I want all the days 

My new year-view planner arrived yesterday and spent the day rolled out on the floor being flattened. Before I went outside to exercise this morning, I pinned it to the door across from my desk, so it would be there when I came back into write.

Now, I’m sitting at my desk, with the calendar in front of me when I look up, and I’m feeling a discomforting yearning.
I want all the days.

Year View planner from Best Self.

Year View planner from Best Self.

I want all the days to be wide-open, unstructured, with the freedom to make art, or write, as much as I want, and I want it to be like this all year. Most of the time, I don’t experience this feeling as acutely as I am experiencing it right now. Most of the time, I don’t look at an entire year at one glance.

Perhaps this is why I have not done a lot of full-year planning before.

A friend of mine says, “you can’t drive all the cars on the highway,” when he talks about road rage. I can’t have “all the days,” not all at once, not all rolled into one.

All I have is today. Even less than that, all I have is this exact moment, 8 a.m., dim light, probably going to be a sunny day but not sure about that yet. That’s why I didn’t edit the photo to make it look any brighter. This is exactly what it looks like right now, at this moment, from my desk.

I think I need to look ahead more than I have been doing. I certainly can’t defend my previous planning exercises based on the results. I believe I am more useful to myself and to my art if I have some moderately clear idea of what I would like to have accomplished within a certain period of time. Certainly, it would be useful to look ahead, and know where my big obligations are coming, so that I can be more ready ahead.

And at the same time, I am not thrilled with this discomforting feeling of wanting to know how the whole year is going to be. Perhaps better planning, which in my case is any planning at all, might make it possible to have more days be the way I love them being: no makeup, no driving, no appointments, lots of art. Still, planning doesn’t solve for one day at a time, and living in the moment, and “hell is wanting to be somewhere else.”  I’m going to cut that header off the calendar.  There is no winning and losing; there is only today, right now.

Incidentally, I do not like the weekends being marked in bright yellow.  They could have been marked in a shade with much much less contrast.  Similarly, the black “day” boxes are illegible, and useless from here.  I can tell Monday; it’s the day after yellow.  Sigh.

I find myself wondering if this is more a planner or a tracker; time will tell how it turns out.



Surprise! Metrics & Leadership are Social Sciences

I’m working on cleaning up blog categories across three websites.  In order to standardize what I write, I’m using the Dewey Decimal system as my guideline.

I’m almost done with the third site; still had to shoehorn posts attributed to either “metrics” or “leadership” into some category, and thought it would be a finer division of 658.8, business, under the 600s, Technology.

Turned to the index.

Leadership is 303.3, Coordination and control (the category I’m using), with several suggested alternatives including armed forces (355.3), public administration (350.007), and local government (352).  That’s more coverage, over a wider range of topics, than “business” gets.

Metrics is 380, Metrology and standardization, the social use of systems of measurement, including time systems and standards.


Ironically, “Taxonomy” is not an index entry in this book.  Classification is 001, and library science is 025.

Shopify Traffic

I opened my Shopify store, Karen Tiede Studio, in March. I was pleasantly surprised to log in yesterday and see this message on my dashboard:

Shopify Traffic Message

Shopify Traffic Message

I need to do more research to see if I can find a few more anchor points. I know that half of all the stores that are started, are published (which means that half never make it out of the gate). Shopify tells me today that there are 230,185 stores using the platform.

Stay tuned. There’s an 80/20 analysis waiting to happen around here somewhere.

Knitters Do Math

I had my hula hoops in the infield at the 2016 Clyde Fest, Bynum ballpark, on Saturday. When you’re in a 10 x 10 tent at an event like this, lots of your friends will stop by and talk to you.

I got on the topic of 8020 with one of my friends. He was familiar with rule. He knew how to apply it in politics. I explained how we taught it in the social media class at NC State, using the Pareto principle to evaluate the most productive part of the marketing budget. I talked through the example we use in class, doing the math in my head. I suspect he was about to have an interesting Sunday as he thought about applying the 8020 rule to parts of his business he hadn’t thought about that way before.

He had stories of his own, where he had been able to do some ballpark estimation, and save enormous amounts of door-to-door work.

