Monthly Archive for March, 2012

Thunderstorms, cities, ionosphere, and aurora borealis

This is a great video to which I like to keep coming back. It also helps me keep things in perspective.

Compete for People

Over the past year, I’ve been working with Frank Wantland and his website Compete for People, www.competeforpeople.com. The website educates the public about how organizations can keep top talent and how individuals can find a good career fit.

I really just helped get the site up and running for him, and Wantland does all of the blogging. I think it’s a very good site, and I’d recommend his services to anyone, especially those looking for work. I certainly believe that plenty of organizations could benefit from his knowledge to close the chasm between top management and top talent that is sometimes in the trenches of an organization.

TED Talk: Larry Smith on why we fail to have a great career

This is a great 15 minute speech from TEDxUW by Larry Smith, a professor of Economics at the University of Waterloo in Canada, who calls out the absurd excuses people invent when they fail to pursue their passions. Larry Smith coaches his students to find the careers that they will truly love.

Link to TEDxUW page:
http://www.ted.com/talks/larry_smith_why_you_will_fail_to_have_a_great_career.html

The Scale of the Universe

I like looking at this interactive Flash presentation The Scale of the Universe 2 because it really helps me keep everything in perspective. It spans from the fabric of space-time to the entire universe.

You use your scroll wheel or the scroll bar to zoom. You can also click on objects to learn more about each one.

screenshot of website

Screenshot of The Scale of the Universe 2, Copyright (c) 2012 Cary and Michael Haung (http://htwins.net)

It just goes, and goes, and goes.

Benefits of being an outsider

There was a very interesting articled in Wired Magazine a few years ago Accept Defeat: The Neuroscience of Screwing Up, and it helped me understand why some of my points of view were different from my peers. I used to think that just because I had a different cultural background was the cause of my difference, but apparently there is a whole reason why I grew apart from the rest and continue on that vector.

This article brings up the concept of curiosity in a new light for me in the method that asks whether one is interested in a new result that is discovered while searching for a different set of results. Because we are wired not only to ignore results for which we were not looking, but our memory is capable of deleting them immediately if we don’t have a mental cubby hole in which to store the new information.

The article continues that outsiders are very good at discovering the new because outsiders question the status quo, which sometimes is misinformation that hides the truth and even causes our minds to “delete” observations. One doesn’t have to be a social reject to become an outsider; one just needs to be from another group of specialists who speak different jargon. Then, as the various groups attempt to translate their own jargon to one another, status quo is put under a microscope, which gives way to questioning it.

I once brought this up to a friend of mine who is a CFO of a hospital, and asked me, “Why aren’t you a CEO already?” which made me feel special and that maybe I have something in me to be a great transcendental leader

In Time movie review

Last night, we watched In Time, which is a retro-futuristic cyberpunk Robin Hood story. I don’t understand why it got so many bad reviews because it was actually a very profound concept that was explored in a very interesting and appealing way. One review claimed it was poorly executed. There was one car crash scene where the physics displayed with computer graphics looked very fake, so I’ll give them that, but the rest of the film was done well. Also, considering it was a fantasy, certain unrealistic moments can be overlooked as the film isn’t trying to be a thriller as much as it is exploring philosophy of money and time and the relationship between the two and the persons involved.

The world of In Time is set in the second half of the 21st century where everyone is genetically engineered to stop aging after 25 years at which point their clock begin to count down one year and where this time is the only currency of this world. People can make time by working, just like people today make money by working jobs. People can give time to one another either as payment or gift. Throughout the entire movie, the word “money” is never used. Essentially, one could replace the word “time” with “money”, and every sentence would sound like those we speak today regarding money.

Now, the only difference I see between this time-based economy and our fiat currency is that the time is created by the individuals’ 1-year after 25 years of age. The movie does not explain this, and such a fixed currency source would probably not account for the amount of time the rich have, which would amount to even more dead people than presented in the movie, or perhaps this implication is deepest point of the film. There are even time banks that charge interest for the time, which make the rich richer, but that there is no creation of time out thin air much like the Federal Reserve as the ability to create, which is what helps our economy grow so much.

