Mere Being readers–

Hello from pollen hell, formerly known as San Francisco. For a minute this month I thought I was terribly ill– depression, some kind of ill-defined post-viral syndrome, maybe cancer? – and then I checked the pollen count. Tinkered with my allergy meds, banished the dog from the bed, and waited a few days and things seem to be mostly back to normal around here.

My immune system's ability to produce histamine on demand is probably my most impressive physical capability. My skin test results are both broad and intense. I learned the word "wheal" around the age of eight.

Did you know there's a strong correlation between neurodivergence and allergies? This makes intuitive sense to me – even though immunology is where intuition goes to die – in that I think of both allergies and the attention syndromes as syndromes of feedback systems gone awry – the loops a little too loopy.

Mostly this month has been consulting, and then getting back to work on the Elixir project.

This month I've found myself thinking – man, I miss running Cloud Foundry Onboarding Week.

We did this thing where we had a standard, project-based curriculum, designed to give you a broad overview of Cloud Foundry and its underlying technology. Roughly once a quarter we'd pull everyone who'd joined in that quarter off of their normal team for a week and put them into an "onboarding cohort," a facilitated workshop based on that curriculum.

Somewhat incredibly that curriculum (and the scripts to set up the learning environments) is publicly available on Github, if you want to take a look. (And I just went and saved a fork to my own profile, just in case.)

What I enjoyed about leading this exercise was that it was also an opportunity to teach people how to find things out – who to go to with various kinds of questions. By the time people were in onboarding week they had probably been exposed to the Pivotal Cross-Team Question Asking Etiquette but it was an opportunity to model that, too.

I'm not sure I'd otherwise want to work at a company big enough to support this kind of program? But for a company with the right culture – and, hey, maybe even an opportunity to write a curriculum that gave people a tour of the BEAM? The dream.

A fun double feature: The Big Short, followed by The Wolf of Wall Street.

Highly recommend the first one, just as a movie. Great use of B-roll for exposition, pacing, and stakes-setting. Great performances.

Wolf isn't nearly as actually good. I might go so far as to say it's bad. The way it fails is really interesting, though – it's almost entirely in editing. All the individual pieces of the movie are good – the performances, the lines, the scenes – but the thing fails to come together into a coherent narrative. It's about an hour too long and as a result can't decide what it's about.

I told Jesse – this is why we have the system.

"The system" is the "minutes per star" rating system. Lower ratings are better.

Going by IMDB stars – just on stars – Wolf rates slightly better than Short – 8.2 vs. 7.8. But Wolf is burdened with a 180 minute runtime – 21 MPS – while Short comes in at a tolerable 130 minutes – 17 MPS.

17 or 18 (or 34-36, on a 5 star scale) is the highest score I'm happy about watching. This is how we end up watching things like Turner & Hooch – 16 MPS.

Think of it as "time to first star" and you can begin to understand what's gone so terribly wrong with films over the past few decades.

Also been listening to a lot of Odd Lots and Money Stuff, and reading about hedge fund portfolio management. Between that and the finance movies –

Something that sticks out about the financial industry – coming at it from the perspective of a software developer – is how ambivalent the finance professions seem to be about technical skill. The thesis of The Big Short is basically "a bunch of weirdos used their weirdo powers to beat the banks and their flunkies."

We meet some of those bank flunkies and they're the worst kind of sales guy – no substance, just pure commission-driven "will say anything for a dollar" charisma.

And on the other side – "actually reading the documents." The movie makes it very clear that people who do this are strange.

Finance seems to belong more and more to the people who read the documents – and do the math – but there's this sense that people kind of wish they could go back to the old days – where there's a little bit of math, sure, but mostly it's about making rich people comfortable giving you their money.

Finally – it's avocado season – so I've been eating a lot of this tofu and avocado ...salad? – it's sliced avocado alternated with sliced tofu – from Every Grain of Rice, one of my favorite cookbooks.

You don't even really need to mix the sauce in a separate bowl. Just drizzling some sesame oil and soy sauce on it is fine. I'll just eat this on its own for dinner – I really like tofu.

Mere Being 013 - May - Allergies, Onboarding, Finance, Avocados

A little bit of day job day dreaming, history's greatest system for comparing movies, weirdos who actually read the source code, and a good way to eat avocados.