Sunday, August 13, 2017

I want to be a Mechanical Turk activist.

(Amazon Mechanical Turk)

By this I mean, I want someone else to be able to call me up and say "call City Supervisor X and say 'I support Bill Y'", and then I do it. I don't want to have to watch all the bills coming in, find the ones that I support, research their backstory, learn what they really mean, and finally make one call. That's hours of work for one call. I want to spend one minute for one call. Or one hour for one showing-up-at-local-planning-meeting. I spend my whole working life doing research, I don't have mental energy to research a bunch of political things every week too.

This seems obvious, but it also seems very hard to do. There are mailing lists, but it's hard to get on the right mailing list (that will send you direct calls to action, and only direct calls to action). I'm on a couple: Indivisible and the SF YIMBY party seem pretty good at this. Make this kind of mailing list, and I will beat a path to your door.

(A step even further/better would be if I could delegate my voice. I want to be able to join the SF Bike Coalition, say, and whenever the SF Bike Coalition supports Thing X, they can automatically count me with them. I guess they get this a little bit by having big membership rolls, but I want to make a stronger kind of membership: "I explicitly agree with everything y'all do and say." (Ideally this comes with a weekly reminder email or something, so I can withdraw my voice-delegation if the organization starts to go off the rails.))

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The consumer experience of capitalism in other spheres

(or maybe I should say "neoliberalism" to get more clicks :P)

Ok, super-extreme capitalism seems to say, markets will solve everything, because we are all rational self-interested people and we'll choose things that are the best for us. If someone is offering something that is not the best, they will go out of business. That is usually pretty good. It lets us get cheap bananas.

Now there are a lot of externalities that go into getting those cheap bananas, which is usually the drum I bang on, but I'm not going to get into that here. Instead, what I'm focusing on here is the consumer experience of capitalism.

I just sort of assume that bananas work in a store-ish fashion. Like, I go to the store, I can see the price of bananas, I can basically see how good they look, and I can make the best choice. I know what I'm getting. (If I don't - like, if the bananas later turn out to be rotten, or if they tell me a different price at the register, etc, then I just don't buy bananas from them again, and they eventually lose.)

We assume this with choices of our time too. For the most part, we know what we're getting if we spend our free time in a park, at a coffeeshop, at a bar, playing a board game, whatever. We pretty much know the

I'm trying to be a little more active of an activist, too. But that is tricky, because it's usually not like a store, in that I don't know what I'm getting for my time. I could phone bank all day and get 0 more votes. I could go to a meeting to organize a meeting to organize a meeting for something, and it might not ever help anything.

So I guess I've got to categorical-imperative it a little bit - just effin' do it, because it's a good thing to do. Or maybe rely on social pressures- make some friends who are into something activisty, and then do it to hang out with them, and by the way we got some votes.

Maybe some people want to want X, more than they want X.

where X = a Ferrari or a beach vacation or whatever else

thinking about this after seeing an ad for a vacation package at a beach resort somewhere and thinking, geez, that would just be terrible. Now, of course, I like beaches less than the next guy, but I don't even think I'd want to win a ski vacation package, say.
(eh, maybe. I mean, I'd take it. But I'm not really jonesing for it.)

Thinking about this too after having a couple of free days in between things recently, and thinking "gosh, I've actually cleaned up the ol' to-do list. It's done. I've completed everything. Now I get to do... what?" It's just a day here and there, so I couldn't make a big plan, but even so, I sort of frittered them away doing a bunch of small things. It would be really nice if I could just say "I've won it! Some free days! Now I get to spend them having The Best Time!" Similarly with money. "I got some money - now I can have The Best Time!"

It's an antiquated notion, maybe, from a time when you never even had enough time or money. If you were in the 30s or 40s, you'd be trying to scrape by or not die in a war; you didn't have time to think about what you'd do after you made it, and you might just assume "it'll all be good then, I'll buy The Best Life." But it turns out, being a human and figuring out what "feelings-you" actually wants is complicated, even after you've made it.

Anyway, I want to want a Ferrari. That'd be nice and simple.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Structuring life around cleaning up

I'm finding that I'm organizing life around cleaning up. Get things into a queue, then get them out of that queue. Another way to talk about this is "checking things off lists."

It has great benefits for organization. I find I almost never lose or forget about things. They're always on the right list, here or there.

