Friday, May 31, 2013

Lazy Morning

It has been a nice and lazy day off so far.  I slept in, following dreams of work, and then met Tony for breakfast at Goodies.  After breakfast I stopped at Barnes and Noble and picked up a handful of computer related magazines.  I haven't read any in a while - when you're working a major project, tiny slices of your life simply fall away and only in the aftermath do you realize it.  Simple things like reading magazines and staying current on technology trends - you set them aside for project work.  It is nice to pick them up.  I keep trying to find the energy to do something productive, but the day is steering me toward a very non-productive sweep and that is perfectly fine.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The End of the Week

The week moved pretty quickly. Because of the nuances of the holiday and my 9/80 schedule it was a three day work week, which was very nice. It also helped that, at work, the load was light since so many people were out on vacation. In the aftermath of the project, I can feel myself relaxing.  My subconscious has been spinning, throwing up strange dream images each and every night, most of which are directly related back to work.  There will be plenty of headaches in the months to come - but it does appear as if there will be plenty of work.  My boss is going to be hiring another analyst and today, in our one on one, she assigned me two more projects.

In some ways, this is one of the challenges I face at work.  I am particularly good at taking projects that are tangled up and troubles and getting them straightened out and back on track - mostly through the process of simply lining things up and then executing with discipline.  So, naturally, two of the projects that are being assigned to me are projects that have been running - in both cases for several years, and have never been effective.  One has had their go-live delayed for over a year and the other went live, but with a pale shadow of the promise of the program.  So, my immediate future will be working to get my brain around them and then get them moving forward again.

In the Corporate Game of Thrones, the investigation into my complaint continues - on average, they say it takes about thirty-five days to complete the investigation portion - so that means that portion of it should wrap up in late June.  I am perfectly fine with that - as far as karma goes, my responsibility is to report the behavior. What happens from that point is up to them.

Things are going a well as can be expected with my aging parents and my sick nephew.  Life continues at it's own pace along with all those other things we cannot control and can barely influence. But, smooth is good, so I am going with that.  The process of aging is an ordinary thing and is part of life that we are all going to experience, sooner or later. The best we can do is make that trip as gracefully as we can.

Other than that, I am slowly healing from my separation, which is also part of the process of life.  Now that I think about it, life is always a process of adjustment or readjustment and learning to not be attached to outcomes is so crucial. Be in the moment and when the moment goes away, be in the moment.  So, in that sense, I am going to settle into the moment and watch some Archer, then curl back up with Leviathan Wakes.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Finding My Way To Sleep

I was in bed early last night and I am tempted to head there again tonight.  Last night I curled up a little after 7:00 PM with "Leviathan Wakes", intending to read myself to sleep and I was very successful/  I managed to read a paragraph or two before I curled up and called it a night.  I've been blaming allergies mostly, but I have been feeling the need to sleep a little more than usual and when I have followed that lead it has been a deep and successful sleep.  So, that is, once again, my half-way plan for the evening.  I might tinker around the house a bit more, but then it is curling up with a book and finding my way to sleep.

Monday, May 27, 2013

A Paragraph to End the Day

The rest of the day was as simple as the morning. I met Don up at Edgies and shot about two hours worth of pool. I mostly lost.  I decided two weeks ago that it was time to work on the technical aspects of  my pool game, so one of the first things I did was change my grip - which of course through the rest of my game off, in a good way. The new grip allows me to shot truer shots, but since my mind had been trained to compensate for the fact that I tended to pull to the left, now, since I am shooting a straighter line, I am pulling about a degree or two to the right.  Enough to make a visible difference. I figure I need about ten hours of practice to hone in the new grip. In the step beyond that I've started working on cue ball control, through spin and English, to set up the next shot.  That part has been working pretty good.  I think that once I hone my aim back in I'll make a measurable improvement in my over all game. After Edgies, we grabbed dinner at a seafood place, and then I came home, took a short nap, and watched an episode Longmire.  From here, I plan on curling up in bed with Leviathan Wakes.

Into The Ordinary Day

I slept pretty well last night.  I dreamed, but now, four hours after I woke up, I don't really recall what the dreams were about.  I woke up, showed, shaved, and then headed over to Goodies II for breakfast.  I have my usual, the Huevos Mexicanos, and sat near the window, watching the scenery on a gray and cool morning. I often find it interesting just to sit and watch people, wondering who they are and what they are all about.

