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Category Archives: Professional

quicKMemos Vol. 1 No. 2

Here’s the second issue of the KM newsletter I wrote and published for the SSME KM team. This one was for January of 2006. The middle column has a couple of decent descriptions of “Lessons Learned” and “Best Practices.” What it doesn’t address, which is something many of us came to understand later, is that we don’t actually want “Best” Practices; which implies there won’t be any room for improvement, as “best” is a superlative adjective, which means it just doesn’t get any better than best. We, therefore, preferred to talk about “Better” Practices, which also fits rather nicely into the philosophy of continuous improvement. My apologies if this is boring.

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Another Newsletter

At the end of 2005, I was still five years away from accepting an early severance package from Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne and then retiring a couple years early. I don’t think the Shuttle program had yet been cancelled, so everything appeared to be full steam ahead. I had been deeply involved in developing the concept of Knowledge Management (KM), primarily to the Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME) team—for which I was the lead—as well as for the entire organization, from its ownership by Boeing to a subsequent purchase and merger with United Technologies’ Pratt & Whitney Division.

So, there were two teams I was involved with: the corporate, enterprise-wide team, and the SSME team. I had convinced my management to start the SSME team before I knew there was a corporate team, and it was my primary focus of attention at the time. Starting in December of 2005, I published a newsletter for the team; a KM newsletter, ostensibly by the SSME KM team for the entire SSME program team.

When I returned to work for a couple of years at Rocketdyne in 2015, I was able to find pdf files of every issue of that newsletter, which we called “quicKMemos.” I’m am converting these pdf files into png files so I can upload them here. I’ll post them somewhat sporadically, no doubt, as I have several duties and obligations that are always tugging at my sleeve and demanding my attention. So . . . here’s the first one; Vol. 1 No. 1, December 2005.

NB – Check out the Eleven Deadly Sins of KM. They still seem relevant to me, though it’s hard for me to tell as it’s been nearly 10 years since I’ve been in a large enterprise environment.


Socialism is NOT a bad word!

Capitalism means money (specifically investment, not wages) is society’s primary consideration. Socialism means people (workers, humans) are society’s primary consideration. I know what I prefer. How about you?

Sure . . . there are thorny issues of ownership and incentivization, what deserves to be nationalized and what can remain in the private sector, but they will be addressed with people, not capital, foremost in mind. And don’t come at me with that tired old trope that socialism has been tried and it’s failed. That’s not even close to the truth. Most examples given are usually of a country that attempted to go straight from feudalism to socialism, without experiencing capitalism at all.

If Karl Marx was correct, and I believe he was, economies need to develop and evolve through various stages, and attempting to circumvent one of those developmental stages isn’t a good idea. This is why I believe the U.S. economy is ripe for becoming socialist; it already is to some extent. Our economy is, if not the most advanced, one of the more advanced capitalist economies in the world. Yet, many of its sectors are—or have been—treated as worthy of receiving benefits in the form of subsidies, grants, and tax breaks that are tantamount to them being socialized.

Most importantly, many larger sectors of the economy are highly developed, with a few being in nearly monopolistic control of their market. This is what Marx called late-stage, monopoly capitalism. It suggests that larger industries, which have become monolithic, are ripe for worker ownership and a more equitable distribution of their profits to the people who actually make those profits happen.

Let’s stop treating the concept, let alone the word, of socialism as if it’s still some sort of disease or bogeyman. The forces of reaction and fascism have long told us to be afraid . . . be very afraid . . . of socialism, but they’re crying wolf and their arguments are dishonest and disingenuous. That is to say, they’re fucking liars and can’t be trusted. They don’t care about you and me. Don’t expect them to be helpful, unless they’re helping themselves.


Are We Alone?

“Is it all just for us, or do we get to share it with anyone?”

~ Paul Sutter (Astrophysicist on “How The Universe Works”)


Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is around 100,000 light years in diameter. That’s roughly 587,900,000,000,000,000 miles or 946,100,000,000,000,000 kilometers across. Those are in the quadrillions, which translates loosely into a “shitload.” The fastest man-made object—according to my research on the Intertubes—was a bit of a toss-up between NASA’s Helios 2 and their Juno spacecraft; that is until the Parker Solar Probe was launched. When it reaches its closest to the sun (in a few years) it will be traveling at approximately 430,000 MPH! That’s screaming. However, even at that speed it would take nearly 1,560 years to cross the entire galaxy.