On the other hand, it makes me feel a little like a robot, like my entire life is all about finishing the list. What happens when the list is done?

Right now I'm trying to take off a couple of those lists by removing stuff from my phone. Disconnecting a little, etc. We'll see how it goes.

Other thoughts that were on my list to blog about:
- I'm getting annoyed by "X shouldn't be a partisan issue." Like, yes, I agree. Health care should be a human right, net neutrality should be a thing, etc. But I don't think you're going to convince any Republicans that they should all of a sudden support the ACA because it "shouldn't be partisan."
- Listening to Mogul, a podcast about hip-hop executive Chris Lighty, and they talk about a time when, as a poor kid in the Bronx, he saved up for a nice jacket, then some other jerk stole his jacket. It's not fair, and it's kinda this first "loss of innocence" moment for him. He did everything he was supposed to do, and wrong place wrong time, he gets screwed. This feeling really hits. I get that feeling ("someone stole my bike wheels!") and it sends me absolutely nuts, because not only is it not fair to me, it just doesn't even make sense! Like, it's worse than just "I wanted X, someone else wanted Y, so they took it" - it's more like "sorry, the universe rolled dice and you lose." Just, random bad things happen! But at the same time, I never get that feeling on the scale that he does. Never had my life's savings stolen from me. And it made me think, because he's a black kid in the Bronx I guess, imagine black people getting killed by police; cop freaks out and kills Philando Castile, and a lot of people say "welp, deal with it, being a cop is hard and sometimes you roll dice and get unlucky." I don't know what to do about that. For starters, maybe, we acknowledge that the US isn't as much of a land of opportunity for some as it is for others, and we oughta do whatever we can to fix that.
- Sorry, 's not very profound, but it's been on my mind. See my previous assertions that "this is my journal for myself, which you can read if you like."

Thursday, July 13, 2017

sand trees salt pit lava lakes trip recap

free week, rented this car, went on this trip! Planned about a day in advance. Used Atlas Obscura to look up a lot of places to go. In between, tried to just pick out any kinda non-interstatey routes.

here's a map! here's an image, because links never last!

got these pictures!

I have a lot of thoughts! In the spirit of getting them all out so I can get on with my day, I will just shout em out here.

Bivy camping: it was ok. it's like a little sleeping bag bag. I guess it's supposed to come with a little pole that gives it a little height so it's not just like being inside a plastic bag. Mine was missing that pole. Would have been nice.

I didn't know they made cars w/o cruise control. Luckily, they all have a USB and a headphone jack, at least.

It is weird how comfortable this trip is. It's 95 degrees most days, and I don't even notice.

I have a lot of thoughts while I'm driving. They come and go. This is interesting. Also frustrating: I want to get them down. I know some of them at least are good!

It's really hard to go completely unplanned. I end up planning roughly a day or two in advance, and I have a goal to get to Butte because there's a big toxic waste dump near there called the Berkeley Pit. Call it a trip Macguffin - it doesn't really matter what the Berkeley Pit is, but it gives me a direction to go.

One great thing about traveling: it makes you appreciate your regular life more.

Weird: I got to the campsite at Great Basin and just started hiking. I'm not sure I even wanted to!

Am I driving too much? I mean, maybe? But I kinda enjoy the moving as much as the being there.

Interstates are lame. Everything gets samey; it's like the suburb of roads. Everything's easy. There's more traffic. I had to keep telling Google "give me a less direct route."

I wish I were like a reporter, like I was good at talking with strangers. That's usually the most interesting time. But I'm always worried about bothering people, or having nothing to talk about, or ending up trapped in a conversation I don't want to continue.

Srećan Božić... Maga?

Of COURSE I had to stop in the bar/restaurant in Austin, NV that was apparently called "Serbian Christmas." I mean, it was also covered in Trump/Pence signs, but... meaningful cultural exchange?
(This might be a good time for a "content note: intense anti-Muslimness.")

