Pareto Principle and Pea Pod Pondering

peapod

What kind of pea pod are you?

I ate peas last night. I haven’t had peas in a long time. They were great and they made me think about Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto who made an amazing discovery in 1896 — the famous 80/20 rule. And it applies to more than just economics.

Yes, it started in Italy when Pareto discovered that 80% of the land was owned by 20% of the people. But he didn’t really shout ‘Eureka!’ until he also discovered that in his garden 20% of the pea pods produced 80% of the peas.

Since that time the principle has been verified in all manner of cases.

  • 80% of sales typically come from 20% of the customers.
  • 20% of workers do 80% of the work.
  • 20% of criminals commit 80% of the crimes.
  • 20% of pub-goers consume 80% of the alcohol.
  • We wear 20% of the clothes in our closet and spend 80% of our time with 20% of our friends.
  • 20% of car drivers cause 80% of the accidents.
  • 20% of our time spent on a task leads to 80% of the results.
  • 80% of decisions are made in 20% of the time.

We can’t help it. We are just pea pods.

Should I just give up and start only going to 20% of my meetings and spending 20% of my week at the office? (This is assuming I’m one of the 20% of people that gets 80% of the work done. And I guess that would mean I would only get 80% of the 80% of work that gets done.) Drat. That last 20% of the work is necessary to get 100% of my salary. What a shame the last 20% takes 80% of my life.

What am I to do with this? Can I choose the pea pod I will be? Can I change my percentage and defy the odds?

I won’t speak for you…but this pea pod is going to try to become more efficient.

I’m Sorry I’m a …?

apology

Hit me with your best shot. I apologize.

I’ve always found it funny that when you defend your faith or beliefs, it is called apologetics. Today, when we think of the word apology, we associate it with an act of sincere regret—something you are sorry for doing and feel bad about.

“I apologize for stepping on your toes.”

“I apologize for hurting your feelings.”

But never, “I apologize for what I believe.” That would be the opposite of what a true apology is.

The word comes from the Greek apologia, a derivative of a word meaning “to speak in one’s defense.” It comes from apo-, “away; off” together with logos, “speech.”

Lately I’ve felt compelled to apologize… but in the Greek sense not the modern sense. I’m not sure why now…maybe because I feel poked a lot…and it hurts. I don’t think people always realize they are poking me and it isn’t always intentional. But lately I’ve stripped away my garments, looked in the mirror, and realized I’m covered in bruises.  As long as I can remember I’ve tried to make my life a quiet, steady apology. But now it’s time for a written one. I don’t have all the answers or by any stretch of the imagination think I know it all or ever will, but I plan to have my pen search the depths of my soul and let the words of my heart heal some wounds.

Apology coming soon.

Open Up Those Golden Gates

bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge from Baker Beach with Battery Crosby (1900) on the rocks.

When I was a kid we took our share of road trips…and we sang as we drove. We sang John Denver songs and we sang Buddy Holly songs and we sang Disney songs…and of course we sang Al Jolson’s California Here I Come. However, we  weren’t going to California. We often changed the words, because we were going to South Dakota…a lot. So we sang:

South Dakota here we come

Right back where we started from

Open up those Black Hill gates

South Dakota here we come.

Sometimes we would sing the California version. And I always imagined what it would be like to actually drive over the Golden Gate Bridge and sing that song.

Today, that dream became a reality. (I also looked up the actual words to the song and I’ve never sung it correctly). But no matter. I sung it my way today. Four times, actually, thanks to Google Maps. I didn’t mean to cross the Golden Gate Bridge four times, but that’s what I get for following Siri instead of my own common sense. And it wasn’t the only bridge I drove over. I also went over the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge and the Bay Bridge. And though Google told me my dreamy  little “detour” would only take 2 hours and 26 minutes, it was sorely mistaken. Let me just say that rush hour in San Fransisco is not fun. But this is the kind of thing that tends to happen to me when I take spare moments to try to see something when I’m on business trips.  I take risks and am greeted with the unexpected. (See Journey to the Pinball Hall of Fame and Are You Thirsty Yet?, if you don’t believe me.)

sf-route

My route was NOT 2 hours and 26 minutes as indicated.

Was it worth it?  I must admit I was debating it as my stomach was growling somewhere along highway 580 crawling along at 5 miles per hour. But, after I made it to my hotel, finished all my work, and took a look at my pictures…the answer is yes.  It is always worth it.

