Thursday, May 31, 2012
I am not sure what the deeper thing is that has kept me irritated at work, that has made me so frustrated, that makes me sensitive to the irritations of it all. I think I will spend some time this weekend thinking about that and meditating on it. In conversation today I characterized my work environment as being 90% good and 10% bad, and I realize that for a lot of people that would be paradise. But, for some reason, the 10% frustrates me so badly that I find myself climbing the walls.
Today, my trigger point was that yesterday I had sent an email asking for clarification on a project I was working on - and today, when I read the response from my upper management - well, it completely muddled things up. From there, I struggled with staying present and motivated. I was able to, through techniques I've learned and through focusing on one task at a time. I even managed to work myself into a good mood, then I had an afternoon meeting that spun me back into frustration - talking about the thing that had frustrated me to start with.
Yes, definitely something I am going to think about and meditate on over the weekend.
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Monday, May 28, 2012
Sunday, May 27, 2012
Saturday, May 26, 2012
My guilty pleasure is "So You Think You Can Dance" and after a long hiatus, it is back. Thursday was the first episode of the new season and I spent two hours this AM watching it on the DVR. It amazes me that dance can move me to laughter, tears, and amazement. If you've never seen the show I highly recommend it. The skill, the talent, and the artistry of the dancers is nothing short of astounding.
Today is the first day of the three day weekend and that was a good way to start the day. My plan today is breakfast with friends, then off to see Men In Black 3. I don't know have any plans in the afternoon - I might kick out and play some pool, which I haven't done in a while due to the IPO boot, or I might just wander aimlessly through the afternoon. The sun is shining, the sky is blue, but it is very cool outside and it is not supposed to get up above the low 70's, so it is jacket weather.
Friday, May 25, 2012
I was done by about 4:00 PM last night. The week of starting early (around 5:00 AM) and diving right into work caught up with me. I met Tony for pizza, but I was on the verge of napping through dinner. The Tiramisu had some temporary restorative effects, enough for me to make it home, but it did not last much longer than that. I hit the bed about 7:00 PM, had a good conversation with T.R., then rallied just long enough to make sure all the windows were closed and the apartment locked up.
I woke up, the first time, at about 3:30 AM and then managed to cat nap until about 5:30 and then eased out of bed and into the day. I made it a point to linger through the morning, eat a leisurely breakfast, watch the morning news, and then commute into the office. Except, I got into the office and realized I had left some notes I was working on yesterday at home. I tried to work without them, but I realized I was covering ground that I had covered last night, so I repeated the commute in reverse. I drove home, picked up the papers, then came back to the office, where I’ve actually had a more productive morning.
It is blissfully quiet here at the office. With the Memorial Day holiday right ahead of us, I am sure many people took the day off to extend the long weekend, and I am sure many others are going to work a short day. Because of the hours I worked earlier in the week, I may join the ranks of the people who are short cycling the day and start the weekend a few hours early. I am definitely looking forward to the three day weekend.
My trip back to visit family in SD is moving steadily toward me. I will fly back on the 15th of June for about 10 days. In one of the weird things of timing, T.R. will be heading out for a two week work/vacation trip, so we’ll be traveling at the same time, but not together or to the same destinations. We are both going to take advantage of it and probably drop off the grid for a while.
Dropping off the grid, disconnecting from the Matrix, is almost always a good thing because it gives our brain time to rest and relax. We definitely live in an over stimulated world. Last night, when I got home and before I tucked it in for an early night, I also disconnected from everything by spending the evening in silence. That is always enjoyable and it always serves to remind me that I need to do that more often.
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
I'd love to tell you that it was a highly productive day, but it was a solid meeting from 7:00 AM until 12:00 PM, which were moderately productive. The afternoon was better and I managed to accomplish some things - reviewing some of the requirements under my sphere of influence and responding to a handful of O&M issues.
We had two systems outages today (two different parts of the system), but since I am only peripherally involved in line support now, my role in resolving them basically consisted of writing a pair of email, taking a phone call, and opening a vendor ticket.
Then, I skated out, commuted home, stopped at the bakery for some fresh cookies, then a simple dinner of a sandwich and some potatoes. The evening is starting gently and I am easing into it. I am not sure what my plan is, but I think I am going to do some work and do some writing and maybe watch something interesting off the DVR. In short, I am going to try and do next to nothing. I can be pretty good at that.
Monday, May 21, 2012
The high point of the day was the doctor telling me the foot looks good and discharging me, with a follow up in a couple of months. I am officially off the IPO boot, which is great - now, I just have to remember how to walk without it!
After the last teleconference I stopped and met Tony at Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner and when we were getting ready to leave and I was getting out of the booth, I was very careful stepping out - at if I was getting onto the IPO boot. It is probably going to take me a couple of days to figure out how to walk again, but I am sure looking forward to it!
