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Business travel advice, podcast reboot, too much scenario-squid thinking
My company’s big conference is coming up soon, VMware Explore (the new name of VMworld). Thinking of my own plans: I HAVE A LOT GOING ON. Anyhow, it will be fun. You should check out the catalog and register to come. Here’s one of my goofy ads, er, “videos”:
If you’re doing anything with #programming, #apps, or the #software you build and use to run your organization, check out the sessions we have at #VMwareExplore 2022 US, just under 3 weeks away! @cote → https://t.co/hhXNvIj9gK pic.twitter.com/UaLRu6Kewa
— VMware Explore (@VMwareExplore) August 11, 2022
“It takes a lot of work to do nothing.”
This smash burger recipe seems crazy, and weird to make. But if you just follow the directions exactly, you’ll make great burgers. And the second time it will be fast (like 10 minutes idea to earthing!) and easy - perfect vacation food when you have a bag of ground meet, sugar bread, and hungry kids. Instead of a towel, you can just use a deep skillet. I have yet to try a double - but this leaves me with a thrilling future!
When a new solution emerges, a new problem presents itself.
In American school and culture, the way you pronounce the French word for “yes” sounds like the English word “we.” The French word being “oui.” However, once in France, what you here is the equivalent of “whey,” like “whey protein.” I was told once this is something of a Parisian accent, but I don’t remember who told me that or when.
The buzzword maturity life cycle.
Too much scenario-squid thinking.
When I stop moving - stop working or doing something “productive” - I get anxious. I get nervous about things I need to do, things that could go wrong, things that I have neglected that will blow up in my face. It makes being on vacation incredibly difficult, it makes weekends harder. (How would an Australian think of all that? “Work to live,” and all that?)
As I get older, the challenge is to figure out how to do things I know I should be doing instead of just relaxing and chilling out every (rare) change I get.
The joy of transit. Traveling between places is always great. It is a time that you can do little, so it’s easy to be comfortable doing nothing. It’s a different dimension as well, you’re treated differently, a customer the whole way, not a worker. And you get to see new things, people out of their normal routines, even if it’s just in an airport.
I don’t think I’ve ever been grateful that a lamp-switch was on the cord rather than on the lamp.
Why do keep reading Graham Greene novels? They are all basically the same: a melancholic main characters, some backwater intrigue, a mid-century tone affair. (In contrast…)
The Sympathizer is a great novel. It has the rare triple of story: so well written, interesting and funny, and mind-changing in real life. On the third, it’s cliche (is it?) to say that one of the best things novels can do is give you empathy: get you into the head of someone else, understand them, and make you…kinder? At least more understanding? Well, anyhow, all three in this book.
“Die Stadt,” 1946, Ernst Fuchs - “Ernst Fuchs portrayed Falco in 1987.”
Things I’ve Made, Click My Stuff, etc.
Software Defined Talk Episode 372: Don’t do any editing - This week we discuss build vs. buy decisions, sustaining corporate strategies and Malcolm Gladwell’s WFH comments. My summary: “Five point strategy framework for deciding if you should do a bare-metal open source kubernetes install all on your own or buy stuff from a vendor included here. Johnny Leadgen for .xls (not really).”
I’m trying to restart the Tanzu Talk podcast. So far, the key has been Ben co-hosting - I do podcasts best with a co-host. Anyhow, we have three episodes out: one, two, three. Once everyone is back from vacation, we’ll get back to the format of weekly news we care about (as we did with one, above) with optional interviews.
Business Travel Tips
I have traveled frequently for 15 years (there was a two year period where my job required no travel). Here are some random things I do that make the experience more pleasurable.
This is the most important thing for you to know about business travel, and you need to do it right away, before your first trip.
Pick a hotel, airline, and rental car to be loyal to. Always fly them. Always! (Unless you need a quick direct flight away from your home base, like from Latvia to Prague). Pick an airline based on how many flights originate at your home, or close. For example, in Austin, American Airlines is good because you might fly to DFW a lot, but it’s just a 30 minute flight. When I moved to Amsterdam, at much pain, I switched from American to KLM. But, it’ll pay off. The same applies for hotels and rental cars, especially hotels where you will be spending a lot of time.
Know the procedure
Spend time upfront to research and learn the various procedures at each travel stage. Do you need to take laptops out of your bag for security? How does boarding work on your airline of choice? How early do they board (usually 30 to 40 minutes for US domestic or Shengen/UK flights, 45 to 60 minutes for long-haul). What order do status holders then others board? Are there separate boarding lines, or just one? For example, Schiphol generally has two lines, one for regular one for status holders, so if you have status, you can skip the line even if you’re late to boarding. How do hotel checkins work? Where do you get the keys for your rental car? Rental car agencies have the most variety: each location seems to follow its own rules.
Knowing all these things will not only speed things up, but allow you stay calm and relaxed.
Once you get to the airport, relax. There is little you can do to prevent problems from happening - perhaps just walking fast to get to a connecting flight. If you know all the procedures (above), you can use those constraints for relaxing.
