Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Boom! It's a Deck

Like a watched pot it seems like all the guys needed to motivate them to finish our deck was for me to stop posting about it on the blog.  Poof:

It was raining this afternoon or I would have taken more photos.  I haven't done a final walk around either, but seeing as how at the end of the day yesterday I had MANY craftsmanship complaints today I appear to be much more satisfied.

So it is huge, and it is high up in front - almost like having a balcony.  It really changes the look of the house from the street.  I think it changes it for the better; a real estate agent might use the word "specific."

We're going to have to rethink the lighting on the front of the house now.  The prior owners left us with this industrial security lamp that lights up the porch, the driveway, and some of the street with a distinct orange/yellow glow.  So that's gotta go.  We're also going to be in the market for some deck furniture I think, although I am having trouble wrapping my head around leaving things out in the front of the house.

I'll have to get over that probably.

So... Most of My Resume is Pointless

The fall semester brings with it the PTM Professional Practice class and the jumping off point for that class is a professional resume.  I like to think I know what I am talking about.  I have 20 years of revisions on my own resume with advice from a good stock of mentors.  I must see a dozen resume articles per week doing the Greenpage.  The last revision I made to the resume section of the class was to start the students into Infographic Resumes.  I've been toying with the idea of video resumes.  But really what I want to do is come up with something interesting on traditional resumes.  Today I think I came up with something.

If you search the tubes for articles on how long recruiters spend on each resume you may discover that (when it is a living breathing person at all) the total time before decision could be as little as 6 seconds.

Based on that I thought I would do an experiment.  I printed up 10 copies of my most recent resume (2012, oops) and set off around the halls of Purnell.  I recruited 10 people to give me 10 seconds each.  I decided I wouldn't use 6 seconds because when I piloted it in my office I only saw one entry in 6 seconds.  I gave each person a short set of instructions - I wanted to make sure that they knew it wasn't supposed to be a speed reading test - the resume and a highlighter.

Then I counted to 10 while they marked up what jumped off the page.

After I had all ten marked up pages I went back to my office and converted the stack into a composite heat map.  Here's what I found:

It's a small sample size, but I think it is representative.  Given a very short exposure time almost nothing on the page turns out to be significant.

It does make sense that since people read top to bottom and left to right that the things called out by the most people are the things on the left margin and toward the top of the page.  I have a separate markup showing the things I most wanted people to see and it turns out that most of those things are items identified by the trial.  But there were 3 or 4 things I valued as very important in those black blobs in the bottom half of the page.  So I guess in the next revision I need to find a way to move those things up and left.

Two other fairly interesting take aways:

1. People don't read too far into blocks of prose.  In the top section of the page it seems clear that once someone sees what the gig is they move on to the next gig rather than read the details.  This is obviously a speed reading thing, but if the "fit/no fit" decision is made at that speed it would be worth thinning out those blocks and making for damn sure the highlight is at the beginning of the block.

2. The readers appeared to see the headings of the lower sections but not the contents.  In terms of job seeking, the headers are useless.  It's the content under the header that matters.  So a rule of thumb for composition would seem to be that what goes against the margin ought to be content rather than organizational text.

With this under my belt I think I have a new assignment.  Tomorrow we're going to do a round robin of mark ups in class and then I'll have each student tabulate their personal heat map.  Then I am going to have them match the results against what they were trying to get across.

I'll let you know if it works out!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Exercise in Futility

So it's the day before classes start for the fall and that means what?  Regular readers will know.

So, yes, the copier was apoplectic.  Truth be told it might have been salvageable, but I didn't have it in me (it would have required at least one power-up cycle optimistically and that cycle is like 20 minutes).  Tomorrow I have one class and of course I need copies of the syllabus.

The syllabus is 8 pages and there are 10 people in class, so running it out of a printer isn't monumentally wasteful but I decided that if I am going to run them that way I ought to at least try to print them double sided - even if that means I have to staple them myself.

The laser-writer doesn't have a duplexer, but the driver has a "manual" mode for double sided printing.  Basically it runs half the pages and then you reload the pages and it prints the backs.

How hard can it be?

