The Ladder of Poor Decisions

I dimly recall reading somewhere that, on a broooaaad average, half of US management decisions are wrong. I’d love to cite that source, but it was something I picked up working backstage at a university in  the early 90’s and skimmed through while waiting on a cue.

That’s poor documentation for an insight that has informed my approach to managing and dealing with managers most of my adult life.  Even so, I have found this to be roughly true. We are only right about half the time – on the first try.

In my RPG systems (I’ve written three) I assume that an average person will succeed at a common task (that they have no particular expertise in) about half the time. This more or less works out.

Now, this is hard to pin down because most of us do not keep score about when we are right or wrong. Some experts think we should start, but most of us don;t actually balance our checkbooks, so good luck with that.

At a recent writer’s group, we received well meaning if unsolicited advice about how we go about making poor decisions. Complete with a hand-out.

Ladder of Inference

Adapted from The Fifth Discipline by Peter Serge

We work our way up this ladder of loosely defined terms whenever we make a decision, or so the presentation went. Experience informs data which informs Meaning and so forth. On average, though, we go up this ladder in about six seconds, which does not leave a lot of time to fully consider all the steps, particularly the lower ones.

Which may go a long way towards explaining our half-wrong problem.

But there’s an even chance that’s not the problem at all.

Our friends the octopi (a frequent subject of this blog) have a completely different approach., as this well-animated TedEd video explains:

Now you know.

 

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A Beanstalk Review and a Parade of Other Notes

First, the good news: My novel Beanstalk and Beyond received a review from a publication that people might actually read, namely the Nameless Zine.

Reviewer Chris Wozney writes:

I am quite impressed by this blending of fairy tales and historical setting. The author is himself a wanderer, and he imbues this story with some of the compulsion a wanderer feels for the roads and ways that lead out to the world beyond one’s doorstep.

I will choose to believe he has read some of my hiking guides, rather than discovering their existence while Googling my name. No-shh! Don’t wreck this moment for me.

Now the break even news, everyone forgot I was going to run Go Action Fun Time at Rincon, including me. I found the commitment in one of my many notes this afternoon, but was relieved to find I am not actually scheduled for any game or event.

I don’t have an episode ready to go. (And I’m likely out of money).

If you go, give them my regards, and no hard feelings, OK?

Bad News: the primary purpose of an HP printer is to extort ink sales from the user. If they happen to successfully print a document along the way, that is an unexpected bonus. My HP Deskjet 3520 is skipping every six lines because it believes I am using counterfeit ink (I’m not). Multiply this user experience by several million, and you understand why Carly Fiorina will never be president.

NOTES FROM WRITER’S GROUPS:

The #30 for the Arizona Diamondbacks is currently worn by LHP and bullpen resident T.J. McFarland.  Previous owners of note have been pitchers Todd Stottlemyer and David Hernandez.

The Devonian period began 416 mya, and ended with a as-yet-unexplained massive marine extinction 319 mya. Curiously, the first land plants that evolved during thgis age survived the extinction. Also, of note, the first distinct insects apear.

Flowering plants will not appear until 120 mya.

Free Companies were the only clear victors in the Hundred years War.

Finally, authors Jamaica Kincaid,  and PJ O-Rourke.

Now you know.

 

The More Things Change…

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

First, some rumor control. There has been a rash of stories about border guards detaining people for no good reason, and as much as I would like to attribute that to the Trumpster – this is not new. [Watts ended up convicted of a felony, is barred from traveling in or though the US and paid a fine.]

My wife has given notice at Rhino, and I will miss working with her very much, not only because I (obviously) enjoy her company, but because she was also good at her job.I don’t get into Rhino politics online, but from my perspective – which is abnormally well informed – this situation was 100% avoidable had anyone in charge been inclined to take action.

This is neither the first nor last good employee who has had this experience.

March 7th is her last day at Rhino. She took a new job which starts March 8th.

I have started going back to writer’s groups. I go to Central Phoenix one on Monday nights at Grand Central Coffee Company (where I’m work-shopping the sequel to Beanstalk and Beyond). and an independent one on Thursday Night at the Armadillo Grill – which seems really familiar.  (My old group met there for years, on Thursday night). Join us if your are inclined, and I will try not to spill beer on my copy of your first or second draft. [Links above are to the Meet-up sites which may require registration]

At Are We Lost Yet?  I report on outdoor retailers vs the Utah GOP.

The twice annual Outdoor Retailers Show has announced that it will pull out of its long time home in Salt Lake City Utah in protest of Utah officials support of eliminating federal lands by transferring them to the states.

At Fantastical History, we continue on with giants, exploring my strange (made-up) theory about the Muans and how they became Asuras.

Muans ( a term made up well after the fact) are a race of supernatural immortals native to southeast Asia. Their lost history informs the legends and myths behind the Asura and Devas and Jinn and Oni of more recent human cultures.

At Curious Continuity, I report both facts and wild conjecture about TRAPPIST-1 and its seven dwarves.

Unless we are captured by alien slavers and dragged there, we are not going to be around when (if) human starships reach the seven rocky dwarf planets orbiting tightly around TRAPPIST-1.  Why wait for that – when we can just make stuff up. Come on – NASA wants you to!

