Saturday, June 30, 2012

Adventures in the Purple Membrane

Sometime in the first part of this year it feels like I crossed over into an alternative - and unexpected - universe.  T.R. and I have talked extensively about it and we've come to refer to it as the Purple Membrane.  The Purple Membrane appears to be a universe of unexpected change.  Unexpected change in my personal life.  Unexpected change in my professional life.  It is causing me to watch the way things are unfolding more closely, from a slightly different perspective.  It is like, as I go through this season of change, I am watching the changes unfolding all around me - equal parts participant and observer. I am learning to simply let things go, to try and accept "what is".  That is not an easy thing - but it is an interesting thing.  I can feel the turmoil of various emotional states rising up in me, and when I become aware of them, I let them go.  Not always completely, not always successfully, but enough that I have moved rather smoothly through the waves of change that seem to be crashing all around me.

June - La Familia

Family drama. Enough said.

June Work

Things at work have not been good.  This project that I am currently working on is insane and I place the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of upper management, who have been flat out incompetent in my opinion. We're working on an upgrade/reset to several of our key systems and it is entirely amateur hour. We have a standard engineering process for a reason and the people whose job it should be to insure that we are following that process are the ones responsible for completely ignoring the process.  I am working on a particular portion of the development and I have a configuration deadline of July 2nd (Monday of next week). And yet, for the previous week, up to and including today, I have gotten new requirements every single day.  Well, I am going to do the best I can and get the main part of the configuration over to the vendor by COB Monday night, but I can tell you it is going to be inaccurate and invalid and is going to have to be re-worked. The main battle I am facing is the internal one - the difficultly I encounter when I see the train wreck coming and I try to head it off - but not one is listening. I keep hoping that the adults will show up at some point and reign the renegade children in, but I am afraid that is probably not likely to happen.  So, at this point, I am simply hoping that I don't get caught in the blast zone when everything goes up.  Like I said - incompetent leadership and pure amateur hour.  I was telling a friend of mine that I find myself in the unusual position of feeling a need to quit, not because I am overloaded (I am, like everyone else), but because the work product we are turning out is so far below any reasonable professional standard that I don't want to be associated with it. On the other hand, this job has been good to me more than less over the last thirteen years - and it has only be the last two years under this totally idiotic director that I have spent so much time wondering how someone that incompetent rises to a position of power in a major corporation.  Either it is the Peter Principle in action, or they are secretly related to someone that I know nothing about.  Total FUBAR.


My writing output in June has been slim.  The month has flown by.  Work has been insane and in the middle of the insanity I flew back to SD for a short vacation, so I have not had the time or the inclination to write extensively.  However, I decided that tonight I would take a spot of time, perhaps a half hour or so, and do some writing catch up.  Rather than drop in all a single entry I am going to do a series of small entries to try and cover the sweep of life.  So, enjoy the sweep.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Return to Ambivalence

I’ve spent the last ten days on vacation. It was an extended trip back to South Dakota to visit family. Like many other things this year, it was a hugely ambivalent vacation. There is too much chaos here at work, so I was not able to leave cleanly.  Though I managed to work only a few hours while on vacation, I deeply resented that I had to work at all.  Those few hours did not reflect the time my job conspired to ruin my vacation by being on my mind, at greater and lesser levels, through each day.  Though I’ve had working vacations before, I can’t think of a prior one that was as pointless at this one.  So, I am back in California, I am back at work, and I still remain hugely ambivalent.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


South Dakota. Alternating between hot and stormy and hot. Family visit is going well. Active dream life. Sealing the deck. My idea of vacation - manual labor! Okay, that part is definitely not true. But, all in all, the vacation and the time "mostly off the grid" has been going well. T.R. is mostly off the grid at the same time, so it is a nice bit of coincidence. When I am here, where things are simpler and stiller, I become aware of how cluttered I have become.
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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Work, Work, and Uh, More Work

That pretty much describes the last couple of days. I start vacation on Friday, so I am trying to rush some things to closure before I take off. It looks like I will have to take my work laptop with me though, just so I can work on some things while I am out in SD.  I am looking forward to the week of vacation - even if there will be a little extra work. Meanwhile, it is twelve hour days this week.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Prometheus - Excellent

I saw Prometheus today, which, for me, was one of my most highly anticipated movies of 2012. It did not disappoint.  As I've mentioned before I am a huge fan of Ridley Scott, so I fully admit to being biased, but I thoroughly enjoyed the movie.  Noomi Rapace turns in another stellar performance as Dr. Elizabeth Shaw, playing off of Michael Fassbender as "David" the artificial person.  Don, Tony and I saw it in IMAX 3D at AMC Saratoga 14.  It was definitely worth the extra ticket price to see it in that format since it is a hugely visual movie.  I promised several people that I would not spoil it for them, so I may wait a while to write a bit more about why I liked it, but for now, let me simply say it was an excellent film.