From there, I stopped at Chevron at Saratoga and Prospect, filled the tank with gas and ran the car through the automated car wash.  (There was a direct hit from a big bird at some point during the previous week.) From there, I came home and watched the Special Features from the Hobbit movie Blu Ray, since I'd watched the movie last night. Now, I am just sitting in the relative quiet of the living room listening to the birds on the patio chattering alone.

My main bird visitors for the last couple of weeks has been a small group of sparrows, numbering about a dozen or so, and they've been pretty amusing.  I've enjoyed their company.  I feel the need to spend a little time writing emails this morning, so I think that is going to be my next task. Beyond that, I am going to head out and shoot some pool with Don at Edgies.  It seems like a perfect day for it.

Normally, when I have some extended time off, I like to spend my time watching movies - however, for reasons known only to the universe, this holiday there just haven't been any movies that I really wanted to see.  There are a lot of loud and pretty movies out there, but I am not really in the mood for the pretty movies. I think I am craving something substantial, in more ways than one.

Ah well, let me fill the morning with some substantial email writing and maybe a substantial pool game or two, then ease into the evening. I am looking forward to the work week, largely because it is going to be a short work week. Friday is my 9/80 schedule day off, so that means I only have to work three days this week.  That will be nice.  With that note, let me head out into the ordinary day.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Further Adventures With A Safety Razor

So, today was the second morning that I shaved with the safety razor.  It went well this time, only one small nick and no razor burn, resulted in a nice, tight, close shave. There is definitely an art to it, but the end result feels very good.

I slept well last night.  I woke up early this morning and lingered in bed for a while before slipping out, and then I've basically just eased through the morning in incidental silence.  I was sitting here having a cup of coffee and a little band of sparrows arrived on the porch and set about squabbling over who got the best position at the bird feeder.  Anyone who has ever seen sparrows at a bird feeder realizes they love kicking seeds all around and for a brief moment this morning it looked like they were having a contest to see who could kick them the farthest.  The sheer joy of life it embodied made me smile.

I started to watch TV this morning and then decided to pass on it - I guess I was in the mood for silence.  I web surfed a bit, but otherwise, I am just quietly easing into the day. I am going to head out in about fifteen minutes to meet Tony for breakfast, and then - well, and then I have no idea what I am going to do.

I do not have anything planned today.  There really isn't any movie out there that I am burning to see.  I may slip out and play some pool later in the afternoon, but time will tell on that.  It will depend on what sort of mood I am in.  I am tempted to circle back home and just spend a quiet day playing in the house, maybe doing some of the house cleaning that I've been putting off.  I don't know.  It is definitely going to be one of those days that I figure out as I go.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Day Slows Down

It has been a quiet day here.  I am writing from work, where I have had a very productive day one simple reason. Because so many people are out of the office in anticipation of the three day weekend I’ve only be interrupted two or three times throughout the day.  That has enabled me to work my way steadily through things without being constantly interrupted.  If only more work days were like this.
I am looking forward to the three day weekend myself.  I really don’t have anything planned, but I will definitely take advantage of the quiet time to do something - I just haven’t decided what that something is going to be. The Morgan Hill Mushroom Mardi Gras is on the list, but I am not sure I want to drive down there.  I may make that decision as the day goes on.  I will probably get out and shoot some pool, but that is a regular fixture in my weekends.
Other than that soft and sweet is going to be the order of the days.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Safety Razor Adventures

I've been contemplating getting a safety razor for a while and finally decided to do it.  With my new found piece of classic technology in my hand I shaved with it last night.  It has been years since I shaved with a safety razor, but most of it was buried deep in my muscle memory and came back quick enough.  It all went moothly. It was a beautifully close shave.  I managed to nick myself once - didn't actually feel anything, but drew a spot of blood, and I managed to give myself twin spots of razor burn, both in the same spot on the lower portion of my throat.  All said though, it was a great shave and as close as I remember.

Work went fairly smoothly - it was a bit chaotic and a bit busy, but productive. I think everyone at work is pushing things off there desks so they can take off for the weekend, so I am looking forward to a quiet end of the week as people flood out to enjoy that three day weekend.  I would both Thursday and Friday, so I am hoping for a pair of very productive days.  As for tonight, I think I am going to curl up and read some more in Leviathan Wakes.