And I updated my writer’s resume to try and land a gig writing for Outer Places. So if they made it this far down checking me out – hi guys! The links were sparse because a lot of what I’ve written for the web has since evaporated in 404 unknown host country.

The more things stay the same, the more they change.

Now you know.

 

MORE ON PETER WATTS:

http://io9.gizmodo.com/5497556/sf-author-peter-watts-found-guilty-of-felony-resistance-against-border-guardhttp://io9.gizmodo.com/5497556/sf-author-peter-watts-found-guilty-of-felony-resistance-against-border-guard

https://www.thestar.com/news/ontario/2009/12/12/us_border_guards_arrest_author_peter_watts.html

http://www.tor.com/2010/04/27/sometimes-we-win/

 

 

Passwords are the enemy of progress

I have a new laptop and a new cellular phone and this has forced a renewal of my electronic life.

There are many places I used to go that I am no longer welcome because of unrecoverable passwords.There are other places I am seeing anew because I can no longer rely upon encoded habits. It’s somewhat like cleaning out a storage room and finding relatively important things you forgot you had. But first, the hardware.

Let’s start with my brand new HP laptop.

THE GOOD: more capacity, bigger screen, a non proprietary HDMI port

THE BAD: The “improved” touchpad is actually less responsive (though that might be a learning curve issue).

The keyboard is smaller than it needs to be given the surface area available.

The primary purpose of Windows 10 appears to be the delivery of adware.

Oh, and memo to HP: The reason I don’t volunteer to give feedback or anything like that is your reputation for flooding any seem with adware – as demonstrated by your printer drivers. I bought the thing already. Back off.

win_20170118_22_43_17_pro

A picture from my laptop of me taking a picture of my laptop with my new phone.

I was actually happy with my trusty Kyocera Torque until I dropped it just the wrong way and shattered the face. I was eligible for an upgrade, but Sprint no longer carries the Torque or anything like it. I valued the Torque’s smaller size and relative durability – but I would have had to go all the way back to a flip phone. . Don’t despair – I have insurance.

The insurance could replace my phone with an equivalent – in this case the Torque XT, which is the same phone with more internal memory. Only we discovered they gained that memory by filling the SD slot with their own card. And the camera would launch. So I took it to the Sprint store

And they restarted it, as they do, it came back demanding a password.

I don’t assign passwords to anything if I don’t have to. This was a refurbished unit, and the encryption was left over from a previous user.

So now I have a second replacement device: a Kyocera Duraforce Pro, which is like 5x the phone it replaces. (Also larger and heavier – so it goes). I just got it activated minutes ago, so we may come back to this.

http://www.gsmarena.com/kyocera_duraforce_pro-8268.php

Not so much a review as someone reading the tech specs verbatim:

https://youtu.be/dNAd0VHvtMU

An actual review:

http://www.phonescoop.com/articles/article.php?a=18607

Cool as this is, there is the problem is getting into my various accounts from devices where those passwords have not been saved. In that regard, I am the reason your IT guy grumbles about the liberal arts.

Here’s what that guy knows that we don’t:

Password security is more about length than variety. Media Labs explains at length:

https://www.ymedialabs.com/password-security/

LifeHacker has similar advice with pictures:

http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2017/01/why-your-brain-naturally-sucks-at-password-security-infographic/
Now you know.

It all depends upon expectations

Every 18-24 year old male in the United States will likely undergo that time-honored ritual wherein they wreck a car for no good reason. My son has just crashed through that rite of passage, and now we know that the waiting room at an impound yard is, in fact, the fourth circle of Hell.

We also learned that the daily storage fee was $32/day – not $15 a day like the Scottsdale police officer told my son. And getting it towed there – at police insistence – counted as his free tow under our roadside assistance plan.

Vehicular mishaps are excessively burdensome upon the working poor, because you can’t budget for them, and they have no other resources to re-direct. Consequently, the patient if bored folks behind the thick glass have to keep repeating the same sad litany of fines and documentation.

My son is technically working poor, but he has literally no other expense he has to worry about at the moment. So even though he thinks his life is over, this is actually a nuisance for us and not a crisis. Not everyone in that dingy, airless room was so lucky.  There was one party literally wailing.

Another guy, though, was super-stoked that no one at the impound yard stole anything out of his vehicle. “That’s the way to run a business.” he exclaimed loud enough for me to hear him some distance away. It all depends upon expectations, I suppose.

Business Insider reports:

After decades of stagnant wages, 73 million Americans — nearly one quarter of our population — now live in households eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, a benefit exclusively available to the working poor.

This is all in argument for raising the minimum wage:

We have been raising the minimum wage for 78 years, and as a new study clearly reveals, 78 years of minimum-wage hikes have produced zero evidence of the “job-killing” consequences these headline writers want us to fear.

A consume driven economy needs a large, viable consumer base or, you know, there’s a crash.

