Thursday, December 01, 2016

25 Stories About Work - Experience

I was recently on a plane doodling and thought of some funny / interesting stories from 25+ years of working and traveling. So I decided to write them up as short, random chapters of a non-book with the title of this post. Hope you enjoy them and / or find them interesting. Certainly the value will be at least equal to the marginal cost of the book (zero)...

Chicago, 1990's through today

I just finished reading the book "Disrupted" by Dan Lyons about a journalist from Newsweek who takes a job at a start up which eventually goes public called Hubspot.  Mr. Lyons is out of place from day one as he describes how the company acts without much oversight, firing workers on a whim (they 'graduate') and rapidly turn over employees as the company attempt to get to the public markets before the money runs out.  To make this even stranger, the author also writes for the HBO sitcom "Silicon Valley" and Hubspot allegedly goes after him to stop this book from being published, and the board finds out about it and fires / sanctions some (but not all) of the managers that he portrayed in the book.

All that aside, the purpose of this post is to talk about experience, and how it changes you over the decades, and its value and detriments.  Reading that book caused (not "inspired") me to think about my own views and how they've evolved over the years.

It is strange when you go from being the "new kid" to being the grey-ish haired "experienced" one.  Recently I was at 1871, the incubator in Chicago for new start-ups at the Merchandise Mart in River North where I used to live.  As I walked around I noted all the fresh faces, the beer on tap, and the grown men riding around on razor scooters to get from meeting to meeting.  Then I realized - hey I am just an old guy here.  I'm not one of them, although I could probably be a boss of some sort in one of these companies (depending on what they are looking for).


Thursday, November 24, 2016

One Of Those People

This has been a rough year for me.  I guess things go like that from time to time as we soldier on in life.  Losing our friend Gerry was yet another blow for me in 2016.

This is actually the second time we have lost an author here at LITGM (although we have fired a few).  Frank Borger was a contributor here back in the day and I received an email from someone one day that he had passed away.  If memory serves, Gerry was a commenter here at that time and responded to our "do you want to post here" request.  And the rest, at least for this blog, is history.

Gerry was a prolific poster here, and his posts were always of the highest quality.  He was also responsible for our beautiful artwork on the masthead.  Of course he was, he was a fantastic graphic artist.

I have re-enabled the labels on the sidebar.  Here is the reason.

When my grandmother died a few years ago, the one thing I had to have was her recipe box.  I still like cooking things from those recipes that remind me of her.  I plan on occasionally doing the same thing here.  LITGM has a mountain of recpies that Gerry shared over the years.  I plan on using the "food" tag to find some of those recipes, re-create them, and have some good thoughts of Gerry.

I briefly mentioned Frank Borger.  I never met the guy so our friendship was basically electronic.  Gerry was different.  We went to Bear games, and enjoyed time at his house in Indiana and at Gunstock.  Carl was able to have fun with him in Chicago as well.

I always enjoyed Gerry's wit and wisdom.  The title of this post is "One Of Those People".  In life, I meet, on occasion a person who has had an immensely full life and continues to enjoy it.  Gerry was one of those people.  He had a colorful history of meeting all sorts of people at his jobs in Chicago (see the category that I forced Gerry to open up 'Famous People that Gerry Has met').  He was an outdoorsman and loved to hunt, fish, and teach others the craft.  He was a family man.  To me, he did it all.  Sure, I go to work and love my family and all that, but it is always great to meet someone who flourishes outside of those parameters.

He also taught me a lesson on being gracious.  One day we went to the Bear game and for whatever reason (this was a very long time ago so I honestly don't remember why) one time I just got in my car and left everyone behind.  It was a shitty thing to do.  He called me and asked why I did it.  I obviously had a reason but I am sure it was a crappy one.  He said that he forgave me and would never talk about it again.  That was it.  Hatchet buried.  I learned so much from that one episode.  I am sure he thought nothing of it, but to this day I try to use this example and attempt to live a life of forgiveness and graciousness.  Gerry obviously saw value in our friendship and understood that people make dumb mistakes.  We all can learn from this example.