The day has been good - I deliberately set out to take it easy through the day and I have been successful at that - tomorrow is going to be a work at home today, but after 55 hours last week, I felt the need to have at least one day where I wasn't working - in any shape or form, and that is my plan into the evening. Right now, I am watching "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" on IFC, another enjoyable film.  Finally, I have "Coriolanus" with Ralph Fiennes and Gerard Butler in the wings for later tonight or tomorrow. T.R. is out this weekend, on an impromptu trip to Wilmington, NC with family and friends, planning on returning on Monday, and is having a good time.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Relaxation and SYTYCD

A challenging day at the office.  At one point I had to go outside, sit in the car, roll the windows down, breath fresh air, watch the sky and the trees and the sun and the cloud and just be there, so I could turn around and face the rest of the day.  Working for idiots is always a curse.

That say, the day passed quickly enough, in unproductive.  Ten hours later I headed out the door for home, stopped at Patxi's for a pizza, and landed here, now, watching SYTYCD and looking forward to reading the newspaper.

Tomorrow is another day, but tonight, tonight is going to be a quiet night of relaxation.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Notes from the Personal Weekend

Outside of work, it was a fairly pleasant weekend. 

It was my three day weekend, so Friday was a day of laundry and errands.

Saturday I went and saw “Snow White and the Huntsmen” which I enjoyed.  It was a visually beautiful movie and could easily be “seen” for that reason alone.  A lunch with friends after the movie, an afternoon nap, then dinner at Bob’s. 

Sunday was breakfast, a trip through Fry’s Electronics, a run to Barnes & Noble and Starbucks, pool with Don at Edgies, then a late lunch at the Outback, followed by a late nap. The evening was a pair of family calls, which were exasperating to say the least, but that might just be the definition of family! I followed that with the season finale of “Game of Thrones”, then crawled into bed.

Unfortunately, I didn’t sleep well, mostly due to allergies. I tossed and turned through the night, finally waking at about 3:30 AM to take a Benadryl and then fall back asleep.  I am still dealing with the aftermath of that, moving through the day in a half-haze. 

Fortunately, there is a light rain outside, which should clear some of the pollen out.  Right now, post lunch, I really feel a compelling desire to go out to the car and take a short post-lunch nap.

A Monday Work Note

After a particularly stressful Thursday in the office, I spent the weekend in a meditate and observe mode, examining what was going on in my mind.  On Saturday night I had a dream, which seems to have been my subconscious trying to send me an answer.  I dreamd my friend Bob had bought a 60 foot long, 4 foot in diameter portion of a redwood tree. This was delivered to his house and placed in his side yard, completely filling it and running the entire length of the house. Bob’s intention was to cut the tree into discs and then sell the disks as redwood block table tops.  This is a fairly daunting task.  However, Bob’s intention was to simply take it one slice at a time.

Upon awakening I immediately noticed the correlation between the dream subject (approaching a daunting task) and the dream solution (take it one slice at a time). This isn’t a new answer to me.  I think of it as a reinforcement of which answer to apply to the problem.  Since I keep getting overwhelmed by the scope and complexity* of the tasks ahead of me, I need to stay focused and take it one slice at a time, to be present in the moment with the slice that I am working.

As I typed scope and complexity I realized that is not an entirely true statement. This project is large and complex, but no larger and no more complex than many other projects I’ve worked.  What has really ratcheted my stress level up has been the very poor process application and very poor communication that surrounds the project. Information keeps coming out of the customer and senior management in drips and drops – almost always fragmentary and incomplete. This makes it a very challenging task because you get A, B, and C and start to design and plan accordingly, and suddenly they drop D on you.  Then, as you attempt to fold that in, the drop E on you, and decide to take C out.  This is frustrating because they should get to the point where they lock the requirements down, but the very people who should be locking the requirements down and the ones who are struggling with poor communication skills.

Obviously, part of the lesson I have to learn as I go through this particular project is the simple truth that I cannot be responsible for the quality of communications coming out of other people – I need to let that go, and to let it go without letting it wrap my frustrations levels so high.

Sunday, June 3, 2012