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-


1/30/24 (21:54)

  • Got the concrete pour done, but it was kind of a shit show. The guy who I hired to help with it was clearly not as experienced as he should have been. Ultimately it all falls on me for not figuring that out quickly enough and making changes. It was all made worse by the fact that it was going to rain the next day so I added the minimum recommended accelerator to the mix. I relied on the supplier when I probably should have asked more questions about it. I was trying to avoid the nightmare scenario of a heavy rain ruining the concrete, which was a good idea, but the weather was perfect so I should have called after the first truck and changed the order for the subsequent trucks. I should have taken the initiative and taken over the placement and vibrating away from the concrete guy and done it myself. Even though I have less experience I think it would have turned out better if I was in charge because they were shooting concrete all over the place and not vibrating enough (which left voids in a several areas that then needed to be fixed later). Only need to make those mistakes once. Unfortunately I almost never do more than a couple dozen bags of concrete so I just didn't have the experience and the help I leaned on wasn't good enough to make up for things.
  • The other big regret of the project so far was the hauling of concrete and dirt. The old slab was all over the place and we needed to take it out, including about 6" of dirt underneath. We will be putting in 6" of gravel and then a 5" concrete slab. So, we took out at least that much in existing crap to make way for the new stuff. I did the math several times and tried to take into account the fact that broken concrete takes up more space than solid concrete. Usually it's about 30-40% more space. So, if you had a cubic yard of concrete in a 1x1x1 box and broke that up, it would fill a 1.4 cubic yard container. Less true for dirt. At any rate, the guy I hired (who was charging per load) didn't fill up the trucks as much as he should have and he took out more dirt than he should have and they were terribly inefficient in their loading and the math didn't quite work out so it ended up costing about $5k more than the other guy I was going to use. I should have thought more about the downside potential and the incentive structure. I should have been more insistent to get full trucks and pulled the plug early. I should have gotten him on record for how many loads it would take to finish the job.
  • This project kills a little part of me every day. On the other hand, it also makes me learn in a way that should stick. Overall, this has been a productive month if I'm looking back at the last post here being about passing the rebar inspection.
  • We've gotten a lot of framing done and are basically all done with the difficult stuff there. We have the front wall to redo (which will have to wait until the last of the concrete is poured) and some interior wall framing (also after concrete), but those are relatively easy and my guys can handle it. We have had some union framers help with a lot of the more difficult stuff and that's been super helpful. I think I could have figured out most of it myself, but it would have taken longer and been very frustrating to do all the mental heavy lifting myself.
  • Once we get done with the slab, it will be a lot more stuff that we are more accustomed to so the stress shouldn't be as bad. Still a lot of hard work, but it will ratchet down a bit.
  • We're currently working on siding 3 of the 4 sides of the house (the front is the only side that needs to be pretty and we're going to leave that to the pros). We also have to put the sheathing on the roof (big job). We also need to dig out the front wall foundation so we can get that all formed up.
  • Plumbers and electrician need to do all the underground work (hopefully only a couple weeks).
  • After that I'm hoping we just need to bring in gravel, put down plastic, rebar, and pour concrete. The rebar and plastic is pretty straightforward and we can handle that. The concrete will need at least two guys who know what they're doing and I'm still looking for them...
  • We're spending more on debt servicing than the military now. Democrats like to point out all the things you could theoretically could do by cutting military spending x%, but I haven't heard much about debt payments. Republicans, meanwhile, only care about debt when Democrats are in charge. It's a joke. No one has principles. Luckily we're the tallest midget in the world right now because many of the other big economies are dealing with debt to GDP ratios similar to, or worse than, ours.
  • The cool think about anti-semitism is that it unites the far right and the far left. You have "jews will not replace us" from one end and "from the river to the sea" from the other end. It's a beautiful thing to see such unity.
  • Humans seem to be killing each other less in wars lately than we have in the past. At the same time we are doing this at least in part because we have more nations than we ever have. Every person who isn't a palestinian or jew agrees that a two state solution is best. Yugoslavia is more peaceful now because it's like 6 different countries. So, we get more peaceful by being more separate...at least that's what it looks like to me. At the same time, outside of wars, we tend to kill people like us more than people who are different from us. A black person is more likely to kill a black person than a white person, same for a man or a white person or whatever.