On the first attempt the printer mixed my job with another print job.  It is possible a third party was involved in this screwup.  40 pages in the recycling.

Second attempt the printer didn't stop for me to reload and ran 40 fronts and then maybe 20 backs before I saw the SNAFU and cancelled.  So here I learn that for this to work, for some reason Tray 2 has to be empty to force the pause.  60 pages in the recycling.

Third attempt I get the 40 fronts and the pause.  I reload into the previously emptied Tray 2 in the configuration shown in the instructions and... I get 10 backs printed on the fronts.  Fair enough, even though the instructions say print side up, the print side goes down.  40 pages in the recycling.

BTW, did you catch the wrinkle there?  If I have to turn the pack over it also reverses the page order.  But the printer doesn't want the order reversed, just the position.  So during the pause before reloading I have to re-stack the whole packet by hand.  Not quite as bad as having to collate, but certainly not user friendly.

Attempt four, I think I've got it: 40 fronts, pause, re-stack, reload, 40 backs on the back!

Upside down.

:-(  40 sheets in the recycling.

Attempt five: 40 fronts and 40 backs.  Off to my office to staple.

Final score:

10 syllabi, 8 pages, one side per page: potentially 80 sheets.
10 syllabi, 8 pages, two sides per page: actually 220 sheets.

So much for saving some resources; and let's not even talk about the toner.  At least I'll know for next time.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Deck Day Three Ellipses...

Today it rained so the guys didn't show.  I hope it doesn't keep raining...  Syllabi done for two of three classes, well four classes really.  Still that's down from last year's seven classes...  Really heartbroken over the coverage from Ferguson.  I wonder what will happen when they decide not to charge the cop?  I hope we don't find out...  Beginning to think of AC as being more about humidity than temperature...  I see we're back to killing Americans in Iraq.  So much for "treated like liberators"...  I tried to get work done for school today, I really did...  It's amazing to me how much of a Yinzer I've become.  These first Steeler games don't seem like they're early in the year at all...  Cannot get my iCloud photos to sync up on my laptop.  I sense a conspiracy to get me to buy a Mac.  Or I would if they weren't syncing fine to my office PC...  Had dinner in the Strip tonight.  Feels so trendy.  Of course trendy now would probably be Lawrenceville or Downtown...  With several days of thinking in I still can't come up with a good assignment based on a semester's blog comments.  Everything I come up with is either something I won't care about or something they won't care about...  Feels strange to have not been tagged for the whole Ice Bucket thing.  Warm & dry, but strange.  Guess there's nothing stopping a donation anyway...  Fed the baby mashed green beans today.  He now has a more diverse diet than I do...  Mulling over an iPhone upgrade at the next release.  Not that I'm unhappy with my current phone, but it keeps telling me it's full...  If you've wondered, I've concluded that having Amazon Prime does make you buy more stuff.  Jury is still out on whether it actually costs more money...  Fairly certain I've broken my toe.  Fairly certain there's nothing to be done about it...

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Deck Day Two

Another bizarre geometry from the panorama photo.  Check out what it does to the car driving by:

Good progress today.  Looks like the thing is mostly framed in.  They found the ugly spot they made with the change they inadvertently made yesterday.  I think one of the carps came up with a reasonable solution.  The solution will mean a change to the railings that I think they aren't anticipating, so again it will be wait and see.

I think I found another ugly spot today.  We were talking about the joint between the fascia and the ground.  I think we came to an ok conclusion there, but when I looked at it again tonight I discovered that the front carrying beam and the fascia are going to do something weird.  I think the beam will have to carry out past the end of the front fascia in order to pick up the end joist.  It'll happen on both ends.  Not sure I like it, not sure there's anything to be done really (also, a little bit I think both of the side fascias are a little odd).

But this isn't their first rodeo.  Maybe they'll surprise me.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Deck the Yard

Mrs. TANBI and I have decided that we're adding a deck to the front of our house.  Maybe it's not a deck, maybe it's a porch.  But it feels more like a deck.  When we started the project we thought it was going to happen mid-July but it turned out that it would have to be mid-August.  That was supposed to be late last week, but it turned out to be today.