Current estimates suggest there may be as many as 200,000,000,000 galaxies in the universe. Astronomers, astrophysicists, and cosmologists suggest our galaxy alone contains up to 200,000,000,000 stars. That’s an awful lot of stuff, eh?

The Milky Way
The Milky Way

Yet, in all of this, we have not been able to answer the most fundamental question we have about the universe . . . Are we alone? Is there life out there we just haven’t discovered? I like how astrophysicist Paul Sutter looks at it (see the quote from him, above, that I started this post off with.) I find it difficult to believe, now that we understand much of the physics and chemistry of the Universe, that life hasn’t (or won’t) evolve in places other than this one nondescript star system we call home.

Another quote I love is one I’m going to paraphrase, as the original quote, from Edward Robert Harrison, doesn’t quite provide the essence of what I’m trying to get across. His quote is: “Hydrogen is a light, odorless gas, which, given enough time, turns into people.” It almost says it all, but I think “Hydrogen is a light, odorless gas which, given enough time, begins to wonder where it came from . . . and where it’s going,” is a bit more on point.

If you are unfamiliar with, or new to, the field of cosmology you might not know what this means. Essentially, it’s refining what is the generally accepted understanding of how the Universe has evolved from nothing but sub-atomic particles to Hydrogen and, through the process of star formation (and spectacular stellar deaths via supernovae) the heavier elements have been formed . . . many of which are the building blocks of life, and us. We’re the descendants of the primal Hydrogen that made up the early universe and its first generation of stars.

To me, the concept of evolution—both of the universe itself and of life on Earth (perhaps elsewhere)—is far more incredible and truly beautiful than any origin story of any religion I’ve encountered . . . and I’ve encountered a fair number of them. Imagining the evolutionary process, which has played out over billions and billions (h/t Carl Sagan) of years is—for me—a challenging flight of fancy and an enlightening exercise in the dialectic, or zen, or yin-yang of life in this universe.

I hope one day we’ll find out we’re not alone. Perhaps that will give us the humility we need to get along with one another on this little blue dot we call home.


Outside Agitator

I serendipitously came across this photo a few days ago and shared it with a group that’s fighting the recall of our very first progressive Latina elected to our City Council. I shared it with them not because of the irony (which is substantial) but because the guy with the Latinos for Trump sign has shown up at our City Council meetings to agitate in favor of recalling her. I’m told he’s from Apple Valley, which is well over 100 miles from Simi Valley. There were at several other “protestors” at these meetings that are from nowhere near Simi Valley.

Morons for Stupdity

I only recently learned the Republican Party, recognizing they can’t win control of many Western States via fair elections, have taken up this tactic of recall, which they time to occur when voter turnout is historically likely to be comparatively light. One of the primary organizers of this effort is a contributor to Red State and other right-wing publications and many believe one of her goals to be self-promotion.

Simi Valley suffers from an unfortunately deserved bad reputation for racism, thanks to the Rodney King trial which, if unfamiliar to you, you should Google. When I first retired from Rocketdyne, in 2010, I did some research on Simi. At the time, a Google search turned up essentially three things the city is known for: The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, the worst nuclear reactor meltdown (at SSFL) in U.S. history, and the Rodney King trial. The trial was the most frequently appearing result of the three.

I tried to get some of the city’s leaders to support doing something about it via targeted blogging and social media campaigns, but they didn’t understand what I was getting at, and they weren’t really interested. Now they’re doubling down on their deep animosity for anyone who doesn’t buckle under to the weight of their limited vision.

Simi Valley’s leadership is, for the most part, highly conservative. I would label them reactionary. I’m told they’re corrupt as well, though I haven’t enough knowledge to make a judgment call on that issue. I will, however, be well-educated on it soon. Stay tuned.


RAIDI

Robot and Human hands touching

I have no doubt I am a very lucky person. Although I do not have an education in any science, I was able to spend approximately two decades working on the Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME) program at Rocketdyne (through four major aerospace corporations). I spent a lot of time working with some of the brightest rocket scientists (for realz) as well as world-class engineers and scientists in literally dozens of disciplines.