  • This Old House has been one of my favorite shows for about 30 years. I've seen most of the seasons. I recently watched the Atlanta season and it's pretty clearly the worst season to date (out of 44). Bad design, bad homeowners, bad all around.
  • I read the Elon Musk biography and enjoyed it. I don't like the guy in a lot of ways. I don't like the cybertruck. But I appreciate that someone made the cybertruck. I appreciate that he's someone who gets shit done in a society that values that less and less every day. I don't appreciate some of his methods and lack of humanity. But I do value the "question every rule" mantra. I appreciate the "cut too much and then add back" part of his method. I like that he thinks outside the box. During COVID they tried to shut down Tesla, but they were able to find a loophole that allows for outdoor car repair and they exploited that to keep assembly going. His ability to cut through red tape and call people and systems out on their bullshit is much appreciated. It's exhausting trying to get simple things done in this bureaucratic morass of modern society and yet he gets it done. I wish he never went on Twitter. I think the internet kind of broke him. He would have been just a normal autistic-ish jerk, but the internet turned him into a dumb, cruel troll. Someone needs to check his shit, but I doubt that'll happen.
  • A couple months back there was a bit of a debate about whether or not the team that wins the NBA championship should be called "world champions." It's an argument that doesn't seem to go away. I think it's pretty clear for the NFL, NHL (probably?), MLB, and NBA that those leagues attract 95% of the best talent in those sports. They pay the most, provide the most visibility, highest level of competition, etc. If you win the championship in those leagues then you're world champions as far as I'm concerned. If you took all the best American NBA players and put them on a team (olympics or similar) it's probable that they could get better than the best NBA team if they played together long enough, but that's a team that exist for a few months and then goes away. It's a theoretical invention.
  • If college lacrosse was as popular/lucrative as college football I wonder what the conversation would have been around pay. Would they have wanted to pay the white players many years ago? Would they have been upset by the increasing calls for paying college players because it could have been seen as a racist policy? Put another way, it seems that the the people benefiting most from the NIL and college pay for athletes stuff are disproportionately black. If it were the other way around I wonder if there would have been more or less push back around implementing this. I wonder when/if we'll have data around the NIL stuff. I'm curious how much money hot gymnastics girls are getting from only fans or whatever, for example. It would be interesting to see the data on which sports get the most endorsement deals most OF revenue, etc.
  • If you were to google "gender disparity in covid" what do you think you would get? Would you get information on how men are 20-100% more likely to die from COVID? No. Interesting. Also interesting that if you look up a more specific term like "gender disparity in covid death rate" then you will get a very nuanced breakdown on why men die more than women. It's interesting how when information doesn't fit the usual narrative things get all complicated. But when they fit the narrative it's a very simple story of how much one group sticks it to another group. Nice tidy explanation. But if things don't fit then it either doesn't get covered or it's a complicated and nuanced story and they might even blame behavior (instead of just blaming biology and the system). You'll notice that it's very rare that a mainstream rag will say black people or females get the short end of the stick for any reason related to their own behavior and yet when it comes to COVID death rate, that's exactly what they're willing to say. It's revealing that they don't think women or minorities have agency in their own lives. Just leaves floating in the wind unable to fight against the tyranny of the system. Poor victims, always.
  • To be clear, men's actions (like not wearing masks or not social distancing or being in jobs that put them at greater risk or working while the women stayed home [which was complained about quite a bit, yet never in one of those articles will you see them citing it as potentially life-saving]) are probably more to blame than biology and those actions should get blamed for the disproportionate deaths. But it's possible that actions affect outcomes for other groups as well, and I wish they were consistent in that idea.
  • Every individual and group should have a default assumption of some baseline level of agency in their lives. To take that away seems an affront. And yet we have people lining up to be declared a victim everyday. Kinda sad.
  • Every grain of sand on the beach is exactly where it is because of everything that has happened to it throughout the history of time. That grain of sand was once a particle (or something, not even sure) before the big bang. It became star dust and a part of a planet and turned into a rock due to molten lava being cooled or underground pressure. Then it was reduced to a grain of sand and was pushed around by the waves which were moving in a particular way because of the moon and when it was formed and where it is relative to the earth. And then a crab came along and pushed it here or there and then a little kid and some wind and whatever else acted upon it. Amazing to think about it in that way.
  • And yet we don't need to know its entire history to understand it. Do we need to go back 4,000 years to understand jews and palestinians? Maybe we could just look at the grains of sand as they lie now without understanding every wave and crab and geological event of the past 4.5-13.7 billion years.
