Entries from July 2007 ↓

So, I’m getting ready to buy a car

Karen and I have a 1 month old now, and its probably time that I purchased a car… Having a 2nd car would be convenient for many reasons.

 I was in the process of getting a year old Mazda 3 hatchback, when the dealer tried to slip in an extra $500 or so of charges and fees. That really was more that I was willing to pay, so I walked… After already spending a day at the dealer and then having to make a second trip to pick  up the car, only to find out that the deal was still in negotiation, I became frustrated with the whole thing and reminded why I don’t have a car in the first place – they are a constant source of frustration.

With all the money and attention that a car demands, you would think it did more than just bring you from here to there…  The average new car costs $27k (USA today 11/16/2005) and the average home costs $185k (RealEstateABC.com 2004). That means that the average new car costs more than 10% of what the average home costs… now most people don’t buy new cars, but still… A cars depreciation is unbelievable, where as home prices generally go up (at least, eventually).

 Anyway… so I’m thinking about the car, and I can see that there are a lot of cars that I might like for under $10k, but with high mileage. Then I saw a bunch of cars that I would like for really cheap (under $6k) with very high mileage… Then I saw some classic cars and it got me to thinking….

 People buy and restore classic cars.

If I buy a car for $15k with 60k miles on it, am I getting a similar value to what I could get for $6k with an extra $9k invested in it?

 If I replace the brakes, transmission, engine, clutch, seats… how much would that cost?

 Does it make sense to get one of these $1500 cars and fix it up?

Anyway… I still have to think about it.

real? 7-17

I got all the data from the phone finally, so I patched it together manually.This site is really neat, but really it doesn’t offer much more that I could put together if I could get access to the phone data.

The on-phone application is pretty much useless. It beeps, or vibrates to tell you information about pace, but it didn’t seem real stable (my run was cut into 3 pieces as the app closed for various reasons).

It doesn’t show real-time pace (probably because it fluctuates too much).

Anyway… I find it usefull overall, since it’s the only wat to get the gps data from the phone.

The realtime features might be good for web-based tracking…( I see a future where we’ll be able to pinpoint our kids by the phones in thier sneakers- or something like that). So much for reading thier diary being the only moral dilemma a concerned parent faces….

Activity

Route: Elev. Avg: 297 ft

Performance

Distance: 5.28 miles

Map

Elevation (ft.)

Pace (min/mile)

Splits

Mile Pace (min/mile) Speed (mph) Elevation
Gain
actual +/- avg actual +/- avg
1 9′ 42 +0′ 27 6.2 -0.3 +10 ft
2 9′ 05 -0′ 10 6.6 +0.1 -115 ft
3 8′ 50 -0′ 25 6.8 +0.3 -6 ft
4 9′ 05 -0′ 10 6.6 +0.1 +6 ft
5 9′ 29 +0′ 14 6.3 -0.2 +102 ft
end 9′ 08 -0′ 07 6.6 +0.1 +3 ft
Versus average of 9′ 15 min/mi

Posted from bimactive.com

The Law of Deadlines

Today is week -15 for the Marine Corps Marathon. What that means is that I have 3 weeks to lay down base mileage, before I begin the ramp up to marathon performance level. I know this because I have a reminder that pops up on my Blackberry and my Laptop every Monday morning telling me what week it is. I placed the reminders in an effort to encourage myself not to fall behind.

So here I am, its late, but not TOO late, and this brings the topic of todays blog.

Deadlines are a major factor in my performance. But how does a deadline influence me, and perhaps others?

There are several types of deadlines.

 1. Deadline that is truly impossible to meet: This generally serves to aggrivate. If it is imposed by some higher power, and it is very clear that it cannot be met, my first instinct is to ignore it and put efforts into preparation for the consequenses, if any (generally an unrealistic deadline is indicative of little planning, and, if things are right with the universe, little importance.) However, in those cases where 0 effort toward the task is unacceptable, a token effort will be put forth.

 2. Nearly impossible deadline. Though a deadline alone is not enough to drive performance, I think the nearly impossible deadline is the best scenario. There is a certain clarity that comes from a monumental challenge. And while stressfull, these have the greatest potential for greatness. If I can envision making the deadline, and see the value of the work, then the barely-in-reach deadline will drive optimum performance.