Since my retirement from (what was then) Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, I have worked intermittently with Quantellia, LLC, an artificial intelligence / machine learning software development firm. Needles to say, I have no formal education in any computer field, with the exception of two Visual Basic classes I took at a nearby Junior College. I was introduced to one of the co-founders of Quantellia shortly after my retirement. She showed me a tool they had been developing called “World Modeler”. It was the most exciting thing I’d seen in a long time, and I was especially impressed with how it brought a highly systemic approach to modeling and forecasting in complex situations. I ended up writing several papers and a bunch of case studies for them.

In 2015 I returned to work at what was then Aerojet Rocketdyne (still is, for now) where I worked on a small rocket engine program for a little over two years. After leaving, I started doing some selling for Quantellia and, beginning in March of 2018, I became the company’s Business Manager, a position I’m still working at.

Last year we held a summit, in conjunction with SAP Global Services, at their Labs in Palo Alto. It was called the “Responsible AI/DI Summit.” In this context AI stands for “Artificial Intelligence” and DI stands for “Decision Intelligence.” One of the main purposes of the summit was to discuss how we can develop artificial and decision intelligence such that we concentrate on using them to solve humanity’s most “wicked” problems, rather than merely work at developing apps, the main purpose of which is to make money for the developers, investors, and entrepreneurs involved in the business.

Below are some of the folks who worked on the Summit, including me (the long-haired guy in the middle of the back row). Also, here’s a link to this year’s second Summit – Responsible AI/DI Summit 2019, as well as a link to the RAIDI Blog.

Quantellia and SAP folks who worked on putting it all together

As I learn more about machine learning, artificial intelligence, and decision intelligence, I will work at sharing my knowledge and understanding of these tools, and the issues they raise. I know the people I’m working with are dedicated to serving humanity, not merely milking it for profit. That pleases me and I hope we’ll be able to prove we’re doing the right things to ensure such service continues to exist and grow.


President Trump Says There Could Be No Wildfires If We Did Forest Management, ‘Cleaning’

I’m sorry, but this poor excuse for a human has got to be the dumbest lump of protoplasm to ever sit behind the Resolute desk. It’s difficult to be sanguine about the mess he’s getting us into. This particular episode of dumbfuckery, however, while typical of the kind of unabashed bullshit this dork is capable of spewing, is totally wrong, off-the-wall, and completely uninformed.

In fact, according to the Forest History Society‘s website, whose mission is “. . . to preserve and help people use the documents of forest history. The Forest History Society identifies, collects, interprets, and disseminates historical information on the relationship of humans and forests, contributing to informed natural resource decision-making,” Forest Management has been a primary focus of the U.S. Forest Service since its inception.

Also, the U.S. Forest Service‘s own website says “Federal forest management dates back to 1876 when Congress created the office of Special Agent in the U.S. Department of Agriculture to asses the quality and conditions of forests in the Unites States.”

Less informed than Dubya – and ten times as arrogant

Below is a small excerpt from Esquire’s article about the monumental idiocy of this man and his narcissistic gaslighting. You should read the full article—then share it far and wide. Four more years of this crap and we may never recover. We need leaders who are capable of processing actual facts. This jerk is incapable of that . . . and he ensures, with his pettiness, no one else gets to do it either. This would be funny, if it wasn’t so devastating to our ability to deal with the real causes of our problems.


Exhibit Z came to us yesterday in an appearance at the White House, when the world’s most powerful man got going about wildfires. “You don’t have to have any forest fires,” you see, but nobody knew about forest management before he came along and told them, you know, and forest management means “cleaning” the forests, which are dirty, unlike in other countries—”forest nations”—where they do the forest management and they don’t have the wildfires. Not like California, anyway, whose governor he talked to and told about the forest management, which the governor had never heard of about a year ago, and then he mocked the idea, but now he agrees with President Smokey. Also, many tremendous things are happening and a lot of people are looking at it.

Source: President Trump Says There Could Be No Wildfires If We Did Forest Management, ‘Cleaning’


How Ironic!

