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Monday, May 23, 2005

Grievous Situation

I scored as General Grievous.

General Grievous


Anakin Skywalker


Darth Vader


Clone Trooper






Padme Amidala


Obi Wan Kenobi




Mace Windu


Emperor Palpatine




Which Revenge of the Sith Character are you?
created with

Friday, May 20, 2005

Desert Crossing

You can cross any wasteland.

In 2000, I looked forward and saw a kind of darkness approaching. When I read Herman Hesse's Steppenwolf (written in Germany in the 1920s) , there was this background thread of doom that extremists would eventually answer the cries of angst and anger by the German people. It was like Hitler and the Nazis just filled a role that someone would eventually fill. For me, it felt like there was this storm on the horizon. On 9/11 that cake came out of the oven.

A good share of my work came from the States-- or from people who got their money from the States. The US turning inward screwed me financially. The paranoia and heightened security made me feel confined. The general zeitgeist was gloom with a George Orwell chaser. We were in a desert.

I tried to start a co-op. That sputtered and crippled us with debt. When things looked their most desperate, I started looking for a job (it wasn't so much that I was lazy and didn't want to work-- I was stubborn: I didn't want to drop the co-op).

Flash forward to ought-three. I left the world of co-ops and self-employment. The place that hired me almost literally saved me. I was really grateful for that chance.

Before long, I felt stuck in a job where they liked me. They thought I was doing well. I didn't agree. I was tasked to build applications with too little time to plan them out; too little time to put in code to proof against all of the what-ifs. I had whiz-bang ideas to make applications easy to manage and versatile. Bah. Why do that?

I had to cope with shifting priorities. Today: the only important thing are the quotes. Tomorrow: it's all about this one client. The next day: email issues are the only thing that matter. Wait a sec! I need two days to work on quotes! Too bad, drop the work from one and two days prior. A ship that never gets to port will always eventually sink.

I had a staffer who needed software to do his work. I brought it up several times. We ran to end of the trial period. When I needed to buy th software, I got chastised for it. They brought in a cold caller to hunt down leads. That did us nothing (more time may have yielded more results, but that point is moot). When I asked to spend the same on a sysadmin, they baulked at it. Why spend a few thousand dollars to keep over $100K/yr. coming in?

Then, came the talk. I was chastised for bringing back a server. I started early on three hours of sleep and I doing a full day of work before going home. I was called after my shift. They called this incident a "lost day of production." What they meant was "sure they got work out of me but they lost a half day of rattling my cage." Then, I was asked: "Are you stable?" Like I'll go postal? Like I'll format the servers and run?

The question was insulting. In life, everything said is normalized. It has to be polarized to be tuned into perspective. If you say, "I'm not lying." you mean, "I'm not lying much." If I were to say, "I'm not happy," it would have been heard as, "I'm mad as Hell." I returned the favor. When I heard, "Are you stable?" they really said, "You're not stable. How unstable are you?"

I said two things would affect my stability:

I had been promised a raise. The guy who was testing my threat level told me not trust the boss. He told me to get the raise in writing. I regurgitated what he had said to me. He took that straight to the boss. Thank you for the candor. While we're onto the subject of candor: you haven't sold a site yet in the last two years. How about go get a lead, sell them on it and close the deal?

For the last several months, I had been having chest pains, dizzyness, headaches and host of other bad symptoms. I told my inquisitor that if I were unhealthy, I wasn't going to stay. My life was more important than a website. Sorry. No one's life is less important than a website. He responded, "If I knew, I would have started shopping your job." Okay. So if I'm sick, I might lose my job. I thought that was fine. That spelled it out. I went home, had a sick and sleepless night. The next day, I saw a posting for a dream job. I put in my resume and along with a prayer.

Because I did that, I was resolved that I had to quit.