And now our friends the octopi – who are multiplying wildly, and no one knows why.

http://gizmodo.com/swarms-of-octopus-are-taking-over-the-world-s-oceans-1777790453?utm_campaign=socialflow_io9_facebook&utm_source=io9_facebook&utm_medium=socialflow

Which leads to this:

 

And finally, over on Curious Continuity, Legends of Tomorrow is Breaking My Heart.

Now you know.

No Ranting – Just Links.

Arizona House Bill 2112, the Technical Production Services exemption, has passed the AZ Senate, and sits on Governor Ducey’s desk. Here’s what I wrote about it for the March 2015 Collaborations – the newsletter of the Desert State USITT

Arizona House Bill 2112, currently awaiting a vote in the Senate, intends to remove the ability of live event technical professionals to collect unemployment. So if it passes, which seems likely, just about anyone reading this newsletter would be unable to collect unemployment compensation from the state of Arizona, even if they otherwise qualify.

The official summary says:

HB 2112 exempts technical event production services personnel from the definition of employee for purposes of the unemployment insurance (UI) program administered by the Department of Economic Security (DES).

That’s one of a long list of stoopid things the Tea & Gun party legislature is doing to our state. But I’m not going to turn this into a rant. This is a list of shorter items.

What I learned at my next-to-last board meeting (I’m currently the Secretary, but will be termed out by September) is that our DS-USITT is a unincorporated non-profit association, which means you can deduct fees or donations given tot hem from your taxes, but they can’t provide you with formal documentation.

Also, we learned that Arizona considers our traditional 50/50 raffle to support a student membership to be gambling – even if you are a lowly  unincorporated non-profit association. Because freedom.

No – not going to rant.

When driving to Tucson, don’t stop at Eloy. When I stopped there, I choked down a Carl’s Jr sandwich while surrounded by overweight white people with guns. I am an undersized, unarmed theater nerd. Ate quickly, Got out. Stop at Pichacho Peak instead. That Dairy Queen/Shell station/gift emporium was stocked by non-threatening, if unhurried old hippies.

Now – Links:

Research to replace my old tent:

http://www.outdoorgearlab.com/Best-Camping-Tent/ratings

What adhesive should you use? http://thistothat.com/

Someone thinks about pterosaurs. A lot.

http://www.pteros.com/pterosaurs.html

Background for my work in progress:

https://fantasticalhistory.wordpress.com/2016/05/05/background-for-the-beanstalk/

Curious Continuity looks at the barely forseeable future:

https://curiouscontinuity.wordpress.com/2016/05/06/some-visions-of-the-barely-forseable-future/

And finally, SciShow Space starts out talking about tin whisklers and ends with talking about one of this blogs regular obsessions – strange toilets.

 

Which leads us to the ESA telling you more than you might have wanted to know about that.

You’re welcome.

Now you know.

An Irish Link Dump

For  book research and an ongoing quest for  wakeful drunkenness, I researched some Irish things over the past few months, and collect my learning for you here.

History Ireland has a good summary of how beloved old St Patrick was quite likely a crank who is preserved in history because he wrote stuff down.

Patrick—to his fellow bishops, probably in Ireland, who would have seen his activity at close quarters—had gone completely ‘off message’ with his unique vision of himself as the apocalyptic preacher. Yet by answering these anonymous level-headed pastors, the real founders of Irish Christianity, Patrick became the only one who left a name and any account of evangelising in Ireland!

 

http://www.historyireland.com/st-patrick/st-patrick-the-legend-and-the-bishop/

Which, according to The Guardian leads naturally to Irish Coffee:

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2015/mar/12/how-to-make-perfect-irish-coffee-st-patricks-day-recipe

Wide awake, I kept looking into this.

Christopher Null in Drinkhacker answers What’s the best whiskey for Irish Coffee?

Good question. I sampled all the Irish I had on hand in coffee and it was a tossup between the standard bottlings of Bushmills and Jameson. The only Irish that didn’t work well was Black Bush, which just didn’t play right with the bitterness of the coffee.

http://www.drinkhacker.com/2008/11/01/the-best-whiskey-for-irish-coffee/

 

Finally, Jim Slaughter of ineedcoffee claims to make the Best Irish Coffee in the World.

https://ineedcoffee.com/the-best-irish-coffee-in-the-world/

 

For myself, I replaced sugar with honey – as I often do, and was melting in the microwave when I had an realization: coffee, especially fresh coffee, is hot enough to do the job. This worked well enough for me. I use heavy whipping cream when I have it – if not whole milk.

Oh – and honey is bee puke.

https://youtu.be/Hq0SBwkLvUo

Last harps.

In Beanstalk and Beyond, there is, of course, a magic Harp. I fancied I might find something in folklore from which to draw inspiration – or at least some accurate technical detail.

There was something called the Harp of Dahgda, but that wasn’t quite right.

http://www.livingmyths.com/Celticmyth.htm#Dagda

The harp of our story may be inspired by this artifact though.

ancient-irish

For some actual facts, I relied upon Harp.com and The Harp Foundation, whose site plays such soothing music that you might pass out no matter how much coffee, Irish or otherwise, you might have had.

https://www.harp.com/history-of-the-harp.htm

http://www.theharpfoundation.org/about-us/history-of-the-harp/

Now you know.