There were two people inside. One lady behind the counter, hunched over, eating a piece of pie. One guy sitting at the counter, not doing much of anything. We start talking, I tell them I'm going to Great Basin, that's cool. I ask about "Serbian Christmas" - are you two Serbian? "He is." So I tell him about Tati and her family, how they're from Serbia, we're talkin' Serb things like where all the big Serbian communities in the US are, and where they're building a new Serbian orthodox church, and how they have a big fiesta here every Jan 7. I ask where in Serbia he's from. He names somewhere I don't remember, and says "The only place the Muslims never conquered." "Oh."
He: "Yep, never got there. Everywhere around."
I: "Huh."
He: F**king Muslims. They want to impose their own f**king law, you know that?
I: No, I didn't know that. Are you sure?*
He: Did you know they mutilate their women? They just arrested a bunch of doctors.
I: Hmm. I didn't hear about that.*
He: Well, most people didn't. They do it to all of em, young girls...
I: Hm. I thought* it was just the extremists.
He: Huh. Well, I've gotta go work now.
(gets up)
He: Here, you can give your wife this pen. (hands me a pen with their restaurant name on it.)
I: Thanks!

* I do this sometimes, when I don't know how else to have a productive conversation. It seems asinine to let stuff like that slide, but also I want to be as unconfrontational as possible - if we're ever gonna get anywhere. So I try to play the young newbie. "Hmm! Are you sure?" etc, and argue back in a way that says "I think you might be mistaken" when he says something definitely false, in order to give him a way to rethink his beliefs while saving face. If you have any better ideas for what to do when a guy starts spouting nonsense, let me know.

I mean, he thinks I'm decent enough to give a tiny gift to, apparently. We've even got like half a thing in common. But based on things he believes, Muslims are awful, and that's why this one-time immigrant supports the most virulently anti-immigrant people I've ever seen.

Thinking about this later: it's not really this guy that is the worst. If you thought Group X was moving into your country and establishing their own zones where their own terrible laws apply, you'd want them to get out too. Thing is, that just isn't happening, certainly not by Muslims. It's his news sources that are the worst.

Still cursing, but on a brighter note

Met a couple of Air Force guys in Boise. They were like 22, just got there a couple weeks ago after serving in England and Korea. They work on airplanes - maintaining and loading bombs and stuff. Obv I don't know anything about this, but I could share their enthusiasm. Plus I mentioned how my grandpa was in the Air Force and so we bonded a bit about that. They were so into it! And I kinda get it!

The one guy was telling me about when he was in Turkey, loading up planes that were running missions against ISIS targets. I think. He was talking about how, when he loads up 12 bombs in one of these bombers and sees it come back empty, that's "the best f**king feeling in the world." He has such a direct connection to the results of his work. Another time, I guess they had video from helicopters or something? they've got some guy they're targeting, he goes outside, smoking a cigar, and then they can see the bombs hit his building. "Best f**king feeling in the world."

So, ok, on the one hand this is weird, being so jazzed about killing people. But on the other hand: their targets probably are the bad guys. (I'm pretty ok with killing an ISIS higher-up.) And they're talking about doing hard work and getting a very tangible result. I respect that, and I'm even a little bit jealous of it. We can hold all these somewhat-conflicting beliefs in our heads.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

In which I get more evidence that sand is The Worst, and maybe meet my first supernatural creatures of this trip.

Leg 1 of multi-day trip: SF to Sand Mountain, Nevada

There's a big sand mountain! It's like 6 stories tall. It's right off Highway 50, the "loneliest road in the US", just past Fallon, Nevada. And you can camp by it I guess. So I set sights for that and headed off.

When I got there, I noted that indeed it was a lonely road. I saw no people for a long time. At the Great Sand Mountain, I saw a couple of RVs in the distance, and a few people off-roading on dirt bikes and ATVs. I drove past the end of the asphalt road, onto the dirt road, and then I had to turn around so I pulled over to do a 3-point turn and -- the sand is much softer here! and my lil Toyota Yaris isn't moving! Huh.

Forward, reverse, forward, reverse, nope, hmm. Well. I walked over to the RVs and three ladies were standing there, having just finished a ride. I asked if they had any ideas. "Maybe put some wood under your tires?" They had some campfire wood and gave me a couple. I went back and tried it, and maybe made things worse.

I came back to give them their wood back and maybe call a tow truck. This time I met a guy who just hopped off a dirt bike. He's all smiles, "How you doing?" I told him, "well... good, until I got my car stuck." "No! You didn't!" "Yep, I, uh, I'm kinda a dumbass." "Well, no problem, let's get you out!"

