Saturday, January 23, 2016

Forward at inner shark speed

Today was a good swim day. At first I wasn't sure I'd go. We finished season 2 of House of Cards last night, not late, but late enough and me tired enough from the spin yesterday that if I was asleep I was going to stay asleep. It's quite different than the BBC version, but equally good. I liked Ian Richardson (playing Francis Urquhart) and the way he broke the fourth wall. Kevin Spacey doesn't do it so well, but you see more the scheming and counter-scheming.

But no, habits die hard sometimes. I was up and ready. Talisman had only 4 lanes for us public, but Deb, Michelle and me got lucky and scored a lane to ourselves. Well, it started out that way, then another woman joined us. At first I was a bit worried, I was coming in for a turn, and she was floundering around at the end, right in the middle of the lane. Someone else was there too, so the turn was careful. Then we sorted ourselves out and it was all good with the 4 of us.

Then my inner shark came out! I was having a fairly strong swim, 500 m warmup in 9:05 or so, even with some waits to pass. It was the surges to pass that brought out the shark within. I could feel the water on my hands and forearm. Swimmers know what I mean. I'd slow down slightly, waiting for oncoming traffic to clear, then accelerate hard to pass, then relax again. Some of my 50 m times were amazing for an ongoing pace! One was around 45 seconds, then back to my normal pace. I don't know if fartlek applies to swims, but that's what it felt like.

What was interesting was that I didn't really have to look to know where people were. A part of me was keeping track of where the prey , I mean, where the other swimmers were. It seemed to be easy to time the passes. For a while a guy in the next lane was trying to race me, flailing down the lane, splashing water everywhere. Then he'd stop to rest, and I'd keep going, periodically passing my lane buddies. It made for an interesting swim, and a really good workout. They seemed to be having a good time as well. Hot tub, but no sublime moment like the other day.

I'm not sure of the exact numbers. 500 m in 9:05 or so. 500 m pull about the same time. 500 m mostly kick, lots slower. 500 m nice and easy, working on stroke mechanics, thinking really hard about the water feel on both the front and back of my hands, what my shoulders were doing, and body position in the water. Played some drafting games with Michelle. A bit of this and that, with a bit of chat, in the water a little under 90 minutes or so.

On the way home I got to thinking about the state of the world, and my place in it. Part of it was fueled by watching Frank scheming his way up the ladder in House of Cards. I have known people like that in real life, and will go to significant effort to avoid them. Part of it is getting used to having more time for me, and what I want to do with that time.

There are things to accomplish, but I need to be careful I don't bite off more than I can chew. I'd like to say there is a step by step plan, with goals, and milestones, and targets, but that's corporate bullshit. I'm trying to do this day by day. Get up, do stuff, go to bed. Eat good food. Hang out with interesting people. Go places I haven't been.

Some of that happened Friday. The sunrise was beautiful, and one of our plants is looking out at the winter landscape in a blossomy sort of way.

We did a bit of a date day, starting with breakfast at Blue Star Diner. Awesome food. Bridgeland has become quite a hotbed of good restaurants. Then out doing some shopping for the house, with a side trip out to the deep SE to pick up the stuff. I'm very please I didn't walk off the truck dock. Then some errands along the way home, buying a The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah for the book club. Into the Italian Centre to check it out.

Along the way in the SE I was looking over all the various buildings. Manufacturing plants, warehouses, offices, whatever, connected by road and rail, as well as an invisible network of electric and data cables. Wireless antennas. Water and sewer lines. Gas and oil pipelines. It's an amazingly complicated network, and it mostly works very well. At least until some idiot demonstrates that they are not up to the cognitive demands of driving, and screws it up for everybody in the area.

The point of it all is to connect the people who want to buy or rent various products with the people producing them. In the middle is that intricate network. So many different things, all with their product codes, specifications, assembly instructions, manufacturing requirements, and so many people keeping track of where the stuff is, how many of them are there, who has bought them, or sold them, and the associated flow of dollars.

Perceived as a whole it's baffling complex, with inter-relationships out the ying-yang. Even with computer help, nobody can track everything about even one thing, let alone everything. That's why us data geeks take slices, or views of things. My boss sometimes rolls his eyes as I get pedantic about what exactly is making up the number I'm quoting, because it matters. You can't do set arithmetic if you don't know that your sets are congruent, or rather, you can provided you know exactly how the are incongruent and take that into account.

While we were picking up our new faucets, the warehouse clerk came back with one instead of two. One of them had been accidentally put on a pallet that was spoken for another job. She couldn't take it, even though it was mine, till they sorted it out. Somebody hadn't consulted the system when assembling the order. This seems to happen to me a lot lately. The computer system says they have x in the bin, but the clerk only finds y, and has no idea where the other is. Even with all the bar codes, and scanning, and tracking, and inventory counts, and point of sale systems, stuff still ends up where it doesn't belong.

Until very recently we used to throw many things into the landfill. For several reasons now, we are starting to track what used to be waste. We want to recycle products and materials. This means knowing what's in them, and developing a process to stream like with like, to go to the appropriate places. More tracking. More complexity.

If you have a kid contemplating what they want to do for a living, they could do much worse than go into data analytics or business analysis. These systems are only going to get more complicated, and they need people to build nice process diagrams to explain to software engineers how to modify existing software to cope. It's straightforward to track new things with bar codes. Old things with obsolete bar codes, or waste products with no bar codes are a different thing.

Then a hard bike spin in the afternoon, 1.5 hrs all up, with lots of short bursts at high effort. I like getting a good sweat on, but last time I was putting out that much effort I was snorfling sweat in as I breathed. Plus it dribbles/ pours down my glasses.

That isn't so much fun. I got a variable speed fan set up now,  with a remote even, and that makes the ride much nicer. I had to tie down the little piece of plastic over the trainer computer. Stupid Blogspot for unroatating it.

Thursday was a rest day. I was feeling knackered from the week, and glad it was only 4 days. Word is the lay-offs aren't done yet. Several of my IT buddies have been told they won't have jobs soon, May or June, or so. That reminds me of a New Yorker cartoon, a boss standing in front of the clerks desk, as he says, "I'm afraid we're going to have to let you go as of 4pm today, in the mean time keep up the good work."

That gives them several months to find a new project to work on, which is good because it might take that long. Looking for work now is tough sledding. There are companies hiring, but it's typically contract work, not employee, and they are asking for very specific skills. One good thing about times like these is they put some work into defining exactly what they want, which is good for everyone. If you don't have the skills, you don't waste your time applying. In busier times they might put out a job requirement that is so vague, it might as well be "can spell business analysis, and has used Visio."

The current read is still "Older, Faster, Stronger" I'm liking it, but it's a bit disconnected in some ways. She does a lot of name dropping about all these older athletes and times, but it's mixed in with her races, and I'm losing track of which one is which.

1 comment:

  1. That was a fun morning. Glad to hear you were able to squeeze in a workout meandering around the little fishes!


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