10 July 2014

Ragequit: End of the Personal Stuff

It's all fun and games until your audience starts forwarding your blog posts to your boss.

I'm tired of shooting myself in the foot by over-sharing.  So, this is over.  Haven't decided yet whether the whole blog goes dark, gets deleted, or what (if any) content I'll post here in the future.

I'd like to keep it as a place my kids can see their Dad struggle through his self-entitlement and selfishness to find the path to redemption (yes, over and over).  At this point, the whole thing is just a liability, and that makes me sad.

27 June 2014

Best 5 minute meeting ever

So, here we are 3 years later.  

In 2011, I saw my name on a weird spot of an organization chart, 3 levels up from where it had been.  I was reporting to a Director (soon to be a Vice President) and my title was 'Architect'.

I went through all the phases of grief:
  • Shock: "Wow, look at all this stuff I need to understand!  I can do anything I want..."
  • Anger: "I've just butted heads with most everyone in power at my company.  I can't do anything I want."
  • Bargaining: "Maybe I can balance all this crap with things I like to do.  I can do something I want."
  • Acceptance: "There's an huge pile of work.  I'm spread paper thin. I can do a little bit of what I want."
During that time, I expected to live at all levels:  High-level strategy, designing new systems, coding, support/sustainment, etc.  I felt excited, because we needed help in all those places, and I thought I could do it all.

Boy howdy, was I wrong.  

At the end of the day, you've got to do something in your day-to-day that makes you happy.  You've got to feel that you're doing something relevant, measurable, and known. My work was so behind-the-scenes that it didn't influence my area's day-to-day at all.  To me, it was relevant, but in a probabilistic way--I'd do designs, sizings, and proofs-of-concept, but many weeks/months later would they get any action.  And I became an unknown entity...nobody knew who I was or what I was doing anymore.

I saw a great deal: Politics, pettiness, bravery, naïveté, and people searching for answers amid a swirling soup of change.  That sort of exposure changes you; I began to appreciate the grim, determined stoicism of some of my mentors.  You need that attitude to survive.

All that is to say, I was done.  After three years of "strategy," I was unfit to do my fundamental job of making things.  Code was becoming more and more unnatural, but each time I did get to code going back to my regular day-to-day strategy job was simply painful.  And I never, ever had a sense of job satisfaction, that I was doing a good job.

Some unexpected positives came from it:  I learned to stop being so needy of my job, my profession.  Like many men, I'd had my self-worth entirely wrapped-up in my job.  That, oddly, made me worse at my job.  I needed people to like and appreciate what I was doing, and became defensive, fractious, and condescending when they didn't.  In my strategy job, it was essentially impossible for anyone to appreciate what I was doing--in some cases, I couldn't even tell them because doing so would violate SEC regulations--so I was left to turn towards my family and my Lord above.  Looking back on it, I'm a better person for having had this job.

All that to say:  As of 10am or so today, I've got something to deliver by the end of this year.  It's big.  It's hard.  It's technical, and it's important.  I'll need to do analysis, design, implementation, delivery, and sustainment, and I'll be consulting with a broader team to do it, a team I've worked with in the past.

So.  Fricking.  Happy.

23 June 2014

Rant: Why we can't get anything done #32767 --> Vacations

The unfortunate thing about working in a corporation is you have to 'tie out' with people.  This sounds awfully exciting, with visions of ropes, knots, maybe even a lasso or wrestling someone to the ground.

It's not that exciting.  No, what "tie out" really means is getting 2 or more people to agree to do something.  In general, that requires those people be physically or virtually in contact at the same time.

This is a list of common excuses for that not happening, broken down by month:

  • January: Sorry, I was on vacation skiing.
  • February: Sorry, I was at home trying to shovel my driveway.
  • March: Are you kidding? Spring Break
  • April: Out doing my taxes.  Text me.
  • May: Watching our (child, niece, grandchild, neighbors kid) graduate from (kindergarten, 5th grade, 8th grade, high school, college, college (masters)).  I'm also taking off the whole week of Memorial Day and the Friday before.  Really need a break, ya know?
  • June: Family Vacation.  I'll be completely inaccessible for 2 weeks.  Pray for me.
  • July: Me vacation because I took the Family Vacation in June.  Also, duh, I won't be here on 4th of July week...are you *kidding*?
  • August:  Meh...I'm actually here in August
  • September: I'm making a week of Labor Day.
  • October: Kids are off school for Fall Break, which is apparently a thing.
  • November: Thanksgiving week!  Om-nom-nom!
  • December: Nobody's here from December 10th onwards except security.  See you next year.
In my experience the best times to "get something done" is from January to March 15th, then August to Mid November.   Midsummer and "The holidays" are toast.

20 June 2014

On Conflict Resolution

Thought I'd just shout this one into the ether:  When one feels wronged by a person, the correct procedure is to go to that person one-on-one and discuss it.
15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.  (Matthew 18:15)
Okay, that's what to do, but why does God want us to do it that way?  Because it's human nature to gossip, and conflict destroys community.

When you involve others, you spread the original wrong to others, "infecting" them.  Sometimes, this is entirely appropriate; when a crime's been committed, for example, the public needs to know to guard themselves from that individual.  For normal "he hurt my feelings" crap, you're making yourself feel better by spreading the poison to others who'll feel obligated as your friends to "own" your problem.  (An incorrect obligation, but one that seems widespread.)  That ownership changes their behavior towards others, leading to escalation and factions and divisions.  What was between two people is now among a larger group.

I've recently had two incidents that violated the above principle.  In both cases, I was in the wrong and admitted as much when confronted--by someone else.  To emphasize:  In American culture, it's rude in the extreme for peers to go to a 3rd party before attempting resolution.  This isn't universal; in the Filipino culture, for instance, that's wholly appropriate because a confrontation causes both parties to lose face.

I'm saddened by the above, but it happens.  I can obsess about it, or I can choose to forgive and move on.  That's what I'm doing, while limiting my exposure to those individuals going forward.

07 April 2014

Back on the Facebook Hookah

Well, I had a good run.

I exited Facebook on December 30th 2012 and remained off until 4 April 2014.  Last week, Whitney asked me to dig up some pics from my trip to Cebu in 2012, most of which were on my dead MacBook Air...and on Facebook.

Hmm...quandry.  So, I bit the bullet and dove back in.

It's good and bad.  As one would expect, the "network effect" is wonderful.  Most of my dad's family is active, along with some key people from mom's family.   Instantly, I saw pictures of people I haven't seen in person in 3-5 years.  Likewise, much of my high school class is on there and it's neat to see people grow, change, and rear children of their own.  It also seems they've adopted more of the "limited sharing" tools from Google+ so you can share a story with one "list" but not your entire friend group, or go whole hog and share out to "Public" like Twitter.

The bad is largely Facebook itself.  The UI is an A.D.D. nightmare and the "Top Stories" algorithm is a mystery.  With Twitter (and Tweetdeck specifically), I know I'm getting a chronological list of updates. That can be overwhelming and limits individual streams to ~200 to 300 members practically.  Facebook is trying to encourage much larger networks and has a single conceptual "stream" so I realize they have to show/hide things selectively.

But, so what?   It's a tool and it largely disappears when you're looking at baby pics, or commiserating over shared troubles or whatever.  They've captured 1/7th of the humans on the planet, and that inertia brought me back.

I still prefer twitter for short-form stuff and interacting with my Gearheads and Tech friends.  But for actual friends, coworkers, and family, Facebook is the choice.

Everyone who had April 2014 in the pool, you win.