Saturday, September 20, 2014

Studio Journal Episode 13 – fun electric bill issues

Please explain if this makes any sense to you.  I got my final bill from my electric company at the old apartment.  According to them, my daily electric use quadrupled in my last ½ month, despite being pretty consistent for 4 years.  I emailed customer service telling them that there is no way I would pay the bill unless they could come up with some rational explanation for how this could be the case.  If anything, it should be much less since most of my electricity-using belongings were packed, including my TV and computer. 

So I just got the explanation.  They didn’t check the meter when I moved out.  They checked it at the end of the month as usual and billed me for half and the new resident for half.  WTF ?!?!?  How is that possibly fair?  If I was not paying attention, I would have paid for a whole lot of electricity use that was not mine.  It probably wasn’t the new resident either – I bet that the complex had the A/C cranked during the in-between day when they were getting it ready for the new person.  They also probably plugged in various commercial strength cleaning appliances and whatnot.

To their credit, they did make an adjustment.  They used my history as a benchmark times the number of days and billed me for what I probably used.  I am sure this is higher than what I really used, but much closer than the first bill.  So shout out to them for at least a little intelligence.

I also just got the first bill in my new place.  This one was double my usual.  But at least I know why this time.  My realtor told me that he had the A/C cranked for 48-hours in advance of my move-in.  The first day was to help the new paint dry.  The second was so that the apartment would be comfortable when I moved in.  Of course, the movers had the door propped open, so all of that A/C was gone in 5-minutes.  In theory, I told the electric company I was moving in at 5pm on the 1st, so that is when the billing should have started.  But I am just going to swallow this one and pay it in full without complaint.  I only have so many battles in me.

Inside the Mirrortocracy

I don’t remember how I found this pair of articles (here and here), but they compose a really interesting take on hiring in the tech industry and probably generalizable to a lot of fields that have “cultures.” (You will understand the quotes in a moment).

If you are familiar with the idea of identity-resonance (which I blog about a lot both here and at EID)
One form of identity resonance is in-group resonance.  We feel more comfortable with people who we have things in common with, often based on race, belief, gender, age, or archetypes like clothing, music, food.   It makes sense that this would evolve because it is much easier to predict what someone will do when you can model their thinking in your own mind.  It is also safer because in-groups evolved from our tribes, which helped us defend against out-groups (other tribes).  So it is natural and visceral and in the ancient areas of the brain, which makes it often unconscious.

The Mirrortocracy articles apply this to hiring.  There is a lot of research, some covered in the articles, that an applicant is more likely to get considered, interviewed, and hired when you share these in-group attributes with the hiring manager.  They often don’t even know they are doing it.  But it leads to unfortunately insulated and isolated companies because these similarities also mean you probably think alike.  Less innovation.  Less creativity.  More susceptibility to Groupthink. Less ability to recognize and deal with large changes in your industry.

This happened a lot in the dotcom book with startups.  Everyone walked around in their jeans and t-shirts and played foozball.  They were 20-something white males.  Perhaps they could have used a little more diversity.  The same thing can happen in the 3-piece suit worlds of investment bankers and lobbyists. 

This is where the term mirrortocracy comes from.  If you look like what your management sees in the mirror every day, you advance.

Studio Journal Episode 12 – Life is too short

I completely lost Thursday and Friday at work (a topic for another day maybe) so I have to work this weekend.  I made my weekly trip over the shelter to donate a bunch of stuff (I am really trying to do that every week now).  On the way, I noticed that today was the Waltham town fair.  So I walked around for a bit to check it out.

Then on the way home from there, I passed by the Waltham Farmers Market, which is on Saturdays  through the end of October.  So I walked around for a bit. 

Here I am at 3pm and just getting to work.   But living close to things like town fairs and farmers markets is the main reason I moved to downtown Waltham.  So I don’t regret my morning distraction for a second.

Life is too short to waste it seeking immortality.