I guess I don't really have too much to add.  What else is there to say?  In the future whether I am making bar cheese, or venison, or whatever recipe I choose, I will look fondly back on the great times I had with Gerry.  I have already looked through the archives here and smiled a ton at some of the posts that Gerry put up over the years.  Carl and I are so proud that Gerry chose to share some of his life and talents with us here and that we have this amazing store of treasures to look back on.

LITGM will keep moving forward as long as this platform is supported - and Gerry would have wanted it that way.  I intentionally set up this post to come online on Thanksgiving Day because you know what?  I am SO thankful that I was able to cross paths with a guy like Gerry.

Godspeed, Gerry.  We will miss you.  See you on the other side someday.  Save a sandwich for me.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

25 Stories About Work - Getting a Review and Thinking Like Your Boss

I was recently on a plane doodling and thought of some funny / interesting stories from 25+ years of working and traveling. So I decided to write them up as short, random chapters of a non-book with the title of this post. Hope you enjoy them and / or find them interesting. Certainly the value will be at least equal to the marginal cost of the book (zero)...

Chicago, 1990's through today

If you are ever looking for a great book to read, I would recommend "High Output Management" by Andy Grove, the late former founder of Intel. I picked up a hard copy on the internet for just a few dollars including shipping and although it was written in the mid 1980's (and updated in the early 1990's) much of the book is completely relevant for both new entrants to the work force and those that have been engaged for decades.



Andy Grove had a passion for getting the most out of his employees, since he was focused on productivity and his staff represented a large cost (and opportunity) for his organization. He approached productivity in two main ways 1) by leveraging process and eliminating bureaucracy he could move faster at lower cost 2) by training and motivating his staff, he could achieve greater outputs. For the purpose of this post we will focus on #2, although it should be remembered that Andy Grove also essentially popularized key elements of the "open office" plan where executives sit amongst their staff which I will cover in a future post.

For his employees, he defined motivation as getting the maximum that he could achieve. His motivation would broadly be considered "engagement" in the modern definition. "Engaged" employees go the extra mile and are passionate and drive for results, while "dis-engaged" employees are an active drag on the business and your company would frankly be better off if they just stayed home. Most employees are in the middle of the spectrum, neither actively engaged nor disengaged.

Training and feedback are the key elements of this post. Andy pushed training in his business and held his executives to a standard that they needed to teach and be part of the process of investing in employees. I remember when I was starting out in my masters' program many case studies held up Motorola as ahead of their time with the "Motorola University" of classes to train and advance their employees. All of this was done before the internet with papers, books and physical classes and it represented a significant investment for the company. Today, these programs have mostly been minimized at large corporations, although many service firms (financial and technology) still invest heavily in training and grooming their own staff, and most large internet / technology firms have more extensive orientation and learning methodologies.

For feedback, there is a template for an annual review in this book from the 1980's which contains all of the key elements of an employee review that you might receive today. The employee is supposed to do a self-review prior to the meeting, and the manager goes through the strengths, weaknesses, and areas of improvement and seeks out feedback from peers in order to develop a thorough analysis. Andy Grove mentioned how important employee development and feedback was to him and how he forced other top executives to be part of and even care about the process although many of them did it in a perfunctory manner (complying with the process but not the "spirit").

From my personal experience and from those of my work acquaintances across many industries, the formal personnel appraisal has been dying for many years and is usually done in a perfunctory manner if it happens at all. If you are in a services business (consulting, law, finance), your personnel review is essentially done for you in the course of your engagements, since "good" staff are selected for teams and "poor" staff are shuffled around and / or "ride the bench". Leaders have an incentive to collect (and shield) the best staff because they make the most money for their groups by pleasing clients and billing lots of hours while the poorer performers are not selected and (mostly) find their way out of the organization (or into the back office bureaucracy where they don't face clients). While the service firms' HR departments would vehemently deny this statement, it is the "broad" truth.

