“Rustic Ratatouille Tart for the January Dark” (Gluten Free)

J’adore ratatouille!

food on fifth

rustic ratatouille tart

“The days are short, The sun a spark Hung thin between The dark and dark. (Poem by John Updike, “January”)

January has been a month of extreme cold & many sunless days. It has been a month of long days for me on photo shoots..arising before dawn and returning home way after dark. It has been a month to test the hearty, tire out the tireless and make us all yearn for lighter times.

In January I crave homey foods such as rich hot soups, winter greens salads with crusty homemade croutons, roasted vegetables of any kind topped with crumbly cheeses.  Comfort foods that are easy to make but complex in flavor…dishes that I can whip up from whatever is in the pantry & refrigerator at any given time…dinners that require no grocery runs or long lists of ingredients.

Ratatouille Tart

This gluten-free “Rustic Ratatouille Tart”  is one such dish…

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Automation and the London tube strike

Interesting take on work and automation.

The more accurate guide to the future

I was invited on the BBC’s Radio 4 Today Programme to discuss automation this morning, but on Radio 4, studio audio quality is a higher priority than content quality, while quality of life for me is a higher priority than radio exposure, and going into Ipswich greatly reduces my quality of life. We amicably agreed they should find someone else.

There will be more automation in the future. On one hand, if we could totally automate every single job right now, all the same work would be done, so the world would still have the same overall wealth, but then we’d all be idle so our newly free time could be used to improve quality of life, or lie on beaches enjoying ourselves. The problem with that isn’t the automation itself, it is mainly the deciding what else to do with our time and establishing a fair means of distributing…

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Passive-Agressive Driving Zone – Driver Beware

In our fair city, we tend to frequent the stores in a part of town where you see a sign like this one. My wife and I are encouraged to look out for other drivers along the way who may be driving too fast or recklessly to make a turn. However, as I am quick to point out, I am more concerned with the passive-agressive drivers who wait until they have been provoked by the agressive driver and then start to make poor choices in their driving. Those drivers may not be as safe or smart as the agressive driver and are more likely to cause an accident in my view.

Now picture your life and the people who make your life difficult. Whether it is a bad habit that gets on your nerves or an effort to mess you up from accomplishing a goal or completing a task, these people and their issues create difficult days for each of us. As a project manager, I am not a manager of any one person. I am responsible for different things to take place by leading others to do their job. Therefore, I cannot do anything resulting in official sanction in and of myself. However, in communicating the issues early and often, I can prevent a situation through standard escalation processes (going to a manager, human resources person, etc). Within my project work, my skill may allow me to proceed more “aggressively”. However, if I wait until things get really tough and I react poorly, I am like the passive-aggressive person who decides to cut off another person in a car. I am more likely to cause more damage than trying to adjust early and often to bad drivers.

As you consider your relationships both at work and home, I would strongly urge the following measures to improve relationships and maximize success even in the worst circumstances…

1) Communicate issues early and often. Don’t wait until you are ready to ask for someone to be fired or a heated conversation at Christmas to address problems.

2) Communicate about issues and feelings. Though the two are a little odd for the business world, perception is just as important in some cases as the real issues. In other words, talk with your “offender” about what issues are causing the problem, how it affects you, and what it communicates to you beyond the words.

3) Provide safe distance or time buffers in the process. Just as you would provide additional space to a driver in rain or snow, you need to provide distance and sometimes make additional provisions should someone not be helpful. Additional preparation on a project or other contacts may provide help when someone is unreliable or unable to do something.

4) Ask for help. Get help from a 3rd party. That person or persons may help break the logjam.

5) Accept that you may not solve the problem, but seek to work around it. You will not win many of these battles, but you show your creativity in managing the situation differently and keeping some kind of relationship in the midst of it.

Maybe then, you can navigate the aggressive driving zone more safely.

Happy Driving,

Kevin

What is your PMBOK?

Recently, I referenced the PMBOK in a recent post without much explanation. This exhaustive work, the Project Management Book of Knowledge details the principles,  best practices,  and guidelines for the work life of someone in my chosen profession.  Most recently,  the Project Management Institute has moved to the 5th edition after much research and deliberation.  However,  I would be remiss to suggest that some great change is afoot in a typical day for me. Using the wisdom and experience of other more senior PMs and this work, I am accountable to carry out my work in a manner that honors my profession, the PM community,  and those stakeholders that I serve.

As a person,  there is a book that provides a similar but more profound impact on my life and the world around. The Bible,  the Word of God,  is the primary guidebook for me. Its words have never changed though translations have provided greater understanding of known concepts. This Bible tells me from where I came, why I am here, and who I need to be. Most importantly, it speaks of the God of the universe who gave everything for me to come home to him. Though I will not attain to perfection on this side of His home,  I seek to follow those precepts in God’s Word as I draw nearer to His home, my future home.

As you reflect,  please consider these things:
1) Do you have a guide book in your profession? Do you follow those guidelines?
2) Do you know the God of the universe? Do you follow His Word? How can you better follow God today?

Truly,
Kevin

Opening the Closing

Do you ever wish that you had shared those special words before a loved one’s passing and missed it? Have you ever had a relationship where the end is clealy needed and coming, but you don’t? I can definitely place myself in those situations and lament a lack of resolve to deliberately wind down that which was ending.

In my chosen vocation,  this process is a deliberate, calculated effort that requires both planning and execution. In time past, I was involved in a project where we neglected to provide a small, secondary set of deliverables for closing purposes. Closing is one of the five process groups in the PMBOK that deals specifically with the tying up of loose ends on a project. In other words, we want to make sure that tasks are completed,  payments for resources are made, and documentation is updated among other things. Due to poor execution, we were still slowly getting the remaining balance of the aforementioned deliverables to the customer some months after completion and it was difficult to pursue quickly due to communication delays, personnel changes, and reassignment to new responsibilities. This outcome is neither necessary nor desirable.

In contrast,  I am thankful for my mother who urged my two grown sisters and I to visit my paternal grandmother prior to her recent passing. Mom’s actions represent a way to have active, deliberate closure in a relationship and allowed my sisters and I to pay our respects while our grandmother could receive them. As suggested earlier,  we planned our time based upon the constraints at hand. We acted on the plan in the most complete and timely manner possible. It was a special occasion to visit with my grandmother and celebrate eight plus decades of life. This kind of closing is ideal.

Therefore,  I suggest that we heed wisdom with the following steps as we enter work and life:
1) Start planning the closing steps early. Visualize with the end in mind.
2) Be intentional and deliberate in getting there.
3) Take time to assess and celebrate how things went.

Perhaps with this sagesse, we can open doors to new and better adventures.

Truly,
Kevin

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