This and That

This was the bar when I arrived on Saturday.

I wanted to start this post with a short explanation about Saturday’s post. With Coronavirus cases ramping up in Connecticut and around the country, several people have voiced concern (mainly through private channels), about visiting the bar in person. Please understand that I am doing my best to avoid any dangerous situations. I have always visited the bar during their slowest period on Saturday.

The restaurant that the bar is in is on three levels, the bar is on the center. It is small, and seating is limited to the ends of the bar or at one of two tables in opposite corners. Masks are required until your initial order has been given to the server/bartender, and any time you’re walking in the restaurant. There is an entrance door and an exit door, and there are hand sanitizer stations at both. There is a plexiglass barrier between customers and the bartender along the full length of the bar.

If there is no seating available in the bar, I place a takeout order and wait in my car. If the parking lot is extremely crowded, I don’t even bother going in, I call in a takeout order—I have Corona at home.

I’m not suggesting that these visits are failsafe, nothing in 2020 is failsafe. I am more comfortable with takeout food than delivery, and we are trying to support the restaurants we like. There will always be a post from the bar on Saturday, but I won’t always be at the bar.

In other news, 37 years after he died, I realized yet another thing I learned from my dad.

When I went outside on Saturday to start raking leaves, the back yard was covered. I started, like I always do, raking a square of about 15′ (4.6m). I rake the leaves into a pile, bag the pile and start on another square. I work this way because my dad taught me to work this way. Whether it was raking leaves, sweeping the driveway or mopping a floor. Of course, this isn’t earth-shattering, until I realized that I used his technique of breaking overwhelming tasks into manageable chunks was a big key to my success in business.

As a consultant, as a systems developer and as an information manager; big, complicated, long-duration projects defined the world I operated in. With every project, I looked for ways to deliver small chunks.

My graduate degree is in Operations Research. I was schooled in the science of project management. While I appreciate the elegance of a PERT Chart or a CPM Diagram, the deliverables on those charts are often very far apart. People on teams work better when they feel good, and nothing feels as good as success. Small success, big success, it barely makes a difference—it just feels good to scratch something off the list.

This carried over into my projects at home. When I installed the siding on our house and garage, I picked a stopping point each day. I didn’t want to get “part way across the front,” I wanted to say, “I got over to the door.”

I hope everyone can stay safe, well and sane, as we enter week (whatever week this is) of this pandemic. Thanks for spending a little of your time here.

75 comments

  1. Thank you, Dan, for another great post. Your photography is stunning and coupled with your explanation as to how you proceed with a task, it’s a great read. I wish I had your skill. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s the only way I can manage some projects. I’m not good with long periods of being “almost done.” It’s also easier to report status because people understand “this, this, this and this are done.”

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Love that first frosty pic and the final one of MuMu. Great expression! As for the bar… we’re the same way. Only go on an off day, at an off hour. Sometimes we’re the only customers and that’s fine. For now.
    👍

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I smiled at your Dad memory. Small successes are a wonderful way to keep yourself motivated and get a project to the finish line. I baked some raspberry bread yesterday, and when it was done, I left the oven door open. Why, because my Mom always did so the extra heat could be enjoyed. :-) I hope you still get to enjoy your favorite place. We were trying to support a local Italian restaurant with great pizza but had to stop. I guess they got Covid tired and the workers in the kitchen stopped wearing masks and gloves, and we had to stop getting take out. Happy Monday, Dan, and stay well.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Mmmm, that bread sounds good. My grandmother used to do that with the oven.

      The other thing I like about this restaurant is that the kitchen is open (behind plexiglass) do you know everything is being done right. The staff is careful.

      The little successes keep you going , and they add up eventually.

      Have a good week, enjoy that bread.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I like your idea of small chunks. You’ve also served as a reminder to start sorting the 2020 receipts/statements for tax purposes. Yes – I do it in small piles. Your photos beautifully capture the season. Continue staying safe!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My dad also was a promoter of breaking a large project down into more manageable sections. He also taught me to do the homework assignment(s) I had the most trouble with first, while I was fresh and alert and then tackle the easy-peasy assignments. Didn’t put me on the Dean’s list, but my grades got better.