Along my way I was gifted with these beautiful discoveries–the sounds of waves, the smell of pine, and bright green, Spring grass.

beach

Waves crashing on Baker Beach. Meditating hippies and crazy nude homeless people behind me (not pictured).

beach-night

Baker Beach from the Battery Crosby.

stairs-down2

Stairs I ran up and down from Immigrant Point Overlook.This is fondly known as the 1000 Step Trail (808 steps to be exact).

immigrant-view

View from Immigrant Point Overlook.

pinecone

Very large pine cone on a fallen tree. Smells so good.

sand-fran-architecture

Classic San Fran architecture on my way to the Bay Bridge.

grass

Spring! This is not what my yard looks like in Colorado.

stairs

Sandy stairs back to my car from Baker Beach. Still shaking sand out of my running shoes.

bay-bridge

Headed to Livermore over the Bay Bridge. Bye San Francisco!

hills

Wine country, cow country…either way…Livermore is B-E-A-utiful.

Prenumbral Eclipse of the Snow Moon

moon

Tonight’s Snow Moon after the prenumbral eclipse.

February 10 in Colorado on the night of the full Snow Moon….and I spent the day running in shorts and a t-shirt in the foothills. Tomorrow I’ll be skiing. I love Colorado. Tonight was also special because it was a prenumbral eclipse of the Snow Moon. Because the name sounded like a bad teenage romance novel, I was intrigued by this lunar event and had to find out where this name came from. Prenumbra means almost shadow  and is a less intense part of Earth’s shadow being cast on the moon–a shadow that is not as dark as the typical umbra eclipse.

I had not heard of a Snow Moon (or a prenumbra) until tonight. I’ve watched many lunar eclipses and heard of the Harvest Moon before, but after all these years I guess I didn’t realize EVERY full moon had a name or that we could sometimes see the very faint prenumbra shadow. It’s easy to miss. The Moon names were actually names given to the whole month and thus the corresponding full moon received its name. Most of the names were bestowed  by the Algonquin tribes on the East Coast. Thanks to Farmer’s Almanac, I learned all their names tonight. Historically, the names are really interesting, even if they don’t apply to life today.

Wolf Moon – January

Amid the cold and deep snows of midwinter, the wolf packs howled hungrily outside Indian villages.

Snow Moon – February

Because the heaviest snow usually falls during this month,this was most often called the Snow Moon. Some tribes also referred to this moon as the Hunger Moon, because harsh weather made hunting difficult.

Worm Moon – March

As the temperature begins to warm and the ground begins to thaw, earthworm casts appear, heralding the return of the robins. The more northern tribes knew this moon as the Crow Moon, when the cawing of crows signaled the end of winter; or the  Crust Moon, because the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night. The Sap Moon, marking the time of tapping maple trees, is another variation.

Pink Moon – April

This name came from the herb moss pink, or wild ground phlox, which is one of the earliest widespread flowers of the spring. Other names for this month’s celestial body include the Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon, and among coastal tribes the Fish Moon, because this was the time that the shad swam upstream to spawn.

Flower Moon – May

In most areas, flowers are abundant everywhere during this time. Thus, the name of this moon. Other names include the Corn Planting Moon, or the Milk Moon.

Strawberry Moon – June

This name was universal to every Algonquin tribe because the relatively short season for harvesting strawberries comes each year during the month of June. However, in Europe they called it the Rose Moon.

Buck Moon – July

July is normally the month when the new antlers of buck deer push out of their foreheads in coatings of velvety fur. It was also often called the Thunder Moon, for the reason that thunderstorms are most frequent during this time. Another name for this month’s moon was the Hay Moon.

Sturgeon Moon – August

The fishing tribes are given credit for the naming of this moon, since sturgeon, a large fish of the Great Lakes and other major bodies of water, were most readily caught during this month. A few tribes knew it as the Red Moon because, as the Moon rises, it appears reddish through any sultry haze. It was also called the Green Corn Moon or Grain Moon.

Corn Moon or Harvest Moon – September

This full moon’s name is attributed to Native Americans because it marked when corn was supposed to be harvested. Most often, the September full moon is actually the Harvest Moon, which is the full Moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox.

 Hunter’s Moon or Harvest Moon – October

This full Moon is often referred to as the Hunter’s Moon, Blood Moon, or Sanguine Moon. Many moons ago, Native Americans named this bright moon for obvious reasons. The leaves are falling from trees, the deer are fattened, and it’s time to begin storing up meat for the long winter ahead. Because the fields were traditionally reaped in late September or early October, hunters could easily see fox and other animals that come out to glean from the fallen grains.

