This Week in Laundry

Tech, Travel, Design, and Domestics.

making pudding

Living: Main Street

Working: District

Laundry: Dallas, TX

This week in laundry I make pudding.

The proof is in the pudding. Or so the English idiom goes.

I like to go with it. Because within this phrase lives the notion that results are the true measure of value. Results are what count. Not how well you dress. How you style your title. What school you went to. How good your resume looks. How well a product is marketed. How shiny the packaging. Or how nice the salesman.

The proof is in the pudding. The value is in the value created. The measure is in the outcome.

This notion thrives in Silicon Valley. Where hoodie-clad twenty-somethings become CEOs running companies with billion dollar valuations. Because the measure of their value – of their company – wasn’t made in how they dressed or how old they were. It was based off of results. Users. The quality of their product.

The value is reflected in the results. Wooden mirror by Daniel Rozin at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.

The sentiment finds its way to other idioms. Talk is Cheap. Actions matter. These phrases drive to the same heart – that value resides in output. In pudding. And in that pudding lives the proof. The output speaks to its own value. Because the output is inherently valuable.

The notion isn’t limited to life evaluation. You can find it as well in the practice of screenplay writing. When I took screenwriting coursework, I learned that while the text lends texture, the story evolves through the plot. Actions are what matter. More than dialogue. Actions speak louder than words.

It helps explain why I’m so quick to adopt a value-in-action, talk-is-cheap, love of making pudding. Because my scriptwriting training taught me to value plot advancements over talk. As I apply the lessons learned in sculpting screenplays to my life at large.

Pudding making, in this sense, is an act of plot advancement. Not on the page or on a screen, but in my present life.

While the phrase speaks well of output, it holds a further value when it comes to disagreements.

When working towards a goal we often encounter disagreement. The goal may be common or known, and yet reside across a gulf of risk and uncertainty. That can breed a whole lot of disagreement upon what risks to take and how to spend limited resources. All in due course of navigating to an end through the unknown.

Finding the route to mutual goals can be like finding the tops of skyscrapers in the fog. Dallas in the rain.

In between all this discord surrounding action x causing outcome y, or risk a raising fault b, pudding creates value.

Disagreements derive from unknowns. The unknowns provide a platform for disagreement. When there’s no way to know if action a or action b will lead you to the desired ends, we find ample opportunity to debate either action against the other.

Emotions follow suit. Arguments unravel. Where’s the proof that a brings better results than b, or vice versa?

There is none. There’s only talk about the risks. And this may quickly devolve into gut reactions – intuitions. Which may be helpful, but are all too often anchored by improper biases. And further, can vary greatly between people.

If the proof is in the pudding, and lack of proof leads to discord over proper actions forward, then the answer seems simple: make pudding. Not all the pudding maybe. Just a little. Just enough to find some proof. To help move forward.

This is why I find rapid prototyping so helpful. I enjoy finding ways to quickly arrive at a demonstration. To make some sort of small, simple product. To see how it works. Or what happens. To learn some lessons. To quickly find faults and errors. To identify mistakes and fail in a lower capacity. In short, to quickly make pudding.

Because in the pudding there is proof. And with proof, we can quickly address discord.

I make a little pudding for myself. Projector and raspberry-pi cam positioning.

For this reason, I often value spending resources on quick hacks, even if the proper development activity should be bound up into large scale infrastructure or architecture without a strong measurable output. Because quick hacks create a small moment of pudding. And with it, proof. That proof provides value to the team, the developers, the management, and the customers. It helps relieve fears. And it helps resolve any disagreement or discord.

By helping eliminate disagreement, it frees up time otherwise spent on arguing for more productive activities. It helps calm the political landscape. And it helps a team understand what they’re working towards.

Making pudding is important. I value it. And while I always learn so much when I attend conferences, it still falls short of the value created in the act of actually making something.

In its own way, laundry is a small kind of pudding. Not a particularly impactful one – each week’s wash hardly changes from the last one. And unless you’re blogging between cycles, you likely learn little new from all that lack of variation.

And yet, in a way, it is a small kind of advancement. A marker in the movement from week to week. A reminder that your life continues. A moment for reflection. A breath. And in this small but noticeable movement forward, while still so similar from week to week, we move forward. And in that sense we gain a small taste of pudding.

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© 2018 Andrew Kilkenny