Monday, May 20, 2013

In Which I Edit A Vent

It's rare, but every now and then I feel compelled to come back and edit something I wrote.  In this case, I was venting about UPS - specifically about the poor level of service I've gotten in the last year or so.  I would say about 50% of the packages I get through UPS come with some level of hassle.  Today was no exception - first, they required a signature for a package I specified no signature required, then they set a delivery window and did not come in their own designated window. I let it get to me and I shouldn't have.  I just need to make the simple resolution to not patronize UPS or vendors that use UPS exclusively.  I said all of that, only in lot more words.  Other than that, it was a good day - work was productive, the evening has been pleasant, the weather is beautiful, and I am sliding into a wonderful summer night.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

More Melancholy Seas

The undercurrent of the day was a very powerful strain of melancholy, processing feelings of loss, sorting through things.  Like I mentioned in an earlier post, I need to do a hard session of self-examination, but I just have not been up to it. I took the feelings of loss that arose today and dealt with each as it arose.  It the morning it was a bit of a tempest, a bit unexpected, out of control, powerful and tough to deal with.  As I moved through the day I settled into it and it just was what it was.

I had a nice lunch with Tony at Patxi's in the Pruneyard, then we popped over the AMC 14 and watched "The Iceman", starring Michael Shannon.  That was an excellent movie - some powerful performances by the lead actors - Michael Shannon, Winona Ryder, Chris Evans and Ray Liotta.  I'd recommend it if you're into true crime stories.  (And, for the record, Winona Ryder just radiates sensuality).

Then, home for the evening and the latest episode of Game of Thrones, followed by a long, hot soaking bath and a shower, then a few minutes contemplating what to do next before I decided to write a bit, then curl up and read a chapter or two in Leviathan Awakes.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Melancholy Triggers

Okay, I have a very modern question that was the trigger point of my melancholy last night.  In this very modern world, when a couple separates, who gets the social media spaces?  I wonder if that has already been through the wringing in the courts yet?  I am only half joking - but it is a lot like, when you are a couple and you have a favorite cafe, lounge, or restaurant, and you separate there is real consideration that goes into the decision of who gets to keep what.

I realize of course that social media spaces are big, massive, public spaces and sharing them is the wisest course of action, but, for me at least, there is an element of emotionality that got tangled up in them.  A significant part of our relationship was some very wonderful shared time in social media spaces, so when I revisit these places - there are definitely pangs of loss.

In the aftermath of our separation I deliberately stayed out of almost all social media spaces (this being the main exception) for precisely that reason. I wanted and needed to give myself time to clear my head and my heart. Our relationship had it's back and forth before, it's moments of separation and imminent breakup that we survived. 

This one was different, in both form and function, but I think that inside of me a large part of me simply didn't want to accept that she had made the decision to move on without me.  I respect of it of course.  On many levels I actually encourage it.  I think one of the rare things in this world is something I have always tried to give to the people I love - the encourage to "follow their bliss" wherever it might take them.  That includes the very hard choices that have to be made when a friend and a lover starts moving away from you.

 Here is my philosophy around that in a nutshell:  I think that life is a wonderful journey, from one place to another, that begins in birth and ends in death and in between runs an incredible gauntlet of human experience, all the thousands of things we will live and learn as we go on that journey.  There are hundreds of conflicting forces that move to influence us as we take that trip.  They push us this way and that, they stop us, they start us, they stall us.  They make life both harder and easier.

Many people in the course of their journey stop and cling, they want to stay, they want things to remain unchanged, they want a constancy that is simply not there in our ever changing universe. I include myself in that count. In our lives it is very rare to find a person who encourages us, who loves the journey and encourages us to take it.  I always try to give that encouragement to my friends and lovers. Our relationship was complicated but it had its moments of purity. One of the greatest gifts you can give to a person is simply this - encourage them to take their journey.  Even when that journey takes them away from you, don't cling.  Love with an open heart.  Love with an open hand.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Slightly Lost, Mostly Amused

I was trying to do a simple thing online tonight and ran into a small wall of frustration.  So, I quit for the night and am going to unwind for a bit here and then, perhaps, curl up with a book. There are times when I feel lost. I am not really sure what that is all about. I could delve into it, but that is a piece of hard work I am not really up to tonight.  So, slightly lost and mostly amused, let me call it a night and spend the night in a good book.

Dreams and Breakfast

I am sitting in the quiet living room, listening to the drone of an airplane overheard, laying down a carpet of sound periodically punctured by the tweeting of the English sparrows on the deck.  They'r gathered around the bird feeder and as nearly as I can tell they are mostly consumed with kicking seeds at each other.  It seems to be a pastime they all enjoy very much.

