kaizen
what's been floating my boat lately:
 

"How fortunate for governments that the people they administer don't think."
-Hitler-
"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."
-Albert Einstein-

1/14/21 (21:34)

  • Interesting year. COVID, Trump, George Floyd, etc. We all know the long list.
  • Personally it was interesting. Seeing two kids die and not being able to save them was pretty rough. COVID changed the business a bit. We also stopped doing much work for Meryl's brother, but that was more because of market conditions than anything else and was planned to happen before COVID. Laid off one employee, lost another to him returning home to Mexico (I miss him). Hired another employee and he's working out. Got more PPP money than we probably deserved. Saved more money than we could have hoped for given what happened this year. That said, it was also the first time I was struggling to fill a work week. Signed a new agreement with a property management company to handle the vast majority of their maintenance work - something that's been in the works for a year and came at a really good time.
  • COVID slowed things for us for sure, but about 95% of the year was pretty much business as usual in terms of staying busy and making money. The type of work shifted, but we were out in the field nonetheless.
  • Merritt started kindergarten online, which is a bummer. Zoe continues to teach herself better than I could ever hope. Both my girls are so great and I'm so lucky to have them. They both have tablets (for online learning only) and Zoe and I had an email exchange once that went like this:
  • zoe: Dad where me and Merritt good at getting ready today???
  • me: Yes, you guys did a great job! We were out the door before 8am and I'm working right now. I love you guys so much! Love, Dad
  • zoe: Ok!
  • me: I am such a lucky Dad to have two such wonderful daughters who are so full of love and life and happiness. Love, Dad
  • zoe: You are!
  • I highly recommend the new Carlin podcast episode (garbage in garbage out). Listened to it twice today. His last two have been absolute gold and I agree with pretty much everything he says. It's really heartening to hear someone who sees the world in the same way. It can be pretty lonely being a true independent. I pretty actively avoid having any allegiance and the result of that is I'm not on a team so there's not much solace because everyone thinks you're not on their side. I have a lot of political stuff saved up, but I'll be up all night if I start writing about that.
  • One thing I really hope for is that when Trump isn't in office the media stops talking about him. He will no longer be required reporting and he's never been very interesting or important - outside of his role as president. No reason to talk about him anymore. I've been making this point since he lost the election and seeing him banned from Twitter, etc. actually gives me hope that this will happen. My inclination until now has been to think that the media will continue to dip into the Trump well for content, but now I'm less certain. We'll see.
  • The vaccine timeline is interesting. We're seeing this in a few sectors in government now where things that usually take a long time are now greatly accelerated. It leaves you wondering why things take as long as they take if they can obviously take a lot less time. I wrote before that the record before this was 4 years for the mumps vaccine. This isn't just an issue of developing the vaccine, but also of doing the tests and getting through the regulation. So we're faced with a situation now where we either have to question the old timeline/process as excessively long and onerous or question the safety of the current vaccine. I'm inclined to think that the old timeline/process was overly drawn out (as is typical with the government). That said, it's impossible to know the long term effects of a vaccine when it's been developed over the course of less than a year.
  • I incorrectly predicted the GA senate outcomes. Surprising outcome imo.
  • "Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize that half of them are stupider than that." - George Carlin. I think he means median person, but, pedantics aside, this is a good way of understanding why we are where we are.
  • According to NPR's Indicator podcast Amazon warehouse workers are making more than market rate and this is pushing wages up. This is probably bad news for people who like to hate Amazon.
  • The stories we tell each other about our family, the videos we watch over and over again...those become the perception of our family. Stories and images matter. Now extrapolate that out to how the media presents our country. What are the stories the media tell? Have they chosen to focus on the positive or the negative? One more way in which the media is so corrosive to our socio-political situation. And as I've been pointing out a for a while now - Trump will be gone soon and the media remains with us.
  • One thing that's nice about getting older is that you start to see patterns in society. Things aren't as novel as they once were. It's a lot easier to see how shifty things can be. For example, when I was growing up it was clear that conservatives were the ones who wanted to run your life - no abortion, rap is bad, being gay is sinful, puritans telling you how to run your life. Nowadays, though, the liberals are the ones telling you what car to drive (SUVs are bad), what coffee to buy (Starbucks is evil, need to buy fair trade, shade grown, organic whatever), what movies to watch (Gone With The Wind is verboten), what views to have, what jokes are off limits, etc.
  • Work lately has been a lot of unit turnovers. People are leaving the bay area and rents are dropping. People who didn't want to agree to buyouts before are now asking if the offer is still on the table. Landlords are the ones hurting and I'm sure no one is shedding any tears.
  • Our goal for a little while has been to buy a warehouse and live there. We'd build it out for living and also have storage space for all the staging materials (Meryl is fully into the staging business now) and tools, materials, shop stuff. We figure we need 6,000 s.f. minimum to make it work. 1500-2000 for living and office space and the rest for work stuff. More would be even better. Found a nice place and put an offer on it, but it's in contract so we only get a chance if it falls out of contract. I'm not super hopeful, but would really like to get the place. Lots of room so I could finally have the space I need.
  • One thing about being a GC is that I do a bit of almost everything. If I were just a plumber then I'd only need plumbing tools. I'd probably have more materials on hand like extra copper or cast iron or whatever, but I wouldn't need any of my electrical stuff, carpentry tools, tile tools, HVAC tools, extra hardware, simpson strong ties, etc.
  • Then you add up all the tools that I have multiple copies of...Sometimes I'm running 3 jobs at a time. I could cart one set of tools all around the city, but doing that just gets old. All that stuff takes up a lot of space. I've wanted more space since I was building CD cases in my apartment. I'd say a warehouse would finally be enough.
  • The other thing is that I have a car (the Chevy Volt) that I try to use most of the time for commuting and I have the truck that I use for bringing tools and materials to/from the job. Demo day means I usually bring the trailer and of course that means I need the truck. When I take the Volt I don't have as much space so keeping the tools on site is a much better option. Of course that also means I run the risk of a theft and that's an unfortunate part of the calculus for everything. If I'm on a job a long time then I run the risk of a burglary. All these considerations add up to more expense and difficulty. If I lived in the country I'd have a truck and a trailer and I'd bring the trailer wherever I'm working and I could leave it there until the job is done. Around here, parking and theft make that impossible.
  • So much of my job is logistics. What jobs should I go to today? How can I keep Edwin and Antonio busy? What jobs do I need to look at for next week or later down the line? What materials do I need for now and later? Actually doing the work is basically the easy part at this point. I guess that's an accomplishment since there was a time when that was a struggle. Nowadays most of the jobs I get are pretty easy for me to execute from a building perspective. Getting the right materials and people to the job and dealing with people...those are the hard parts of my job.
  • Dealing with flaky suppliers, material availability, and customers are the most annoying things for me on a daily basis. Home Depot is basically the only game in town for getting a variety of materials in one stop (Lowe's is far away) and none of them around here are run worth a damn. I know more about their products than most of their employees. I rented an insulation blower from them a few weeks ago and the guy renting it to me had no idea how it worked or what materials it worked with. I had to give him a tutorial and set it up for him. This is just one example. The lack of basic competence is a constant source of frustration.
  • Customers are more annoying the last year or so than ever before. I'm guessing that part of that is COVID getting to people and the other part is that more people are moving from SF to Oakland. Oakland used to be more working class and laid back - live and let live. These days, there's definitely a shift towards annoying people who are entitled, picky, and overbearing. Basically it's the Berkeley/SF-ification of Oakland. In this way, I definitely can sympathize with the anti-gentrification crowd.
  • So, that's work.

