Just spent a week with my folks at their lodge in the Trinity alps, sitting on the deck staring at a gorgeous view, reading and playing chess.
One of the books I read was Project Management For The 21st Centry - Greg John recommended it to me - at first I didn't like it: it talked about how you need to synchronize your project with your company culture, and I had no idea what the hell it was talking about, and I totally disagree with this sentence: "Find average people who are motivated," it said. Because - get this - if you have all of your company's superstars on your team, management will expect more from you. But then I started to really like it: the book is dense, for one thing. They usually only devote a few paragraphs to any given idea - which means there's hundreds of ideas in there. Unfortunately, I was reading Greg's copy, so now I have to buy my own and read it again so I can highlight the ideas I want to try. (And cross out that particular line that offended me.) Also, near the end of the book, they actually do explain what the hell they mean by company culture, and now I grok it, and the idea is not that far out there. One great piece of advice: do not tell people you want to change their culture - you have to be more subtle than that if company or team culture is getting in the way of your project. Don't call it a "cultural change" - call it a "new approach."
The other book I read was The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay: this is a book I saw Greg John reading but I'm not sure if he ever officially recommended it to me. Well, he should have. I haven't enjoyed a novel this much since I read Galatea 2.2 - just turning the page was a pleasure. I read it straight through in two days. It's about comic books, Jews, World War II, and homosexuals...more or less in that order. The guy who wrote it was also one of the guys who worked on the Spider-Man 2 screenplay...he knows his shit.
As far as chess goes, I managed to get my rating up to about 1300 on ICC months ago, and I haven't been able to get it any further. I have plateaued. The frustrating thing is I'm reading lots of books and playing training programs and doing chess puzzles, and just not getting better. I'm like that guy who studies really hard and still gets Cs. Kind of depressing.
Had my first Movielens disaster today. Movielens said I'd give *Garden State* 4 stars - it's worth more like 2.5, IMO. Maybe they just don't have enough data yet - which means Movielens is going to be typically unreliable with new releases. (The people who see the new releases are probably going to be the people who wanted to see those new releases...)