So he and his friend come over in some kind of Jeep. They're mid-40s probably, we get talking, they're from northern CA and do some kind of software thing too, we're talking about work. Their sons are each there too. They try to latch a strap onto a tiny hook under the Yaris and drag it out, and the strap breaks. Eventually one of them suggests pushing it - hmm! I gun it, they push it, and sure enough I get it back on the road! Whew.

They're talking about this big sand dune is a great spot for off-roading. "But you don't want to be here at night, some of the locals come down - did you come from Fallon? It's a different breed, I'll tell you." (editor's note: huh? besides a note on the jukebox in the bar that said "no rap, R&B, hip-hop, screamo, or heavy metal", I have no qualms with Falloners.) They recommend I go to a couple campsites up by Fallon. I ask, "But you can camp here, right?" They: "Yeah, but it gets so windy, it's not great for tent camping." I: eh, I'll be OK. They raise an eyebrow.

I sit in my car for maybe 15 minutes trying to figure out what campsites they're talking about, and I can't. So I figure, ok, I'll stay here. I get out to use the restroom and on my way back, they drive up in an ATV. I say, "I think I'll stay here, it's getting late and all."

And the one guy gives me this intense, dire look that I've only seen in movies, and goes "Look. I'm gonna be straight with you, Dan. If I were you... get in your car, and drive that way, or that way."

Side note: my friend Aaron tells this story about how he met The Colonel, a character in Squirrel Hill, while out walking at night; Colonel sees Aaron and yells "STOP!" And Aaron does the only reasonable thing to do when a stranger yells stop, and keeps walking. Then the Colonel yells "STOP!" again, and Aaron does the only reasonable thing to do when a stranger yells stop twice, and he stops.

Similarly, when someone warns me about camping for some vague undiscussed reason (in a place that they too are camping) once, I'll blow it off. When he warned me that second time, I noped the hell out of there.

I still don't even know what was going on! For now, I'm going with "they didn't want me to know they were actually werewolves."

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Dan vs. Machine, continued: colors and magic cards


today's targets:
paint colors
magic cards

Azure Tabletop
Orange Salmon
Lamprey Yellow
Every Little Green
Rhombus Red
Aqueous Ether
Pleb Brown
Ostrich Feather
Light-Skinned Hyuena
Paté Pink
Corrugated Brown
Fertile Crescent
Panda White
Webmaster Blue
Sketchpad Yellow
Lacrosse String
Withered Black
Gunmetal Corridor
Abyss Blue
Navy Suit
Acrid Green
Smoking Green
Red Raymond
Tomato Orange
Antz Brown
Curved Blue
Snap-Mousetrap White
Snow-Covered Pines
Wifi Purple

Magic cards:

Barkin' Elk
2G, 3/1
T: shuffle your library, or don't

Goblin Grendel
1RR, 3/3
R, sacrifice a creature, T: deal damage equal to the sacrificed creature's power to target creature or player

Aura of Enchantment
1WW, Enchantment - Aura
Artifacts cost 2 more to cast.
Sacrifice Aura of Enchantment: target player can't cast spells this turn.

Witch of Bog Wraith
3B, 2/4
Aurawalk (if opponent controls any auras, Witch of Bog Wraith is unblockable)

Wall of Tomb
1B, 2/1
Defender, deathtouch, first strike
During your upkeep, if Wall of Tomb blocked last turn, it deals 1 damage to you.

Well-Fountain of Life
2, Artifact
U, T: gain 1 life.
W, T: gain 2 life.
R, T: don't gain 1 life.

GBR, 4/3, Creature - Wolf
When Andy comes into play, deal 2 damage to target creature in your opponent's library.

A Trick Hunt
B, Instant
Rearrange your graveyard. Draw a card.

Loose Bats
2B, 1/1
Flying. When Loose Bats come into play, put a 1/1 flying Bat token into play.

Wall of Hexes
2W, 0/8
You have hexproof.

Waterfall Window
2U, 1/4
Flying. U: flip Waterfall Window's power and toughness. Use this ability only once a turn.

Castle Keep
B, T, sacrifice Castle Keep: put a zombie from your graveyard into your hand.
W, T: gain 2 life.
T: add 1 to your mana pool.

Delicious Wobbler
2U, 3/2
During your upkeep, if Delicious Wobbler has a counter on it, remove one; otherwise, add one.
If Delicious Wobbler has a counter on it, it has flying. If not, it has shadow.