    Love the first photo. Sparky sure “puts himself out on a limb” for a peanut, doesn’t he? Maddie’s feathers in the sun are a beautiful sight. The expression on MiMi’s face, coupled with your comment, are just too funny. 🤗

    Stay safe and warm. MiMi hopes you keep the wood burning stove cranking!
    Ginger

    Liked by 2 people

    1. When I did the siding on my garage, I saved the easiest side, the long one with no windows, until last. There is something about tackling the hardest part first. That was good advice.

      Some squirrels sit and eat in the yard. Most take the peanuts back to their tree.

      MiMi speaks with her expressions. Sometimes, I can’t print what she’s saying.

      Like

  6. The world can be overwhelming! I have used the same philosophy. Consistent little steps will get you to the finish line just as well. Little projects finished successfully will ultimately finish the big project. I think of the world as a big mosaic, a big picture, which is made up of all the individual, little, pictures. Love the close -up shots!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I adopt the same way of dealing with big tasks, one bite at a time! Sage advice from your pops! I love raking-or I should say, I used to love it when I could do it. Maybe if I took it in tiny chunks as you suggest, it wouldn’t cause my knee to act up and I could get some much-needed exercise as well! I may just give it a try once the weather warms up later today after I have all my desk duties done. Have a great Monday, Dan!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Glad you are doing what you can to stay safe, Dan, and that your bar/restaurant is taking the necessary precautions. I haven’t been to a bar since before the pandemic, so I am living vicariously through your Saturday morning posts.

    Dads and moms have often given us guidance and advice in how to go about our daily business. It’s wonderful that we learn so much which serves a purpose in our own lives, like my mom telling me to close my mouth before something flies in. I remember that always mid summer while riding the bike through a cloud of gnats.

    Have an awesome Monday and week!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Mary. I haven’t been to any other bar. I really like the way this place has approached the crisis. They are concerned about their staff and their customers, and their customers generally do not complain. One day, when there were people at both ends of the bar, a woman at the bar said she didn’t mid if I sat in the middle. I opted for a table. The bartender thanked me. I met my friend there for a business discussion, and they let us sit in the empty lounge, because the tables in the bar were at capacity.

      I’m shaking at the thought of those gnats…eeew.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. With our Covid numbers so high in WI and people not staying home or taking precautions, it’s scary here. Natasha and I are staying home, cooking at home, and doing curbside pickup. We get out for daily walks or an occasional one-on-one visit with a friend or family member (with masks, outside), but otherwise we stay home and wait…

        There’s a spot on the Wiouwash trail that the gnats love and every summer I have to make sure I keep my mouth closed on that stretch. Yes, eeew.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Dan, it is nice that people express concern for you. We all weigh our risk and do our best to stay safe. I am still playing catchup, so I am late reading your SoCS bar post but they are always a favorite of mine!

    I remember when our company had months when a business process improvement (BPI) group came in and mapped out every task in every workflow. It was an arduous task, with butcher paper taped up on every available wall. I remember how shocked the executives were with the number of small tasks and the number of people involved in making things happen. Efficiency is not always everyone’s strong suit.

    Love the ‘frosty’ photos, but like MuMu I prefer to be observing from inside a nice warm perch!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Maggie. I do appreciate the concern. I like keeping the Saturday posts lighthearted, but I’m not averse to making them up if necessary. I’ve been in enough bars, I know how it works ;-)

      I was on several projects when I was consulting where our analysis turned up problems with tasks/processes the company execs didn’t even know they had. When I rewrote one system, in a rush due to the impending Y2K event, I created 35-40 of the 115-120 reports the previous system had. Over the next 20 years, I was only asked to produce 6-10 of the missing reports.

      We walk by that window when we take Maddie out. I think MuMu appreciates her litter box at that point.

      Like

  10. My former supervisor and I worked so well together for exactly the reasons you state for projects. She was a big-picture person; I am a detail person. She got overwhelmed with a project; I broke it down into doable parts that we actually finished at the end of the day. Your dad was so spot on, Dan. Your raindrop photos are wonderful! Mumu watching you from the window…I’m waiting for her to tap on the window and say, “You missed a spot!” :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “You missed a spot.” She saves that for when I’m brushing her.

      Breaking big things down to manageable chunks makes life so much easier and eliminates that overwhelming feeling of stress. It’s good to have a big picture view, but I can’t work with only the end goal hanging out there.