We joked about how few people are able to do math, and how complicated they make it.

(You may never have considered that hula hooping is an example of physics: it’s all about angular momentum.

L = m * v * r, and bigger radius, bigger mass, means you can have less velocity and still keep the going. In short bigger is easier.)

Then today, I sat down to look at ring 9 of the that I’m knitting as a fundraiser for the Pulse shooting in Orlando Florida. I’m not thrilled with the way the designer has laid out the final round. I’m in ring 7 now, so I have a couple of days to think about what I want to do.

The shawl is designed to incorporate 49 heart motifs, one for every person who died at the club that night. So far I’m working on 42, 6 in the 1st 12 in the 2nd and 24 and the 3rd ring. I need to knit 7 more. At 24 stitches per heart, and 576 stitches per ring, that leaves a lot of space in ring 9.

The designer selected intarsia with blocks of one color for the hearts and one color for honeycomb in between them. Intarsia requires knitting back and forth and I don’t like doing that; I like to knit forward all the time which you can do on circular needles.

I thought there must be a lacy heart pattern somewhere in my collection of books about knitting. I went through them today, and I didn’t find exactly what I was looking for. Marian Kinzel, in Modern Lace Knitting, has two heart patterns but they are too big for what I want.

Working out the details for a section of 53 smaller hearts.

Working out the details for a section of 53 smaller hearts.

I started sketching and counting and doing math and subtracting 24 stitches per heart for 7 hearts. I wanted 53 additional hearts, one for each person who was injured at the club. It came out to roughly 8 stitches a heart. If I knit them side-by-side, that wasn’t going to work to all, but I’m a designer. I played and I figured out a way to do it. I need to check the details and I need to test a swatch to make sure to work the way I think it will.

I took a picture of my work and posted it to the work in progress blog posts I’m creating for the shawl on Karen Tiede Studio. And then I realized why it was so easy for me to talk math on Saturday. I do this stuff all the time. Knitters, and textile artist in general, do math every day of the week, when recalculating warp and weft, when we’re figuring out whether we have enough to finish the round, when we need to know we need to make changes in a pattern to fit us or because we don’t like the way it’s going.

Teach your children to knit. You can sneak some math and at the same time and they’ll hardly notice.

Working on Ring 7, with 24 hearts, in gold mohair.

Working on Ring 7, with 24 hearts, in gold mohair.

80/20 Curtains in the Guest Bedroom

(This is a bit off my normal topics on this blog, but hang with me.  The drapery lesson works for productivity readers, too.)

I’ve been studying how the 80/20 rule can be applied to productivity, and to participation on social media platforms, and in other parts of life, for a while now.  Today, a Saturday in July, an example of 80/20 on effort and payoff jumped in front of me.

New sheers in the guest bedroom.

New sheers in the guest bedroom.

The guest bedroom has needed new curtains for a long time.  The existing sheers were sun-damaged and falling apart.  Found the fabric at a thrift shop in Cary before Christmas (it’s after the 4th of July now).  Draped the new fabric over the old curtains as a test, and then never got around to making the time to measure and hem and trim and actually do the work of turning yardage into curtains.

Today is a Saturday; lots of desk-work to be done but a good chance I could get stuck inside with rain on Sunday.  However, Goldsboro is a town that closes on Sunday and if you want to buy anything from a specialty store, you need to shop on Saturday.  I looked at the project to make a list.

The fabric came from a thrift shop, approximately 14 yards in two pieces.  One piece was nearly exactly the right length for one panel.  What if I cut the larger piece into equal lengths? There’s an extra piece about 2 yards long.

Cut fabric to length and let it hang. No hem (yet.)

Cut fabric to length and let it hang. No hem (yet.)

It was easier to cut the old curtains off the rod by slicing the rod pocket than it was to take the rod down, take it apart, and slip the curtains off.  There is no re-use value in this fabric; all the sheers that were here when we moved in have gone into the trash.

Draped the new fabric over the old rod.  Adjusted the length.

Drape yardage over existing curtain rod avoids rod-pocket measuring, pinning, sewing, pressing.