Beaver Moon – November

This was the time to set beaver traps before the swamps froze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs. Another interpretation suggests that the name Beaver Moon comes from the fact that the beavers are now actively preparing for winter. It is sometimes also referred to as the Frosty Moon.

The Long Nights Moon – December

During this month the winter cold fastens its grip, and nights are at their longest and darkest. The term Long Night Moon is a doubly appropriate name because the midwinter night is indeed long. It has also been called the Cold Moon.

Source: Farmer’s Almanac

These are great names, but I decided I would give the moon names an upgrade to fit life today…or at least my life. Here’s my version.

  • Resolution  Moon – January
  • Crocus Moon – February
  • Bike Tuning Moon – March
  • Slush and Mud Moon – April
  • Mother’s Moon – May
  • Yippee Moon – June
  • Splash Moon – July
  • Mountain Climber’s Moon – August
  • New Pencil Moon – September
  • Creepy Pumpkin Moon – October
  • Thanksgiving Moon -November
  • Chaos Moon – December

I doubt the astronomy world will rename the full moon names on my account, but I’m going to think of each full moon differently now. They are now fun time markers shining on the treasures that each month brings.

People with Rabies

rabies

This guy has Rabies.

A homeless guy called me “cool” today. He said and I quote, “Only cool people appreciate the name of my dog.” His dog’s name is Rabies. He knew how much I appreciated the name by my reaction. I LOVE creativity and a bit of dark humor. And this pup is aptly  named.

Just one day after watching A Dog’s Purpose at the movie theater (spoiler alert: bring Kleenex), today I saw another dog with a purpose. A dog named Rabies loving his master. A master who many people treat like he has rabies, though neither of them do.

I love his sign, too. I think it is a sign we all should carry. Everyday.

Because isn’t that what we are…really? Ugly and broke. We are all imperfect. Yes, we may wash our hair and put on clean clothes in the morning, but let’s face it. His sign is our sign, too.

And aren’t we ALL traveling folks? We journey through this world looking for our next opportunity–whether it be a better job, a happiness fix, a loyal friend, or our next meal. We travel. We journey. We wander. And every now and then, if we are wise, we slow down enough to share in the joy of the struggle and break bread with other ugly, broken people along the way. Cool.

Stopping Time…or Not

earth

How on Earth can I get more time?

Today I woke up and wished time would stop. I need more time. Time for important things…like family and friends and healing and hiking and cycling and skiing and fixing things at home and petting puppies. Help! Can’t time just stop for a minute!

That led my mind immediately to the Earth’s rotation. What if the Earth stopped rotating and I, in turn, was gifted with a very, very long day. Wiping the sleep from my eyes I acknowledged this would change how we measure time, but it wouldn’t actually stop time. Darn. Plus I soon realized that if the Earth stopped rotating, I’d be dead. Like really dead. Like immediately dead. Like really immediately dead. Let me explain.

If the Earth suddenly stopped rotating and the day froze in place, everything that was not part of the Earth’s core would go flying off the Earth–trees, dogs, cats, buildings…oh and people. Whoosh! Like when your bicycle hits a curb and the force of the abrupt stop sends you over the handlebars. And that’s not all. Once we were all whisked into the atmosphere, we couldn’t even enjoy the fact that all the water would go toward the poles–two Arctic Oceans and one big swatch of land now ringing the equator like a belt. And just like that we kiss the concept of sea level goodbye.

As I turned off the alarm going off in my ear, I had another foggy thought. What if we just reversed the rotation of the Earth (magically, of course, to avoid the flinging of all things from the surface)? What would happen then? For starters, I guess the sun would set in the East and rise in the West. My back porch would be too hot in the summer. Bummer. And the climate would change. Florida might be more like California and vice versa. And all the storms would reverse direction.  Plus, it wouldn’t really make time go backward. And 99.9% of physicists agree, you can’t unscramble an egg once it is broken. There’s no going back. Darn. Foiled again.

I drug my tired, sore body out of bed and began to plan again how to use what time I have. Time I think I have, that is. We really don’t know the end of our timelines, do we? Time is  something I needed to ponder another day…too complicated. Feels like an infographic I need to create. Maybe tomorrow…if there’s time.

On Cavities and Puppies

teddy

Fluffy filling or cuddly painkiller? Serves both purposes sometimes.

Today my mouth was tainted with the cruel sting of artificial sealant. The dentist filled two cavities—my first two cavities—ever.

noun: cavity; plural noun: cavities

  1. an empty space within a solid object, in particular the human body.

