Posts Tagged ‘Vinyl’

Let us review Part I of this immense Blog:

* An existing process is necessary for Agile technologies to bolt on to
* Agile means to think multidimensionally
* Process + Agile = efficient goodness
* Thinking nimbly means to find the ideal solution

Q: What is similar between hopscotch, Agile, Libras, and Aikido?

A: Balance

Hi, I’m Michael; I’m from Ocean Beach, I enjoy hacky sack, body surfing, and spinning vinyl; I am not much into health food — I am into champagne, and I am — you guessed it — a Libra.

Now, I don’t put much stock in whoroscopes, but I have always been fascinated with the concept of Balance. It is a positive thing; it is something that you can always work towards; it is not static. You must continually work to keep your Balance, and in this regard it is a lot like juggling (cue Karl with the flaming chainsaws). Balance is what must be struck at Achieve Internet between Process and Agility. We have plenty of both with the crazy brainpower, talent, and good looks at this Company, but as we struggle towards the lofty goal of being Balanced, I have a few long-winded observations on our Process for y’all to comment on:

1. UNFUDDLE TIMESHEETS ARE DA BOMB: Do you like getting paid? Then do your timesheet. Ye Grand Experiment of moving from Excel timesheets to a web-based, I-work-in-this-damn-thing-all-day-anyways application is Chris Fuller’s brainchild — I am just implementing and championing it — and it is much closer to an Agile way of tracking time. If this is not clear to you already, your paycheck is fueled by this Company billing time to the Client. We have to know what you are doing at all times in order to explain to the Client the value that they are getting from Achieve Internet. Once upon a time, there was Tracker, then there were Excel Timesheets [insert Alfresco integration link here]; now we are on the cusp of jettisoning a big pain in the ass locked up on the CLIENT drive for a much more flexible solution for every single employee. As the ScrumMaster, as the Resource Manager, as the Project Manager, and as a member of this Team, I have got to know what you are doing with a reasonable +/- WTFBBQ you are doing to move the ball forward on the football field so that I can explain to the owners why we want to extend your contract to next season. I’ll harp with just one of my many pieces of headgear on: as a ScrumMaster, I want to remove impediments for my Teams, and the Excel-based timesheets are an impediment. Help me help you: do your Unfuddle timesheets religiously or I will rent a tent and hold a revival meeting on one of our Lunch and Learns, including high-volume full-duplex teleconferencing for NYC and Costa Rica.

2. THE ACHIEVE APPROACH WORKS REALLY @*^(%*#^@ WELL: I have had this strange sense of deja vu in the last few weeks. Every single person who I tell “we’re gonna apply the Achieve Approach — Discover, Architect, Develop, Deploy…” gives me a funny look like, “what the hell is the Achieve Approach?” This makes me sad. There was a whole slide on this that Gary lovingly built and explained at the wonderful Summit that gave us all a day at the beach on Achieve Internet: drinking mimosas, eating ribs, throwing the football, and having Chip take closeups of everybody’s grill. Or did you forget about the presentation that the Business Owners worked on for a whole week because that was too much fun? Remember: keep your balance, folks. The Achieve Approach (and that’s capitalized for a reason) is both Agile and Process, and I have seen it work on every single employee. Each time I have put the AA thumbscrews on and started ratcheting them down — from the front line developers to the executives — I get the eyes rolling at me and 15 minutes later this same person is excited because we — as a Team — have caught 10 or more hours of time we would have missed if we hadn’t taken the time to ask ourselves these questions. I have seen the Achieve Approach work when a bunch of the crew wants to decide where they want to go to lunch that day! I cannot believe that we are not asking those four simple queries; every Story, every Task, every initiative, of every Client’s “business goals”, of every time I see someone rush off to do something and I watch the see-saw tip drastically in that direction. Stop, drop, and roll…with the Achieve Approach. At least for a month or so, just like the timesheets. The Achieve Approach is what our Agile is bolted to, and as a series of quick questions, it is pretty damn scalable and it saves a lot of time when the estimates are in, keeping us balanced and trusted.

3.YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SUCCESS OF THIS TEAM: Teamwork…Resiliency…Road Warriors…this is the Clydesdale horse puckey that Super Bowl filler is made of. While we were all tuning into the ball game, we were so amped that this stuff sounded like the Gospel. After the Game, that crap is forgotten and dragged all over the parking lot on the bottom of whatever footwear you decided to come to work in. And nobody wants to take responsibility for crapping or picking it up. This is represented best by how many times I have gone into an Achieve bathroom and there is no toilet paper on the roll. Not even a nice note on the cardboard saying “haha your f****d now!”. No thought at all, just an impediment caused by your teammate. Apparently, this is how we do our best work? I don’t have to be a CSM to tell you that this is not Agile, nor is it polite. I see this every day in little ways, and it really isn’t conducive to the Process, Agility, Teamwork, or anything else that gets us more Balanced. I hate to overemphasize, but in this toilet paper metaphor, do your diligence: Discover (no toilet paper! where is the next roll?); Architect (this is how this clever roll thing works); Develop (go and get the refill); Deploy (put it on the roller and recycle the empty). This may seem like I am talking down to y’all, but I am really not happy working in an environment where I might be shanked by an empty toilet paper roll at any time. If we cannot refill the roll for each other, we have no business building COMMUNITY WEB SITES for other people! The point I am trying to illustrate is that Achieve Internet is a TEAM; it is founded on Teams, it relies on teamwork, and this is the heart and soul of Process AND Agility. Without this fundamental core, we cannot build anything like Process, Agility, or a successful business. YOU are part of this Team, and the office doors are wide open for your contribution to the Balance of the business, and this Intranet is the forum to “get your node on” in. Community does not succeed unless every voice is heard, evaluated (Discover, Architect, Develop, Deploy), and occasionally, everyone has to refill the roll for the next Client. Baby steps always help people balance on that playground equipment.