  • Saw a billboard the other day that warned that difficult experiences can lead to toxic stress in your child.
  • I don't notice the media talking much about the extreme left very often. 146k results on google news vs. 210k results for "extreme right." And 3/10 of the articles on the first page of "far left" were all in reference to a quote from Joe Manchin. I wonder if the extreme left just isn't as active or what.
  • Top 1% of earners are 77x more likely to go to Ivy League than the bottom 20%. Ouch. It's just a rich persons' club at this point. Need to fix it.

  • 1/4/24 (20:44)

  • Passed a big inspection today at the new house. Ok to pour concrete for the perimeter footings tomorrow. So, we'll be there early tomorrow to work on that. That's the good news.
  • The bad news is that every correspondence with the power company is a soul sapping exercise. We've been dealing with them for a couple months and so far we've not made any meaningful progress towards actually getting approval for the new electrical meter. It's kinda like Edison discovering 10,000 ways to not make a light bulb. In the end, I guess he got it done and so it's a good story, but it doesn't feel like that now. Most recently he sent a list of approved panels and none of them (I spot checked about 20% of the list) was compatible with the voltage/phase for our service (a somewhat unusual 120/208, 3 phase vs. 120/240, single phase). He did call out one panel specifically so I looked into it...turns out it costs about $15k after tax. For a metal box that holds a meter and a couple breakers. Standard voltage/phase meter panels would be about $500.
  • Also related to the meter upgrade was the news that doing it underground means we have to trench from the meter location to the transformer. It's about 70'. Cost to trench from a guy we have used for this kind of work before was $17,400. So, even though I don't want to do it, I think I'll have to do that work ourselves - if they'll let us.
  • The biggest issue with this build is that it's a commercial build out, which is substantially different from the residential world that I'm accustomed to. As a result, we're getting bent over left and right.
  • I wish I could be more thankful for having passed today's inspection. It was a good thing and not passing it could have been a big pain in the ass. But it's like being on a battlefield and telling the guy next to you to be thankful that the last bullet didn't hit him. Meanwhile another is right behind it threatening his life a second later. So aggravating.
  • One big reason I'm thankful to be pouring concrete tomorrow is that it has been raining lately, but we have 3 days of no rain W-F. A bit of rain on Saturday after the pour, but that shouldn't be a big deal for us. Every time there's a decent rain dirt collapses into our forms and we have to dig it out. It's an unpleasant job working around rebar and being in the mud, trying to dig out fallen mud without disturbing the soil and having more fall in. Today we had an inspection in the morning and part of that is them checking that there isn't loose soil in the forms and that the soil is a few inches clear of the rebar. So, we got there early and worked on getting the muddy soil out of the forms. It was very slow going with small hand shovels. Finally I came up with the brilliant idea of using a shop vac and water hose. I would spray the loose soil down with the water and turn it all into a muddy slurry that was thin enough for the shop vac to suck it all up. Worked great for cleaning up the rebar, digging out the soil a bit more, and cleaning the bottom of the forms to be presentable enough for the inspector. Was honestly probably 10x faster than manual digging. Just had to empty the shop vac once in a while and that was it.
  • The inspectors in Alameda are pretty tough. Oakland is worse so far, but we'll see.
  • Got a couple hikes in last weekend before the end of the year. It was good to get back out there. Hadn't done any hiking since CTC because of the new house.
  • We made a bunch of family goals for the new year and a few of them are hiking related, so hopefully I'll have another good year of hikes to report on.
  • The writer's strike was spun as a win for the writer's, but I'm not so sure. They took a bunch of time off and got basically just a cost of living raise - which didn't even cover the time missed if you do the math. They also got more money if their shows do really well, but the problem there is that evidently there's only one streaming show that has reached the metric they agreed to, so it seems kind of pointless. On the other hand, they got some AI concessions and seem to have been able to stick around for a little bit longer. Treading water is what they got and maybe that's a win in the current landscape.
  • Keep your identity as small as possible so you don't get dragged into thinking of yourself as part of any number of groups.