I slept well last night, through I dreamed of surviving a tsunami. The Ewan McGregor movie popped into my mind of course, and the Matt Damon one, though my dream had minor variations on theme.  I thought it was an appropriate set of subconscious images hurled at me, especially in regards to the craziness of the project I just spent over a year of my life on - surviving the tsunami.  Every project has casualties - this one had a lot of them. Poor leadership can do that.

Today though, it is a beautiful California day. I am going to take off in a few minutes and meet Ty and Tony at Goodies II on Bascom for breakfast, then we're going to head over to AMC Cupertino to see the new Star Trek movie on IMAX 3D.  I am actually pretty ambivalent going into it.  The first re-imagining by JJ Abrams and crew was outstanding - unfortunately, that sets a pretty high bar for the second one. My fear is that it is going to be more of the same, except louder, flashier, and nakeder.  Not that those are bad things.

Then, after that, I think I am going to circle back home and do some things around the apartment.  I've been feeling the spring cleaning urge for the last couple of weekends, and I've done  a little bit, but I am actually in the mood for a pretty serious shuffle, with trips to the dumpster and the donation center.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Work, Chaos, Fire and Aliens

First, let me start this entry by giving a bit of a pop culture shout out to a very good show currently running on Syfy - Defiance.  I am enjoying it a lot and it seems to get better and better with each successive episode, which is exactly what you want to see in a television show.  It helps that it also features one of my favorite actors - the beautiful and talented Jamie Murray.

So, this week has been pretty busy at work, mostly dealing with our post go-live issues, the corporate Game of Thrones, and, today - a fire in our building. It was a small fire, caused by an electrical short, in another part of the building. The result was a morning of chaos since we were all barred from the building.  Fortunately, no one was hurt and we were cleared to get back into the building later in the day.

We've got one person out on vacation and another out sick, so our small group is effectively at half staff, meaning in addition to being chaotic, the day was also, well, chaotic.  About midway through the day I had a splitting headache, equal parts dehydration and stress.  I drank 24 ounces of water, took a Tylenol, and napped for thirty minutes.  The triple attack on the headache eased it onto a downward trajectory, which was nice.

I was going to cook something, but at the last minute decided to run out and get a cheese burger, simple and pleasurable. Given the assorted chaos of the day I am really feeling the desire to have a very simple and quiet night.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Corn Chowder and Seared Scallops

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Oscar Worthy Film - Mud

Well, I think I saw the first truly Oscar worthy film today - "Mud" with Matthew McConaughey.  It is one of those film that on the surface is pretty straight-forward.  A pair of boys find Mud on an island in the middle of the river, hiding out, and they decide to help him.  Wrapped within all that though is a great, subtle, mesmerizing film that is entirely true to it's own heart.  I would highly recommend it.

Wrapped around that was a pleasant day. No particular moment stood out as transcendent, no particular event besides the movie was a true gem, but the day itself was simple and precious.  I am home now, settled in for the evening, feet propped up, glass of ice water next to me, waiting for "Game of Thrones" to begin.  A simple and beautiful night.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Game of Thrones Mini-Marathon

My friend Tyrone was down with the flu, or the aftermath of the flu, today so he had to pass on our Game of Thrones mini-marathon.  That didn't stop the rest of us.  We got some snacks, ordered pizza, and settled in to watch six hours of the show.  It was excellent.  It's a pretty good series on HBO and of course, the books are simply twisted and outstanding, which is high praise from me.  My favorite character - without a doubt - Daenerys Targaryen - Daenerys Stormborn.


That was pretty much the sum of the day. It was very pleasant and very relaxing. After the long run in project world it was nice to have a Saturday where I did not feel pressed for time.  As for work, well, we will see what unfolds there.  I guess I am getting caught up in my own little Game of Thrones there, but I could not in good conscience keep silent. I would rather speak up and keep a good conscience.

I don't really have anything planned tomorrow.  I might go up to Fremont to get breakfast with the guys, just to do something different.  It is Mother's Day.  I called the Ranch tonight to check on everyone and wish my mother an early Mother's Day, but I did run into a cranky bunch of people, so it was a short call.  I think I am going to spend the rest of the evening watching "John Carter" off the DVR.  Speaking of which, sitting her thinking about it, Edgar Rice Burroughs Martian series of books also have a strong female character - the almost incomparable Dejah Thoris.