But if you are in a corporation or smaller business that is not service facing, you will be most impacted by a poor or minimalistic review process (as an employee), because you won't get valuable and direct feedback that will help you grow and improve. In today's corporate environment, re-organizations are frequent and managers rotate through departments (or are thrown into direct work), so supervision routinely moves to the back burner. There is little incentive to groom and work on staff (as a manager) if you aren't going to be around for 2-3 years in the same job because it takes time to invest in staff and improving processes and behaviors and there is no purpose in putting in this sort of investment if you are just going to move on to the next job anyways.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Goodbye Gerry

Gerry was a good friend of mine and I was very sad when I heard he passed on. I was able to visit him at the end of September and although he was sick he was in high spirits and defiant. I know that he fought hard against his illness.

This photo is a great way to remember him because it makes a lot of his great qualities immediately apparent. This is his garage, and it was spotless. I've never seen such a clean garage! That day he took apart my father's Glock and fixed the periodic jamming that occurred and cleaned it down to the last part. He knew exactly what he was doing and was patient and very helpful even though I am helpless at mechanical things and repair.

He also drank an American beer (barely a beer, if you are being technical)! Although Gerry was a fantastic cook and brewed his own beer on occasion, he was not big on pretense and was a very practical guy. He knew how to make his own entertainment and when to casually enjoy what was already available.

Gerry was a great artist. He was able to draw, paint and illustrate. He often helped me with holiday cards and also did our fantastic Gunstock flyer every year. He was a man of many talents.

He wasn't very good at retiring, however. He kept trying to retire but then he would go back to work. I think he liked helping people, especially with regards to hunting, and he liked to learn more about the gear and technique so that he could get better.

It won't be the same at the Bears' home opener and it certainly won't be the same with Gunstock. We will miss you, Gerry.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Announcement

It is with great sorrow that I bring to you the news of the passing of our friend Gerry from Valpo.  I will have much more to say about him in a future post - but for now, please send your thoughts and prayers to his family.  Thanks.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Portland "Riots"

Recently I moved to Portland, Oregon. Portland is a very clean and safe city, albeit one with a lot of homeless people allowed to camp out on the street. Crime here is miniscule by the standards of Chicago - rather than seeing murders every day (with multiple murders and shootings compressed into one story since it isn't "news"), you can actually see leading news stories about a guy who got his bike stolen, with a picture of the thief from a security camera.

Now Portland is in the national news for a different reason. After the election, protestors have been taking to the streets. I was in a cab back from the airport Thursday night and my twenty minute ride became a 1 1/2 hour ride since the protestors were blocking bridges and highways. It was a bit unnerving because you were just sitting in traffic with no information and it could go on indefinitely.



The protestors have been walking through neighborhoods and shopping areas and blocking bridges and the police have mostly left them alone. They did break business windows in an area less than a mile from where I live such as this Bank of America ATM bank branch. They set a couple of fires in dumpsters too. But generally they were pretty calm and the police followed them and didn't bust their heads, Chicago-style.

I think many of the protestors were not happy that the anarchist or "black bloc" type protestors had joined their ranks and were smashing windows and the like. Some of the protestors raised money or came out the next day to help locals clean up. I heard an anecdotal story about a store owner coming out with a gun in front of his shop; Oregon has very free gun laws and outside of the Portland main city (which is mostly full of liberals and transplants from California and the like) you'd be unwise to try to bust up someone's home - you'd likely get shot.



The police are finally get sick of this. Last night I walked out to get a pizza and 2 police trucks drove by with riot police holding on to the side of the truck, ready to jump out and get into position quickly. There were a couple dozen officers on the two trucks and they were driving rapidly across Burnside (a main street) to deploy somewhere. The act of calling it a "riot" by police meant that protestors could be charged with a felony and the police were trying to separate the ones causing damage from the peaceful protestors.