      I’m glad you like those photos. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. That’s part of my problem, Dan. I feel so overwhelmed by everything the past 18 months. If I could figure out a manageable chunk, it would help. I like the way you described that here. You got the point across well. Love the gallery. There’s just something about that first photo — it would make a beautiful background. The one of the last few leaves is a gorgeous composition — such wonderful details and beautifully framed. MiMi’s expression is priceless, and MuMu looks like she really is supervising your work. Hugs on the wing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Teagan. I think MuMu is always supervising my work. When she’s on her shelf above me, she wakes up and looks down, as if to say, “haven’t you finished yet?” Cats have such expressive looks.

      I’m glad you like the pictures. The empty bar is a little sad, but I do like having the photo.

      Manageable chunks aren’t always what appears as good breaking points. I am always careful not to try to extend beyond the goal I set. It sounds counter-intuitive, but if I say I’m going to stop at a certain point, I work, I stop and I feel good. If I go beyond that point and start a large task that I can’t complete, I’m left with the stress-of-the-unfinished-task all night. Instead of working until 3:00, I’d rather knock off at 2:00 and feel good.

      I hope you have a good week.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Breaking larger tasks into smaller ones — YES — I 1000% advocate for approaching things this way! I have a friend who asked me how I stay motivated to keep my house so clean and orderly, and it was simple: Even if it’s just mentally, I try not to look at a large task as a whole while I’m working. I set multiple smaller goals rather than one big one, and that way I’m always guaranteed to feel SOME sense of satisfaction even if I’ve only done a rather small amount of work. I’m also a huge advocate of planners/to-do lists, and I will absolutely break down a task into a number of smaller ones and write it into my planner what way. Crossing things off the list makes me feel productive, and I’ve learned that the more productive I feel, the more productive I AM. In a way, it’s actually a form of tricking your brain into 1) thinking you’ve done more work than you really have so that 2) you’ll actually then be driven to do more work than you would have if you were just overwhelmed by one Big Task. This is such an effective manner of working that I even do it while I’m vacuuming — one of my least favourite jobs. I don’t think, “I need to vacuum the kitchen, I need to vacuum the living room.” I start vacuuming a large rug and in my head I break it down into quadrants. “Vacuum this quarter.” Done. “Vacuum that quarter.” Done. Might sound ridiculous, but the results speak for themselves! (Sorry, I’m done now. Clearly I’m far too passionate about this topic, Dan — I could literally write a book about it! ;P)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t apologize, Wendy. I love your comments, and it really does work. My little cheat with lists is to always transfer one or two completed tasks off the old list onto a new one. That way, I can cross them off and immediately feel good. I know that’s mental, but…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s not mental at all, I’ve done it too!! And I constantly retroactively put tasks onto my list that I’ve already completed, just so I have the satisfaction of crossing them off, and seeing just how much I did accomplish that day. Because I’m a terrible one for multitasking, and for always finding extra jobs to do while I’m already working on something. (“That’ll just take a sec, might as well do it!”) You can’t always anticipate everything you’ll need to do in a day, so why cheat yourself out of a full and complete list at the end of the day? If I did it, it’s going on the list and I’m gonna cross it off, and it’s going to feel great!

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Math as much as I detest it taught me to break down problems to get to the finished project or problem.
    He-Man has a system for shoveling the driveway…now you’ve got me wondering if that method isn’t the way his dad taught him? I will ask next time we’re shoveling. We…he bought me a shovel last week so he can teach me how to do it and we can get the job done faster and go help our neighbors when we’re done.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Math is a good teacher, especially complex proofs where you have to work out sections before you can tackle the whole. As for my driveway, I could draw you a map (in fact I think I have) of how I approach it. Last year, The Editor asked me to change it a bit. She wanted me to make one loop around the back yard so she could get the dog out while I was clearing the stuff out front. I do that now, and it reduces the stress, because I know they are fine.

      My dad was at his best/worst for cutting the grass. He had a very big yard broken into four sections, each with its own care plan. I hate cutting grass, but I think I transferred his approach to snow removal.