Forty-eight and a half years. A good streak, but it’s over. I’m crushed.

No Novocain for me. I had to feel it physically just as I was feeling it mentally. I don’t have many claims to fame. In fact, now I have none. Having teeth without cavities was as close to amazing as I’ve ever come.

I sat in the chair and heard the shrill of the drill over my head. My eyes darted around the room. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Puppy photo on the front wall. Zzzzzzzzeeeeeeeee. Puppy business card holder on the desk. Zzzzzzzzzrrrrrrrrr. Puppy painting at my right. My feet jumped off the chair as the drill hit a nerve.

Once the torture ceased and the less painful work continued, I relaxed and closed my eyes and thought about puppies. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could have a puppy on your lap during a dentist appointment? You could pet the puppy and it could lick your wounded soul (and maybe even bite the dentist).

Now I’m all set. Good to go. The sealant should fill the empty spaces, but like with most artificial sealants, it never really makes it whole again. I’m different. I’m holey.

I suppose there are other empty spaces inside my human body–now there’s just two more. Maybe the world doesn’t see them—when I fill them with other things, like amalgam and puppies. But they are there. We all have them— cavities. What are you filling yours with?

trishandpuppy

I try to fill my “cavities” with puppies whenever I get a chance.

 

Project Managing Myself

sock

Sometimes big changes start small. This sock drawer will look different tomorrow.

I manage projects every day—my family’s projects, my volunteer projects, and most of the time, work projects. I am a project manager—it’s what I do.

My Keys to Successful Project Management

  1. Prepare well. Understand the needs of the clients and what problem you are solving. Then prepare the requirements and strategy up front so your team can begin well and join you in the quest to solve the problem.
  2. Set deadlines and keep them. Even if your clients don’t give you specific deadlines, make them. And hold people to them. When you relax deadlines, you end up with wasted time, wasted money, and frivolous features on products that don’t need them.
  3. Be nice, but be honest. Deliver praise and feedback to your team with care, but don’t hold back on the truth. Quality and awesome customer service are the measures. Nothing else is acceptable.
  4. Give away the praise. Managing a project is important, but it takes a team to make something great. The skills and talents of your team need to be encouraged and applauded.

What I’ve come to realize this week is that I manage everything and everyone, but myself. And I need to. I need to be one of my projects and give myself the same level of detail, perfectionism, and care I give to every other project in my life. If I can’t do that, I won’t ever be able to achieve my personal goals. Instead I’ll continue to suck what life I can vicariously through the projects I manage for others.

So, I’m going to swipe a chapter from my own rule book and begin by preparing. I have some really big changes in mind and I’ve got some significant preparing to do. It all starts with cleaning out my refrigerator and sock drawer. No, my plans are not to become the Barefoot Contessa…but if those who know me don’t see a pretty big change by June 30, I will not have managed the Trish project well.

Journey of Trust to the Pinball Hall of Fame

hof

Now that is a seriously large gumball machine!

Nobody trusts anyone, or why did they put TILT on a pinball machine…

–Steve McQueen

I like a destination. And when I’m traveling for work, I like to get my exercise not in the fitness room, if at all possible, but by walking around my new environment and getting a feeling for where I am. Staying in a cheap government per diem hotel in Las Vegas, doesn’t always put you in the optimal location for fantastic hikes, but it does often put you smack in the middle of an adventure. Knowing this was my only opportunity in the next four days to walk outside (during the day before mugging hours), my quest was to get to the closest attraction on Google maps from my location.  That meant just shy of a 3.5 mile walk (one way) to the Pinball Hall of Fame. With dusk on the horizon, I knew I needed to make this walk snappy.  I walked on sidewalks along busy six lane streets bordered by chain linked fences topped with barbed wire curls. Planes dipped so close to my head I fought the urge to duck. I thought it quite convenient there was a mortuary and graveyard across the street.

pinball-map

My route to the Pinball Hall of Fame.

When I finally got off the main thoroughfare and around the airport, I turned in the direction of my target. I can’t say I felt particularly better here, but at least the airplanes weren’t after me. As I walked past Siegfried and Roy Park, which consisted of gravel and a giant silver mushroom-like statue, I passed row after row of apartments. Tucked beneath several of the gates were homeless people. And between them, rows of stores that included at least one or more of the following: liquor stores, tattoo parlors, and smoke shops.

luckys

How lucky! Open 24 hours!