We will see if this dies out soon. I will keep you posted from Portland.

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Efficiency and Restaurants

Since I eat out a lot and have frequented restaurants of every stripe over the last few decades I am always interested in restaurant efficiency. The restaurant industry is brutally competitive and it always disturbs me when I eat at a restaurant and enjoy it but then fear that the restaurant won't survive because it lacks a critical mass to make enough money.

There is an Italian restaurant called "Grassa" in Portland (you can see their logo, below). They are attached to another restaurant called "Lardo".



These restaurants serve high-end food (not luxury cuisine, but far from fast-food) and alcohol but have communal tables and always seem to be packed with a line out the door. They are different because their menu is a large signboard (dishes are frequently updated) when you enter the space and you order your food at a central register and they hand you a "flag" to bring with you to your table. Then when your food is ready, they bring it out to you and take away your flag and you eat your meal. Drinks are brought out first (and appetizers) and you can also flag down one of the servers to order more drinks (although most people tend to have one drink with their meal and then leave, based on a few times that I've sat at the restaurant). You can also order your food "to go" at Grassa, as well.

This model drives peak efficiency at the restaurant. There are many fewer tables than you would need at a "standard" restaurant due to the communal standing tables and the food comes out as soon as it is available (the servers don't have to take orders, they just serve the food as soon as it is up and return back to the kitchen area, unless they are bussing a table that just left). They don't have to take reservations or mess with any of that complexity, either.

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Hive Mind

As smartphones become more powerful and more connected there are subtle phenomenon that are very powerful that can go by unnoticed. For years I either walked to work or took public transit but now in the Pacific Northwest I commute by car. Since the surroundings are new I pay much more attention to what is going on than I used to in Chicago.

In Chicago, there aren't a lot of opportunities to optimize your travel if you are driving alongside major roads such as I290 or the Dan Ryan. Unless you really, really know what you are doing it is not recommended to get off the highway in many Chicago neighborhoods and just to follow your mobile navigation blindly. Thus in Chicago when I was in bad traffic it pretty much looked like this - a speed of zero and stuck crawling ahead.



The first generation of car navigation tools told you how to get somewhere with the most efficient route, taking standard traffic into account. The new generation of navigation apps, however, have real-time information and continuously re-adjust the "recommended" route based on traffic, accidents and construction.

In Portland the navigation apps (through bluetooth and my radio, so I am not handling them directly) frequently direct me off the main road and onto side streets. Since violent crime is miniscule here (compared to Chicago) I often take up Google Maps (which gets a lot of real-time and accident information from Waze) on their offered routes and go skittering through local neighborhoods off the highway towards home.

What is fascinating to me is often how rapidly the navigation apps cause a "wave" of activity as everyone receives a real-time traffic update simultaneously. I can see a lot of cars pull off on exits prior to downtown (likely due to an accident up ahead) and start taking side roads as their apps direct them to do so. If you would have framed this out twenty years ago, it would seem like something out of science fiction:
Imagine a world where a centrally directed super computer controls car navigation for millions of autonomous automobiles and directs them to their unique destinations in the most efficient manner, calculating construction, traffic and accidents on a continuous basis.
This world exists today, in cities where it is feasible to exit the highway and use alternative routes to your destination. And the central supercomputer is either Apple Maps or Google Maps (or some of the newer auto navigation systems that incorporate real-time activity) and the receiver is found in every mobile phone around the country, which in turn is connected to your stereo to guide you with a human voice to your destination.

