Top 5s

A recent thread on Twitter ask for people to share a top 5 list without giving the category.

A fun read, with some expected lists coming up, often with little twists, such as the Five Beatles. My contribution to the thread was:

  1. Moana
  2. Rapunzel
  3. Kida
  4. Eilonwy
  5. Vanelope

…having just written my princessology post. Of course, there being no category made me think again, especially how I would but such different personalities into a common, sensible frame of reference. I settled on to five Disney princesses I would like to take out for a Hamburger and thinking about the possible burgers and places to eat them i realized that the list must be revised.

Top 5 Disney princesses to take out for hamburgers:

  1. Moana: A standard burger, probably made with fish.
  2. Kida: Standard burger, high-end place
  3. Tiana: Something New Orleansy, but I’ll trust her expertise. Might be at Tiana’s, if she’d serve that in her own place.
  4. Eilonwy: A veggie burger at an independent cafe
  5. Rapunzel/Vanelope: One of them needs to go, because I wouldn’t miss the chance to eat with Tiana. It may be a choice between a Whopper and a Happy Meal though, and today I am more in a mood for Whopper.

Thinking more about the concept I though about other lists I could have made, mostly nerdy and showcasing some knowledge I have picked up over the years – preferably something generally useless. for example:

  1. Photon
  2. Graviton
  3. Gluon
  4. Z
  5. W

(the particles that carry the fundamental forces – once a physicist, …)

Doing a top 5 is not just a matter of creating nicely googleable content, demonstrating some chunk of knowledge and study pros and cons, inviting a nerdfight about which Star Wars movie should be the fifth on the list; it is an opportunity to dive deeper into a subject and think it over.

I have several Top 5 lists that I look forward to share here.

Featured Image

Another summer vacation shot: A fishing boat landing on the beach in Nr. Vorupør, Thy (Denmark).

Berry Month 2020

Once more I write the yearly post about on the harvest in my garden. Usually the harvest takes place during a couple of days in mid-July, inconveniently sandwiched between summer vacation trips, and thus these posts are generally called ‘berry week‘. This year, although one vacation trip was canceled to avoid infection risk in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we had to pick the gooseberries just before leaving for a week in Jutland, but nothing else was ripe at the time. When we returned home I had just one day before going back to work and that took my focus away (bad weather didn’t help either). But this weekend the sunny summer returned and I went out to pick what remained after the birds have had their chance.

(Actually, we started harvesting the garden even earlier than that: The flowers on our elderberry bush were ready on Jun 13 and a basket-full was made to syrup).

The gooseberry yield was low, especially compared to the 9+ kilos green (Invicta) berries last year, but I expected that after the pruning I gave the bush in spring. All was frozen and will be made to syrup later (worked great last year). The red Hinnonmaki have also been pruned and had so few berries that I didn’t bother picking them.

The currants were finally picked on Aug 1 and had good yield, except the redcurrant, where the birds had already taken their share. The red- and whitecurrant were immediately cooked to syrup (like this – but I’ll go easier on the vanilla next time) and the blackcurrant was cooked to marmalade.

In numbers:

  • Gooseberry (green): 3848 g
  • Redcurrant: 606 g
  • Whitecurrant: 1274 g
  • Blackcurrant 1524 g

Featured image

Whitecurrant waiting to be picked.

Related posts

Berry Week, 2019 Edition

Bæruge 2018

Bæruge! (2017)

Berry Week! (2015)

Princessology: Erata, Enchanted Etc.

Spoliers ahead

Erata

In my previous Princessology post I did thorough work to determine the scope of the study. Must of the usual suspects makes the cut and then there are several honorable mentions who didn’t make it to my list, for example because they aren’t animated or because they are not princesses at all.

One young lady I summarily excluded from the study was Giselle, the protagonist of Enchanted, on the grounds that the movie wasn’t animated. I realize that I should have been more precise: I obviously meant “fully animated”…

That said, further study into the character reveals that while Giselle not only wears a dress and has an animal sidekick, but also has most of the characteristics of the classical distressed damsels like Snow White and Cinderella, she lacks a defining trait: She is not a princess and neither does she become one during the movie. Therefor she is stricken from the list in any case and get to hang out with Mulan instead. I can imagine worse company. However, there is another character in the movie who might pass that criterion depending on the scheduling of wedding and coronation, but as already pointed out the movie must be fully animated.