Do we sense a strong women theme here.  Perhaps in my entire life.  I may have to meditate on that as I slide into the evening.  Who ever you are and where ever you are, I hope you're having a pleasant day.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Rabbit Heart

The day has slowed to a pleasant crawl.  I am sitting in the office listening to Florence + The Machine “Lungs” on my iPod.  (If you’re not a fan of Florence + The Machine you should be.)  I’ve got one more short meeting today in about a half an hour, just an end of the week status.  It’s been a very productive day.  I am looking forward to the weekend though - simple plans mostly. Some of my friends are coming over on Saturday and we’re going to do a “Game of Thrones” mini-marathon, watching the first six episodes off the DVR, with a lunch intermission halfway through.  It should be a pleasant and relaxed time.  I’m looking forward to it.  Otherwise, I really don’t have anything planned for the weekend.  I don’t even have anything planned for the evening.  Right now, I am torn between a desire to head over to the park and take a long rambling walk or I’ll stop off at the pool hall and log in a practice hour.  I need to invest some time in working on my cue ball control.  I think that would add a tail to some of my runs, if I can get the cue ball to end up where I want it to end and not “somewhere in the vague direction, sometimes”. I’ll leave you with a chorus from “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up”.

“This a gift comes with a price
Who is the lamb and who is the knife
Midas is King and he holds me so tight
And turns me to gold in the sunlight.”

Flow State

It is a quiet and productive day here at the office, which is nice after all the chaos of the last year or more. I am moving swiftly through my tasks this morning and I am anticipating that sort of flow state lasting through the day.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Untraveled Country

I was sitting here in my apartment, reading Flipboard on my iPad, when I thought I would stand by the window for a while and just look outside and enjoy the slowly unfolding California evening.  I live in a second floor that overlooks a rather quiet residential/apartment street.  As is typical of most streets in apartment complex areas, street parking is at a premium.  I just saw one of the most impressive demonstrations of parallel parking that I've ever seen.  Some lady managed to squeeze here small Toyota in between a car and a truck - with no more then a foot to spare - by carefully jockeying back and forth, inch by inch, and easing it in, all without even touching either car.  I am fairly good at parallel parking, but I never would have tried it. I would have figured it was just not possible. I was wrong.

Other than that though, it has been a rather mundane evening.  I came home, fixed a sandwich, watched a spot of television and then turned it off and decided to spend some time writing and playing on my computer, something I haven't really done much of.  I have quite a few email that I want to send out and I've been putting them off until the time when I felt like I was in a writing mood.  I guess that night is tonight.  I want to get at least one of them out tonight, perhaps more.

Work was fairly ordinary and I did something that I have never done before in the course of my working career. I filed an ethics complaint against someone at work for the way they treated another individual. I agonized over it, but in the end I knew it was the right thing to do.  Whether or not the companies ethic's investigators come to the same conclusion as I did there is no way I could sit there and not report the behavior and look myself in the mirror in the morning. I worried about whether or not to report the behavior, trying to figure out if it really was a violation of the companies ethics code, or whether I was just upset because it was in very bad form and contrary to the way I think people behave.

I refreshed myself on our training and our code of ethics and it is still, in my opinion, a wobbler.  I think it went over the line, I think it was clearly unethical, but I am not sure someone who wasn't there would agree, and I am not sure even some of the people who were there would agree - but in the end, it slowly dawned on me, that it wasn't my duty to figure out if it was or it wasn't.  My obligation was to report what I considered to be unethical behavior and to let the ethics officers sort it out. I hope they come to the same conclusion I did, but I am settled and content that I made the right decision by reporting it.  I will let you all know how it goes as it goes forward, if it goes forward.

It is the first time in my career that I have ever used an ethics hotline, so it is going to be an adventure in an untraveled space for me.  I've been on the other side of many an investigation (as the investigator), so I tried to keep my report as neutral as possible and just report the behavior itself and provide the investigator with a list of potential witnesses.  The behavior took place in front of a very large group so there were multiple witnesses and I while I am sure that many of them came to the same conclusions that I did, I also think that many of them will tuck their heads down and run, pretending to have not seen anything out of that whole gamut of human emotions and tendencies.