Spoiler Alert: this paragraph contains some spoilers. Skip the next two paragraphs.
Contrary to common sense, giving time away is a worse crime than stealing time. The protagonist tries to steal a lot of time from the rich to give the poor, but the rich just respond by raising the cost of living (a totalitarian inflation in the capitalist world). So the efforts of the protagonists fails to make even a small dent in the world system, so they have to steal a massive amount, a million years, which is a metaphor that the rich are so rich that if you slightly raised the 99%’ers’ quality of living, it would not take away from the rich and might actually make them richer due to the extra currency in circulation. So, the protagonists had to set out to steal a million years from the rich that the antagonist keeps in a massive vault. When antagonist is held up at gun point when the protagonists steal his one million years, the antagonist says, paraphrased, “You may create an imbalance for a generation or two, but things will go back to how they were and you won’t change a thing. There will always be someone who wants to live forever.”

To this, the protagonist replied, “No one should be immortal if even one person has to die.” This concept basically states that no one should be overly rich if even a single person is impoverished in our world. The previous statement of “balance” is so ironic that it refers to the imbalance that the antagonist considers to be a “balance”.

The styles in the movie appeals to me. I think the design of the city architecture is relatable, and I enjoyed the futuristic electric cars are in an variation of 1950s style, and even the choice of dual-tone guns to make a point of contrast. It’s almost as if the nostalgia the old looking cars evoke speak to the how the conservatives would ideally want our world to return to the 1950s, but that they are electric states the certain types of progress is inevitable.

The film uses the term “time zones” similarly to how we use them today; however, they symbolize the different social classes in our society. Symbolism regarding individuals traveling between the zones implies the not only the difficulty of individuals trying to move up the class ladder today, but also that their are intentional obstacles to make it even harder than it already theoretically is.

The theme that a few individuals attempt to change a large system, and that at the end of the movie the system still hasn’t changed but the protagonists have makes this a cyberpunk theme sans all of the computers.

This movie would be a great subject for a college English course essay that analyzes every metaphor. I say the movie was heavier on the metaphor than on the development of characters and setting, and I imagine that this is a type of symbolized intended to speak those individuals who already know socio-economic elements and do not need them explained. Individuals with such knowledge simply hear what the writers portrayed.

The Job Interview which landed my job

It was sometime around the last week of February 2012. My recruiter gives me a call about “putting me forward”, or to request permission to submit my resume to Project Management Office at Tenet. I hesitated because I thought that I could ideally hit the ground running at a new job, and the job description sounded intimidating to me considering the high profiles with whom I would supposedly be dealing. It turned out I don’t deal with that many high profile people, but they are always close by. I gave the go ahead to submit my resume. I got a call back a few days later that I am invited to an interview.

During this while, I have been working with my friend Frank Wantland to help him set up his website Compete for People where he offers great personal career building and coaching. I highly recommend him. So, I shared with him the news that I got my job interview, so he actually offered to give me a mock interview, which is why I can recommend him. I think the preparation with him really helped because the interview was nothing like what anyone imagined it would be.

I left for Dallas after work on March 6, 2012. It was a very windy day. It was so windy that there were power outages throughout the city. One outage was at work, where for whatever reason, the backup generators failed to supply backup power, and I became stuck in parking garage at work because the simply boom barriers operated only on electricity and would not let the cars through. I had to wait in a growing line of cars. Fortunately, it was not rush hour yet. There was a doctor in a Corvette who really wanted to leave, so I helped hold up the boom barrier as much as we could given that there was some play in the mechanism, and his low Corvette managed to drive under undamaged. The rest of us had to wait for a maintenance personnel literally to dissemble the boom with a socket wrench.