      Like

  14. I needed this nice friendly post this morning. I take walks virtually with you and Maddie. The photos are always a boost and beautiful. Did I see your favorite reflection puddle in one? I’m a list maker and crossing off is a satisfaction. Have a great week!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Thanks , Dan. This was a thoughtful post that brought along a nice gentle feeling , reminding us to be careful and to take life a bit at a time and to plan little successes along the way . It was especially reassuring with a great bow to your dad .
    I was also thinking , about the bar , that the type of ventilation is very important , they say . You east coast people have it rougher than we do in the south west as the weather gets colder . I do miss meeting the guys for a couple of beers every week , but there are worse things in life . By the way : I’m not drinking any more . Well , I’m not drinking any less .

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Haha. I probably am drinking a little less now that I’m not traveling for business. I’m not sure how it shakes out at the end of the year, maybe down some. I only occasionally meet one of my real bar buddies in person, but it’s a treat when I do.

      A little at a time is a great way to get through anything.

      Take care Dan

      Liked by 1 person

  16. You have just hit on why I only do 1000 words a day when I’m working on a novel. That is the chunk that I can handle with ease. Any more and it becomes a strain with all the other stuff I have to do. Super photos, Dan. I’m glad the bar was empty.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks John. I thought of this post when I was reading your interview earlier. I haven’t gotten into a good habit of writing, the chunks are fairly odd sized. That picture is the way I like to find the bar when I arrive.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I’m glad you are staying safe (as you can). We are all just finding our way as best as we are able. Well, not all, unfortunately… there are some real crazies out there.

    I always break up big tasks in chunks too. What can first appear overwhelming, isn’t nearly as daunting when done a bit at a time. That being said, I’m so happy not to have leaf raking on my to-do list.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Right. It would have to be a pretty large project. We did a huge project for a state government, where we installed our software then modified the daylights out of it. It took us over a year and there were a good 20 people on it fulltime, and a lot of us worked on specific parts. That’s the kind of project you’d need CPM for, because you were scheduling people in and out all the time.

        Liked by 1 person

  18. Hi Dan – your Dad’s approach, which you very sensibly took on board, and yours today makes so much sense – and should be promulgated to us all. Excellent post … with the usual local photos – which I enjoy … especially the four-leggeds – well done on keeping safe – Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Hilary. I did run into people who couldn’t work that way. One young man who worked for me said he preferred “to work on things, and when they’re done, they’re done.” He did not last very long.

      Like

  19. I wonder how often people don’t plan their projects in the ways that you do, then end up in a pickle because of it. I’m a good project planner, even if I don’t apply that skill to my daily life. I love the last photo of cat with attitude in front of floral wall.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve been in projects that never seem to end. They always drove me crazy. One of my bosses thrived on chaos. He loved bring almost late with everything in life. I was so happy the day he retired.

      Like

  20. Hi Dan. I must have gotten distracted yesterday morning. Or maybe yesterday morning was not on the list. I am not sure I would want to try capturing the drops on that screen. Even with a camera. I would say they came out pretty darn good. As for the bars virtual and otherwise as long as we don’t have to go to virtual drinks I am okay. As for project plans I like your approach. Manageable small chunks. Happy er Tuesday Dan

    Liked by 1 person

  21. In Los Angeles, we hadn’t gotten back to any form of indoor dining. We experienced it on our trip up to Seattle and in Oregon. Both states had done a great job with it to the point we felt comfortable. Both states have now closed that down this week due to the increase in Covid 19. California was by county and the surrounding counties had gone back to spaced indoor dining. Looks like that is being shut down this week. Los Angeles County is such a physically huge county, covering not only the city of Los Angeles, but many of the surrounding cities and the Covid count has been too high all year. Sad situation all around. Outdoor dining is still OK. At least we live in a climate where that does work with Patio heaters this time of year.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I’m sorry you had to explain about the bar. I completely understand, and know how it is. As to your dad, I think that is wonderful. See, teaching sticks with you, and becomes a greater lesson in life. I’m glad I’m a teacher! I love and look forward to the tree photo, all year long. Best to you, Dan.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you’re a teacher, too. People choose to teach, even parents. Some don’t take the time to explain. My dad always did. He always made sure we understood how and why we were to do things. My brother became a teacher, and a very good one. I still learn things from him.

      The tree is bare now, but I still like seeing it. I hope you have a wonderful weekend, Jennie.

      Liked by 1 person

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