Last Night, I Slept, And Slept, And Slept

I would say that work and allergies caught up with me last night.  I got home about 4:00 P.M., tinkered around the apartment for a half hour, and then laid down for a nap.  I set my timer for thirty minutes.  It sounded on schedule and I woke up long enough to turn it off.  Then, without hesitation, I simply rolled over and went back to sleep.  I woke up about 7:30 P.M,, got up long enough to have a bowl of chicken and rice soup, watched “Modern Family”, and then slipped back into bed.  I slept another solid eight hours, woke up, tossed a bit, went back to sleep for another hour.   All in all I slept eleven hours or so. I am going to blame most of it on allergies and I think tonight when I get home I am going to take a Benadryl and see if that helps me through the evening a little crisper. Today, I am trying to move deliberately and smoothly through the day.  If it goes smoothly I might stop off at the pool hall on the way home tonight to shoot a practice hour or so.  My game has suffered a bit due to the lack of practice that is a result of the many hours the project required.  All those hours have to come out of somewhere.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

I Sit, Facing The Wall

It’s pretty amazing what ten minutes of meditation can do for you as you move through a chaotic day.  I am at work, paused between meetings, and I took some time to go down to the more quiet of the two conference areas and sit comfortably, facing the wall, and breathe.

“Those who turn from delusion back to reality, who mediate on walls, the absence of self and other, the oneness of mortal and sage, and who remain unmoved even by scriptures are in complete and unspoken agreement with reason.”  The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma

If you have never had any experience with this particular exercise, I have always found it to be a very powerful one. You just find a wall, bare, unadorned, with nothing to distract the eye, and sit facing the wall and breathe.  For me, it only takes a minute or two and I find myself residing in timeless stillness.  Since I tend to do this particular exercise at work, I will often set a timer to pull me out of that timeless state so I can head back over to the office and get back to work, almost always much calmer, much more serene then I was before.

Today, I turned to the wall about three hours into the day, as the chaos of my calendar was starting to get me wrapped up.  That would be the chaos of my completely self-imposed calendar, which bears only the value I place in it.  The Second Noble Truth tells us that the root of all suffering is desire.  At the root of my calendar based suffering resides the desire to maintain my habits, my internal schedule in the face of external demands.  I release the desire for a different calendar and I release the suffering associated with the calendar and I return to reside in stillness.

Pretty powerful stuff.

Most of our chaos here at work is born in our post go-live activities, as the various groups of field personnel struggle to adjust to the changes that were implemented around them. We didn’t do a good job with change management, but we never do.  Most folks don’t.  (See, there again is the desire for a different outcome).  The chaos today is caused by everyone trying to get something accomplished at the same time, resulting in chaotic demands on each other’s time.  

Hence my earlier meditation on the calendar - I have a meeting scheduled from 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM, but at the same time, I have two other events competing for the time slot.  I’ve already haad the experience this morning of having two meetings cancelled at zero hour because key participants were in other meetings and couldn’t make it, so, I am wondering if my 11:30 AM meeting is actually going to happen, or if it is going to get cancelled as well.
And then, I realize that the calendar is only what the calendar is.  I sit, facing the wall, I breath, and I return to inner stillness.

Monday, May 6, 2013

An Uncertain World

I'm feeling a bit cluttered.  That's usually the sign for me to enter another cycle of simplification and I can feel the need rising up within me.  Today was a typical work Monday - part productive and part frustrating.  We are live with the project and now we are in the place where we're dealing with the assorted design flaws and mistakes.  It's chaotic, but it is a tailing off of chaos.  Though, right now, if you imagine it as a tail, it is a very vigorous tail, wagging frantically in all directions.

I have been put into the position of lead on one of the trouble-shooting teams, assigned to one of the more major problems. I spent most of the day just getting my arms wrapped around it.  The problem has to do with a menu that is autopopulated based on a combination of values in another system.  I don't have visibility into this other system, so I am trouble-shooting blind, which can be difficult.

I arranged a meeting in the afternoon with some of the members of the group that designed this particular piece of functionality so I could understand what they were trying to do.  It looks to be a case of good intentions but a flawed design, so tomorrow I am going to document up all the known error cases and then provide them back to the technical design team for review. 

Most of the problems we are running into are a result of flawed designs and then inadequate testing - which I saw coming a hundred miles away.  Even my section of the project has two instances of flawed design - were the design that came out of management and management review simply did not account for all the variations in the field.  There are tools and exercises that allow you to avoid these kind of things, but lacking any real process discipline, they slipped through.

