What's Your Number?

Old topic, new article.

In highly repetitive scenarios, like doing barista or call-centre work, my service life-cycles have been as short as 45 seconds per transaction. The article's model works fine, and even so into types of work such as project management, quantitative modelling, which are inherently reductive... the job mostly involves analytical work to improve SNR within a domain. But as we move along the gradient into work that is less analytical, and more synthetic, like the early stages of design... in media of any sort, from food, to machinery (even software), to culture, to scientific experiments, to big messy social efforts, it definitely seems that (a) is very low, so the 52:17 ratio ends up being more like a 180:60 or something.

There are a couple of factors limiting the domain of work, within which this article's rule works. Roughly modelling, productivity (p) = time (t) x quality of work. Let's denominate quality in units of displacement (d), rate of change in quality as its velocity (v), and rate of change of its velocity as acceleration (a).

What is / are your numbers?


I haven't seen a paycheck in six weeks.

Money is an interesting game to play. The first RM500,000 I ever made, I spent on studying the history of thought, the architecture of pedagogy, and the rudimentary structures of information in human minds. Then I took a few silly jobs in a silly little economy and got to say that I got those things done. Then I avoided silly jobs and silly money for a little while, and spent a few years studying computational structures again. RM15,000, RM25,000, RM50,000, little chunks of change here and there. And I spent it all on education. Not all of it on intellectual challenges - a lot of it on emotional ones too. Being able to have options, and to focus on the important ones. Not the girls. Not the cloth. Not the machinery. But on the ability to have it all, and to intentionally, carefully, put it down. I let the last RM70,000 or so go, while learning Haskell. It's not that I don't value money. I just like spending it on strange toys.

Then it was 18 months of lean work. The work is still lean. My body is very, lean. It's the day after weights and biking. My body is in starvation mode again. More food required. That is good. After 18 months of near non-stop eating out, and surviving on protein supplements, I'm going to look forward to eating cleaner food again. Today turned up a full kilometer in mid-foot stride, nearly effortless due to improved muscle responsiveness. Can't wait to get back in shape for longer runs. Maybe swims. Need to do more bridges. Gym tools are useful - I started using gyms 13 years ago, but decided not to take them too seriously till I had a regular job.

I feel like a pit fight. Or a date. On my budget, the former is a lot more likely. Let's hope I don't see trouble. Don't it come / looking for me.


Age, Quasi-seriously

Bored. Going home early is bad for professional productivity. Distracted by the memories of every lady I avoid. So before I start poking the machines again, I wonder, if making life harder for myself for a few years, because it was too easy before, was after all, the right thing to do. And of course I remember that active propping up of cognitive processes is crucial in the field. It's only been... 19 months of prioritising things that other people think are important, after 5-12 years of prioritising things that I think are important (depending on how you count). It's still early in the campaign. It's still easy to snap in and out of any mindset that I want to possess. I wonder if my training with serve me this well five or ten years from now. 30-some years of boredom, I was already worrying about that career path before I hit 20, and so far things have been ok. I'm just wondering about the next 30, and the 30 after that, and if I luck out on modern medicine and a decent lifestyle another 30 still. But these few years have taken a small chunk out of me, and I wonder what the cumulative stress of that investment will deal me in years to come. Tonight I rode my bicycle, wondering if I would tumble over a car and die.

Fire the databases...