Tag Archives: Reading

Self-Publishing in Five Steps

It’s been a little while since a “Motivation Monday” post, so let’s just dive right in with UK author Mark Dawson’s piece on how to approach self-publishing, amply referencing his own experience from traditional publishing to now.

It’s recent (from August of this year) and I appreciate how it’s not paint-by-numbers. The five steps aren’t particularly easy, in part because none of them can ever be fully completed (perhaps “five processes” might more sense to some). I especially like that the last part is to “never stop learning”– which for a writer who enjoys research should, on one level be fun (though your mileage may vary with such paint-drying excitement like editing DKIM values to help your mailing list).

In any case, I found it to be a good reminder of what I’m doing and what I’ve yet to do in the creative entrepreneur realm… and perhaps you’ll find it useful too.

Rogue Planet in Our Solar System!

Not to be confused with Rogue Tyger, this is a rogue planet which is a real astronomical object, not just a dramatic sci-fi name.

Recently, I learned that not only that our own solar system has a rogue planet, but it’s named “The Goblin.”

I’m not sure who approved this, but I’m both amused and disturbed. I mean, you thought landing on Europa was bad, what about The Goblin?

The Pumpkin Spice Must Flow

Unlike Starbucks, I’ve held off until this, the first official day of Fall, but now that’s it’s here:

Resistance is futile. Search your taste buds, you know it to be true!

But why is that anyway? And why do people hate it so much? Rebecca Jennings is glad you asked.

Pushing Your Buttons… or Just Taking Them Away

Okay, so I implied on Wednesday that I try and help people work smarter, not harder… because working on projects that go nowhere doesn’t help anyone.

So imagine my umbrage when I read an article by Jacopo Prisco about all the “placebo buttons” that are out there designed to give people the illusion of control. Do you people not know conspiracy theorists will run with this?!?

Do you want the Hulk? Because that's how you get the Hulk.

Of course, I have to wonder which is worse: being given buttons that don’t work and not told they don’t work OR having buttons that do work taken away.

Enter Apple, the company that’s never bashful about being forward thinking beyond a customer’s furthest vision. Apparently, they’re not so keen on the home button on their iPhones and, as of this post, may have ditched it. (Look, I write my posts in advance, all right?)

I’m not sure what’s worse, but I’m definitely keeping out of the way of the Hulk when he gets the news.

We Declare That George III is Worse Than Independence Day: Resurgence

In these here United States, it’s Independence Day! Because October 19th is a ways off and it’s not as socially acceptable to shoot off fireworks then.

So before you go re-watch President Whitmore give the aliens what for, why not enjoy this staging by the National Archives?

Muppet Monday

I’m currently reading Brian Jay Jones’ biography of Jim Henson, so it I came across this video about current Sesame Street muppeteers at just the right time. Enjoy!

Jobs Expanding to fit the Pointlessness

If you’ve wondered what the point of some jobs are — and if, in fact, there seem to be more jobs out there trying to “maximize innovative enterprise solutions” or just “realize value,” you’re not alone.

What’s worse is realizing you might be in one of those positions and then pondering what you can possibly do within the confines of that meaninglessness. (Though I suppose some people long for that.)

Why, you could put things on top of other things!

Over at the Washington Post, Jena McGregor talks with anthropologist David Graeber about his work exploring the societal and economic consequences of pointless jobs.

Besides the “Brazilian” fascination with the topic, I’ve been doing project and program management for about 20 years — a prime suspect for pointless work. As I explain to people from time to time, the level of meaning and satisfaction from my jobs varies greatly on the work culture and management where I work.

The contract where I updated a spreadsheet three times a day and had meetings about it was neither fulfilling nor, I would argue, very useful to anyone. It’s not like anyone got insight from the minutely updated spreadsheet or any bonuses from attending meetings. My management was unconvinced and, frankly, rather hostile to any process improvements.

Contrast that with a job where the manager said the first day, “No process is sacred, including our own.” And true to form, we updated one central business process no less than three times in three years — all to get people more engaged and meetings more consequential. I’ve also been in positions to happily eliminate thousands of hours’ worth of meetings from peoples schedules every year and set up intranet sites that (gasp) answer people’s questions without them ever needing to contact me about some previously inscrutable topic.

Reducing net headaches for hundreds of people — including those you’ll never meet — is immensely satisfying. But as Sam Lowry would attest, the bureaucracy resists simplification or clarity. So channel your inner Tuttle and watch out for Jack Lint.

Ranked Choice Voted First

My local primaries were not particularly interesting, but I found Maine’s primary elections very interesting to watch because they were using ranked-choice voting.

What is ranked-choice voting, you ask? Why not explain it with dinosaurs?

Or, you could look at this longer piece by CGP Grey:

I like this because it also explains how ranked choice voting (here called “alternative vote/instant runoff voting”) is not the end-all, be-all panacea, yet has advantages over “first past the post” elections.

And if you’re wondering why we’d want to move away from “first past the post” voting (i.e., what happens with most elections you’re used to), here’s another piece by CGP Grey:

Many a politician is not overfond of ranked choice voting because “voting for the lesser of two evils” is a pretty good strategy with just about every constituency outside of Cthulhu fans. Indeed, Maine’s legislature really did not like the idea of ranked choice voting and worked to have it removed, but those pesky voters has other ideas.

Here’s hoping the idea spreads, especially for local and primary elections that can benefit from more voter engagement.

Grieving and Living

While I’m sure its author would not purport to be the last authority on the subject nor her article a substitute for medical advice, I thought Lori Gottlieb’s piece in The Atlantic to be a good reflection on the grieving process.

Move over Monorail, It’s Electric Bus Time

I still remember researching electric cars being developed during the beginnings of the auto industry and being surprised when my dad mentioned that there were still electric vehicles on the road when he grew up in the 40s and 50s. Old models of delivery vehicles were still being used by thrifty businesses — and, in fact, the Walker Vehicle Company made such vehicles up until 1942 in Chicago.

The reason the vehicles were still on the roads was because electric motors cope with lots of starts and stops… such as delivery vehicles make. Delivery vehicles usually also don’t need to worry about extended range. They’re headed across town, not cross-country.

Being the practical engineer type, my dad was always befuddled by the fact that no one had decided to continue making electric vehicles for the urban environment.

It might not come as any surprise that many practical engineer types have had similar thoughts of late, only this time with buses versus delivery vehicles. In fact, they’re on track to be a significant percentage of all buses inside the next 10 years. Not only that, their use is already making a noticeable dent in oil use. My dad would especially like the passage in the latter article where the electric bus company was laughed at for making a toy not too many years ago. There’s no hubris quite like status quo hubris. (Especially since many people have mused about this happening, as you’ll see in a similar article from last year).

Of course, the only surefire way to have local governments adopt electric buses is to come up with a catchy song. You, know, something like…