All posts by peter

Eh, It’s Just a Little Blood

I looked down to read the next sentence and there it was: one big blob of blood, quickly soaking into the virginal white page and turning from a reflective dark red to a dull rust brown. No way was this coming out.  I quickly used a finger to swipe away that which was still pooling on the page and wiped my finger clean on my shirt.

And that’s when I saw more, streaking down the side of the book, touching the edge of every page, seeping in just enough that with every turn of a page promising white, there was an eye catching, creeping brown. And this all seems appropriate.

For the last few years I’ve owned Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.* I’ve read it a few times and flipped the pages casually dreaming of what I’d make but only now did I force myself to find a time slot just big enough to break it in with a classic:  beef bourguignon.  It just happened that flinging around some stew beef I got a bit sloppy.

With most books I’d be damned well pissed at myself for ruining them with carelessness. But with Juilia its alright; in the kitchen anything goes. And a little baptism by blood never hurt a cookbook.

*I give mad props to myself for buying it before Julie and Julia became all the rage.  Follower? Nay! Trend setter, I am.

You Ruined Everything

I always liked the melody to Jonathon Coulton’s You Ruined Everything but it wasn’t until Simone spewed forth our beautiful spawn, Bella, that it (and Coulton) officially entered “The Vaunted Halls of Things Peter Nabicht Geeks Out Over.” Seriously, for keeps.

For a lot of parents, having a kid is a conscientious choice.  You are living your life, thinking: “We’ve got this down, this whole living our life thing. It isn’t so bad. We can handle it. In fact, we’re so damned good at it, we should have a kid and share our mastery of life with offspring. No problem!”  This is a noble but stupid assumption, roughly akin to thinking a successful grocery trip qualifies you to solve world-wide hunger.

It isn’t long after having the kid that you ask your new, less well groomed and rested self, “What was I doing? I had life down. I was the man.  And then I went and had a kid? I was not prepared for prepared for this. What I used to have is gone!”

This is what You Ruined Everything is about is about. It is a lovely song that captures being a parent right after you realize your identity has changed and it will never go back to how it used to be. But at the same time you are completely and utterly in love with a person you only just met and can’t hold her own head up. If you aren’t a parent, trust me, it is an odd odd feeling.

The song popped up on my iPod today and while working, I heard the first lovely verse:

I was fine I pulled myself together

just in time to throw myself away

Once my perfect world was gone, I knew

You ruined everything in the nicest way.

You should know how great things were before you

Even so, they’re better still today

Now I can’t think who I was before

You ruined everything in the nicest way

It has been a while since I’ve seen Coulton live so I decided to find out the date of his next Chicago show.  And low and behold: it’s tonight!

Fantastic! I’m going. I’m buying some tickets, even if I have to pay double to a scalper. I’m calling up my wife and telling her to put on her dancing shoes because hubby’s takin’ her out! We’re going to see JoCo — Yeah!

But wait, that’s what the old me would do. The new me — the parent me — just wants to go home and make dinner for my daughter.  Then we’ll read books with 4 word sentences that we’ve read umpteen-thousand times before and maybe sing about wheels on a bus. And I know, to the uninitiated this sounds horrible, but it isn’t. It is the picture of a wonderful night.

So while I really really want to live the perfect life of the old me, where I could last minute decide to go to a concert, I’d much rather go home and be the new, dad-me, scared shitless that I’ll screw something up but diving headfirst anyway.

Bella, you ruined everything in the nicest way.

Peter Nabicht was peeved.

“Peter Nabicht was peeved.” That’s the first line of a new article that was released yesterday (no link since it requires payment).

I like hearing myself and my presumed emotional state referred to so bluntly. And it comes across great on the page. Plus, I wasn’t all that peeved, at least when it comes to the subject — market data entitlements. I was more bemused.

Peter Nabicht was bemused.

That doesn’t play on the page as well.

But the more I think about the current state of affairs the more the author was unintentionally correct. I am peeved.

The economy is in the toilet; our education system is shameful; people confuse chanting USA at sporting events for civic pride; corporations have no sense of duty to the community they are in; selfishness often trumps selflessness; our country’s leaders are more concerned with re-election and political games than doing their jobs.