What is also interesting to me is whether or not at some point the apps themselves need to "predict" how their directions will in turn impact downstream events. For example, at the time the accident occurs, the main road slows down, and then it recommends that cars pull off the highway and onto side streets, which are relatively open at the time of the event. However, as soon as this recommendation is made, waves of cars follow the recommendation and all the sudden the secondary route becomes more congested (and slower), which to some extent negates the original instructions received. Do the apps in turn have to "estimate" what percent of cars on the road will accept their alternative instructions, and adjust the times accordingly? In a more advanced world (very possible), Google probably uses the car by car information to see if individuals accept the new route and probably adds this probabilistic determination into their analysis.

This sort of problem is analogous to automated trading, where you not only have to predict what criteria cause you to buy or sell, but you need to anticipate what other market participants will do at the same time (second order effects) for optimal results.

Another interesting element of this is that we can more efficiently use our infrastructure of roads if these effectively centralized dispatch methods cause us to optimize all routes simultaneously. I am certain that many individuals on formerly quiet roads curse these car apps since their neighborhoods now are flooded with "through" traffic on days where the main arteries are clogged with traffic. This is conceptually similar to the "capacity utilization" problem which says that the most efficient way to leverage assets is to use them all the time, since many of them are idle most of the day. These mapping apps go a long way towards leveraging all the available assets which in turn reduces their average cost across all users (as taxpayers, at least).

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Bill Plympton in Portland

Recently I had the opportunity to see the great cartoonist Bill Plympton speak in Portland, Oregon. He spoke at the McMenamins "Mission Theater" which is a movie theater / performing space that also serves good beer on tap. The title was "The Life and Art of the King of Animation". Bill Plympton has an independent studio in Oregon City and a website here that I highly recommend you check out. Bill is also on Kickstarter for a new movie called "Revengeance" and he offers some great prize packages if you make a donation including personally illustrated artwork.



Bill had a great talk about why he is still independent and was very positive about other artists and designers in the industry. He also said that he was very popular in Europe and that they could understand that cartoons can also be art for adults and aren't just for kids.



I was also going to buy something and get it autographed by Bill but literally every single person who was present at the auditorium jumped up and got into line at his Merch table and he was having a conversation (and fun) with everyone in line so I had to leave or it would have been a very long night. Likely most of them were artists in Portland and had been waiting a while to see Bill talk. He said that he wished the other crowds he met in the USA were as enthusiastic as Portland.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Updating Apple Products

I started out as a Windows user and was actually a Windows programmer (using MS Access) for quite a long time. I resisted the siren call of Apple products and stuck with Windows for years and years, for work and for personal use.

Finally I gave in and bought a MacBook Pro in 2011 which turned out to be a great purchase (and got rid of my Windows Desktop PC). I always have used iPhones for personal use, and when I turned in my work Blackberry (a sad day at the time) for an iPhone, that meant that I had two iPhones. For a while I also used a Mac at work, although I ended up switching back to a Windows laptop because password resets, system upgrades and a lack of compatibility for applications built for Windows made it too much of a pain in the rear.

Then over the years I of course bought an iPad and then upgraded that iPad, and an Apple Watch, which I really like (although the jury is mixed on that one). Here is an Apple Watch article and review that I wrote.

Thus I now have five (5) Apple products - a MacBook Pro, an iPad, an Apple Watch, and two iPhones. And now it is time for all the updates... iOS 10 is out now which means I need to update my iPad and both iPhones. Apple Watch OS 3 is also out and I am downloading that right now (downloading the operating system into the watch, from the iPhone, seems to take a long time). My MacBook Pro will get updated to the new Sierra OS when it comes out on Tuesday, September 20th.

Here are some initial thoughts so far. For the iPhones, I don't think iOS 10 is that big of a deal. It does seem faster, and the fonts / icons look a little better, but I don't see much that is significantly different. I do like the easy ability to "unsubscribe" from email lists with a simple swipe. I guess most of the enthusiasm in this area is for the new iPhone 7 launch, but I won't be getting an iPhone 7 for a while due to my current phone contract.