Once I made it home, I think I actually had one more work call, and then I hit the road. I stopped by my favorite gas station fill up for the trek, but the pumps were not working. So, I drove across the street to another station where the pumps could take my card. By that time, the wind was so bad that I had difficulty operating my trunk lid to do some final checks before I got on the high way. If I believed in divine intervention, I would have surely thought that all signs were pointing for me not to go. Later it would turn out that at best, these were proverbial signs of the storm yet to come once I got the job.

I arrived safely in Dallas a little later than I wanted to. I took some wrong turns as I was trying to avoid constructions, which of course is not marked on my GPS. My plan was to drive down High way 75 through downtown and back up through I-35, but being from the small town of Tulsa, seeing all of these tall buildings down the 75 corridor, I thought I already was downtown; mind you it was nigh time by now. So, I took Loop 12 to shoot across to I-35. It ended up taking about the same of time that the original plan would have.

My interview was at noon, so I took my time to relax in the morning. Did some yoga stretches, got dressed, ate, and drove downtown. Parked my car in an open lot outside of the Fountain Building, and it started raining, and parking cost $5, which is quite a bit for a Tulsan who virtually never pays for parking.

The Fountain Building is beautiful, so I immediately saw myself working there thinking how awesome it would be to work in such an awesome skyscraper. I met my recruiter in the lobby who gave introduced himself and then walked me up to the corporate lobby, which to me looked like something out of a movie when the protagonist steps into the big-bad pharmaceutical corporate lobby. The view was spectacular where I could see a little the DART tram below and the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge in the distance.

My boss to be was running late but came and got me and took me to another floor to a small conference room for an interview. My other boss to be was on the phone. Wearing my new suite and not being used to wearing suites, I got hot, so I mentioned that I felt warm. The response was to take off my jacket, and this was in a somewhat condescending tone as if I should know when it is appropriate to remove my jacket.

The interview basically consisted of me answering to one request: “Tell me what you have done.” I was already thrown off because I was really only equipped to respond to a different open-ended request of “Tell me about yourself”, to which I prepared a 2 minute summary of my life that lead to project management. Immediately looking back after the meeting, I should have answered it like a politician answer questions by answering question he wished he was asked, not exactly what he actually was asked. This started becoming evident to me once I realized that there were no more questions. I essentially had to fill up the entire hour of just talking about myself. Fortunately, I was warned about this, otherwise, like any normal person, I would have been sweating thinking something is going terribly wrong.

They were impressed that I drove this far for the interview, and I made it clear that I would move for this position. So, at the beginning of the interview they asked whether I was prepared to enter the consulting industry considering that I would be leaving full-time employment to take this. I answered in my typically cautious manner, “I believe so,” to which they replied, “That is not a very confident answer.” So, I corrected myself with, “Yes, I am prepared.”

I talked about my knowledge of Cerner, BMDI and Code Upgrade projects I did with them that spanned several facilities in our (St. John’s) health system, yet they still held the position that I worked for a small organization, and that I may not be able to handle a large organization. I explained the health system has over a thousand beds, but that is just one blip on the radar for an organization that has over fifty hospitals across three time zones and is Cerner’s number one client.

Considering I could appreciate from the roots up what an EMR implementation is like for a hospital, I knew there has to be a catch as to how they can manage so many implementations at once without even knowing the application. This position turned out to be very high level.

I had a few questions for them, but I think one thing that I speculate solidified my entrance was when I stated, quoting Jacque Fresco and his Venus Project , that I believed one should arrive at decisions rather than make decisions. I could see that impressed at least one of them, which was later validated as they impressed upon me that they do “fact-based reporting” where if something is not documented, we do not treat it like fact.

I felt I exhausted my material for after 40 minutes, but they said they allocated a full hour for me, so they will give me a full hour. I just had to start improvising.

After the interview, I felt like it did not go well at all and could not pinpoint why, of course. I drove home later that evening feeling a bit exhausted but happy for the memories and experience.

I am writing this 8 months after the fact, and I many times looked back on this very pivotal moment whether I missed any red flags regarding their personalities. I think I only chose to ignore those as my desire to move on in my career was very strong.