Whitney Cali — my previous boss at Achieve — used to go to Yoga every Tuesday, leaving early at 5PM to make that class. She told me she was going to “get balanced”. I am a CSM because Whitney had the foresight to take me with her to ScrumMaster training because Achieve Internet needed it. I think Scrum has helped Achieve in a significant and measurable fashion, but there is a lot of work to be done yet. All good jobs — that you enjoy coming to, working at (most of the time), and partying with the people you meet — are this way: they need balance.

OUTPUT:
* Do your Unfuddle Timesheet
* Quiz yourself on the Achieve Approach
* Change a roll of toilet paper.

Firm

Posted: September 2, 2002 in Poetry
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I am hungry for a firm bosom
On which to lay my head, close my eyes
And hear that everything’s gonna be alright.
Careening towards conclusion
And new beginning: new days,
New nights of excess by my lonesome.,
All populated by my skewered imagination,
Made real by isolation,
Made flesh by selecting
Sentiment on vinyl slabs,
Made fleeting by drunken stupor,
Yet creating all that for a moment.
A split second where I am bitten
Drained, refilled, refueled;
Reminded of my latent power,
Envied by those hopeless dead
Beyond these walls of vapor.

In My Basement

Posted: August 15, 2002 in Poetry
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I am trying to find god in my basement.
In my own house (well, that I rent) –
To tell you the truth, it’s money well spent –
But in this wash of club fog,
These hyperkinetic lights,
This irrepressible sugar pop sound,
It swears to me that life is sweet.
Maybe only in moments like these.
But in certain spiritual lyric coincidences
I detect some karmic, cosmic communication .
A certain wink from the vertigo;
A nudge in the ribs from my madonna.
Ridicule from the turntables
For not expressing myself and my soundtrack
Every moment I breathe.
Is it prayer to spin records
And cry out when the experience hits you?
Or is that reserved for holier orgasms?
King of my kingdom,
Finding that I am god
In my basement.

Floodgate

Posted: February 14, 2002 in Poetry
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Closing my eyes against this real light,
I see warm red through my eyelids
And if I stretch my hand out blind like this
I can imagine caressing your face,
Turning your chin up to taste your full lips
And the salt tang of the sea
That has faerie dusted them.
Hanging out in trees and lagoons;
Spray-painting abandoned concrete;
Stacking records on the autoplay spindle
And rearranging my room
To the crackle of spinning vinyl;
Romping pell-mell over islands
Chased by hunter dogs and fat wild boars;
Floods of experience wrapped in whispers of red hair,
The clickety-clack of eight wheels and nine inch nails.
I know that my every effort to erase what we’ve done
Has come to naught but a floodgate
Open wide of oh my god
I never forgot, only forgot to remember.

To be a DJ

Posted: February 10, 1993 in Poetry
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the DJ comes with a lot of power: the President,
me (the good one) surprises and pleases
eliciting happy yells smiles and sighs from the crowd;
it is all for me.
I see faces light up as they soak with sweat
dripping shaking moving all around,
recognition of another song loud and in your ears
smashed into your face by 1000 watts;
they’ll dance harder than the last song,
move faster, become natural.

people stop listening and start feeling
the rhythm bumping along, house style, steadying
while the dancers elaborate
or flips to a fill-in breakbeat; the New Jack Swing
where you just try to prevent your butt from moving
or suddenly the song makes you cry
or sweeps you away in an enthusiastic mosh pit
or brightens your your eyes with something
you haven’t heard in a long time.

some DJ’s get stuck in one record groove
but the best surprises always compare and contrast
yet find a common thread that dancers’ bodies understand
but that I’m at a loss to explain.

what to spin next turns into the most important decision in the world
and it will be like this until I have to choose the next.
my head reels from the network of songs to choose from:
this beat would fit, this sentiment would meld,
this intro would trip, this track overwhelm
when you’re dancing, flashing colors of flesh
I’m mixing sweat and body heat
I mix you together – you whirl with my turntables.
eyes fly out of the mass of movement,
catch mine and flash like the strobelight.

I lean over to catch an excited request
to straighten my precious stacks of wax,
screams as someone recognizes what I’m playing:
playing with them
watching their reactions.

my emotions flow through my hands to the vinyl;
you can tell what I feel by how well I play,
drunker on you than on the 40s in my crates.
I turn your music up beyond hearing
and you feel it;
supportive
moving you –
you translate it to your ass your hips your hands.

the more you feel the more you learn.
learning to dance, learning to love someone new,
learn to understand what I’m saying.
I’m backed up by the best talent I can find,
be it the PE, Madonna, Fishbone, Dead or Messiah
I free your mind with my many voices.

and I’m dancing as hard as anyone,
fingers searching through record sleeves
caressing beats to match, speeds to coincide,
boogying between the coffin and the crates.
searching carefully for any sign of discontent
remembering what people want
giving myself up to the group good time.

here, women shimmering with sweat
recognize and close their eyes;
the groove is a lover, a beat
that chases between their thighs, over their stomachs
and up their spines;
unconscious every one is beautiful, so hypnotized.

here, men swirling around throwing arms in the air
touching the ground on time, on time.
intent on dancing, on laughing, on glancing back
at those girls I’ve just described.

every person I can find I train my recorded charisma on
cajoling with individual requests
urging on with the party songs
twirling all of this sound and poetry into a rumpus room
out of love for you.