Power Tower
BB, Sorcery
Deal 4 damage to target player. Scry 2.

1R, Instant
Target creature gets -0/-2 until end of turn. If it has flying, it gets -0/-4 until end of turn instead.

Minotaur Man
3R, 4/2, Creature - Human
1R: Minotaur Man becomes a 2/3 red Minotaur until end of turn.

Delver of Delver of Secrets
0, 0/1
During your upkeep, reveal the top card of your library. If it is an instant or sorcery, sacrifice Delver of Delver of Secrets, search your deck for a card called Delver of Secrets, and put it into play.

Mansion of Ingmar
1B, Pay 5 life: destroy target creature.

Garfield Stacker
WR, 3/3

Treasure Heeder
3U, 4/4
Flying. If an opponent plays an artifact, remove Treasure Heeder from the game. Return it to play at the end of the turn.

Graveler of Secrets
3B, 3/3
During your upkeep, reveal the top card of your library. If it is an instant or sorcery, put a +1/+1 counter on Graveler of Secrets.

Sphinx Dread
(U or B), Instant
Destroy target creature if you control a flying creature.

Waste of a Good Moon
3BB, Sorcery
Destroy all creatures and artifacts. Each player sacrifices half of their lands (rounded down).

Red Quilter
R, 1/2
Sacrifice a creature: deal 1 damage to target creature or player

2G, 1/4
Defender, hexproof, reach. T, exert: +3/+0 until end of turn.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Tales from HCI PhD -> Data Scientist job searching, part 2: negotiating

Before you read this post, read Patrick MacKenzie's negotiation advice.

Ok, great. You're 95% of the way there. Here are a few more details and a couple twists and turns I came across.

Still don't name the first number.

If I had, I would have lowballed myself pretty much everywhere. Surprise - your market value is way higher than you think, you free-food-noshing grad student you.

Use Glassdoor - but it's not gospel.

Want to know what a (job x) at (company y) makes? Glassdoor can tell you. But a few caveats:
It's more useful at a common job at a bigger company. There are a ton of Google software engineer posts, but fewer Stitch Fix data scientists.
Salaries go up over time. Glassdoor estimates may be low. If you want to use it to ballpark results and name a number (though don't name the first number), go for something that's about 1.3-1.5*Glassdoor price.

Don't name the first number*.

* I actually did name the first number once, when talking with (Company B) and (Company C) after Stitch Fix gave me an offer. I knew Stitch Fix's offer was very high on base salary, so I just told it to Companies B and C. They both revised way upward, but couldn't match it - this is a good sign, I didn't shoot too low. (Probably. Maybe I did!)
Stitch Fix's equity offer was pretty standard, though, so I didn't tell that to companies B or C. (and Company C's equity offer was about double Stitch Fix's, so it's good I didn't name the first number there.)
If you don't know if it's very high, or you're not 100% sure that it's very high, don't name the first number.

Mid-sized companies don't do bonuses, it seems.

At Google, my salary was like X + ~15% of X for a once-a-year bonus. At all 3 companies I got offers from here, they just had higher base salary and no bonus. I like this; bonuses are dumb.

Equity in pre-IPO companies is way harder to value.

I have no idea what any of my equity will be worth. Maybe $0! You need a "liquidity event" to sell your shares/options; this can be an IPO, or an acquisition, or a buyback (and probably some other things too). Who knows if this will ever happen. Also, if you have options, and you leave the company before a liquidity event, you have to exercise the options (buy the shares) if you want to keep them. This can be expensive, and has tax implications that I don't understand yet. For these reason, I like salary. Your risk tolerance may vary.
Side note: at Stitch Fix, they wouldn't tell me what percent of the company I was getting or what the strike price was, instead telling me the potential value if the company is valued at $X billion. This was weird, but you can reverse-engineer the percent and the strike price. Ask me if you want to know how to figure this out.

If there's a minor perk difference, price it out

Stitch Fix, for one, doesn't offer lunch. Eh, ok! Say I'll spend $10 a day on lunch, times 200 work days a year = $2000 after tax ~= $3000 pre-tax. I subtracted $3k from their offer and I'm still happy with it.

Don't name the first number.

Did I mention this yet? They will try all kind of tricks to make you name the first number. Kindly, politely refuse.