When you travel for work, everything is “free” because you expense food and drink. You get free food and booze on flights, airport lounges, hotel lounges.
Be careful, though. You need to be even more disciplined than at home or you’ll end up overfed and drunk. Then you’ll have your big meeting, speak at your conference with a hangover, not good.
I remember one conference long ago where I spent a morning dry-heaving over a Travel Lodge toilet while trying to cover a tech conference.
I follow a sort of strict policy of either no drinking or just one drink. Choose how you want to do it, but take food and drink in moderation.
Keep a travel bag
Never use it at home, always keep it packed and ready to go. Buy things in “duplicate,” just for you travel bag. Never use them a home. These are things like your cables and plugs, computer-to-HDMI adaptors, medicine, bathroom stuff, etc.
When you go on a personal trip, especially with family, you should revisit this packed stuff. Inevitably, most everyone will forget their own cord and chargers, and you let them borrows yours, and then you won’t have them next time.
Keep aspirin, heartburn medicine, and other stuff in your bag as well. You won’t need these often, but when you do it will be awesome that they’re just in your bag, saving you from finding them, decoding the local language and brands, and buying them.
Resist the urge to pack a lot. I finally realized that any hotel I’m staying at will have shampoo and conditioner (and, of course, soap), so I don’t take those. Also resist the urge to take all the free hotel bathroom stuff - you will end up with drawers full that you just throw away when you move.
Some nicer hotels will provide you with a “dental kit” and a “shave kit” if you ask. Try to get these each time because they sometimes have very good stuff in them. At the very least, you’ll be well stocked on free toothbrushes and toothpaste, often name brand instead of some anonymous brand. If you don’t like the contents of these kits, just set them somewhere they’ll keep dry to return.
There is an ongoing discussion about having The One Backpack with frequent travelers. I’ve tried this over the years from backpacks, the Patagonia MLCs, and so forth. At one point, it was great because I could be the last person on the plane: you don’t need to worry about overhead bin space. But, each time I’ve tried, I get sick of lugging around a backpack full of all my stuff. Also, when you get to your destination you only have a big backpack to carry around to your Fancy Work Function.
Keep in mind that once you get status on an airline you’ll be able to take a carry on for free and get on early enough that there’ll be room in the overhead bins. Sometimes you’re late, but what you’ll find is that (annoying as it is), if you just drag your carry on bag into your seat-row and wait until everyone boards, a flight attendant will come by and help you find a space, or put it in their secret luggage closet in the front. Indeed, I’ve often boarded late and just proactively asked if I can put my luggage in their.
So, I recommend a backpack and a carry, the modern one with four wheels. They are so easy to push and pull around! The thing you want with a backpack is as many pockets as possible, hopefully at different levels in the backpack. You want the pockets at different levels, otherwise everything collects at the bottom and you have a bunch of wasted space on-top.
Packing a folded up duffel bag for long trips is good for bringing things back, like clothes or big bags of pecans.
Clothing cubes? I find those most useful when traveling with others to keep my stuff separate. I’ve been using the zip-up clothing compartments in my carry on of late, and I like that best.
Despite all this advice, I try a new setup about once a year. I usually go back to the same thing. I have this backpack, which I don’t like so much - it’s too small, and I don’t really care about luggage “security.” I found one of those old school, Tumi briefcase things at a thrift store for 5 Euros (!) recently which I’ll try for awhile. It’s a messenger bag instead of a backpack, so I’ll probably get tired of the strain on my back - but it looks fun! For a carry-on, I have a Samsonite Pro-DLX (what a name!).
Footwear can be difficult, rather, benefit from some thought. First, you should not limit your shoes by needing to take them off for security (which you never have to do, in Europe at least). Wear what you want. The most ideal show would be a sneaker if you have the sort of work where you can wear sneakers to your BIG DEAL MEETINGS.
The trouble is that you will want casual shoes to wear, especially if you’ve brought shorts. Also, what if you just want to leave your room to go get some coffee? You would like something easy to put on.
Flip-flops are a good option: they are thin, so pack well. And cheap. These Tiger Mexico 66 slip-on shoes are the best I’ve ever found. The pair I have is worn out, I need new ones, but they’re proving difficult to get. They are the best because they’re light-weight, compress down for packing, and you can wear them without socks. They are low, so you can wear them with shorts. With both of these options, you can wear your fancy, business shoes as you travel (saving taking up room in your luggage), and then use the casual shoes as needed.
Relevant to Your Interests
If Kim Novak Were to Die: A Conversation with Patrizia Cavalli - ‘I can hear when a word isn’t the exact word. Poetry is about being precise. The word must surprise you even in its necessity, as if you were hearing it for the first time. You should never slide into habits of speech, because there’s nothing more beautiful, more startling, than language. “Thinking about you / might let me forget you, my love.” This couplet, it glides into the air—do you hear it? Poetry knows how to glide into the air.’
Uncovering the Obstacles Hindering the Developer Experience - “About 71% of responding business leaders concede that they need to better understand and support the application development and delivery process.”