The following week I’m off all week for the first time in 6 months give or take. I then get back on the 5th of April and start a new gig on the 7th of April with another customer.

Big news for me is hitting the road to Santa Barbara in about two week’s time. Yay! My daughter force is going along and we’re hopping the train down there. Amtrak is the only way to go when you want to see the places you go through. She will want to eat good on the train and that’s cool. Down in Santa Barbara we will go to the Zoo and the Botanic Gardens and probably drive up to Solvang for a day.

Its going to be quite good to clear out for awhile.

I’m figuring around July to head out again for a week to 10 days to Japan and see friends there. I need Japan. It needs me. Japan is like a cosmic entity in my life where when I go I feel complete. Its been about 3 years since I’ve been on the road. I’d like to get to India later in the year just not Chennai in November again. Too much rain!

Hoping I can do both trips internationally this year! We shall see.

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To Each

There is a verses in the bible I come back to every so often. It seems sometimes to be fitting. Perhaps it summons the etcha sketch in me and reminds me there is a time for all things.To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

We all know that there are times for things and our lives revolve around the times for the things. When I look now at where I’ve come to and where I was at; its a great distance. The amazing has been to me that this same thing was said in a song and I like the song even more.

It all comes together for each and to each seems to me. There is also a time to come together and a time to turn away. Because all things have a purpose. Once we know the purpose of things we understand the things themselves it seems to me sometimes. Its the same with our coveted personal relationships. I have come to realize that in the end no one will say they understood me and that is the way it is. Because there is a time for understanding and a time to let it go.

I’m at the final stages of letting it go. It feels good because I’ve been spinning my wheels on this for almost 5 years. That’s too long to be stuck in a verse of Ecclesiastes.

Here are a few other ideas for you from the idea factory.

  • If you think something is wrong; it most likely is wrong.
  • If you doubt something, it worth it.
  • If you don’t trust someone, they earned it.
  • Friendships do not come on Facebook although I have found one there of older time.
  • Your moccasins only hold your feet. Don’t even think someone else belongs in them.
  • We come into this place alone and we leave that way. There’s a vast difference and distance between loneliness and solitude. Perhaps you should learn it. Or not.

Those are the lessons. They will not avail you. You have to learn your own. Sorry.

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Time on Sunday

Its Sunday! Time for a news digest for the Mike force:

Android – Years ago I got my first android phone. It was a HTC Magic and the guys in Chennai took me to a phone shop there. It did not have the market on it or gmail or any of that stuff. Airtel had hacked it into pieces and left not much that would remind one that it was an android phone. Enter XDA and I found a method to root the phone and install a HTC Hero Sense ROM. Things then officially took off! This must have been 2009 when I lived in India for awhile. Its been 5 years since then. Android now commands on the phone and is ascending on tablets; but it also runs on other devices. Its a commodity OS basically. Install it here, there, wherever.  The real message is that choice always compels over limits. If you show someone 20 different devices all with different hardware components, size, abilities; chances are they choose and not be limited to the same ole in the land of fruit.

Work – Having weekends off is a relatively new occurrence at work. The last two weekends has seen me get off during the days. Now I sit here this morning and consider how our project went through its phases; the amazing rush to finish something in 4 months that would normally have taken about 6 or 7 months; how IBM is really not structured for this kind of delivery. To deliver this way you need an organization that’s stripped down and can speed in its execution. Now I don’t know what’s next. I’ve done the work best I know how and we finished a key component on Friday which marked some of the last “in scope” tasks. Now they’ve raised to 100% and I’m left with two things to get done which occupy me until end of the month. Perhaps I do get the time off and I can take off for Santa Barbara. Maybe finally I can travel and there will be no work for a bit.

Time and Space – The continuum has shifted. We have dominated time again and made it move ahead. Now we know that time is not really real and space occupies space. We are good to go!

Life in General – Its been two weeks since moving out. For the first time in four years I feel rather happy. I can visit the kids, spend quality time but I come back to my bubble where I can live. This creates a value for me where none existed before. That being said, how I live now is a transient thing. I want to leave California completely. I don’t know where is next and what I’ll do there; but this is not the place for me.

So there you have the bullets of the day. Spinning on, moving on, going on. Its the time on Sunday to consider the news on my Nexus 7. Hope that Google decides to push out new Nexus devices with a new Android version but we know they will. The rumor mills are fun but they always seem so far away from what really happens. We won’t know until we know. And that makes world dominance that much more fun.

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Filed under Android, Current Events