Drape yardage over existing curtain rod avoids rod-pocket measuring, pinning, sewing, pressing.


Effort saved:  measure, cut, press, pin, stitch, unpin, press, hang.

One of these days, I may heat-seal the cut edge of the fabric to prevent fraying.  It doesn’t get much stress, so that can wait a bit.

Even more eventually, I’d love to buy and apply the beaded fringe from the Cloth Barn discount store.  The 4.5 yards of trim this window needs would cost about $45; it would take several hours to apply.  You can see a test swatch of the beading in the picture of the full window, in the far window at the sill.

It can wait.

For the time being, the guest bedroom has new sheers that match the color scheme, for an outlay of $10 (the fabric) and 20 minutes.

The “complete” project would have cost $55 (with beaded trim) and HOURS.

This is what the curtains look like in the early morning sun, the next day:

New sheers in the early morning sun, showing pink & gold chameleon effect.

New sheers in the early morning sun, showing pink & gold chameleon effect.

You decide.  Financially, it’s 80/20 exactly.  Effort-wise, it’s at least 96/4 (second iteration).  Not bad for a hot Saturday morning in July.

Notes on Optimizing

From Bob Lewis, IS Survivor: July 9, 2012

Posted here because I can never remember all six of the “good, fast and cheap” real life dimensions, and they matter.  Just like change comes in project change and application change, and defects come in project defects and application defects, and they are all very different things.

Understand, I’m a theory-of-constraints guy.

Theory of Constraints says that for every business function, right after ranking the six dimensions of optimization (fixed costs, incremental costs, cycle time, throughput, quality, and excellence) in order of importance, the next step is identifying the most serious barrier to improving the top-ranked dimension, doing what’s necessary to remove it or reduce it until it’s no longer the most serious barrier. If that means customizing the supporting software, so be it.

Repeat ad infinitum.

It’s straightforward. It works.

Even better, you won’t need to renegotiate terms after the thrill of an outsourcing deal is gone.

Counting and Dental Floss: Measuring Productivity

Today’s post at Productive Flourishing, Charlie Gilkey’s blog about productivity, was written by Ali Hale, who gets paid to write blog posts. She writes about a woman’s approach to the Cult of Productivity, in which everything is counted and optimized, often at the expense of experiences that don’t quantify well. Ali suggests (excessive) “counting” is a masculine approach to productivity. Certainly, counting is a left-brain skill.

I like to count; I feel a little better when I start a week with fewer items on my to-do list (287 this week) than the week before (316). I also recognize sometimes I will manipulate the numbers by not adding items to the list until I do the weekly clearing of completed items. This would be cheating if I were a public company. I counted LOC (lines of code, a unit of measure in the software industry) for years.

I’m all for maximizing the use of my time, and I regularly (and somewhat legitimately) multi-task. Much of what was traditionally “women’s work” (sewing, knitting, housework) supports concurrent conversation. OTOH, one story has stuck with me for several years:

A young boy gave a report at school:

If you (do this productivity thing) regularly, you’ll save fifteen minutes a day, and at the end of the year, you’ll have an extra 3 1/2 days saved up!*

Even though most of us in the personal productivity trade will argue that “time compounds,” we all have to admit that saving time doesn’t work quite the same way saving money does.

But I do catch myself verifying. For example, is flossing worth it? When the payoff for regular flossing was a bit less time with the hygienist, the long-term benefit wasn’t so clear. When a friend died of a heart attack, very young, and I knew dental problems may have been a factor, I rethought the equation.

Allow one minute a day for flossing.
365 x 1 minute x (50 years**) = 18250 adult lifetime minutes = 304 hours = 12.6 days.

Lost time recovering from major heart surgery***:
At least 3 months for the patient alone, not counting time lost by the family.

Flossing is the more productive use of time.

*Both Andrew Tobias and StoryPeople have been asked if they are the source of the story and denied authorship; I’d love to know who wrote this story.

**Allowing that many people have that “wake up and smell the coffee” moment around age 30.

***While once-a-day flossing is “good enough,” the equation works even for people who floss three times a day. There’s no guarantee that a person would only have one major cardio-surgery in a lifetime.