Monthly Archives: April 2013

He Laced Up His Running Shoes

He Laced Up His Running Shoes: 6 Minutes

The scale had given Todd a problem by reading 182.  Not too troubling for someone of his height, but enough that he decided this particular problem could not be allowed to continue to accumulate.   Since he couldn’t take back the burger with extra, extra butter he’d had the night before, Todd now stood in the locker room of his gym, lacing up his running shoes.

After a stretch, which was more to delay the inevitable than trying to do things right, Todd found an open treadmill, set the timer for an hour and started it up.  Given that an hour was a long time to run in place he’d brought along his iPod so he could listen to some music.

First up: Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees.

In five steps he was walking to the beat.  Travolta style.  Hoping, no one around him noticed.

The Rose of Perseverance

I was feeling rather pbbbbbbhhhhhtttttt with the things I’ve been alluding to going on in my life.  That and it’s April and the snow just keeps coming.  4-8 inches tonight.  On April 23rd.  But it was the last snowstorm that I stopped off on the way home from work and bought myself 10 roses.

I love them.  First nights I had them here I carried them around my apartment with me in their vase to whatever room I was in.  Now they stay in my Lab because the only place I could put them in my bedroom was uneven and, sure enough, they fell over a few nights back.  That night I sprang into action trying to save them when I noticed that one of my roses had a weakness in the stem just below the bud.  I thought it might be a goner, I thought about trashing it but I couldn’t give up on it. So, I clipped off the stem some more at the bottom and positioned the rose so the weak spot, that bent like a hinge one way, was weighted with the bud so it was forced to stay open.

Tonight the weak spot is gone and the rose, along with her nine sisters, are all beautiful and still warming my heart.

Geek Ego

I was in a daily stand-up meeting and one of my colleagues said, “I know developers always say ‘That code sucks’ or ‘That code is horrible’ but, wow!”  I kinda wished he hadn’t of added the “but, wow” for the purposes of this post but he did and, really, he was beyond qualified to make such judgments.  Still, as he indicated, those kinds of really violent judgments on other’s work isn’t exactly rare in my line of work or in the geek community.

Picking on Microsoft is another favorite pass time and really illustrates the Geek Ego issue I want to talk about.  I wish I still had the e-mail for reference but I got a message once from another party lambasting how Microsoft implemented some control for socket communication work only, if you checked the specification, the control was doing exactly what it was supposed to do per spec.  This assumption that “I know better” or “Those people are idiots!” happens way to often for my taste.  Sure, mistakes are made by everyone and I’ve seen technical and reasoned arguments against Microsoft APIs on sites like Ars Technica which I found thought provoking.  But the flat suggestion that Microsoft doesn’t as a company know what they’re doing at all, that takes some gall!  I mean, Windows works!  That’s no small feat for a company to accomplish.

One of my personal goals is to reign in my ego as I’ve made violent judgments against other’s work myself.  To bleed a little, after earning my Masters and enjoying some pretty strong success in my career before that, I wanted something more out of my day to day job.  I deserved better I thought.  I believed I found what I was looking only to end up in the situation that inspired my last post.

My hope is the events of this March and April will forever teach me about watching my ego because I know better now.  Just, for so long I thought I had to be like Steve Jobs and go out there and do something really great!  Create the iPad or something that would impact the world in one fell swoop.  It’s hard to stop thinking like that when you’ve done it for so long.  What I was absolutely blind to was everyday a stylist goes to a job, he or she is in a position to change the lives of their clients that they’ll have that day.  Helping someone look better can change how someone feels about themselves and make them feel wonderful!  They then can take their new positivity out into the world and spread it.  Few will know the name of the stylist, but the world was changed for the better in part because of them.