I quit because I couldn't do my job. That is, I couldn't keep the IT side of things together without enough twine. I couldn't make the IT side make money without getting the chance to do billable work. I said, "I can't do my job." What I meant: "I can't do my job without the resources to do it." I tried this "gimme enough" dance before and it got me zilch. When we needed a third programmer, they only hired a third to replace one who was leaving. Rather than pay for one decent experienced .Net developer; they pushed for a less expensive novice and an Indian programmer (that would cost about the same-- probably more). When the new programmer started and was willing to work part time, they opted to have him start full time after I left, instead of part time (1 week while I was there; 1 week afterwards).

I put out my resume and I got a job. Less responsibility, interesting work, a great mindset, and the same pay. When I said to my former employer should adopt RSS, they treated it like I had said, "We should adopt leprosy." At the meet-and-greet of with my new employers, my new boss said, "At this conference, they were talking about RSS. It's a great idea. I would love to put that into play." Wow.

I always viewed Open Source as a kind of take-a-penny, leave-a-penny technology. My former employer loved the chance to take-a-penny. When it came time to publish about our innovations, the concept was scoffed at. Why give up something built on someone else's technology? My new employer has encouraged me to both use Open Source and to publish my innovations. It feels like I can put the science back into my computer science job and contribute to the IT community.

Ahead of me is the new job. I like everything I've seen so far. The people at my old job are all suspect. Of course they would be, they've been drinking the Kool-aid. If I am right, it's going to be hard not to gloat. Today, it feels like I've crossed the desert. In the next year, I will finish shedding our debts. Then, we will start to build for the future. With the last job, it always felt like there was a point where was going to quit. An intersection of debt-level and tolerance. I actually don't feel that way now. The debts will be gone soon enough, but I will stay at this new place for much longer after that.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Dendritic Blooming

When exposed to new concept and ideas, you brain can undergo dendritic blooming. Your brain forms new connections based on new information. You can play connect-the-dots with formerly unconnected pieces of information.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Evolution in Reverse

Here's how evolution should work:

Individuals of a species succeed in their environment: they either use a resource that other creatures leave behind (like a rat); outperform in the act of gathering food (like locusts); or they attack their own kind and survive so that they can they can bear offspring with their genetic traits (like crabs).

Mankind is doomed because the elderly are preying on the young. If they succeed in scrounging, food gathering or killing other people, they can't pass their genes onto the next generation. There is the chance that they have passed on their genes and then made room for them. They could do this by hanging on to resources or jobs so long that younger generations fail. Or, they climb the curb and drive into crowds of people-- they don't drive over their own kin, they will have successfully made room for their offspring.

Case in point: this afternoon my daughter, my mother, my neice and my nephew were walking out of a small strip mall, using the corner sidewalk that bridges the parking lot with the general sidewalk. I look up and a little grey haired figure was peaking up from behind a steering wheel. Peering through her huge brown googles, she climbed on the sidewalk island. It meandered over the crosswalk and came up the sidewalk. I pulled Alice out of the way, the kids and my Mom dodged the car, as did some other people. I started slamming on the hood of the car. The fossil was oblvious to loud repeated banging noise on her hood and her driver side window.

She continues on her way, parks the 1972 brown pinto (BC license plate *** 631) and gets out of the car. I went over to her and said, "You can't drive on the sidewalk!"
The Dodecagenarian replied, "Well I had to get where I was going." Oh, pardon me. How dare I challenge her. How dare I call her on her taking a ton of metal over pedestrian walkways?

So she gets all scared and goes to drive away. I used my mind trick and said, "Ma'am don't get in the car." So, she heads into the Scotia Trust and stays there. I call the police and get bumped around. An officer shows up and I fill him in. The Dodecagenarian wanders out and I leave. As we pulled away, the cop and the old lady were still talking. All being well, she'll have her license revoked.

I'm sure she has a grumbly story of some young bastard yelling at her and she had to hide in the bank and then this guy calls the police on her she has to answer all of these questions. "The nerve of people!" she might cry out as she drives up and down the aisles in safeway behind the wheel of her small brown pinto.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Bullet Sale in Compton

The LAPD got some bullets on discount and had to use them up.

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