  • My post from 9/30/07 is interesting to look back on. BART is doing worse than anticipated and daily ridership is down from 323k/day to 164k/day now. A 50% reduction since 2007. LA metro ridership is also down - from 277k/day to 189k/day. So, I was correct that LA's ridership would surpass BART's, but I was wrong that it would double BART's in ten years. The most shocking thing is obviously the fact that ridership is down so much in both locations. I would venture a guess that no expert would have predicted increased mileage, increased stops, increased service, but also decreased ridership. I don't know the pre-COVID numbers (say, 2019), but I assume that had a big impact. Of course, no one wants to talk about the impacts of COVID shut downs because that would be anti-science or whatever. But killing public transit, stunting education for thousands of kids, and shocking the economy certainly have to be considered when weighing the pros/cons of long term shut downs.
  • I ranked AL and GA as 1a and 1b going into the bowl season. After that I had MI, WA, TX, FSU. FSU laid an egg, but most of their starters were out so... MI looked really good against AL - I was surprised. Hopefully WA can represent the PAC-12 well and go out on a positive note.
  • I don't like Jim Harbaugh.
  • Had some trouble with one of my employees recently. He's been with me 4+ years. He's a nice enough guy and is usually pretty reliable as far as showing up on time and not causing issues with the other guys. His problem is that he always has money trouble and can't ever seem to learn how to do things the way he's supposed to. Part of that is the language barrier and part of it is that he's just a dumb guy. I try to be patient with him. It's not his fault he was born with an 80 IQ anymore than it is that I'm dumber than a lot of the people I went to college with. Hopefully they're as patient with me as I am with him. But, at some point, it becomes a liability when he can't do his job and then he starts having more issues with his car and he doesn't communicate anything with me when he doesn't show up to work, etc. I know that firing him is the right business decision. But it hurts from a human standpoint. He's a nice guy with two nice daughters about the age of my daughters. I know he's probably not going to find as good a job as the one I was giving him and I know it's going to be tough for him trying to find a new job and make ends meet. His wife hit him the other day because he's not bringing home the bacon. At the same time, he's been pretty borderline half the time he's worked for me and he's not progressing. I wish I was independently wealthy so I could carry him, but I'm not.
  • Are there extreme leftists? I never hear about them in the media.
  • There should be a high bar for breaking promises, but I also think the idea of promises that last forever doesn't make a lot of sense. An example of this would be giving land owners free use of underground aquifers in the central valley of CA. Just doesn't make sense to give some farmers carte blanche because of an old law.
  • Coleman Hughes had this guy on a while back named Vincent Lloyd. Check out the podcast. Pretty hilarious how clueless he was. It's really amazing the ideas that apparently pass muster in higher education these days.
  • Ignorance is bliss. Cops are so paranoid probably because they see the reality of the dark side of humanity on a daily basis.
  • Learned helplessness is a real thing. They've done a lot of studies that prove this out in various ways. They'll tell one group (the control) to do a physical task and measure the result. They'll tell the other group that the saliva test they performed earlier indicates that they are predisposed to be better (or worse) at the same task. Depending upon what they told the second group, they do better or worse on the same task. Lots of examples of this. And yet we insist on (constantly) telling certain populations that they are oppressed and the system won't allow them to succeed. There has to be a better way to tell the true story of the past without dooming the future because of supposed present conditions.
  • How much of communism and socialism is dedicated to talking about self-improvement and sacrifice so that you can provide more for your fellow man and take less than your neighbor in the name of communal sacrifice? I can't recall much of that in the books I've read. Is that because those philosophies aren't so much about making the human condition better, but, rather, they are about bringing some people down in order to flatten hierarchies? If it's really all about helping out your fellow man then it would seem to me you might want to emphasize ways in which you could improve the total size of the pie, rather than griping about how the pie is split. hmm.
  • I wish we utilized the enormous human capital we have more efficiently. There's so much wasted potential out there. Young men looking for a destiny. Waiting for a war (literal or otherwise) so they can be called to action. Instead, they sit at home improving their gaming skills and gaining weight. Government at its best provides a structure that allows humans to flourish. At its very best it can take the destitute and mold them into something great (WPA, CCC, etc.). Those days are behind us in this country unfortunately. Maybe because we value freedom too much, even though government is bigger than it's ever been (other than WW2) in terms of spending, but also in terms of people employed, number of departments, etc.
  • Bitcoin outperformed the major indices in 2023. Did better than a lot of funds and probably your favorite stock as well. I wish I could say I cashed in on it, but I didn't. I bought some later in the year and have made about 12%, but not the 161% that it's made over the last year.
  • They need to fix factory farming and animal cruelty issues so we can eat with a conscience.


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