ChittahChattah Quickies
By Steve Portigal at 2:23 pm, Wednesday November 14 2012

McRoskey mattress jumping is serious work [SFGate] – Silly-but-true stories of product manufacturing. I guess if feet are good enough for grapes they are good enough for mattresses.

Jumping on a mattress is one of the final steps in making a handmade mattress. It may be true that machines, which can be made to do most things, can be made to jump on a mattress. But a machine cannot do what Reynoso and his toes can do, which is to expertly compress no fewer than 28 layers of fluffy cotton batting while seeking to detect pea-size mattress lumps or other imperfections, the kind that can give insomnia to fairy-tale princesses and real-world princesses, too. Reynoso does his jumping in the McRoskey mattress factory on Potrero Hill. McRoskey has been stomping out high-end mattresses in San Francisco for 112 years and is something of a cult among mattress fanciers.

The yard. [Marcin Wichary] – Field research sometimes gets us backstage into interesting environments where we can ask questions and get all the details about how something works. And so I loved this tour of a bus yard, filled with great photos of artifacts, processes, signs, and interfaces.

My friend showed me around the MUNI Kirkland bus yard. MUNI is the municipal public transit system serving the city and county of San Francisco. It will turn exactly 100 later this year. The Kirkland bus yard, near Pier 39, is one of the smallest and oldest bus yards in San Francisco. It is dedicated solely to diesel buses running mostly neighbouring lines, and some express routes too. There are typically over one hundred buses leaving this yard every weekday morning for the rush hour; I visited on the weekend, when it was much quieter and many of the buses were still on the site.

To Have the Most Impact, Ask the Right Questions [HBR] – I’ve written about seventeen types of interviewing questions; here’s another simpler framework that isn’t focused specifically on interviewing.

  1. Convergent questions: What, where, who, and when questions get a person to clarify the specifics of what he or she is thinking. Converging questions can be important when time is of the essence or you are dealing with someone who is theoretical.
  2. Divergent or expansive questions: Why and what if questions ask a person to expand on what he or she is thinking. Divergent questions can be important when you need someone to see the larger context of a position.
  3. Integrating questions: If…then what questions demonstrate an attempt to find common ground between opposing positions. This builds trust and encourages compromise, which is important in situations where the stakes are high for both sides.

Architect Bjarke Ingels’s Youthful Ambition [New Yorker] – Here’s a principle from improv applied to a fresh context: managing creativity and vision in an architectural firm.

“I think you can have high competence, ambitious, without having stress and fear as the motivating factor. It’s one of the ideas of [his manifesto] Yes is More: you can be critical through affirmation rather than negation. You can be critical by putting forward alternatives rather than spending all your energy whining about the alternatives you don’t like.”

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