Thursday, July 28, 2005



Originally uploaded by chilort.
Here's a picture of the fat boy on a ski.



Originally uploaded by chilort.
Here's another picture of the fat boy on a ski.

Sunday, July 24, 2005


Out Sourced

Continuing my line on creativity I want to talk about out sourcing and creativity, without getting into the political morass of economics, job losses, career gains, and whatnot.

One of the things today's companies like to tout when they out source jobs to an over seas company is the notion they are keeping the move advanced and creative jobs here in the States. This is likely a true statement. The jobs that go over seas are those requiring rote process. While some jobs over seas do require significant creativity, these people doing the more creative tasks are generally working one products for their home market. Does out sourcing rote tasks to over seas locations really increase the creative content of the home office? This is the question I pose.

I have no way to measure this right now, but my guess is that out sourcing rote tasks, even some engineering and computer science type jobs, over seas does not help to increase the creativity of the people in the home office. I find it much more likely that the overall creativity of the company and the creativity of the home branch both drop. The increases in communication barriers -- like time and language differences -- will have a total negative effect on creativity. When the work is out sourced it isn't like the work and the interactions required to do that work just disappear. That work must still happen, and now the people in the home office must take their time and mental energy to coordinated this new style of interactions.

People have likely already published on this topic but I hope to find out more. I am guessing the issues I have lined out above are just short-term issues. Once companies and people learn how to manage these issues the creativity might level out or even go up if they can learn how to use these new over seas people properly. The world economy should also improve with this type of out sourcing if it actually works like big business thinks it will. Over the long-term, the poorer nations start moving away from manufacturing and start doing more service work. The bottom level, rote service work moves over seas and companies push colleges and universities to generate graduates with higher levels of creativity and ability to work with global teams.


Engineer for cure found

So the girlfriend was trying to get some action on Friday night. She plans on leaving to go back to her apartment in The Haute to pack up more stuff on Tuesday. She analyzed each night of the week between Friday and Monday to describe why those would be "bad" nights for gettin' some. Monday was the best. It went something like, "Monday is bad because that's the day we get internet." I just about broke down. Only a Rose student would give up some lovin' for the internet.

Saturday, July 16, 2005


Dyslexia For Cure Found

I've been thinking quite a bit about creativity lately. Considering the Ph.D. program I am entering, I'll be thinking quite a bit more about creativity over the next 4 to 5 years, and possibly, the rest of my life. This blog is, more than likely, going to start talking a lot about creativity too. I've thought about splitting the two topics -- creativity and general life -- into two blogs but, for now, we'll stick with the one.

The ethereal quality of creativity lends itself to many various forms of study. The study of creativity in medicine is taken up by researchers with MRI machines doing brain scans to see where creativity in the brain occurs. Psychologists study creativity and describe it using one set of methods while behavioral scientists work to describe the component pieces of creativity using others. Some people look at group creativity and the social interactions that can create or hinder the creative process.

On Friday evening I was listening to The Infinite Mind on NPR about dyslexia. They describe dyslexia as an inability to learn language. They also describe dyslexia as a glitch. Listening to the people on the show though, they made dyslexia sound much more like an inability to learn unstructured systems. These people could learn algebra but couldn't spell very well. I know I'm going to display some ignorance of my own here (I do it all the time), but listening to this show, combined with my own learning and experience, leaves me with many unanswered questions I would like to share. Of course, I will also try to share the logic on how I got to these questions.

It is known that all people learn differently. In general we share enough in common such that standardized classes and course work are fine for most of us, yet, in reality, some of us are more visual than others, some learn better with words, some learn better with logic and equations, and so on. According to the program, dyslexic people have a higher average IQ than those without dyslexia. People with dyslexia are also known for displaying higher levels of creativity (who knows what measures they are using to describe creativity). So, even though these people have an ability to learn, may even be smarter than average, and are by some measures more creative, our medical system has labeled dyslexia as a glitch! These people may be some of the brightest out there, we know learning styles differ, and yet we are trying to force these people into a standardized system and label their abilities as a fault.