I said “hi” to those I passed, looking less out of place than you would think. The temperature was a cool 45 degrees so I was sporting my black stocking cap, black running gloves, sunglasses, and a black leather jacket (the only coat I had brought). I looked like a hood in the hood. That probably was a good thing. After an hour of walking, I made it! The Pinball Hall of Fame.

I was not too impressed by the sign. Where were the neon and flashing lights? Where were the free food and fountains? I clearly had not walked far enough.

pinball-hof

Not the most impressive building I’ve ever seen, but I’d made it this far!

I went in and was shocked by the number of people inside (despite the missing cars in the lot). For $0.75 a game, you could play pinball on machines from the 1960s to modern day. I walked among the pinging and ringing, snapped a few photos and then quickly left.

elvira

Elvira! Now that is a pretty high score!

Now I had a dilemma. It was getting dark. And though I looked like I could rob a bank, I didn’t feel like it. Luckily, I had a twenty dollar bill and had scanned the bus routes earlier that day. I stopped at a nearby 7-11 to get change and purchase water. Two men wearing construction uniforms sat at the video slots and finished off their day with a bit of hope. I stood in line behind five people (all unrelated), each with multiple 24 oz. Bud Ice beers in their hands.  Apparently they knew something I didn’t. My Aquafina was clearly not the best bargain in town.

budice711

At this point I started jogging toward Eastern Avenue. As I reached the corner of Tropicana and Eastern, I saw the bus parked at a stop about 100 meters in front of me. I started sprinting. There was a man waiting to board and by the time I reached the bus the same man was still standing patiently waiting his turn. The fellow in front of him was feeding the bus fare machine slowly with pennies and nickels (possibly not realizing it was not a slot machine), but I was grateful. I caught my breath as the gentleman ahead of me and  I assisted by picking up rogue pennies as they rolled off the machine and onto the bus floor.

I hopped on the double decker bus and watched as a colorful cast of characters got on and off  (fully aware I was one of them). I was even asked where my motorcycle was! That’s how “bad to the bone” I looked!

As I stepped off the bus (forgetting my bottle of purchased water on public transit for the second time that day), I was happy I trusted Vegas enough to go for a walk, and happy Vegas trusted a hood like me.

Why Should You Care About 2017?

future

What’s out there, 2017? Why should I care?

Happy New Year! 2017. I have no idea why one day makes such a big difference to me, but it does. Yesterday is a closed door–a year I can forget about. There might have been some good or interesting things that happened last year, but I can’t really recall them right now. And why would I want to? I’ve got 365 brand new days staring me in the face. What will I do with them? So exciting!

Just as December makes me crazy, January makes me hopeful. January is a cold, dark month where you can dig your heals in and work really hard. Not hibernate. Work hard. Build something. Do something new. Move in a new direction or in a new way.

I have a “fortune” from a cookie taped to my computer monitor at work. It has been there for about seven years. It says, “It is better to try something great and fail, then to do nothing and succeed.” That’s what January 1 is all about. Heck, that’s what life is about. A new year just helps bring this philosophy into focus.

I love hearing people’s ideas about New Year’s resolutions. I’ve had people tell me resolutions are dumb because it just sets you up for failure. To that I say, see the fortune on my computer monitor above. Others like to make broad sweeping resolutions, like “I’m going to work on being healthier.”  Still others make very specific lists. I’ve done both. And both work as long as the “why” is important enough to you.

So, what are you going to do this year? What are you going to do today? What are you going to change or build? Where are you going to go? And most importantly, WHY?

I have a challenge for you. When you write your resolutions for the New Year, write them in the form of  the “why,” not just the action you are going to take.

Examples of WHY Resolutions

I want to feel better and have more energy to share with my family, so I will eat healthier and lose 20 pounds.

I want to be able to have intellectual conversations with people about world events so we can really process and understand the world better together, so I will read three different sources of news every morning.

I want my free time to be spent doing good for the community and not wasted idly, so I will volunteer my Saturdays at the Rescue Mission.

The problem with not keeping resolutions is not because we fail in the doing, it is because we fail in our hearts. We fail in the “why.” You say you want it. But do you? Do you really? If you do, let that “why” stare you in the face. Let it motivate you and push you.  I think the specifics of resolutions can change over the course of the year. For example you may find another way to accomplish your “why”—a better way.  But the “why” never changes.

So today, as you think along with me about your next 365 days, try not to think as much about how you are going to do things, but think about why you are going to do them. Then join me and let’s go get 2017!