3. The right on target deadline. This should be the best. But often this simply leads to slippage until it becomes the barely-achievable deadline. In many cases though, depending on the mix of other deadlines, this is optimal, getting sober, quality results.

4. The padded deadline… padding can have a very cruel effect. One would think that the padded deadline is the easiest to make. I would argue that it often isn’t. The feeling of complacentcy lingers thoughout the project or task. There is a sense that since this item does not have urgency, then it is not a priority. This discussion is going to quickly turn to priority, but first to finish this thought. The lack of urgency persists even when urgency exists. It is in the “plenty-of-time” folder in the mind from start to finish, or at least from start to chronically late.  The bigger the padding, the slower the reaction to the urgency.  Forgive me, I’m an engineer, but it is very much like the overshoot on a convergent controls scheme… hmm…. that works for me, but how about a more universal analogy? Ok, its like driving a boat (may not work for everybody, but it’s the best I’ve got).  It takes a moment for the driver’s actions to translate to motion with the boat. The driver turns the wheel, and the boat goes straight, (the slower you go the more pronounced this is). When parking a boat, the driver turns the wheel hoping something will happen. When nothing does, he turns the wheel more. All of a sudden something happens, the boat turns, but it turns too much. He has to learn to anticipate the response, so he doesn’t overcompensate. It’s the same with the throttle. The boat will rev up, but kind of sit there, until it lurches forward. The novice boatsman will find parking the boat very challenging because they will overturn and overthrottle constantly, because they are reacting with too much force, too late. Often this is the case with the padded deadline, reacting too late.

 So priorities….

 Deadlines drive priorities. Priorities drive deadlines.

Can they both be true?

Sure, in a perfect world, where everything was resourced and priorities were established in a timely manner,  and deadlines were “real”.  But, in the imperfect world, it really depends on the governing philosophy. My philosophy is that priorities rule the roost. Priorities should be reviewed continuously, and adjusted as necessary. There will always be a need to determine how to best use resources. There will always be a need for prioritization. The question, ‘is this the most important thing that can be done right now?’, must always have the answer ‘yes’. As with everything there are exceptions. I would venture to say that many tasks that are very close to completion should be completed first, regardless of priority. It is practical to continue something that has momentum. There are some cases where everything must be abandoned for the critical task. But for instance, if it will take 3 hours longer to wrap up something, but there is a new #1 item. If the new #1 item is a 10 day item, realistically, the 3 hours won’t kill you and its better to complete the task before moving on. (It makes no sense to flip-flop priorities, there has to be some “common” sense applied).

 This principle is VERY important. Because, what happens often, if common sense is not applied, and strict adherance to the #1 priority is applied. The inefficiency of abandoning tasks snowballs. As a result the #1 priority continually shifts, until everything is hopelessly urgent. Sometimes a sacrifice is necessary, and there is no way to justify it though priority (as least in the simplistic sense). It is the mastry of this subtlety that makes a good manager.

 What about the no deadline item? Extreme padding and no deadline can have a many results. The most important result is that the deadline doesn’t matter. Something else is driving the work. (Something else should always be driving the work in conjuction with a deadline, a deadline alone only means that a date is met, there are always other criterea that describe quality.) If there is a desire to have the task(s) completed, a deadline is necessary, if not, then with all the other driving elements in place, perfection will be pursued. As perfection is only attainable in the imagination, this pursuit will continue ad infinitum. This can be a good thing, or a bad thing. It depends on what the intention is.

It was good to relieve myself of this. I’m sure its crap. But it was nice to stretch the noggin a bit this morning.

Honing my skills

I want to write more. Hopefully volume will lend itself to skill.

I probably spend more time reading what I have written that I do reading anything else. Its not indicative of ego (I don’t think) but of my desire to get writing right.

 One thing that has always amused me is how easily the same words can have different interpretations. Of course I can’t think of an example at the moment, but when I run across something, I’ll come back to it.

 Anyway, the point is, I’ve started, the toughest part. Let’s see where it goes.