Thursday Sep 18, 2008

Gen Y + Gen Z + Eco Responsible Branding = Win, Win, Win

There's this discussion on Twitter this week about the evilness of plastic shopping bags that was kicked off by this tweet:

Naturally, everyone says they want to be ecologically friendly and refuse plastic bags. For the most part, the conversation confirmed that most retailers support the "no plastic bags" stance -- some, mostly grocery stores, encourage it by offering a small credit to folks to use cloth bags, or recycle plastic bags. That's good.

Tho', there are some retailers who are totally missing the boat. I'm talking about the clothing shops that cater to Gen Yers and Gen Zers/tweens -- the shops that use their bags as walking advertisements. Bags as ads is a great idea, but why not do what the grocery stores do and sell inexpensive branded cloth bags to consumers and reward them with a small discount each time they reuse it? My 13 year old & her friends use these bags instead of backpacks and they are all too happy to be a walking billboard for these shops.

The brand wins.
The consumers win.
The environment wins.

Friday Aug 29, 2008

LG washer and dryer install mistakes & tips

We recently purchased and installed ourselves what I call the sexiest washer and dryer on the market:

Our install was not flawless and led to a few days of frustration until the nice LG repairman paid a visit. I figured the following might save someone some hassle if they run into the same issues:

Tip #1: It's worth it to have it installed by the pros for two reasons: 1. This isn't your typical take it home and plug it in set. 2. The washer drum is crazy heavy.

Tip #2: If you do the install yourself, be extra careful when connecting the power cord wires to the dryer. The screws that connect the electrical wires to the dryer can be easily stripped. If this happens, the wire connection will be loose and may lead to an electrical smell followed by your breaker being tripped or worse...cause component(s) in your dryer to burn out.

Tip #3: If you purchased platforms (one drawer bases that the washer/dryers sit on), don't forget to install the four mounting plates that connect the machine to the base. I highly recommend purchasing the bases even though they are a bit pricey because the doors on both the washer and dryer will sit rather low to floor without them -- causes an awkward back bending/twisting motion when shuffling the laundry in/out. Plus, the drums are deep so, it's a stretch to reach into them -- worse if not elevated via the platforms.

Tip #4: If your washer bounces around the room on the spin cycle, ensure the four shipping bolts on the back of the machine have been removed. Ensure the mounting plates (see tip #2) have been installed. Use the leveling wrench that comes with your appliance to adjust the feet -- this step may take several tries. It's best to apply the adjustments during the spin cycle, otherwise, you're just taking a shot in the dark. Using a carpenters level to ensure the top of the machine is level won't do the trick since your floor may have some give that plays a factor during the spin cycle.

Tip #5: I've read about some washers acquiring a mildew smell because the front-loaders may allow for the drum to not drain entirely and because the door has an air-tight seal. The LG repair man suggests leaving the door open in between use and using HALF of the detergent that is suggested on the detergent instructions.

Tip #6:: Per the repair man, dilute your bleach as well (half water: half bleach) to prevent bleach build up in the hose. I'm not sure I buy this one since the bleach reservoir seems to hold very little, but I'm still getting use to the fact that the washer uses significantly less water than the old school top-loaders.

Tip #7: Wash similar weight fabrics together. This will help balance the load and decrease the washer vibration during the spin cycle.

Once we had the repairman out to fix our install issues, both of them work like a charm.

Monday Aug 25, 2008

My (alleged) Theme Song

I guess, for the most part, it fits...well, wait, it might fit at times, but I definitely have my moments where I'm not exactly laid back and optimistic.

Your Theme Song is Soak Up The Sun by Sheryl Crow
"I've got no one to blame
For every time I feel lame
I'm looking up"

You're laid back, optimistic, and very together
Like the sun, people feel warm and comfortable around you

Friday Aug 08, 2008

Meet Beijing Skrocki!


Some of you may have read my post on Operation Frog Egg Relocation. Please meet Beijing Skrocki!

I'd like to say that Beijing is a symbol of the relocation program being a success, but as it turns out, Beijing was one of the few (if not only) eggs left in the koi pond that escaped the menu of Big Tuna (my big, sweet, hungry koi) and my OCD pond vacuuming. So, our little 8/8/08 froggie is indeed lucky! :-)

As for the relocated eggs, they are still doing well as tadpoles, but their road to becoming frogs is much slower than Beijing's. In fact, I'm beginning to worry about their slow progress -- winter will be here soon enough.