In the past couple of days there have been at least two major temblors in the Searles Valley – Ridgecrest area of Southern California, which is about 125 miles north northeast from where I live, as the crow flies. Since the shock waves created by an earthquake don’t need to drive on the highways, that’s about how far away the epicenter is. What we felt this far away was reasonably gentle though; a rolling sensation not unlike being in a boat in gentle swells. However, as anyone who’s lived through a big earthquake will tell you, any movement of the ground gets your attention right quick.

I have lately been going through boxes and files of paperwork and publications from my years of employment or when I was in business with my family or otherwise, finding things I created or encountered, which I’m sharing on my blog. I came across this today and, after doing a search for earthquakes that might have caused someone to share this, I can’t pin down which it might have been. Nevertheless, I find it ironic I would encounter this today, so soon after these major quakes. At least nobody was killed, or no deaths have yet to be reported.

And, as long as I’m here I should point out that people who know are warning that quakes are followed by an increase in cases of Valley Fever. This is no doubt due to the dust that a quake shakes loose and into the air. Here are some photos from the area that were shared by a Facebook page dedicated to dealing with the disease. Check them out for more info.


Who Is This Guy?

I believe I wrote this poem in the early nineties. It was, at least obliquely, addressed to a woman I had fallen desperately in love with (this would be the last time in my life I fell that stupidly, at least until we adopted and I became a father.) The love of one’s child—especially the first—is far more powerful and nuanced than any other type of love I’ve ever experienced.

This poem, however, speaks to my desire to see this woman* open up and face some of what I thought were self-destructive fears that were keeping her from enjoying her life. It was complicated, as was she . . . and it just wasn’t to be. I have little doubt the somewhat crazy depth of my desire was just too overwhelming for her. Hey! I was just a kid . . . in my late forties.


There exists in all things
A strength and beauty
Unappreciated by those of us
Who have suffered the constraints of narrow education
Yet . . . it exists
In repose
Silently waiting for the moment of discovery
In many of us it is doomed
To remain unannounced
unapprehended and, yet
Undeniably
It is there
And there are those of us
Who by some mad twist of fate
Crush the beauty in ourselves
Divert the strength
And smother the fragile wonder of our lives
Beneath pain and isolation
Which we call self-protection


* I will not use her name in deference to my wife and children. She is a part of my history, but only relevant today to explain the motivation behind this particular bit of communication.


Doggone It!

I was a Wiener Clerk at the Wiener Factory back in the early 70s. “We may be contumacious, but we’re never revocatory.” “Tell us how long you want us to hold the onions.” The owner wrote every bit of graffiti in there . . . and the moderately risque stuff in the toilets out back. I think my favorite dog was the coleslaw and cheese, though a good old fashioned kraut dog still hits the spot when I’ma cravin’.

I worked there throughout my first year of law school, 1973 to 1974. It was a decent job at the time. The owner, whose first name—Gene—is all I remember, was a former English teacher and stockbroker. He was a bright, somewhat tortured guy, but he treated his employees with respect, which is frequently not the case.

We used Gulden’s mustard, which we thinned just a bit with pickle juice, adding a significant bit of extra flavor. I often wonder if anyone actually noticed. I think the hot dogs were Vienna’s natural casing wieners, and we got the knackwurst and one other type of sausage from a small sausage maker in Burbank. Alpine sounds about right. We used fresh egg buns, which we steamed before serving so they were nice and soft. We also sold a shitload of German potato salad. I don’t think we had fries, but I just don’t remember.

Flooky’s made a damned good hot dog as well, and I was sorely disappointed a couple of months ago when I was returning to Simi after an appointment at the W.H. Kaiser Med Center. I was planning on having a Flooky’s hot dog (or two) only to find out they had gutted the place. I don’t know if there’s a Flooky’s left in the SFV.

I still crave a good hot dog probably a lot more frequently than is healthy for me, but I was raised on the damn things. I love a good, kosher, natural casing wiener with gulden’s mustard and a hearty sauerkraut on top of that. I also love mustard, relish, and onions, as well as mustard, chili, cheese, and onions. Hell! I’ve been known to slice one lengthwise and eat it between two pieces of rye bread with some mustard. It’s just a mini bologna, after all.


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