This was all moot in the case of Stitch Fix, because they didn't allow negotiation.

This was awesome. They gave me a very high offer, and wouldn't budge on it. Their (correct) reasoning is that negotiation opens the door for inequality (e.g. between men and women) based on who negotiates more. So I didn't have to do this whole stupid dance with them! I was very impressed. I hope this becomes a trend.

If some of your offers are negotiable (and they probably will be), you need to negotiate; in that case, you have to play the game and help everyone save face.

Company C would not give me an offer until I told them the details of Stitch Fix's offer. This led to an awkward confrontation, which maybe I didn't handle great:
C: Can you tell me the details of the equity in the other company?
Me: I'd rather not, if you don't mind.
C: But it would really help.
Me: Nah, I'd prefer to keep that private.
C: I just need something to go on, in order to give you the best offer.
Me: I don't see how this could possibly help me, though.
C: Sure it can; I'm trying to work with you here.
Me: No, you're trying to get me to sign for the lowest salary. I'm trying to get the highest salary. Giving you this information can only hurt me.
C: That is not what I'm doing at all.
Me: Err... aren't you? What are you doing, then? Why not just get the best offer you can and we'll talk again then?
(some more back and forth)
C: I'm really taken aback; I don't think I've ever had a call like this. I think the best thing to do is to end the call.
Me: Oh. I... I'm sorry! I can see that I've offended you, and I really apologize. Yes, if you want to end the call, we can do that, and I'll talk to you again soon.
Later, when talking with some managers, I was mildly reprimanded - like "we wanted to clear this up and make sure it was just a misunderstanding, because this seemed like a bit of a red flag to us" etc.

I was trying to just "take the cover off the game" and talk honestly. I didn't want to muck around with "well, because of reason X, maybe you can throw in some more salary" or whatever - but there is a maximum and minimum price you're willing to hire me at, let's try to get the maximum.
She... did not appreciate that. I think it made us both sound like greedy money-grubbers. Instead, I guess we've got to use the language of "working together to find a mutually beneficial deal", "make the pie bigger", "well because of my excellent qualifications blahblah", "I'm hoping to get a salary that allows me to focus on doing great work and not worrying about money", etc.


Here's a way it could have gone better (props to my friend Stu):
C: Can you tell me the details of the equity in the other company?
Me: I'd rather not, if you don't mind.
C: But it would really help.
Me: Nah, I'm sorry, that information is private.
C: I just need something to go on, in order to give you the best offer.
Me: Can I ask why you need to know?
C: (some BS thing)
Me: Ah, ok. Well, like I said, sorry, that's private. When do you think you can get together an offer?
C: After you tell me the other offer details!
Me: Well, unfortunately, that information is private. So, how about if you just put together the strongest offer you can and we'll talk about it then?
C: I really need to know the details of your other offer.
Me: Well, imagine I hadn't gotten that offer yet; what offer would you get me then?
C: But you did get that offer.
Me: But like I said, unfortunately, it's private. Do you mean you can't make an offer without knowing the details of my other offer?
C: Well, no...*
Me: Ok, great! Then I look forward to hearing the details. When do you think you can get it to me?

* I'm like 90% sure she legally has to say no here (in CA at least). But if she says yes, then I guess, decide how much hardball you want to play and how much you want this offer :-/

This would still be somewhat confrontational, but that's on her. This conversation is more polite and we can still maintain this facade of "we're working on the same team." If it helps, imagine that the other company who'd given you the offer hadn't told it to you yet, or that you were legally not allowed to say it for whatever reasons. ("sorry, I'd so love to get you that information! it's just, gosh darn it, it happens to be private. oh well.")

Use your people!

It was very helpful to me to go on Facebook after this difficult interaction and ask "uhh... did I do something really wrong?" and hear "eh, probably nah." The Companies will try all kinds of tricks to make you feel bad for asking for more money, etc. They are capital, you are labor, and 99% of the time you're working together but in this 1% you are somewhat at odds. They do this every day; you are a newbie. Don't get taken.

Reach out to me if you ever want some help. Not that I'm an expert, but I'm happy to help friends and family :) I've worked with 2 people now, plus myself, who were scared to negotiate at all, and we got a little extra money each time, anyway - maybe not optimal, but pretty good for standing on one foot and reciting poetry for 15 minutes!