It is quite possible I am missing some bigger piece of the medical puzzle. But I certainly don't understand the negative label. Well, I guess I do. It has to come from the fact that, in the past, dyslexia was viewed as a block to learning. But the learning isn't the problem, from all of the descriptions, the problem is the traditional style used. Dyslexic people can and do learn. Some of the greatest thinkers of our time (Albert Einstein) were dyslexic. The problem may not be with dyslexic people but with our education system's capability of handling people with broad learning styles.

I also wonder if dyslexia operates like a full-on full-off or if it is more linear. Is there a range of dyslexia possibilities? More than likely, again showing my ignorance, dyslexia is just a label for people that exhibit enough of a given set of characteristics to be given a label. For instance, let's say you have to have 6 of 10 characteristics. What about the people that have 5 characteristics? Are they somehow, magically not dyslexic? But then, also, won't there be people that exhibit 9 or even all 10 characteristics? Are they, by some other measure, more dyslexic?

Here's the part where I get to quit authoring my questions and start to posit my ideas. I am guessing that all people show some form of dyslexia (they already say 1 out of 7 children have dyslexia). As an example, as far as I know I don't have dyslexia but I am horrible with grammar, can't spell, read slow, but am good at math. I bet, with time and research, we will find that we have the wrong label. Dyslexia is a term that will become antiquated and a new way of thinking will emerge where the grouping of descriptors that differentiate between people that are better at rote memorization versus logical understanding will emerge.

Friday, July 15, 2005



In light of all that has been going on for me personally, things I really don't feel like blogging about, two of the topics I had noted for later discussion probably won't ever be covered in any great detail. I will hit on one though and that is BOINC. I really don't understand the switch. Right now I don't like it. As I learn how it functions I may like it better. But, this is, essentially, the new front for SETI.

Sunday, July 10, 2005


The Good and The Bad

The Good:

JPM won the Grand Prix today at Silverstone! Go JPM! I was at Indy when he won the Indy 500 and I've been a fan ever since. He's had his ups and his downs but, hopefully, this win will see more ups.

The Bad:

For those of us that like watching F1 we might be in trouble. The top people in the F1 leadership have been quoted as saying things like, "It's our championship," "If the teams don't like it, to be very blunt -- too bad," and "We could still fill our grid up if some of the manufacturers walked away. Nobody is going to run it like I do -- because I built it." There are several problems with statements like this that really remind me of a certain split in open-wheel racing here in the U.S. that has, more or less, seen the demise of the sport here (The Brickyard 400 at Indy has a greater pull and makes more money than the historic Indy 500).

While the FIA may run the Formula 1 World Championship, it takes more than the governing body to encompass the entire sport. It is their championship, but without teams to run the championship they really don't have much. The teams and the governing body have a symbiotic relationship. Maybe I am arguing the side of the teams too much, they've certainly done some ignorant things lately (the Indianapolis Grand Prix), but if the FIA is unwilling to listen to the teams the relationship won't last much longer.

Some of the manufacturers are talking about starting another series. This just goes back to my C.A.R.T vs IRL comparison. Even though the governing body says it has enough teams to fill the field (20 cars) if teams leave the numbers don't really add up. Currently there are only 20 cars running. A team might be added next year, but with the funding required, adding a team is always a wait and see proposition. The only way the FIA can fill the field would be to require some teams to run 3 cars rather than the current 2. This would add cost and stress on those teams and is not conducive to see those teams hanging around for long.

I certainly don't know what needs to be done. The relationship between the teams and the FIA leadership has deteriorated so much over the past few years, and even more over the past few months, that it doesn't seem likely there will be much of a positive outcome. Maybe the teams are bluffing, or maybe some of that European heritage I don't understand will come into play somehow, or maybe it really will all fall apart like open-wheel racing did here.

Saturday, July 09, 2005



Most of my hiking recently has been on the A.T., but I had the opportunity to hike Mt LeConte with my girlfriend and her mother. We took a different way up than down. The way up was about 9 miles, the way down about 6.5 miles, with some additional hiking around the peak. The A.T. passes about 5 miles to the east of Mt LeConte. Of course, now that I have done LeConte I will not feel I have to take the side trail up LeConte when I do my thru-hike (though the A.T. side trail cabin was very nice -- we had to check it out).