I do like the iPad upgrade to iOS 10, because you can set the widgets on the front page and see items like the weather, travel times to work, emails from your VIP list, my Netatmo for localized weather, etc... at a glance. This is a nice feature because you should get all the main updates immediately and not have to go through different apps to see them. This is sort of like the old "Portal"-type functionality I used to have on my main web page way back in the day.

I will do a thorough review of the Apple Watch OS 3 update. I think that will have many powerful features and it will be much faster and easier to use. I think that Apple is still trying to "figure out" the Apple Watch which means that upgrades tend to have a lot of changes, hopefully for the better. At some point I will probably get a new Apple Watch (the new version has GPS built in) and then my existing watch will be a hand-me-down to someone else in my family who wants it.

Apple has really done a great job of keeping older hardware relevant. I have a MacBook Pro from 2011 which my friend Brian helped upgrade with an SSD hard drive and additional memory (I wrote about that here). My Mac should be able to run the new OS Sierra, and I will review that as well after the upgrade.

I particularly like the integration across Apple devices that you can do today through iCloud. For instance, my contacts, photos, and notes all synch across my Mac, iPhone and iPad (the Apple Watch is linked to the iPhone). You can also use Messenger (basically text messaging) from your Mac, iPad or phone - this is great when you want to type longer or faster texts because you can use your Mac to create them quickly or your iPad if you have an attached (third party) keyboard.

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Oh No. We Don't Need Anymore! Stay Home.

More Illinois residents are moving to Indiana.

Please go to Wisco instead. All they do is bring those bad voting habits with them. We'll soon be in debt too, I fear.


Sunday, August 14, 2016

Monitoring Air Quality - Speck Sensor

Due to the fact that computing power continues to increase exponentially, devices that once were out of reach for the general population are now becoming mainstream. I wrote about Netatmo, a device that measures temperature, humidity and sound (indoor and outdoor) here. Due to the internet, these devices can also be connected together in order to see a real-time version of the country, without having to look at a weather forecast.

Recently I saw an article in an MIT journal about indoor air quality which described how cooking eggs aggravated the authors' asthma and they were able to take specific actions because they were able to pinpoint the source of the spike in unclear air. The name of the company that created the monitor is called Speck and it was sold for approximately $200 so I thought that was a decent price point for me to join the air quality monitoring revolution. I am specifically most interested in INDOOR air quality but I will explain the broader context and then come back to the specific items I am reviewing (basically you can get official measurements of air quality in the US from public sources).



HOW IS AIR QUALITY MEASURED?

For this specific purpose we are focusing on PM 2.5 particles, which are particles that are too fine to be screened out by your nose and throat and as a result they accumulate in your lungs. There are other measures of air quality but these are the specific ones I am focused on (it is a complex topic).

An interesting "Wired" story about air quality is how the release of measurements of the 2.5 particles in China led the government there to acknowledge their air quality problems and start a serious program for monitoring and also to take significant actions (like pulling cars off the road and telling people to stay indoors) when the measurements reach crisis levels.

Measurements for major cities around the world can be found here - this is a site called AQCIN.ORG that picks up only official, calibrated measurement stations (there are many other private stations) and lets you see them for around the world. This site is run out of China which made me suspicious that they were "cooking the books" to make themselves look better but from checking it out a bit it looks legit and also the US numbers seem to be roughly in line with the same numbers I can get from US EPA sources.

The measurement is how much particulate would accumulate in your lungs if you had 24 hours of outdoor exposure; numbers below 50 are good (most of the US falls under this level, with the exception of some areas in a heat wave or where there is a forest fire). In China and India they routinely have numbers above the 300 level where the EPA considers it to be hazardous and the US scale stops measuring at 500 - but China has had 500+ days where they take drastic actions in major cities (such as here where it hit 608).

INDOORS VS OUTDOORS

If the issue was just how to measure outdoor air quality, this is already done for us in the USA through a network of monitoring stations which can be reached through a variety of websites (such as http://www.aqcin.org). This information is readily available.