Sunday Aug 03, 2008

Dragonfly

Every now and then I catch a lucky shot with my rookie Canon PowerShot SD750 (a crowd-sourced recommendation that I totally appreciate!). This welcomed beauty was just visiting my pond -- s/he gets bonus points for having an appetite for mosquitoes.

Monday Jul 21, 2008

Skrocki Family Portrait

My new all time favorite painting and a treasure for which I will be forever thankful, compliments of the incredibly talented and beautiful @MrsThinGuy.



Thursday Jun 19, 2008

Koi Pond and Frog Eggs Relocation Program

In my spare time, I'm a novice koi pond hobbyist. Which as it turns out, involves a whole lot more education than what I had originally expected when you factor in managing levels of acidity/alkalinity, ammonia, salt, nitrates, chlorine, etc. Bundle that with the required armchair koi vet degree and quarantine environment that you'll need to respond to infections and injury (on top of knowing the types of koi by their proper names, pond filtration equipment, predator control, the types of plants that will be compatible with the pond ecosystem, etc.) and it gets...complicated, but still fun.

This week's lesson-in-progress is how uninvited guests in the form of amorous amphibians one day, can turn into thousands of frog eggs the next day. At first glance the rope of eggs looked much like a cluster of plant roots, but after closer examination, it's clear that they are frog eggs. The koi managed to eat the majority of them before I had time to relocate them to a small water feature we have in the yard (pictured in this post). Now, we wait and see if tad poles will develop -- I understand that it takes a week or more.

I opted to intervene with a relocation because they are native to the area and offer value in the form of insect and slug control -- which our garden and mini fruit orchard will appreciate. Tho' some argue that frogs can introduce adverse conditions to a koi pond in the form of unfriendly bacteria or parasites. My pond has a UV filter that helps to manage bacteria, but it won't kill parasites. I've yet to experience a parasitic infestation, so I know little about responding to and managing one.

My frog-loving 6 year old nephew will be visiting for a couple weeks in about 10 days, so I'm hoping the timing will be right for him to observe the emergence of tadpoles...assuming a higher-ranking creature doesn't discover their hide-out.

Update (June 21): Tadpoles emerged today: http://flickr.com/photos/lskrocki/2597620655/

Friday May 30, 2008

I know, this blog needs some spice

A friend of ours, Roger, has been mentioning how boring this blog has become. "Have you gone pro?", he asks. To which, I laugh...a lot. As a side note, even tho' he's not in the tech sector he's a great example of how personal blog content on a corporate site can lead to driving awareness of a company with people who normally could care less about certain topics related to it. Our conversations about a personal topics often would lead to a work related topic he read about on my blog. Cool.

Anyway, getting back to the cause of the boringness. Sadly, he's not the the only one to notice that this blog seems to have lost that personal content ingredient. This isn't by design or some master plan to abandon my goofiness and strive for some higher level of rigid professionalism. Much of it has to do with my turning 40 in March and as a result I got serious about getting fit -- this started around late last year.

I now spend more time running and cycling. Now that summer is here, I spend an insane amount of time gardening (we have a 2 acre yard). This calendar year, I've also taken on a few task forces at Sun AND one of my projects, Forums, reached a point where it needed and deserved far more attention (lots of good traction there that I'll try to blog more about).

So, that's the word. I'll try to bring back some entertaining posts, but in the meantime, visit me on Twitter for some goofy microblogging, if you'd like.

Tuesday May 13, 2008

Hope and Healing for Myanmar and China

The current death tolls resulting from the Myanmar cyclone and China earthquake are beyond heartbreaking and nearly impossible to comprehend. After hearing an update on the magnitude of destruction, which is still inconclusive, I just can't help but feel powerless -- desperately wanting to help out, but not being able to. That's wrong. Remote assistance via financial contributions, driving awareness of how one can help, and thoughts of healing might not feel adequate, but these efforts no doubt make a difference.

Via the AidMatrix site, as an example, $100 can help 400 people and it takes less than a minute to donate. Sun employees can check the box to automatically have their donation matched by the Sun Microsystems Foundation.