In my career and life I’ll be aiming to take things like “Just working on CRUD” or “That code is stupid” or “I feel like an API plumber” out of my vocabulary forever.  Up until very recently I feel into the trap of using this egoist and violent communication without reservation.  I don’t want to do it anymore.  I can criticize but it needs to come from a place of analysis and reason then delivered in an compassionate way.  The news is a bad enough to hear about bugs you wrote or that the system your company made now has so much low cohesion and high coupling in the code base that it’s difficult to maintain.  No need to be judgmental or egoist or violent about the delivery.

Loving the Sinner, Hating the Sin Doesn’t Always Work out as Planned

I have a hard time getting behind the phrase “Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin” because it’s so easy to abuse.  I’m sure I’m not the first to point this out but, sometimes the so-called “sin” is something that is an innate part of someone’s identity such as being Gay or Transgender.   In those cases and cases like them, whenever the hater hates, they cannot avoid hating the “sinner” as well.

I think “Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin” based thinking for all its good intentions is behind a lot of continued discrimination. For example, someone who likes their gay neighbors and is trusted enough to watch the couple’s cat while they are away, can then turn around and because being gay is a sin, vote to keep those same neighbors from having the right to marry with no mental disconnect.  This can be extremely frustrating to those affected.  Not to mention hard not to take personally.  Add in the fact all these people like each other and matters can get very rough.

I currently find myself in a situation that feels very much like the example above.  I don’t know if “Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin” thinking is behind it but I’ll find out soon enough.  I’m also not exactly chipper about having to find out the true cause of the situation I find myself in.  While I am out and open I really, really don’t like shining a spotlight on myself.  Just, when you personally have something put in front of you and are effectively told, “This is for other people because the part of this that you could use we are going to deny” leaves me wanting to know why?  One thing I’ve learned is not to just assume I know what’s going on or to be judgmental and blast, “Those people are big meanies!” because I’ll probably be wrong on both counts.  So again, I don’t know if I’m up against, “Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin” thinking just, it would be nice if it wasn’t even a possibility.

I also hope by finding out why, I’ll be able to address my currently hurt feelings in such a way that I can identify what I need to feel better and request the assistance I need to accomplish that.

For some reason, ending this with a “Be excellent to each other!” feels right to me.  🙂

My brother did the weirdest thing with turtles

I go to a writing meetup on most Saturdays.  At this meetup, what we do is someone calls out a time and afterward we pull a prompt to write about.  One of this weeks being my brother did the weirdest thing with turtles.  Well, I’ve been thinking about posting my favorite from each week with maybe minor revisions and this weekend I decided to do it!  Not sure how regular this will be and I know already next weekend is out but, here we go for today!

My brother did the weirdest thing with turtles: 8 Minutes

I think it was from the acid he dropped a few years back.

I had a turtle, Pee-Wee, and I’d come home once and a while from school to find my brother frozen in mid-walk while Pee-Wee looked at him through the glass of his tank.  I didn’t say anything anymore but the first time I had asked, “What are you doing?”

My brother spoke through clenched teeth, “Pee-Wee is an alien!  He can’t see me if I don’t move.  But if he sees me he’ll abduct me!”

I stared at him for what felt like a solid minute.  The man truly believed what he was saying.  Pee-Wee, meanwhile, just rested in his tank chewing on some lettuce.

“Could you turn him around?” my brother asked, “So he doesn’t see me?”

My gut so wanted to say no.  But instead I said nothing.

“Please?” he pleaded, “I have to go to the bathroom!”  I sighed and walked into my room, over to Pee-Wee’s tank to turn him around.  Freed from the turtle’s gaze my brother fell to the floor, exhausted from holding his walking position.  I moved over to him.

“Winners don’t use drugs” I said.

“Now you tell me” he replied.

1 Minute 52 Seconds

Driving in your car listening to a report from All Thing’s Considered on NPR and realizing about 1 minute and 52 seconds in you are listening to an April Fool’s joke has to be one of my favorite things in life.  It just lends this beautiful, surreal quality to the day to hear the voice of Robert Siegel talking about something that sounds more at home on a Grand Theft Auto radio station.

Looking forward to next year!