Sunday, October 12, 2014

Return

Each time I return I feel more complete.

Ways to count a successful trip:

  1. Proper footwear ... proper food. 
  1. Mexican food for breakfast first 3-days :)
  2. Attending the Delta Pine & Land for Field Day (although it rained for the first time in the history of field days (look at this!)


Saguaros and Palo Verde trees 



And wide open spaces - so I don't feel hemmed in - and I feel expansive - and visionary 

'

Plus I attended the wedding of year. Sky rockets in flight!



 I chose the music :)

Monday, October 06, 2014

Hopeful

So ... I have 10 other things I should be doing ... 

But at the moment I feel enthusiastic and hopeful ... so I should share, right?

This month is my one year anniversary of being a "Product Owner" and part of the Solutions/Product Management team. March (which feels like it was just last month) was my 4-year anniversary here. 

What does this mean?

  • I worked in Az as part of a Commodity Brokerage team for 6 years 
  • I worked as a Commodity Manager/Information Manager for 2 years in CA
  • I worked as many things (Dir. of Support, Sr. Imp/Training staff member) for 9 years (ok ... that sounds like forever) for a cotton software company in North Carolina 
  • I went back to being a chef for 6 months
  • And now I've been in healthcare software for 4 years - and had 3 different jobs in the same company
I don't know what it means ... maybe there's a link through all of this?

More questions ... what does a "Product Owner" do? If you live in the land of "Agile Development" this means that I'm the more "technical" side of the product management team.  It means someone else (the Product Manager) is the "visionary" person ... 

Example of a Product Manager's vision: "We need "things" people can hold and take to meetings with them and still see all their reports/data - (aka a laptop/tablet/smart phone). 

As a "Product Owner" is is my responsibility for translating those dreams and vague ideas into concrete (small) items that a development team can produce to meet the larger purpose. I need to know all the nuts and bolts and pieces of the product (if it already exists), or all the lessons learned from talking to customers about our previous product(s) - and translate them into making a new/better different product work/better. I work daily with the development team to bring these small pieces to life.

Thankfully "technical" doesn't mean I have to understand "method calls" and "objects", API's, SOAP and REST, and how to write code. It does mean I need to understand data-tables, relational databases, and when we are using REST vs SOAP. 

I also get to draw pictures of what new computer screens should look like, and tell people how they should work ... and then when they ask questions I don't understand I can hide behind, "Teach me" and "make me a diagram" ... and "what do YOU think is best?" and "let me show our customers and get some feedback".

I kinda love it. And I love the teams of developers I work with. They are the best guys (and women) EVER. 

Outside of work ... hmmm ... seems as there's not much "outside of work" these days. 

However, I did go on two(!!!) business trips in September (as first in four years) ... 

And! Tomorrow I get on a plane to go back to Arizona to visit a friend and watch her daughter (who was born when I lived in Phoenix) get married. 

And!!! My visit coincides with Delta Pine & Land Field day ... so I get to stand in cotton fields again ... and talk to my former co-workers ... and FARMERS! and shoot the shit ... and look at plants and bolls and fiber and talk about the market (OMG ... I am so excited!!) ... plus ... the desert ... stark cinnamon-colored mountains and dusty-green saguaro cactus ... and prickly jumping-chollas ... and sage and tumbleweeds and high-moving cloud formations that you can see from 40 miles away ... and THUNDER and LIGHTENING STORMS ... maybe even a flash flood or two (ok ... not that I want to be stuck in one) ... but Oh! to experience the smell, and feel and sounds!

It's going to be the most amazing 7-days. 

And now I better go pack!!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

What's worth saving for?

I wish dieting was like saving.

I've gotten really good at the routine of saving money ... maybe even too good, because I feel guilty for spending on anything that's not a necessity.

However, I have not gotten good at the 'routine' of dieting. And when I eat "over budget" I excuse myself.

Which kind of indicates to me I am more afraid on pennilessness in old age than poor health.


Hmmm

Friday, April 27, 2012

Bablbe


It's Friday night here ... and late morning coffee time Sat. there ... in Oz.

For a very nice change, I am home tonight. It's not often I feel like this on Fri nights. I am such a hermit on Sat & Sun .. (okay - maybe more of a sloth) ... but anyway ... lots of drama around my typical "Friday night date night w/Chef Mit" gig (that I have done for the last 1 1/2 years. which has ended those events in the near term) ... but I can't tell you what a relief it was to know I could get my work done (at my real work) at whatever time I wanted, tonight it was (6:45pm) ... and although I had to stop @ the grocery store before coming home .... there weren't (2-10) people waiting for me to get from office/to grocery store/to (chosen) residence/to make dinner ... and wondering how long it would take me to put something together.   

And it's NOT that I don't love cooking for people ... and entertaining them. But honestly ... if you're going to host me (and other people, or even JUST ME) .... and I'm going to cook ... and I typically work 45-50 hours a week (oh, wait ... that sounds like not that much) ... I think MAYBE you could go to the grocery store .. (hmm never-mind this story, lots of drama about people you don't know).

