I finished unpacking from my move yesterday, with only a few chores left (like finding a home for all the little things in my office that have taken over my desk). Shortly after finishing, I took out the trash, and started to wind down. Then I noticed my house getting warmer.
The previous owners had an Ecobee thermostat, which, because I'm on the Google ecosystem, I will replace with the Nest thermostat that should arrive today. I noticed that this Ecobee had a very strange reading: 63°F. And falling. And running the heater full-blast to try getting the temperature back up to normal.
Once it got to 60°F I shut off the heating system. Other thermometers in my house showed 20–21°C and steady. Plus, if it really had been that cold, I would be shivering or at least wearing a sweater.
When I woke up this morning, the Ecobee told me the house was 44°F—just a degree or two warmer than the temperature outside.
Then I realized what had happened.
As with the Nest thermostat, Ecobees can use multiple small sensors throughout the house for zone coverage. One of those Ecobee sensors was now in a trash bag in the dumpster by the alley, and broadcasting with sufficient power that the main thermostat thought the guest bedroom was freezing cold.
So the heating system is still off, which is fine because (a) Parker has two fur coats and doesn't mind and (b) I can see from other sensors that the house is still around 19°C, which is perfectly comfortable for both of us.
All of this is part of the unintended fun of home automation, and of moving.
Lisbon has unique sidewalks, which are beautiful—and dangerous:
In a city without an iconic monument like Paris’s Eiffel Tower or Rome’s Colosseum, Portuguese pavement has become become Lisbon’s calling card. Its graphic black-and-white patterns are printed on souvenir mugs, canvas bags and T-shirts. City Council has even gone so far as to propose the sidewalks be added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list, alongside Portugal’s melancholic national music, fado.
Portuguese pavement is excellent for subterranean aquifers because they allow rainwater to seep through the junctures between the stones, helping prevent flooding. But their maintenance is nothing short of Sisyphean. No sooner have crews of specialized workers, known as calceteiros, finished the arduous task of breaking limestone into bits of the proper shape, laying them out like puzzle pieces and hammering them into place with what looks like an oversized wooden pestle, do the stones start popping out. A single missing stone can trigger a snowball effect, causing others to fall out and leaving lurking holes.
Rainfall makes the situation even dicier. A 2011 survey of elderly Lisbon residents put the sidewalks at the top of their list of things they most fear. They’re also a daily crucible for disabled people, and those with strollers or suitcases.
Yeah, but they're gorgeous. I might have accidentally stolen one, too.
We've known this for 50 years: open-plan offices do nothing good for companies except reduce rent costs, but they do a whole lot of bad. They are not "fun;" they are not "collaborative;" they are not "start-uppy." They just suck:
Over the decades, a lot of really stupid management fads have come and gone, including:
- Six Sigma, where employees wear different colored belts (like in karate) to show they've been trained in the methodology.
- Stack Ranking, where employees are encouraged to rat each other out in order to secure their own advancement and budget.
- Consensus Management, where all decisions must pass through multiple committees before being implemented.
It need hardly be said that these fads were and are (at best) a waste of time and (at worst) a set of expensive distractions. But open plan offices are worse. Much worse. Why? Because they decrease rather than increase employee collaboration.
Previous studies of open plan offices have shown that they make people less productive, but most of those studies gave lip service to the notion that open plan offices would increase collaboration, thereby offsetting the damage.
The Harvard study, by contrast, undercuts the entire premise that justifies the fad. And that leaves companies with only one justification for moving to an open plan office: less floor space, and therefore a lower rent.
As an introvert in a field that requires concentration, minimal distractions, and time to reflect and think about what I'm doing—not to mention, a field predominantly comprising introverts—it's even worse.
I wish I had at least a cubicle.
Two milestones yesterday: I tested my grill with some friends and with decent results (note to self: soak the cedar plank first), and I finished unpacking the guest bedroom.
Regular posting will resume at some point.
We have a deployment at work tonight at 5pm (because in financial firms, you always deploy at 5pm on Friday). Fortunately, we've already done a full test, so we're looking forward to a pretty boring deployment tonight.
Fortunately, we have the Internet, which has provided me with all of these things to read:
Back to planning for next week's post-deployment fixes.
Today's Chicago Tribune lays out a cautionary tale about Cityfront Center, a downtown Chicago development that hasn't lived up to its developer's promises:
The goal was a “progression of spaces which are intended to unify the entire mixed-use project,” according to a 1987 document signed by then-planning commissioner Elizabeth Hollander and Chicago Dock’s president, Charles R. Gardner.
Thirty-one years later, no one disputes that Cityfront Center is a real estate success, even though it includes Chicago’s most infamous hole in the ground — the foundation for the unbuilt Chicago Spire, the twisting, 2,000-foot condominium tower that went bust in 2008.
The area, which turned out to be a better site for apartments than offices, is home to thousands of residents and generates tens of millions of dollars in annual property tax revenue.
Promenades are about moving; plazas are where you stop and take in the city. They are its living rooms. But Cityfront Center’s plazas don’t issue much of a welcome.
The problems begin at what’s supposed to be the western gateway to the district — Pioneer Court, a large but underachieving expanse of pavement at 401 N. Michigan Ave., next to the new Apple store.
On the plaza’s north side are rows of trellislike pavilions, trees and shrubbery. While those features provide much-needed places to sit, they block the view into the heart of Cityfront Center and partly obstruct the path to it. They even end in a cul-de-sac of fountains that forces pedestrians to retrace their steps.
Getting from one of Cityfront Center’s plazas to the other, it turns out, is no walk in the park.
The article has detailed maps and photos that show, in painful detail, how urban planners really need to brush up on A Pattern Language again.
My move isn't really over yet. I still have about two, maybe three car loads at my old place. But they'll have to stay there because I'm totally pooped right now.
So far, the only casualties of the move seem to be a pizza stone and the connection bracket for my Nest thermostat. The latter is pretty annoying because I can't connect the thermostat without it. I swapped out my thermostat for the one that was in the apartment originally while the movers were moving, so it's entirely possible it's in a box somewhere. I hope so, because Nest doesn't sell parts.
And now, bed.
Oh, one other note: Parker got his cone off today. Happy dog.
Since I switched Internet providers in this move, I was able to leave my Nest Cam and Internet connection live for the move-out. Et voilà:
Almost everything I own is in boxes. The movers are coming in an hour. Parker still has his cone, unfortunately, so I'll have to juggle him around a bit. It's showtime.
And unlike the last time I did this, today's forecast is for sunny skies and 14°C. I can live with that.