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Mark Atwood
I've never had a Dilbertesqe "pointy haired boss". I've never had a bad manager. Not even when I had teenager scutwork labor jobs.

I have encountered them, true, and dealt with the damage they do, from multiple levels above me, and in management chains next to mine, and in other companies and orgs. But I've never personally had to suffer under one.

This entry was originally posted at http://fallenpegasus.dreamwidth.org/854193.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Current Location: meadowbrook cafe, seattle wa
Current Music: Spacemind - Intergalactic Path

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Every bad thing that has ever happened to me has, in retrospect, after enough time, turned out to have been for my benefit, or at the very least, made me more of what I like about myself.

I know that I am extremely lucky in this manner.
I also know that this streak of luck could end right now.
And I know that most people have terrible things happen to them that never result in anything more than misery.
I also know that memory is frail and is too easily rewritten.
I know that the human mind is particularly bad at accurately remembering pain and misfortune.
I know that it's not actually possible to accurately know "what might have been".
I also know that when I was going though bad times, if most anyone had told me then "you will be glad this happened", I would have reacted with nothing but hatred and rage.

Still, right now, I am grateful, both for all my blessings, and for all my past misfortunes.

#thanksgiving

This entry was originally posted at http://fallenpegasus.dreamwidth.org/853897.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Current Location: Ada's Technical Books & Cafe; Seattle WA
Current Mood: grateful grateful
Current Music: Once Upon Love by Willian Joseph

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Another evening was spent walking around Greenlake Park Walking Path and then Gas Works Park with Silver, playing Ingress and Pokémon Go.

There were Pokémon Go players everywhere. It was especially spooky at Gasworks, after sunset, in the darkness dimly skylit by the lights of the city on the other side of Lake Union, dozens and dozens little clusters of adults, tweens, and kids, faces dimly reflecting the distinctively colored light from a Pokémon Go screen, on foot, wandering back and forth across the grass, along the waterline, and around the titanic metal structures of the park.

This is starting to feel like one of those B-grade science fiction stories, one of the early warnings of the alien parasite invasion is that you notice everyone everywhere all doing the same thing, alone together.

What the hell, I don't care. Silver and I both are enjoying the exercise and each other's company.

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About 10 years ago, I was involved with something that completely accidentally suddenly turned into an unlicensed supper club. And demonstrated exactly why supper clubs strictly control their RSVPs and headcounts:

A dozen-ish of us started getting together weekly in a group geek house for a book and craft club. A friend of one of us liked to cook, and offered to cook dinner for us and our friends in exchange for we all throwing in cash for ingredients.

The next week, everyone brought all their SOs to share the dinner. The week after, also many of our other good friends.

Within a month, pretty much the whole larger circle of friends was coming.
A month later, the friends of friends, and the friends of friends of friends started showing up, because the word had gotten out that for about $5 cash you could get a large filling delicious home cooked dinner.

Came the day when the house was full of a couple of hundred people, most of them strangers to us, all of them demanding a meal.

That was the end of that.

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Current Location: Seattle, WA

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A mile is a thousand strides of a marching soldier. A pound is a rock that fits in your hand. A cup is a good drink of water. A yard is one arm pull of fabric or thread. A bushel is one easily carried bundle of harvested food. An acre is the amount of land that one man can plow in one day. An hour is the length of time that can be easily snap measured by glancing at the angle of the sun. The traditional dry goods and wet goods volumes and weights are doubles and halves of each other, rooted in the smallest common food grain and the smallest possible pour of water. Inches, spans, cubits, feet, yards, are all derived from the human body, and let one use your own body to measure things out. Degrees F are a 100 unit scale from the lowest temperature to the highest temperature that will ever regularly happen were people could live before the invention of modern HVAC.

They all make sense, when you know their history, and are using them for what they are used for.

The metric SI units are useful doing... science. But not so much for living day to day.

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I wonder about media leakers.

I'm not talking about whistleblowers, who reveal coverups by governments and corporations that are keeping secrets of bad or illegal actions.

I'm talking about people who "confidentially source" to the media details of business negotiations, media productions, and gossip of private heartache. Things that are private and confidential for a reason, will be revealed when they are properly baked, and that do nobody any good for being revealed early, except maybe for a burst of clickstream traffic for the "news" source that "scooped" it.

I know a fair number of secrets. Some of them are close friends' private heartaches, which are theirs to reveal, if ever. And some of them are business negotiation secrets incidental to my job, and a few of them part of my job to know. I actually go out of my way to avoid learning things I shouldn't need to know at my employer, just so as to firewall myself from even the appearance of impropriety.

Any of them, if I "confidentially sourced" them to the tech press, would do nothing but cost money that is not mine for no honest gain to anybody, possibly prevent good things that I would like to have happen not happen, and would betray my own principles I try to hold myself to.