I had a real blast on this hike. I had never hiked up over 4500' or so. The hike starts around 2500' and goes up to almost 6600'. As I have looked over my trail guides for the deep south (okay the southern part of the A.T. really isn't the deep south but many of those people in Maine sure think it is) I have somewhat avoided the N.C. and TN sections for two reasons: 1) no dogs in the Smoky Mountain National Park, and 2) the over 6000' peak of Clingman's Dome. I guess as I do this section I will have to miss my dog and 6000' ain't that bad.

So how was the stay? If you have accommodations (you have to book about a year in advance unless you get lucky), we this scheduled, the stay was great. After over 4000' of climbing in 9 miles the food was great! The coffee was even better!! I tasted the hot chocolate and it was fantastic too. The lodgings were super. In the last over night that we did I had a mouse climbing up my head during the night at one of the shelters. Mt. LeConte was much better: no mice. Breakfast was enormous and filling -- plus the coffee -- and the presence of warm water and flush toilets was something I totally did not expect.

I was also very happy to see their use of technology. They used solar power for their camp radios. They also used solar power for their water pump. They pump the water from the spring up the hill to two huge tanks (which we saw). Then they use gravity to get the water to the toilets, sinks, and taps. They also fly in the propane tanks each year. On the "low" technology side of things, we got to see the llamas they use to pack various items that must go up and down three times a week.

About the only thing I didn't get to see was a black bear and I don't know how disappointed I am that I didn't get to see this.

Thursday, July 07, 2005


You're Fired (tm)

I still don't have much time to write. In fact, if I hadn't said I would write I wouldn't be making this post right now. I'm reading "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" again and it is almost too good to put down. But I guess I'll write, briefly, about almost getting fired.

I have less than a month to go working for the company I work for before I start my Ph.D. and maybe that is why I have the attitude I've had of late. The attitude? It goes something like: these are the things that are wrong with your company and you must fix all of them right now so that I can see it all work before I leave. Go!

The attitude has had mixed results. Both owners have been almost ready to quit due to their frustrations (note: starting your own company, while it can be fun and very rewarding, is very rarely ever easy). One of the owners has a lower stake in the company and was about ready to quit. Over the past couple of months though, I have been able to take this owner, show him some management techniques, show him how to take more responsibility, and watch him blossom into a much better leader. And a leader is what, under my guidance, he has become. I don't know if it will last once I am gone but, considering I am on the company's board of advisors, it just might. The other owner, on the other hand, has been an almost total flop. He has not been able to relinquish any control, has not been able to improve his time management techniques, does not take well to criticism, and has actually shown lower productivity over the course of the past few months.

Finally, a couple of weeks ago, I had all I could take of the lower performing owner's lower performance. I struck out. I thought I would be able to have a heart to heart with him since we have worked on other projects outside of work (though with little degree of success due to his lack of time management). It was, more or less, a flop. He got real mad at me. If I were going to stay with the company I would not have done what I did -- "you have to have job before you can have a career" -- but I'm going off to other things so I really didn't care. I found out from the other owner that he actually wanted to fire me after the conversation. The other boss, of course, defended me to the hilt, including attributing me with a new account he won that very day with a very prestigious client. In the end, my job was saved.

Both the lower performing owner and I went on vacation this past week and I hope it helped smooth some things over. The higher performing owner has really taken things over and, hopefully, over the next couple of months they will really see some improvements. We are actually seeing improvements already; even though we have the same dollar figure in sales this year as last year, as opposed to last year, this year we are making money. Combined with a break and seeing these kinds of numbers I hope the one owner will chill out a bit.

So yeah, with five weeks to go I almost got fired! I once had a boss tell me he knew I was doing a good job because I was making some people angry. His theory was that you really can't give everything to everyone. I drew my line in the sand and stuck by it. Of course, I tend to do high quality work and, even though I am sometimes over budget and don't always meet a ludicrous schedule someone else tries to develop for me, people are always happy that the work was performed correctly.

Sunday, July 03, 2005


Finding Time

If I ever have time I will post about:

But I'm a tad busy having fun with life right now.

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