Anyway ... only cooking for myself to night ... so the only criteria is that *I* like it ... and I am more forgiving of my meals with just me eating them, than when anyone else is joining me (I know you are not surprised) ... and tonight is very pleasant.

So .. I'm trying to think of the last thing I told you.... and where I need to pick up in my narrative. Well there's a lot that will just remain in the past ... but I did get a new job/promotion!!!

... and I'm ASSUMING the new (salaried) position will be MORE lucrative (really - the only way to get a serious raise is to change companies, isn't it?), and a better fit - with more mental challenges and opportunities to affect/effect change. (although this end of technology certainly doesn't have the patina of history that cotton does/did.)

However ... on almost a daily basis I am gleeful that I won't be having to do "x" anymore (...clock in/out, clock time against a project budget (that's unrealistic), deal with a 1,000 program bugs (that bleed you dry like death via 1,000 paper cuts), hold generic webinars (that don't match anyone's workflow), deal w/customers every day that feel like they've bought a pig in a poke), sit back and deal with something (designed by someone with no insight) that doesn't work) ... and I can actually write processes that are DETAILED ... and avoid PITFALLS ... and help create new programs that avoid PREVIOUS mistakes (of course ... there'll still be things we don't think of, won't there ?.... and things that don't work the way they need to... and mistakes *sigh*) ... and ALL WILL BE ORDERLY (shut up, this is MY dream) in the Land of Implementation. 

Tomorrow night - I am going to see Sugarland  (I assume you are familiar) ... and on then on May 13th I fly to Cali ...!!! to attend my first Innovation Catalyst Forum (just think "JAMES BOND, AGENT of "School of Change!) ... and see a childhood friend (known him since I was 2 yrs old ... HOLY CRAP, WE SAW THE EARTH COOL!!!) ... and be in "my" city ... 

So ... hopefully the tide is turning. (Please dear God ... let the tide turn). 

A single income household REALLY sucks. $1,800 for the new hot water heater, another $1-1500 for some home maintenance shit, $800/for tires (looming), plus my 2006 computer took a dump ... and I am (horribly irresponsible and really want to buy a more expensive Apple product) so $1200 there ... and then vacation time (tacked onto the end of a business trip) to Cali ... and knowing my Dad's 81st b'day is in July ... plus my (cough/cough) XXX class reunion - so (maybe) another trip home .... and it could REALLY deplete the old "carefully saved" savings account ... that keeps the wolf at bay and allows me to sleep at night. (ok - well, sleep for 3 hour stretches.) 

so - this is me circa 2012.  

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

If you must break the silence ... make it

Brilliant!


Adding an egg yolk & pasta water w/starch to your sauce.

HOW AMAZING IS THAT?

ps: Please make sure you mix some finely grated cheese into your mixed egg yolk ...

Then slowly add the starchy pasta water.

Of course, if you're an aficionado, you you know this is the secret to amazing Spaghetti alla Corbonara .. (not to mention the prosciutto) ...

Tonight I made (a modified version of) Ditali with Asparagus (from one of my favorite books "Pasta Harvest" by Janet Fletcher).

Ingredients:
  • 2 1/2 to 3 pounds thick asparagus spears
  • 1 pound dried ditali ("thimbles") or cannetroni (I used smaller Ditalini by Barilla)
  • 4 tbs unsalted butter, in pieces
  • 1 egg yolk beaten* (this isn't in Janet's recipe)
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock* ( (this isn't in Janet's recipe - and I just added 1 ice cube of frozen chicken stock)
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I used Raspberry BellaVitano - a type of Parmesan)
  • Salt & Freshly ground black pepper
Directions:
  • Bring large pot of salted water to boil.
  • While waiting for water to boil
  • Hold asparagus spears in both hands, bend gently until it breaks naturally at the point which the spear becomes tough. Repeat with remaining spears. Discard tough ends (duh).
  • Cut spears crosswise into slices 1/3 inch thick, about the same length as the ditali.
  • *Separate egg yolk from white in a small bowl (not in Janet's recipe)
  • Grate cheese - and add about 1/4 cup to the egg, mix well
  • When water boils, add ditali* (Janet's recipe indicates adding the  asparagus first - then adding the pasta - but my  asparagus wasn't thick enough to need to cook for more than 3 minutes)
  • Before pasta is al dente - add asparagus (for me it was at 3 minutes left of the 10 minute pasta cook time)
  • Cook until pasta is al dente and asparagus is still crisp tender
  • Reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water - and add chicken stock to it 
  • Drain pasta and asparagus 
  • Add butter to (now empty) cooking pan - dump in pasta/asparagus combo
  • Stir a few time to melt butter - then dump in yolk/cheese mixture and stir
  • Season w/kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Add pasta water/chicken stock (about 1 tbs at a time) and stir a lot so starch/yolk/cheese make a yummy sauce. More stirring = more starch - and better sauce)
  • Serve immediately on warm dishes
  • Top w/some more freshly grated cheese
Seriously good.

ps: this is also a serious indication of how I can take something simple (Janet's recipe has 2 (long steps) and turn it into how to make a watch, instead of how to tell time (I have 17 steps)