Friday, October 16, 2009

Question Number Eight

Today was a quiet day at the office. I struggled to get out of second gear all day and I don’t think I ever made it. Fortunately it was a day that I could handle in second gear, so it was all good. I spent most of the day doing some application testing, corporate training, and working my way through my backlogged email. T.R. is on travel, so we had a great call about mid-day and then she was back to work. I am looking forward to talking to her tonight. I had dinner with Tony at Holder’s and then came home, where I am catching up on my television (watching Bones).

Let me drop straight into Question Number Eight:

If the average human life was 40 years how would you live your life differently?

Well, first off, being forty nine I would be dead, so the question becomes a moot point. I’ve never been much of a person to dwell on the many different choices that I could have made through my life. We then layer on top of that my faith in an immortal soul. The end result is I wouldn’t have done anything differently. We have all of eternity to do everything. We’ve done many things before. We will do many things to come. Then, if the quantum theory of multiple universes is correct, we ARE doing everything else, now, simultaneously, somewhere in the wilderness of space and time. That is kind of a cool thought.

I don’t have anything planned for the weekend. I have things that I would like to do – I am feeling a desire to head over to the coast and get lunch or perhaps wander for a while, maybe hit a museum somewhere. There are a lot of little things that I would like to do around the apartment to prepare for the fall, so I may tackle some of them. I am looking forward to a quiet and gentle fall, with ample time to spend reading and writing and reflecting. We will see if I can make that particular wish come true.

Oh, that reminds me – let me tell you about a very vivid dream I had last night. I dreamt that I was a District Attorney and that I had been responsible for a highlight profile prosecution of three sisters who had committed a particularly high profile murder. It was a tough prosecution but I was successful. One of the attorneys who worked for me came upon some potentially exculpatory evidence and turned it over to me. A short while later, another of the attorney’s went on an anti-religious rant, harassing various people in the office for their religious affiliations.

I attempted to iscipline the attorney and it became very confrontational, so I started the process of suspension and termination. Then, the first attorney joined with the second attorney and they attempted to blackmail me into dropping the disciplinary action because the first attorney believed I had buried the evidence earlier. They thought they had me. But, as the investigation began to unfold the learned that immediately after the exculpatory evidence was given to me, I had contacted the Office of Professional Responsibility and turned the evidence over to an independent investigator. I swiftly termed both lawyers who had engaged in misconduct and attempted to blackmail me. The independent investigation into the exculpatory evidence turned up a witness – a witness who, rather than providing evidence to free the three sisters – provided the evidence that bolstered my original case.

I awoke glad that I was an ethical District Attorney. It was a strange dream, I am not sure I have ever had a lawyer dream before. I am sure the dream had its roots in a conversation TR and I had about honesty as well as recent Mercury News stories about investigations into the conduct of the local D.A.’s office. It all layered together and moved through my subconscious. It was a very cool and very vivid dream.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Question Number Seven

This week has pretty much flown by. Work is what I like to refer to as incidentally busy. As a corporation we’re starting the run toward the end of the year, which means there are a lot of incidental little things that need to be taken care of, not the least of which is the performance review cycle. As a manager, in addition to my own self-evaluation I have to write evaluations for all my employees. That is often a challenge and the company’s performance review mechanism is something I struggle with. I don’t like it. I don’t think there is enough variance in it to effectively and formally review the performance of employees. It is an argument that I will never win of course, but it is one that I have had on many occasions. That segues neatly into the question of the day.

Are you doing what you believe in or are you settling for what you are doing?

I often refer to the last fourteen years of my professional life as my accidental career. I was working as a contractor while in graduate school with the intention of pursuing a PhD in Criminology and further intentions of teaching – then I was assigned to The Evil Corporation on a short term contract and fourteen years later, here I am, deep in the middle of an accidental career, having temporarily set aside aspirations to higher education.