The list goes on and on and on and if I spend too much time thinking about it all at this point in the morning then my whole day will one long miserable fit of anger.

Peter Nabicht was peeved? Was? Puh-lease! Past tense has no place here!

Peter Nabicht is peeved.

Warming up with a cold frame

This weekend I built a cold frame over a third of my primary raise bed. I’m going to get a jump on my tomatoes even though Chicago highs will stay in the 40s or 50s for another 2 to 3 weeks.

It is pretty basic, a PVC frame, and some 6mil clear tarp held on with packing tape and spring clamps.

I wasn’t shooting for perfect; rather, barely good enough and quickly built was the goal. I have a remote thermometer set up to monitor it and today, on day one, while outdoor temperature was 56, inside the cold frame wad a balmy 78. I could stick my hand in and feel the difference immediately. The soil is already noticeably warmer than that which is just outside the plastic shed.

Great success!

Tomorrow I’ll be planting some seeds and hoping for the best. My only fear now is that a strong Windy City gust wipes out my little plant shelter.

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The ultra informed customer

What happens when a company’s information flow is better out to the customer than it is internally? And what if that company is in the end nothing more than a service provider that relies heavily on information exchange in order to meet all of its required goals.

Well I can tell you that it completely erodes confidence in the company.

The other day I was flying to Newark from Chicago on United an my flight was delayed. The gate sign said on time, the big departure board said on time, and the gate agent said on time. In fact, they were hurriedly boarding us. But, along with a large group of fellow passengers, I knew we were delayed. Right before the beginning of boarding was announced about 20 people reached for there cell phones because we had all just received a text message that told us our flight had been delayed an hour.

As we boarded many of us inquired as to why since the flight was delayed. I made a similar inquiry and showed the text to the gate agent so she would know what we are all talking about. Exact response: “that must be wrong. We’ve received no information about a delay and the system is designed to tell us first!” (my exclamation point is to denote incredible rudeness in her tone but it is woefully inadequate).

About a minute after we were all boarded and the flight attendants had locked the door the pilot came on the PA to apologize but “I just received word that due to a ground halt in Newark we are delayed by about an hour”.

Inevitable complaining ensued virtue most vocally upset were those who received the text message. United had done a better job managing communications with its customers that I had internally. They were better at notifying us than in managing their own logistics. Clearly notification of paying customers is no good if the staff doesn’t have notification as well.

Over the last yea of increased travel I’ve become convinced that airlines, industry-wide, are horribly horribly run and ridiculously inefficient. But this example goes beyond that. I think it is a sign of things to come for many large companies.

Customers are more technically adept, connected to information at all times, and very nimble in adopting new features. Marketing is more and more willing to provide more features to customers as a way of differentiating from (or keeping up with) competitors in the race to attract and keep customers. However, the technological core of the company, that which runs the day to day of the company’s inner workings isn’t as quick to keep up. Often the technology is outdated an made incredibly complex by a continuing series of upgrades and fixes. Te leadership of the company is afraid of the risks of failure that comes from complete overhaul and replacement and often want to avoid the large price tag that comes with it (even though a steady stream of smaller costs of maintaining outdated systems often add up to more).

The technological end result is a customer facing system that is better and more efficient than the core systems that the company relies on.

The business end result is frustrated customers that now doubt the company’s product and will look elsewhere because of their interaction with the (working!) features that were designed to attract them in the first place.

The fear is that slow, backwards thinking companies will “fix the problem” by getting rid of or changing the working parts to cover up the problems in their primary systems. In effect turning up the radio so that the engine rattle goes away.

The Digital Move

I’ve made the decision to move Nabicht.com to wordpress.com hosted instead of hosting it myself. My current setup is woefully out of date and the annoyance of maintaining myself keeps me from using it.

If course, it is so out of date that I would have to upgrade three or four times in order to have the ability to migrate over old posts. I don’t have the desire (or time) to do that. So, as is the great American way: out with the old and in with the new! Full speed ahead! The past is the past! And all that jazz.

It is time to start fresh. Nabicht.com rises from the ashes of nabicht.com.