So here's day one:

Footings and support beams.  That near beam is not bent like that - we're seeing a panorama artifact.  Mostly it looks like good work so far.  They guys do appear to have made a design change.  The top of the deck was supposed to be one step down from the stoop and they appear to have roughed it in flush.  Strangely that was a change we were planning to give them anyway, so no harm done.  There are two potential ugly spots that domino out from that change.  We'll have to see how it develops.

I thought about doing Baby TANBI's footprints in the footing as it set, but the concrete is buried in soil.  Oh well.

So now the next question is "Will they be back tomorrow?"  Makes me wonder about writing a "Contractor Customer Protection Agreement" for future projects.  Item #1:  If I'm not going to show I will call to let you know ahead of time.

Watch this space.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Over the Line

I may have crossed a line of sorts last night.

Having a baby gives you the opportunity to get back to singing - if you were a singer and now are not.  Conventional wisdom is that babies are soothed by their parents singing to them.  I'll buy that I guess, although I would also imagine there's some quality and content issues involved behind the baseline of just hearing your parent's voice.

One of the first things I discovered here, or rather confirmed what I have always suspected (and what is frequently a pop-culture joke): I don't really know the words to that many songs.

Actually this is a little bothersome because I think the real statement is that I don't know the words to that many songs out of context.  Put me in the car with the radio on an 80's or Classic Rock station and I'll be fine.  In context, with the music, I remember a staggering amount of content.  So much so that from time to time I have wondered if there wasn't something better to use those engrams for (triple integrals comes to mind).

But it's all different sitting in that glider in semi-darkness holding the baby.  Suddenly the repertory shrinks substantively.

One of my first tries was "You Can Sleep While I Drive."  But the words weren't there.  That's too bad because I really like that tune and I think it has real potential as a lullaby.  #manfanfail

Sometimes what I do remember is even more interesting than what I can't remember.  Off the top of my head I can do passable versions of "This Train" and "Make Room for Marty" from a Limelighters LP my dad gave me when I must have been just old enough to work a record player.  The album "Through Children's Eyes" was one of my favorites, I don't really know why.  I have mp3s of all the tracks now.  I went back to try to find the words to "Lollipop Tree" a little while ago.  The last track on that album is "This Land is Your Land."  I could not believe the amount of lyrics I had completely spaced from that song.

Although its not like Baby TANBI will notice.  For a while anyway.

I can do a word and melody perfect "William's Doll" from Free to Be You and Me.  I must have done hundreds of runs through that song with the Traveling Troupe.  In this case not only can I remember the words and the tune, but I can also hear people I used to sing with in my head.  I also remember the title track and "Brothers & Sisters."  I can't remember the tune for "It's Alright to Cry" and there's some disagreement in my head about the lyrics to "When I grow Up."  Part of me wonders if those lyrics were changed somewhere along the way - or maybe if my mom made some kind of artistic executive decision all those years ago.

Anyway, the line.  Out of what I can only assume was a desperate attempt to find lyrical content appropriate to my goal of calming a truly spastic child, last night I found myself recalling word for word and note for note "Comfortably Numb" from The Wall.  There are two problems here.  First, I really wonder about the content appropriateness.  There's a lot of hard living behind the story of that song.  Probably a good thing Leo has no English (that I know of).  On further recollection, perhaps The Eagles "Take It Easy" would have been more appropriate.  I might have all of that in RAM somewhere.

The other problem with "Comfortably Numb?"  The last third is a wicked guitar solo which I cannot in any way reproduce.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Two Minimum Wages?

One of the difficulties with discussing changes to the minimum wage is that there are different kind of people that have those kinds of jobs.  While it seems reasonable to argue a working adult deserves one rate of pay it may be difficult to make that same argument for a high school student working a part time gig for gas money (leaving aside the thought that a part time minimum wage job might not buy all that much gas right now).

Arguably, although most likely not universally agreed upon, an adult working a full time gig - ie 40 hours/week for 50 weeks/year ought to earn the poverty rate, yes?  This year, for a single person that rate is $11,670 (  There's another dimension to the thing right there: should the size of an earner's family effect their potential minimum wage?

