Monday, March 14, 2011

The Evolving Life of a Road Warrior: Laundry

Laundry is a task that can, and hopefully will, be improved upon from now until the end of time. Certainly I've evolved since starting 12 hours of weekly travel in October.


It wasn't long ago now that I'd pack up my duffle bag in frantic frenzy Thursday morning before checking out of the Kimpton and skipping down the road to the week's last on-site day at the client. Ten billable hours later we'd head to the Corner Bakery, partially lured by free WiFi, to wane the hours down until our 11:00PM flight back to Chicago.

There are two large problems with this scenario.

  1. I'm carrying the same clothes back and forth
  2. I'm spending 3 hours and $1.50 washing them on a shortened weekend

Courtyard to the Rescue

A transition to the local (8 miles farther) Marriott was in order for other reasons, but it also had the very important perk of coin laundry. There are more pro tips than one might expect in the game of hotel-based laundry, so let's take this journey together!

Step 1: Locate Laundry

The folks at the front desk will be more than happy to help you out. After all, they've handed you a SpongeBob & Dora key. When's the last time you saw someone frown and hand you a Nick Jr key?
Dora & SpongeBob Key

Jackpot. This place has a SpeedQueen Commercial Washer and Dryer. Wisconsin's finest laundry equipment will have your work clothes clean in no time...or, as the sign says, one hour and 15 minutes.
Laundry Room Signage

Step 2: Locate Detergent

And what's this signage smiling back at me? It looks like we're headed back to the front desk, friend. Free Tide and Bounce await. I certainly don't have Bounce at home!

Tide and Bounce

Step 3: Locate 7 Quarters

That's right, we'll be out an additional $0.25 after this expedition. A small price to pay for not having to carry clothes 3,490 miles. It also opens up the intriguing first-row exit seats. With nothing to stow overhead, the exit row is our oyster. Shown here are three quarters, because I wrote this blogpost after starting the washer.

Modern American Currency

Step 4: Transfer Suitcase to Washer

Looks like we're winning again. This luxurious Samsonite suitcase is the perfect size for one week's worth of clothes. It's also the perfect size for one SpeedQueen Commercial Washer.

Splendid Samsonite Luggage

Step 5: 4 Quarters into Washer

This step is on easy mode. Fill up the right-most slots with quarters, and away you go. Push the Greenwald Vertical 5 in, pull it out, and start your stare at the beige walls. These clothes can't be left unattended. One might say now is the time to start said blog post.

Greenwald Vertical 5 Dryer

Step 6: 3 Quarters into the Dryer

We've been standing in a tiny laundry room for half an hour by now, crafting our next Blogger entry. Hopefully it's Wednesday night, so we're all prepared for the next week to be laundry-free. Of course it's actually 34 minutes past California midnight on Monday because we've been trying to get the lone washer in the building since arriving at 9 with no success.

All right. Clothes in washer. Good to go.

Step 7: Hang Up Clothes

The dryer certainly didn't get them entirely dry! We'll be using these apparatuses, which science has yet to come up with a name for*:

HangersHangers by Andrew Morrell Photography, on Flickr

Step 8: Check Bag Over Weekend

All you need is a luggage claim check and a friendly employee. Fortunately, the Courtyard has both =)

Fun Fact SG Hill is in no way affiliated with SpeedQueen or any of its competitors.

* That's a nod to the extremely dry British comedy series, Look Around You

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Introducing SG Hill's Tidbits of Development

Wow! It's already March!

In what seems like the blink of an eye, we've gone through:

  • two project extensions in Los Angeles
  • significant progress on another application for said project's client
  • a theme park
  • faux Christmas carols in Colorado's Breckenridge
  • a personal project transition to GitHub
  • 200,000 miles on United, and 50,000 on American
  • significant fitness-related changes
  • ...and more
All without a single [Adventures] blog post.


For quite a while now, I've been spending a large portion of time on purely technical tasks. In some ways, this makes it more difficult to blog — at least in part because those interested in the content of this blog (read: virtually everything but code) may not necessarily be interested in how I've helped improve my project's JavaScript with a healthy pragmatic refactoring, for example.

I've increased my technical immersion over the last few months. As we can see with this fun chart below, the result is fewer blog posts.

Time Spent Technically vs Blog Posts

I'm learning more than ever these days in very specific, technical categories. This is in no small part because I have the unbelievable privilege of working with some of the best software developers and consultants on the planet at ThoughtWorks. My coworkers are often willing to help, but their example alone is enough to really help push me toward continual improvement. I'm frequently finding myself in situations where the code I've written two months ago is flat out embarrassing — which is most certainly a wonderful thing. These learnings don't quite seem to fit with the majority of the 77 posts that have preceded this one, however. A trap I've fallen into is a half-written post that never ends up published because it doesn't fit the flow this blog has carved out.


A great idea that was proposed by Sumeet Moghe at the end of TWU XVIII is advice I'm finally ready to announce I'm following: split into two blogs.

  1. Adventures in [Agile] Development
  2. Tidbits of Development

So, What's The Difference?

Good news! I've taken the liberty of creating a mindmap that was timeboxed to 5 minutes whilst traveling on an airplane.

SG Hill's ThoughtStreams


All of the above adds up to why I've started a second blog, or created a dev branch, if you will. My intent is to have a code-centric corner of the world where I can write about improvements I'm making and hopefully get feedback on where to go next and how to make things better. As a secondary benefit, I hope to simply have a log that documents the progress of a young developer, if for no other reason than I wish there was something similar I could read while in school.

Fun Fact Cronotrons may one day be the official unit of time estimation.