I think at some point in the coming weekend I am going to visit a museum just for the sheer pleasure of wandering. Maybe catch the light rail downtown and then walk over to the San Jose Museum of Art and spend some time looking at the exhibits, and then lunch. Let's face it, I am truly looking forward to getting out and simply walking around.
Meanwhile, it is a beautiful evening here, the far horizon is tinted in shades of red and rose and I am preparing to slip into bed early and spend the night reading. I have another heavy meeting day tomorrow, with the first meeting at 7:00 AM, so I am planning on an early rise.
Elsewhere, T.R. is still on her off the grid vacation and I am missing her (while envying her being off the grid, I plan a similar thing for my next vacation). Wherever she is, I hope her night is gentle and graceful.
Sunday, May 20, 2012
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Today's plan is a mirror of yesterday - breakfast, maybe a movie (undecided as to which to see), then laundry. Probably lunch somewhere along the way. Maybe a stop at the market, though I think I am pretty good. Might do this, might do that, either way, going to try to just ease through the day, slow and steady. T.R. should be back on the grid tonight, so I am looking forward to that. Oh, and the soundtrack of the day on the iPod is going to be Girl In A Coma "Both Before I'm Gone".
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Merriam-Webster tells us that “hollow” means “an unfilled space”. This morning, as I was driving up Lawrence Expressway into the office, my monkey-mind was dancing merrily along. It is unusual for it to kick in on a Thursday, especially when it is a Thursday-That-Is-My-Friday, but it was pretty active. I tried using the technique I gleaned from “The Buddha Walks Into A Bar” – when you feel your mind racing, figuratively stop, step back, and take a couple of deep meditative breaths, then see if you can determine why your mind is racing. The Monkey Mind is grabbing hold of something – what is that something?
I was seizing upon my sense of frustration at work. So, I explored that path a little further down the line. For me, almost all of my frustration at work arises from two sources. First, it arises from what I interpret as “hidden expectations”. Sometimes hidden expectations are deliberately hidden, as in bad actors on the corporate stage, but other times they are not intentionally hidden, but hidden but by failures in communication. With dedicated and focused communication, you can often clear of the miscommunications.
The “trigger event” for my Monkey Mind this morning was a request for a piece of data, which in itself is innocent enough. However, the request came from my upper management, whom I do not trust, and in came in as a request-without-reason, which is a communication failure. Some members of my upper management are extremely poor communicators. The request was structured like this “tell me all of the A who have B”. The thing that is frustrating with this member of upper management is they do not ask questions – they ask for specific data points and try to spin the answer to land where they want it to land by carefully crafting the question. It’s pretty apparent. As a dat analyst, answer shopping irritates me. Yes, you can craft an answer by the way you ask a question, you can force the data to tell you certain things. But, you are quite likely to end up being wrong in the big picture, because you didn’t let the data tell you what it wanted to tell you.
As I predicted as my Monkey Mind wrestled with it through the morning, this member of upper management got the answer to the question, then followed up with another question (to try and craft the answer better), and then yet a third question, since the data was not giving them the answer they were looking for. Professionally, to me, that is amatuer hour, and it frustrates me to work for amatuers. When you craft a question in search of an answer, you are making the analysts unwilling co-conspirators in whatever political game you are playing. Just find some courage and say “I am the boss, and I believe that we should do X, I realize the data does not appear to support it, but I willing to take the risk”. Of course, that would require actual courage.
The second thing that raises my work frustration is “out of scope” questions – that is, questions that don’t have anything to do with the area of responsibility a person has. Our organization designs and implements systems – we analyze data to support that design and that implementation. We do not analyze data to support operational decisions – not that we cannot, but that is simply not why we were hired, not what we do. In fact, the corporation has several other large groups that do exactly that – but, this member of upper management does not like to go to them because they cannot control them and craft the questions. It is a frustrating and negative situation.
So, what does that have to do with the word hollow? As I was driving into the office and my Monkey Mind was running through all of these things, and as I was using the technique to examine them, I got to thinking about work fulfillment. In order to combat the wave of negativity that was coming with the Monkey Mind thoughts that were such a source of frustration, I turned my mind to positive thoughts – about the good things at work, so I didn’t spin myself into an entirely black mood. Essentially I have a very good job – I have a great direct manager, I have peers that I both enjoy and respect, the work (when it is the work that I was actually hired to do) is enjoyable and fulfilling, and I am compensated well. If you think of the work experience as a sphere, my sphere currently has an empty place in it. That empty place is the place where I like, respect, and most importantly trust my upper management. That part of the sphere is hollow.