Good to have that cleared up now.

Enchanted

I enjoyed casually watching Enchanted. It was interesting to see Amy Adams in one of her earlier roles before her career really took off. Also, watching and not just listening to Idina Menzell (the voice of Elsa) was interesting. It is fair to wonder what the ambition of the movie is – is it a retelling/mashup of the classical Disney fairy tales, or is it a satire of these movies, showing how absurd they are when watched through modern eyes? It may be age or movie watching experience, but I believe the latter, and as such the movie is fine – just think about the cleanup/singing scene – brilliant. I’ll rate it 3/5.

Etc.

Probationary Princess

Upon further consideration, Megara has been moved to probationary status. While hooking up with the Son of Zeus, King of Gods certainly count towards princess status, the fact that Hercules gave up his god-hood to be together with her counts against him being a prince, and her princesshood as a consequence. More research is required.

Likewise, Jane Porter needs to be reviewed, since she is romantically involved with Tarzan, who is often referred to as the King of the Jungle. This might make Jane a queen (but skipping the princess stage entirely). However, if Disney’s movie doesn’t make clear reference to Tarzan being king, the Esmeralda rule will be applied, since only the movie version count.

Rewatching Frozen II

When I published my previous Princessology Update Frozen II had just premiered on home video and as expected I have watched if several times since. A few times with the kids, several times by myself. I like the movie very much.

I guess there may have been many possible plot-lines to choose between, including the most obvious one with some new antagonist arriving and the sisters teaming up to win the day for Arendelle. Instead the relationship between sisters is explored and resolved. Maybe the creators took input from the senior Pixar people who receives thanks in the end credits. Especially if watching the movie through a neurodiversity lens, it tells story of the challenges sisters that are different may experience as they grow up. In that sense, Frozen II is not just a kids’ movie, but a movie for everyone with an interest in how siblings grow up and it is well worth watching. I’ll rate it 4/5.

Featured image

A landscape photo from Thy, where I just had vacation with the family. The landscape is something special, the light in midsummer is something special and the weather was cold and rainy, which was bad for beach trips, but great for photographing landscapes with interesting clouds.

Related posts

Princessology Update

The Anne Karenina Principle and the Case for Project Management

All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

– Leo Tolstoy in Anna Karenina (1877)

Thus begins Tolstoy‘s novel Anne Karenina. I learned about it when I was introduced to the Anna Karenina principle in Jared Diamond‘s book “Guns, Germs and Steel“. The book explores why in the history of humanity some societies have come to dominate others and one the factors involved is the access to domesticated animals. Ever wondered why you can’t ride a zebra like a horse? When you count it becomes clear that very few of the planet’s large animals can be domesticated, a fact that it explained by considering the factors that must all be fulfilled for an animal to be domesticated successfully. If just one of these factors is missing, then domestication is not feasible. In other words, while domesticated animals are all essentially alike, each is undomesticated animal is undomesticated in its own way.

Project managers talk a lot about unhappy projects and often seem quite unhappy about it. However, I believe that the unhappy nature of projects is not necessarily a bad thing and that a certain unhappiness is part of being a good project manager.

First, what is a happy project? If a project is a “…temporary organization that is created for the purpose of delivering one or more business products according to an agreed Business Case” [cf. PRINCE2.wiki], then a happy one must be one that has no problems delivering its products at the expected cost, value and time, and where all other status indicators are good and green. I suppose these projects exists. At least I will not say on record that they don’t – maybe like black swans they live and roam free in a country far away and in zoos, where they are executed perfectly and run smoothly, always delivering on time, budget and quality.