We need to get back into an environment of regular process discipline and I am hoping, with the big project finished, that we can move there sooner rather than later.  I've started driving in that direction already, but its a challenge to do when your own bosses are the ones ignoring the need for discipline. One of the areas I have trouble with, one of the areas I struggle in, is the area of a lack of clarity around the scope of authority and responsibility caused by micro-management.  Most micro-managers tend to be very capricious - that it, they want to micro-manage this part but not that part, and then they want to micro-manage it now, but not later, okay and then again now.  This is very touch on the individual contributors because it creates an environment where they are uncertain of how to act and when to act.  Sometimes if they act they get chastised, other times if they act no one notices or comments, so they have to move through a very uncertain world.  That is exactly where I find myself, moving through an uncertain world.

Friday, May 3, 2013

One Hundred Things

Transformation and change carry their own set of challenges. Whenever I find myself in a period of transformation and change, I find there are things that I struggle with.  That is not a bad thing - there are things we are supposed to struggle with as we go through life. I'd go so far as to say that who we are is defined in some of those struggles.  With that said I find myself redefining as I near fifty three.

It's been a year so far. One of the main relationships in my life transformed, or rather completed a transformation, at the beginning of the year. It happened to coincide with the high chaos at work, but that might have been a good thing. The demands of work were a distraction, a trivial little game that I played to the hilt in order not to be overwhelmed by a sense of loss.

T.R. has slipped, gracefully, out of my daily life, as she had slipped gracefully in. We played at the game of separation for the better part of two years, that dance of together and away and together and away.  Just writing that becomes one of those things, one of those things that I count among the hundred things.

At her request, for all the years we were together, I only wrote of her obliquely. She did not want her life exposed to the world, even in a venue as small as my little corner of the internet and that was okay with me, I understood it very well, seeing that at times I can be obsessively private.  She is a creature of beauty and grace, an adornment in this world. Wherever her journey takes her I wish her all the best.

The arc of our relationship crossed what was, for me, a rich and fulfilling time. I have wondered a hundred times at where we slipped apart,  I have my own observations, my own theories, as I am sure she has her's.

One of the journeys I went on with her was the journey into minimalism, the journey into zen. It was partly that journey that led me to love her with open hands. Whenever I felt myself grabbing, grasping, holding - I simply took a deep breath and opened my hands.

 I've often quoted John-Rogers - we should allow other people the dignity of their journey.  That is a pretty powerful statement. That is not an easy thing. But, within me, there is something that influences that, well more than one something.  There are a hundred things.  First is my abiding faith in God.  Second is my belief in the great mystery of life.  I don't think we are here to understand life.  I think we are here to experience it, to live it, to see all the facets of the beautiful gem.

T.R., wherever you are, I am certain you are embracing life, like you always have.  For the hundred things you taught me, I am forever grateful. When I look around me and I see the hundred things in my physical world you influenced, I am happy. When I go through the day and I practice or experience the hundred things we shared, I am happy. As the Teacher says - may all beings find happiness and be free from suffering.

And at the end of the day, I still love with those same open hands. I am still me, inside all the facets, among the one hundred things.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Those Things I Never Anticipated

It has been eight days since the last time I wrote.  They've passed in a continuous blur of work, which is what happens when you have a major roll out.  The good news is it worked and it is done.  That means that, God willing, I will be able to settle back into some sort of normal rhythm as I enter the spring and summer. Imagine me in a state of high anticipation.  I am approaching one of my three day weekends and for the first time in a very long time, I have the weekend to me.  I don't have to work. Blessedly, I don't have to think about work.  Oh, I may do a little of both, but not having to do it is going to make all of the difference.

So, I decided to start the weekend with a couple of slices of pizza and tomorrow I am going to meet Tony for breakfast and then we're going to catch one of the early matinees of Iron Man 3 for Tony's birthday.  It should be a good day.  The weatherman is predicting gloriously beautiful weather and it is my intention to enjoy it to the best of my ability.  I am probably going to head up to Mountain View over the weekend for the Art Ala Carte festival, the kick off of the festival season.  Wander around, people watch, eat good food and then simply repeat as necessary.  If I have a good time, I might go back on Sunday.

I have a lot of things I want to write about, so expect a lot of entries over the next couple of weeks.  I have been so busy that much of what I have been thinking hasn't gone anywhere.  They are just slowly spinning around inside of me, being contemplated and waiting to be released. It has started out to be a transformational year, though in ways I never anticipated.  It is those sorts of things that I want to write about, those things I never anticipated.