One disaster at a time.

Round up (arbitrarily raise the poverty rate): $12,000/50 weeks/40 hours is... $6/hr.


I hadn't done that math until I wrote that sentence.  That complicates things.

Here I was, hoping I would be able to make a reasonable argument for having different rates for different types of earners - I still think that's possible.  But... my index for what an minimum earning adult was going to be based on the poverty rate.  Based on that math, rounding up comes to $6/hr.  The current federal minimum wage is $7.25/hr ( or $14,500/yr.

So maybe before we start to monkey with the compensation we need to better frame the problem, starting with coming up with a more realistic poverty rate.  Or maybe the first thing ought to be to try to discover if a single adult can reasonably live on $12,000/yr.

I have to say offhandedly that doesn't sound as dire as I thought.  Certainly it's more complicated than $12k/50/40.  Minimum wage earners would be hard pressed to find truly full time work.  Should the minimum wage reflect full time employment or the more likely experience of someone that finds them-self underemployed?  That's actually a more interesting question than some of the others.

Some of the other factors:

  • poverty rate vs. cost of living vs. quality of life
  • worker's age
  • worker's dependents
  • geographical location
All things being equal (although clearly they aren't) I have always been a proponent of raising the minimum wage.  I am starting to wonder if the underlying assumptions aren't a bigger problem than the politics.

FWIW what I was going to say was that I thought there was reasonable motivation to make a distinction between an earner who is being claimed as a dependent on someone else's tax return and someone who is (for lack of a better word) a primary earner.  But let's put a pin in that for a moment.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

We Have a New Winner

Sometimes I have the thought that I should do an interactive assignment at Home Depot or Lowes.  The idea would be that students would get a list of items and the first student to come back with a cart containing everything on the list would win.  Clearly there would need to be some negotiating with the store manager, and all things being equal it would probably be kinder to them to do it when the store is closed.  I guess maybe the carts are superfluous - we could just use phone cameras.

The root of the thing comes from being a summer stock TD (or strangely a commercial shop project manager).  From time to time I would need something I would have to put my hands on or see before purchasing and that would mean that the intern (or the runner or the purchasing agent) really couldn't do it.  In those cases I didn't really want to spend swaths of my day wandering the aisles of home centers.  Knowing where things are is a necessary skill.

Over the years I've stumbled across some items that defy normal home center navigation.  There are some things that that could be in multiple places and some that just really don't belong anywhere.  My recollection is that the progenitor item in this category was dryer hose.  The first impulse is that it would be with HVAC things, but that would be wrong.  Then maybe with other pipe and tube... wrong.  Maybe it will be with the dryers... close, but no.  It is in the appliance section, but it pretty much has it's own little counter space on the fringe of the department.
I don't know how many items have held the title over the years, but the previous champ was a bathroom exhaust fan.  HVAC?  No.  Plumbing?  No.  With the Range Hoods?  No.  Showers & Tubs?  No.  Bathroom Fixtures?  Not really.  Again, this is an item that sort of has it's own little department at the back of the store, kinda near the end of the Bathroom Vanity aisle.  It's also a frequent aisle cap item which is not helpful at all because that doesn't get you the whole product range.

And yes, FWIW I have needed to purchase both Dryer Hose and Bathroom Exhaust Fans for theatre projects.

The new reigning champion?

Survey Marker Flags.

Outdoor Patio?  No.  Indoor Patio?  No.  Plumbing?  No.  Concrete accessories?  No.  Signage (like mailboxes, address signs and driveway markers)?  No.  Electrical accessories?  No.  Decking & Fence Posts?  No.  That stash of stuff at the Pro Desk?  No.  By the marking paint?  No.

So where are they?  I'll put it in the comments so you can keep guessing.  FWIW I needed like 10 and you have to buy like 50.  A can of field marking paint was $5 and these were $8.  Also for what it is worth when I did ask someone the guy said "wow, that's a tough one."  He took me to his first guess (well, second after I told him they weren't on the outdoor patio).  Standing right in front of them he didn't see them, but I finally managed to put my hands on it.

Maybe I should have just used the paint.  I found that right away.