So, why do other people do it?

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Current Location: Ada's Technical Books, Seattle WA

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Long ago, almost two decades, which is a few eons in internet time, on discussion forums long since destroyed and passed away, I observed two different social justice zealots. This was before the term "social justice warrior" had been invented. (And as an aside, the term was invited and taken up by people who loudly described themselves as such. It was not, as they now claim, a term created as an insult by their "enemies".) Anyway...

There were these two social justice zealots. And each one claimed to be politically active in their local politics, each one of them working to undo a great racial injustice.

One of them, they were involved in a struggle to change the electoral rules in their city, to change it from at at-large vote for the entire city council, to instead divide the city up into districts, so that each geographic region of the city would have representation on the city council, as this was the way of racial justice, and any opposition to this could only come from wicked racists.

And the other one, they were involved in a struggle to change the electoral rules in their city, to change it from divided districts, one district per council member, to instead have an at-large vote for the members of the council, such that each ethnic group spread across the city could join in solidarity to back a candidate of their ethnicity, so that each ethnic group would have representation on the city council, as this was the way of racial justice, and any opposition to this could only come from wicked racists.

I was not the only person to notice this. However, despite some efforts, nobody was able to get the two of them to engage with each other.

I learned a number of important life lessons from watching this, all of them darkly hilarious.

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One of the tricks to writing with a fountain pen with highly saturated ink is to keep a small glass of water and a heavy paper napkin on the desk. If the pen ever skips, dip the nib for a moment into the water, and then wipe it off with the napkin.

I've been writing with FPs since 1987, and only figured this trick out this year.

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Current Location: Ada's Technical Books & Cafe, Capitol Hill, Seattle WA

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When I lived in North Carolina, my best friend was Michael Wilson. He was a big kid, two years older than me, one year ahead of me in school, and he lived on the same rural dirt road that I did.

We met on the school bus one of the first weeks of school when I was in the 1st grade, and completely new to the area. He decided we should be friends, and thus so we were. He was a big happy guy, despite his family's grinding rural poverty and the death of his father to lung cancer.

We stayed best friends for the next 7 years, until I left NC in 1982 at the age of 13 to move to UT. This was, of course, long before email and facebook, and cross country phone calls were expensive, so we promptly fell out of touch with each other.

A few years ago, I started considering finding him again, and hoping to discover him owning his own machine shop somewhere around there in NC. Last week I discovered that my sister Suzanne was FB friends with one of her old friends from NC who also lived on that street, and so I asked her about Michael.

Two years after our family moved away, in 1984, he and his mother were killed in a serious traffic accident. He would have been 17 at the time.

Goodbye, Michael. You are remembered. You were the first real friend to a shy scrawny overly smart kid who didn't know how to be friends with anyone until then.

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Current Location: Home, Capitol Hill, Seattle, WA

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At one company I worked at, one of the problems it didn't have was IT.

When someone was hired, by the time they got to their new desk, there was a computer on it with the correct image on it, their desk phone worked, their email worked, the calendaring and scheduling worked, and all necessary passwords and ACLs were configured. The internal ethernet networks all worked, were fast, and were properly isolated from each other. The wall ports were all correctly labeled, and there where the right kinds of wall ports in each cubical and conference room. The presentation projectors and conference room speaker phones all worked. The printers all worked, printed cleanly, were kept stocked, and were consistently named. The internet connections were fast and well managed. Internal and external security incidents were quickly recognized and dealt with. Broken machines were immediately replaced with working and newly imaged replacements. If someone accidentally deleted a file, getting it back from backup typically took less than an hour. Software updates were announced ahead of time, and usually happened without issue.

The IT staff did not seem noticeably bitter, angry, harried, or otherwise suffering from the emotional costs traditionally endemic to that job role. In fact, they were almost invisible in their skill and competence.

So, of course, came the day when the senior executives said "the carpets are just naturally clean all the time, we don't need all these janitors!". IT was "reorganized" into a smaller staff of younger and much less experienced (and probably cheaper) people.

Of course, it all went to shit. New employees would go a week before they had machines, phones, passwords, and ACLs. Printers ran out of paper, projectors ran out of lightbulbs, servers ran out of storage, networks got misconfigured, and so forth. The total time lost and wasted across the whole company was most certainly greater than the savings of laying off the expensive and skilled IT staff.

This is not to say that the reorganized IT staff were stupid or lazy. They worked very hard and ran themselves ragged trying to keep up with the cycle of operations, while trying to skill themselves up in their "spare time" and with a slashed training budget.

The lessons I learned from this experience speak for themselves.

What lessons that may have been learned by any of the other people involved, especially the executives who made these decisions, I cannot say.

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Current Location: Capitol Hill neighborhood, Seattle WA

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