However, the (potential) issue is that indoor air quality is highly variable, and can be impacted by many variables. On the one hand, if you live somewhere like China, being indoors gives you a significant benefit since outdoor air is so terrible. One of the complaints about the pollution score is that it overstates the negative impact on people in individuals with terrible air if they spend much of their day indoors with air conditioning and filtration systems.

In my experience, when you close the windows and use air conditioning, the indoor air quality improves significantly. We also saw major benefits when we turned on the kitchen fan while cooking. I took the air quality monitor to work, expecting to see poor results because we have a lot of construction occurring, but in fact the work measurements were even better than they are at home. I intend to try again because you get different ratings depending on where you site the monitor and depending on the exact conditions of what is going on.

My Speck experience has been very good. I finally figured out that you "push" the screen with your finger to switch between the "current" air quality (the higher number, a "good" rating would be 500 for instance) rather than the 24 hour number (where "good" is 20 or something like that). You can connect your Speck to the web to see results online or you can hold several days were of data in the onboard memory and then hook it up directly to your computer to download the data.

I highly recommend buying a Speck if you have people in your family with trouble breathing, live in a polluted area, are undergoing construction, or are just interested in gadgets. At $200 this is definitely worth buying.

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Vitamin R

Since I've moved out to the Pacific Northwest I need a new cornwater. Miller Lite hardly has a presence out here and I'm not falling down the Coors Light chasm. Dan said his local friends out here drink Rainier Beer, which they call "Vitamin R".

Well just a couple of days later I found this guy wearing a "Vitamin R" t shirt. I asked him if I could take a photo and he said yes and he said I was like the 5th person who asked him that since he walked into the store.



So I decided to try one at dinner. Usually I get an expensive drink and then end on a cheaper note... Rainier was like $3 for a 16 oz can. It's not too bad. Certainly better than Coors Light.

Monday, July 18, 2016

That Guy From Indiana

Let me say up front my opinion of Congressman then Governor Mike Pence has been lukewarm. As an Indiana resident here's my perspective.

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels was a hard act for Pence to follow. And Mitch wasn't exactly Mr. Excitement. Contrary to the coastal lust for political grandstanding here in the flyover state of Indiana residents seem to prefer low-key constitutional conservatives who roll up the sleeves and quietly get the people's work done. And that describes Governor Pence perfectly since few outside of Indiana know who he is and how well he has done for Indiana. His top accomplishment has been holding onto and building on what Daniels accomplished. If it ain't broke why fix it?

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Portland Life

My nephew recently came into town for a visit and wanted to get the "full Portland hipster experience". We weren't quite sure what he was looking for but figured we would find it on Mississippi Avenue, a street laden with new restaurants and bars. Here is a NY Times article on the scene there with this great quote:
North Mississippi Avenue in Portland delivers a hipster experience as reliably as the rain.
We walked up and down the blocks and sat outside and had a few beers then had dinner at The Rambler. You know that you are in Portland when you see a sign like this.



Another sign is drinking the local Montucky Beer. This is their equivalent of PBR - cheap and light. Bizarrely, they don't even call it beer, it is a "cold snack", which in a way is true. After doing 2 seconds of Internet research this beer came out of Montana but I see lots of folks here drinking it all the time.



Tattoos are everywhere. I was wondering about a "Portland Index" that would be calculated as follows:

Total cost of tattoos on your body / your net worth

I think for the average Portland person working in the service industry the index would be less than one - you can easily spend thousands on intricate, colored tattoos and not too many younger folks have a net worth (after including all debt and liabilities including student debt) that is positive.

Other signs of Portland:
- Strange man bun hair
- Smoking American Spirit cigarettes
- Generally every restaurant has excellent food (you'd simply be out of business almost immediately because so many other places are good)
- Dogs of every size everywhere
- People are mostly very healthy and plan active events. In Chicago 50% of the people I encountered would likely be categorized as "morbidly obese"