Saturday, June 12, 2010

World Cup Soccer

I am back after a four month hiatus from blogging. I have a bit too much going on in my life, but I am restarting for the summer, at least. We’ll see how it goes.

Today is my 17th wedding anniversary. We’re off for the night and friends are taking the kids. First though, my daughter has her end-of-the-year dance recital. She’s turning into a great dancer, and I am excited to see her happy about dancing. I have to record the US-England World Cup soccer game, though. Soccer is the one sport that I actually still watch regularly on TV. Here is our country’s first game of the biggest tournament in the sport, and I will have to miss it. I don’t know when I’ll actually get to watch the game, either. Perhaps Sunday night.

I will try to post more often over the coming weeks. Probably about soccer. Lots of soccer in the coming weeks. Life is good!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Project Management

I had lunch yesterday with a colleague who had just downloaded new project management software to keep track of the work on his various grants/contracts/projects and to keep track of the work his various people are doing for these projects. I can only imagine that he is in Gant Chart Bliss about now. Everything is organized and all of his students, postdocs, and research scientists are accounted for. Life will be beautiful for him for a while. Until he gets bogged down with all of the things he has to do, and he realizes that he didn’t have time to add a time management upkeep task to his life. The charts will go unmaintained for a few months and everything will be out of date when he gets back to it. He will then have to start over, recreating the entire project management structure again. Bliss will not be a word that he will use to describe this situation. No, he will most likely be in Gant Chart Hell.

Well, at least that’s my prediction for what will happen by this summer. For me, I am not ready for project management software. I have a small enough group that I can keep track of it in my head, for the most part. Yes, I have a calendar that is rather full, and I am very glad that my computer beeps at me to tell me when I am supposed to be doing some things. I am also fortunate enough to receive reminder emails about project progress reports and other management tasks that I have to deal with occasionally. But, as for what should be getting done on the specific grants and projects, I don’t try to over manage it all. Perhaps this isn’t the best option, but people in my team of researchers seem to stay motivated and get stuff done, and things seem to be moving forward at a reasonable pace on most of the projects. I am sure that some could go faster if I were a harder nosed manager with those people, but so far I am willing to allow that slack in the system so that I don’t have to resort to project management software. I don’t want to be sentenced to Gant Chart Hell. That just doesn’t sound fun to me. At least not yet.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Two Liter Bottle Caps

Welcome to 2010 on The Heaping Teaspoon blog! I promised myself weekly posts this year, and I am already off to a bad start. Oh well. Better late than never.

I distinctly remember a conversation I had back in my youth about how best to screw on the cap of a 2-liter bottle. The issue was which thing to turn: the cap or the bottle. My siblings and I debated this for a while and decided that it was easier to turn the bottle than the cap. This seems to make no sense, but for some reason it felt more natural to us to turn the big bottle instead of the little cap. We couldn’t explain it.

My current house gets its water from a well in a corner of the property. So, the water isn’t fortified with fluoride, and my kids’ dentist recommended that they use Act every night to get some extra protection for their teeth. This weekend, I watched my daughter screw the cap onto the Act bottle by twisting the bottle, not the cap. She did it again the next night. I asked her about it and all she could say was, “I don’t know.”

So, here’s my thought. I think it’s easier to twist the big bottle rather than the small cap for two (related) reasons: the gripping surface area is bigger and the turning radius is larger. The first reason means that you do not have to grip as strongly to secure the cap. The second reason means the motion is more linear than circular. The action is therefore more like a big pipe wrench than a needle-nosed pliers.