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
A simple breakfast, a quick conversation with T.R., then I was off to the office for a three hour meeting to start the day. It wasn't the most productive day - most of it was eaten by meetings and reading requirements. I guess that building a knowledge base is productive, but I can't say that I usually think of it as being productive. Tomorrow should be a regular day and then Friday, which is my off-Friday, will have a four hour coordination meeting in the middle of the day, from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM. I am hoping we don't eat the whole time period, but I suspect we will.
Meanwhile, tonight, I am settled in for a pleasant evening watch "The Green Lantern" on DVR. Not a bad day, all in all. Oh, I did feel compelled to mention dinner, because it was outstanding - slow cooked sweet and sour chicken, with green garden peas and mandarin oranges. Truly outstanding.
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
“When starting off on the path of meditation, it is helpful to create an environment that encourages the quality of wakefulness in our being. There is a Tibetan term, drala, which can be translated as “energy above aggression”. This energy is inherent in our being and in our surroundings. It is most present when we pay attention to what is going on around us. It is the energy we experience when we are not tuned in to our internal chatter and aggression, but instead tuned into our environment.
Take a moment and think about how you feel when you wake up in the morning and your room is a mess. You get up to stumble to the bathroom, and as you are avoiding a pile of clothes, you trip over your laptop, kicking it across the room. You’re already swearing at yourself, and you have only been awake for two minutes.
Now visualize waking up to a room that is spotless. You walk carefree to the bathroom, look at yourself in a clean mirror, and smile. Drala is the energy that is produced when you have taken care of the details of your life so that everything has a certain radiance to it.”
Lodro Rinzler “The Buddha Walks Into A Bar”
Monday, May 14, 2012
There were two names associated with this movie that absolutely insured I was going to see this movie. Judy Dench. Maggie Smith. You could put the two of them in a television commercial and I would probably watch it over and over, so I was definitely in when it came to seeing "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel". I was not disappointed. The movie is very enjoyable - funny and touching, without a false performance in the lot of them. I highly recommend it.
Tony and I went and saw it at CineArts theater at Santana Row in San Jose on Sunday morning. We caught the early show, then grabbed lunch at The Flames across the street. From there, I circled home and spent an easy afternoon, sliding into a graceful evening.
All in all, it was a good weekend. Today was a typical Monday at work. I was in a pretty good mood until I got into the office and then I spun black pretty quickly. A couple of things frustrated me - mainly a pair of pointless meetings.
I took a nice lunch and was able to refocus the day and pull a productive afternoon, including a complete review of the set of requirements that I am going to be working on for the next six months or so. Tomorrow, I will make a second pass through them with a more critical eye and try and intellectually explore future minefields.
This evening was a pleasant evening with T.R. and I am closing the evening out watching Bones. All in all, a good day.
Saturday, May 12, 2012
Friday, May 11, 2012
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
They had an old android that was being replaced by a young android, and the old android was training the young android. The old android lived in a small house (what was called a "transitional") with almost no furnishings.
The old android had reported problems with the young android - specifically, each night the young android went to sleep, in the morning when it woke it had no memory of the events of the day before - it was a clean slate, as far as past experiences were concerned.
This was reported as a problem because the young android was not learning - but, I was trying to understand just why that was a problem. It meant that in every action, the young android was fresh and unburdened by the events of the prior day.
So prior experience, good or bad, did not influence the young android in its interactions with people - each interaction was fresh and new and based entirely on the immediate circumstance, not prior events and outcomes. It was, in the mornings analysis, a very cool dream.
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Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Friday, May 4, 2012
Today was a simple and quiet day. I got up at about my usual time, just shy of 6:00 AM, then had a simple cup and coffee and bowl of cereal. I spent the morning writing and reading, then met Tony for breakfast at Goodies II on Bascom Avenue for the most excellent Huevos Mexicana.
After breakfast I had to stop at the car wash. Yesterday evening I made the mistake of parking under a big tall tree - and was rewarded with a dedicated saturation bombing raid on my car by birds of unknown type but sizable scat. After the car wash, I swung over and got a trim on the hair. From there, I ran a few incidental errands, then circled home for the afternoon.
I spent a quiet afternoon reading "The Buddha Walks Into A Bar" for a while and then watching an excellent film I had heard about but hadn't seen before, called "Animal Kingdom", about an the disintegration of an Australian crime family. It was a wicked and well done film noir. I would highly recommend that.
From there, we popped over to my friend Bob's, where Brandy had cooked a coq au vin for a simple little dinner for Tony. From there, I scooted home and have just now seated myself for an evening of Tumblr, StumpleUpon, and writing. Hopefully I will get a chance to spend some quality time with T.R. as well, which will round out the day nicely.