  • 1/11/21 (23:44)

  • Lots to say about things lately, but not much time. Staying up late to work and not much time to gather thoughts and write here. Will definitely get to it soon, though.
  • If you recall the Carlin podcast I recommended a couple times a few months back, that is as relevant now as ever. He talked about being angry when he was young and now just being really disappointed. That's where I am. Really embarrassed and disappointed by everything that's going on. Not only what's happening with the protests, but with the reactions to it. The way the media spins it. The way each side responds. The totally oblivious nature of the responses on both sides. Hopefully this is the wake up call we needed, but I think it still needs to get worse before it gets better. Part of that is each side acknowledging their own stupidity. The reckless nature of their extremes. Their own culpability in ratcheting things up. Their unwillingness to acknowledge the importance of the other side to keep things running well. This is something I write about a lot here. Maybe it comes off as apologetic for the Right. What it really is is an acknowledgment not just of the legitimacy of both sides, but the necessity of both sides. We need a right wing and a left wing to fly. Unfortunately both sides think that the other side is a mortal enemy. What makes it really difficult is that both sides have good evidence to back up some of their claims. There's enough blame to go around and never enough accountability and responsibility. Often I write here about the limitations, hypocrisies, failures, and blind spots of the Left. I do this not because I dislike the Left more than the Right (I've pointed out before that I'm more Left than Right), I do this in part to point out to my Leftist audience that your shit stinks too. If you can't acknowledge your own frailties, how do you expect them to acknowledge theirs? Without consistency there can't be accountability.

  • 1/5/21 (11:26)

  • It's not the podcast I look forward to the most, but it may be the most important podcast I listen to. Hidden Brain has a lot of good stuff and the host is doing a real service to the country. He sees the commonalties between the left and right more than most and, lately, Hidden Brain has done a lot of work to show those commonalties.

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