Saturday Jan 05, 2008

Finding inspiration on my kid's iPod

I've been using my 13 year old's Nano to work out since it integrates with my Nike + iPod kit. There is one rule tho' -- she'd rather I not create my own playlist. Fair enough. She has a few songs I actually enjoy, but for the most part, the gap between her taste in music and mine is well...a lot like the grand canyon, but I am expanding my exposure to gangster sounding music. Diversity is good, right.

Something cool happened today toward the end of my workout (when I really wanted to throw in the towel early)..."Stacy's Mom" came on. God bless her. It was a perfect ending to a work out by a a middle-aged woman with a Kung Fu death grip on a dream to not look 40 on her upcoming 40th -- 62 days to make it real.

Cute Sims version:

Thursday Jan 03, 2008

2008 Resolutions

In no particular order...
  • Continue daily workouts. Lose 20 pounds.
  • Blog more. At least 1-2 times per week.
  • Minimize the volume of stuff. Say yes to every call I get from credible charitable organizations who ask for donated items. It's silly that charities are offering to pick stuff up from my doorstep & I've been to "busy" to take 5 minutes to fill a box or bag (or two) of stuff that I forgot I own.
  • Learn to meditate.
  • Trim those extra work hours a bit and shift them to offline family time.
  • Unsubscribe from unnecessary aliases.
  • Crawl out of the home-based office more often to meet new or existing colleagues.
  • Continue to only engage in social nets that add value.
  • Hold at least one 101 session per month for groups within (or outside of) Sun who want to learn more about corporate blogging, wikis, mediacast, forums, and/or planets. Let me know if you have a group in mind. Attending a 101 session automatically gets you into my secret platinum support club (read: call, email, IM, or Tweet me directly & I'll hook you up).
  • Get to the next level on guitar hero.

Tuesday Dec 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

Sunday Dec 23, 2007

Putting 1st things 1st

The last several weeks leading up the end of June and end of December seem to be beyond hectic at Sun. We set bar obnoxiously high within our individual charters and more often than not the bar is cleared but, not without an insane amount of blood, sweat and tears. Not without an insane amount of stress. Sadly, I can't say that I've come anywhere near mastering the art of patience and grace during these times to the degree that I'd like to.

I moved a photo of my grandparents from the piano (when I play, they are the perfect audience to look at), to my desk. It serves as a powerful reminder of how to behave with grace, respect and never-ending optimism during tough times -- and let's just say that my woes are nothing compared to raising 10 kids in the face of a depression, severe racial and religious intolerance, rampant disease, none of the appliance conveniences we have today, etc.

Their hardworking gene has been passed on through the generations as well as their love and dedication of family. I suppose the countless distractions of today make it easy to lose focus on what's most important, but I fully realize it's my responsibility keep the priorities in check.

Taking care of yourself and your family is a core value of Sun. Not many people know this, but during my first month at Sun, I offered my resignation when my child contracted a bone infection & required hospitalization for a week. As we began the hospital admissions process, she was understandably upset. I promised I wouldn't leave her & I held true to that promise, but it meant resigning from the job I had coveted for a long time. I called my boss's boss to resign (my boss was on vacation at the time). She told me my resignation was unnecessary & to take care of my daughter. Going out on a limb for me when I hadn't had time to prove my value, is something I'll always be grateful for.

I love Jonathan's response to the question of "What's your greatest extravagance?" during a 2005 Churchill Club discussion. His answer "My kids. Period." In the same discussion he said "If you take your work home, if you take your work on vacation, if you take your work into your kitchen, you've made a choice. Every one of us makes choices on how much we want to allow the network to invade our lives. Burnout is a choice."

So, on that note, I wish you a relaxing, peaceful holiday season spent with what matters most in this life...the people you love. These are the times that'll be gone in a blink.

Saturday Dec 22, 2007

Broccoli rendition: Angels we have heard on high

A special holiday greeting for my broccoli eating friend.

Game console rock band

Via xkcd. I know a few members of the SkROCKi band who this applies to. The sad thing is we don't have the right console for the drum set, so I have to wait in line at Best Buy to play the demo set. The Mr. and kid are my #1 fans -- they enjoy my performances from afar so they don't have to hassle with the rest of my fan base. Who can blame them, really.

xkcd-rockband








About

Sr. Community Engineering Program Manager/Acting Director for Sun's external social networking sites (blogs, forums, wikis, etc.). Skrocki's personal blog, LinkedIn.

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