So, to a degree, there was a settling – however, in my case, it was a settling into something that I love to do (solve problems, resolve difficult issues, manage personal, do the impossible, the usual). I love what I do and that is not something I have been able to say in other jobs and careers I’ve had. Even my bad days are often good – and for me the bad days always involve people and clashing against the bureaucratic tendency to be, well, bureaucratic. Don’t get me wrong – I believe in rules, I understand the purpose of defined and disciplined process – as long as they serve an actual purpose. So, for me at least, the answer to the question is I am doing what I believe in, almost entirely by accident.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I call this "Lake Lawrence Expressway". Traffic was a bit of a snarl last night, with drowned cars, fallen trees and flooded exits. It was also a wonderfully wild and beautiful storm.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Daily Life: First Rain Storm

Today is the first real rain storm of the season here in San Jose. I enjoyed waking up this morning and lingering in bed listening to the rain fall. What a wonderfully simple pleasure. From there I was off to work in the first rainy commute day. It wasn't bad on the route I took, up Lawrence Expressway, but the radio was full of reports of closures and crashes. The work day is moving smoothly and productively. So far so good - I'm looking forward to a quiet evening at home.
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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Question Number Six

I think this is the first time I have really sat down to write in the last couple of weeks, which is unusual for me. Things were simply moving very quickly there for a while so I didn’t have the opportunity, but it looks like things are going to settle back in for the fall and I am looking forward to it. Fall is my favorite time of year – I love the warm days and cool nights. Here in California, once the rain starts back up, I will enjoy those quiet days inside, writing, reading, watching movies.

Question Number Six: If happiness was the national currency, what kind of work would make you rich?

This is a tough one for me. I am basically a very happy person. I enjoy life and perhaps more importantly, I enjoy this life, the one I am living. I’ve carefully crafted it with a life time of decisions and a fair share of being able to exploit those opportunities that arise through chance. Chance always presents you with opportunities – chance presents moments when change is highly probable. What you do in those moments of chance is entirely up to you. I always encourage people to make conscious choices, make deliberate choices, make informed choices.

So, I think, at least from where I am sitting now, in this point in time, I would choose to do exactly what I do (manage information system projects). I love the challenge and complexities of my job. I enjoy the company of my team – the folks who work for me, the folks who work with me and the folks I work for. Heck, I even enjoy about ninety-nine percent of my customers.

Today’s point of joy was getting a call from one of my customers (the staffing manager of a business unit) who had a process/system question. They had implemented a new process and were having trouble matching the systems to that process. I carefully drew out her question and then forwarded it to my team for suggestions. Within an hour one of my team members had come back with a way to use the system so it matched their desired process change with a little creativity. I enjoyed it immensely and the excitement of the customer was contagious. So, in that way, my work makes me a very, very rich man.

Photography: Anonymous Room

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Poetry: Refuse

Refuse to follow custom
Refuse to obey
Refuse to follow rules
Refuse to comply
Refuse to wait your turn
Refuse to surrender
Refuse to let go
Refuse to listen
Refuse to be less
Than you
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Monday, October 5, 2009

Daily Life: First Day Back

First day back at work following a weeks plus days of vacation spent in wonderful South Dakota.

Somewhere along the way I seem to have lost the power cable to my laptop and my back up drive. When I got to South Dakota I thought I had left them here, but I've given the apartment a pretty thorough sweep and there is no sign of them. So, I suspect they got pinched as both were in my checked bag.

I could see swiping the back up drive, thinking perhaps there was something worth stealing on it, but swiping the power cord would have been pretty pointless, and there were other things more valuable in the suitcase.

We'll chalk it up to the strangeness of the universe. I won't file a theft report because I am not even sure they were in the bag. The power transformer was, but when I got to SD the cord was not - and I can't positively recall what I did with the backup drive.

It was encrypted and there was nothing of any value on it anyway. It is one of those small ones about the size of a deck of cards, so it might yet turn up, underneath or inside something. There is an outside chance it fell out of my bag in SD, I'll call and ask them to check under the bed in the spare room. (I am pretty sure I checked there for the cord, but who knows).

Other than that, not a bad first day back (and even the doesn't make it a bad day, all in all it was pretty good). I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Daily Life: Whose Story?

Life needs a certain narrative structure. We are at our best when we are telling a story with our lives. Often we find ourselves in a series of loosely intertwined vignettes that lack the essential elements of plot. In those times of life we are adrift. So pause for a moment and ask yourself - what story are you living? Perhaps more importantly - whose story are you living?
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