However, in my experience, all projects are unhappy, and they are each unhappy in their own way. And yes, I just admitted that the projects I manage are rarely in an all green status, and when that happens, then it is time to review the project and look for risks and issues that might have been overlooked. Or, keeping the project management triangle in mind, if project is in the middle for an extended period, then either the budget is higher than it needs to be, the scope unambitious or not innovative, or the timeline too lax. It reminds me of the anecdote about Henry Ford that he would have workmen check Ford cars in junkyards to see which parts could be manufactured cheaper. Seriously, though, part of good project management is to deliver what is agreed at the right time and in the agreed quality and at no more than the agreed cost, and to do this work the project manager should always look for opportunities for optimizing delivery. This principle is weaved into common Agile frameworks as part of retrospectives and continuous improvement and in PRINCE2 as part of the Managing a Stage Boundary process.

In other words. to deliver the most value, the project manager should not be afraid of challenging herself, the delivery organization, or the client. Having said that, there are also projects that are severely challenged and possibly beyond redemption (or may not have actual delivery as the main purpose). Transparency and upright communication go a long way for this.

Doing this not only provide the client the best bang for the buck, but it is also good for the project managers, even though they expose themselves to unhappiness. Consider the alternative – a project where everything is green always and the project manager tasks is reduced blindly approving stuff. First the project manager might follow the example of Homer Simpson in “King-Size Homer” who got someone to cover for him, but eventually the project manager would be replaced by someone more junior (or a dipping bird). No Challenge -> No Job.

Someone to cover for King-Size Homer (or an under-challenged project manager). (from The Simpsons, episode S07E07 – thanks Frinkiac.com)

Therefore, project management is about working perpetually unhappy projects and whenever one source of unhappiness is removed move on to the next. It is a Sisyphean, almost depressing task, always focusing on the things that are missing, the things that are going wrong and being suspicions of ever there is an all green status report. All glasses are half-empty or out to get you.

Just thinking of a recent experience: At one point all looked green and I really considered calling a meeting to brainstorm risks and determine what we might be missing. We found out soon enough though and could go back to work. External interfaces, uncertain backlog and uncertain funding kept times interesting thereafter.

Another project I was involved was hardly a project at all – missing both a clear goal and timeline (no budget either : ), but it was a tricky (and very innovative) job and someone had to do it. That sort of thing calls for project manager skills, so it was called a project anyway.

All said, I can happily return to work and keep pushing, pulling, nudging, and kicking my projects forward. Not only are all projects unhappy, but they are also unhappy in each their own way, providing a never-ending source of challenges and opportunities for the experienced project manager to learn, excel and add value.

Garden Update – Summer 2020

<- Spring 2020

As mentioned in my spring update, this is the year of the COVID-19 pandemic and for better or worse, a time to appreciate the garden if you have one.

I am thankful that I do, especially after I was provided with some extra motivation for seeking out new career opportunities and plenty of extra time to do, well, something… That something has resulted in an ambitious to-do list for garden work. Early casualties was the willow tree back in May, which had a fungus infection and looked to be slowly dying (in the post-mortem it looked OK though) and one of the espaliered apple trees which had very low yield (plan is to replace with some pear trees), but the list also contains garden path cleanup, repairs and replacements, flower bed renovations; even a play house for the kids is planned. I am not going to share the list though – as any plan, it is unlikely to survive contact with the enemy reality).

Key events in the garden

  • Jun 13: Picked elderberry flowers for first batch of syrup (-> this recipe (Danish))
  • Jun 23: Finished cleaning the garden paths.
    Before
    Backyard garden path before cleaning

    After
    Backyard garden path after cleaning


  • Jun 24: Finally reined in the raspberries. This task has been on its way for many years, but I didn’t find the brain space to construct a proper scaffold. Now I finally did it, with five poles and 3 meters of coated metal wire. While the planning phase may have lasted 8 years, the execution took 10 minutes 🙂
    Simple scaffolding for raspberry bushes
  • Jun 30?: First cucumbers harvested in the green house.
  • Jul 10: Gooseberry picking day. Just 3848 g after cleaning. Much less than the 9130 g harvested last year, but that was expected after a thorough pruning.
  • Jul 25: First home-grown tomatoes picked and eaten. The tomato harvest still has some promise, whereas chilies aren’t doing well this year,

Featured image

A cleaned-up garden path. I build those myself about ten years ago and the looked great when they were brand new. Then, every spring they look at little more worn down, as time inevitably passes, but it is always great how a few hours of work can make them look almost new.

Related post

Garden Update – Spring 2020

Garden Update – Winter 2020