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Journal: When I say “gimme some” you say “praise”

Had a nice little experience at work today. It definitely made up for the rough spots yesterday.

Yesterday I started off a client meeting with a rough patch. It was my first meeting with this client, and rather than participating with everybody else from the office in the conference room, I was phoned in from home because my car broke down Sunday afternoon. We do almost all our meetings by phone conference, so it’s not that big a difference, but it would have been nice to be in the room with Jenn and Mike there. Jenn tends to be really good at the moral support, and Mike’s a great grounding influence.

Anyway, today was much better. Managed to get into the office because Clayton’s awesome. He gave me a ride in, even though he was headed into the office late today due to a doctor’s appointment. One shade of awesome covered. Got some details on a feature cleared up with Mike right at the beginning of the day and worked things out with Jenn to talk with Jerry (the client) about a couple loose ends. Two shades.

Talked to Jerry, and he loved the feature I presented to him, commented on how he needed to tell Justin (our CEO) that he hired himself a brilliant guy, and explained why it was more than we needed. Talking with Jerry continued to go well. He’s really excited to be able to work with me because Justin used to be handling all the work I’m doing, and there really just wasn’t time for him to do that and run the business. Jerry’s happy, Justin’s happy, I’m happy. (Though I had my worries about how happy Justin was at the time… because I tend to worry, especially the first 90 days on a new job.) Talking with Jerry (like it did yesterday) cleared up a lot of things, helped me focus how some features need to work and leave out some unnecessary stuff.

After the call, I get to tell Mike that the feature we’ve been worrying whether we’d have time to do right is more than we need and we’re gonna throw it on the “cool features for later” list. He’s got a lot less to stress about, I no longer have to stress about how I’m gonna sell Mike on the more elegant (but more programming intensive) approach to this feature’s interface. Shades three and four covered in spades.

During a phone conversation with Justin, Jerry follows through on his “gotta tell Justin” thing. Shade five complete.

Finish out some edits on a feature that the devs had been waiting on, get some time to look at a project I’ve been totally neglecting and realize that the IA will be simpler than I thought. Six shades down.

Office starts to empty, Justin asks if he can play some punk music. Turns out he’s playing the Misfits. I recognize “Vampira” and ask him if I’ve pegged it right, leading to a “now we’re going to hear the dark secrets of Brian’s past” moment. Not much dark secret, though my first concert was a punk concert back in Chicago. Naked Raygun, lead off by the Digits and the Bhopal Stiffs (yes, it’s a crude reference to the industrial disaster in Bhopal, India in the 80s). Had some good conversation anyway though… talked some about his decision to become postmormon (he didn’t feel it and didn’t want to be a hypocrite, so he chose to leave) and about how hard his teenage rebellion was for his dad… and his Sunday school teachers. Cool, but we’ll save the remaining shades for a moment.

Before heading out, Justin asked me how my day had gone (I think Jenn told him she was a little worried about how Monday had kinda beat me down) and how things were coming. I mentioned that I keep feeling like I can’t get things done fast enough (the devs are waiting on me for some to-dos). (We all know there’s an IA backlog, but I tend to put pressure on myself, especially when I’m in a new place and don’t feel like I’ve yet established a solid reputation.)

So Justin tells me about an IA thing he just got set for the devs that will keep them busy for a while, points out that Jerry spoke very highly of me today and way to go impressing the customer in the first 2 days of knowing him. And don’t stay too late, see ya tomorrow.

That was worth two. Even before leaving work, a full eight shades of awesome.

Sweet.

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Journal: Catching up

Thursday a friend of mine from Connecticut called. Turns out she’s around the ATL for a while working as a camp counselor. We hadn’t talked in ages, we had fun catching up, I got to tell her about the new job and the fun I’m having. I got to hear about her fun and frustrating experiences with snotty campers. (Think Mercedes McNab in Addams Family Values.) Invited her to a party a bunch of our mutual friends will be at… just in time for it to get cancelled two days later. I need to give her a call and see if she’s got time to hang out, catch up a little more face to face like.

While there was plenty of cool in the conversation, I most appreciated the part where she talked about how glad she was that I’m willing to let her babble (I like listening to people) and how I can let silence be.

I worry at times that people don’t get me and silence. We’re pretty good friends. Yes, get me started talking and I’ll keep going, but if I don’t have anything to say, I don’t stumble to fill uncomfortable silences like I used to years ago. I may come off as dull as a result, but I just don’t feel like all silence needs to be filled. A lot of it’s just relaxing.

I kinda doubt other people see it that way… and at this point I’m pretty oblivious about how deafening silence can be to other people. (Unless I’m shouting silence at someone, then it’s pretty clear to me, not sure how clear to them.)

Anyway, it’s good to have friends that are happy to just be chill. My nature is to worry, so real silence is golden. Think those sunset moments of life. There you go. You got it.

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Journal: 13 hours

Had a good 13 hours of work today. After finishing about 12 I headed home to update documentation (and try and get home before sunset).

We’re in crunch time for one of our clients, especially on IA tasks… and those have been gathering for a while awaiting my arrival. Plenty to do, little time to do it in, and me trying to design software full speed while I’m getting my head around just what we’ve put together thus far.

It’s nice to be useful, if a bit stressful.

Today’s been the kind of stress I like. The tumblers of understanding started to fall into place, so I was able to start getting things done: get focused on the design problems and sketch out more wireframes than I’ve turned out in ages. (Granted, people haven’t asked me for wireframes in ages.)

If I’d worked out some of the existing stuff quicker, I probably wouldn’t have had to work so long today. But somebody told me to expect this kind of situation this week. ^_^

Things should be more sane soon. The project managers are doing all they can to keep the load workable and to curb the client’s desire to revisit decisions that we made meetings ago. They feel bad that I’m already pulling a late night after just one week at the agency.

Agency work, I’ve missed you. Just start living up to the PM’s hopes and we’ll get along fine.

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Journal: nothing to report

Not a whole lot to say today. Work was good, though a bit stressful.

I’m not getting my head around our project as fast as I’d like, and building wireframes for new functions is taking longer than I want it to, partly because I’m still figuring out how this app works, partly because I’m rebuilding some of the old wireframes from scratch because the old wires were done in a program we don’t have access to anymore.

Work will run long tomorrow if I don’t manage to speed things up. I think I’ve got the bulk of what’s left for tomorrow figured out, and we’ll see if the wireframes come more quickly. I’m coming onto this project at a high stress time, so I’m riding myself more than I probably should to get things done quickly.

Institute was cool… had a discussion about not being insular (we religious folk are different from them unreligious ones) and about maintaining gospel based standards of conduct in our homes regardless of what the prevailing culture where we live may dictate. It was an interesting evening of potential contradiction that resolved rather nicely. Talked with a few folks during the conversation masses that tend to follow class. I’m getting a pretty strong “you’re weird, aren’t there other people you could be talking to?” vibe off people, but I kept at it for a while anyway. I think even Jeremy’s wishing I’d go play in traffic, and normally the man’s totally unflappable.

An interesting evening after hearing from Efraín “I don’t know why you find it so hard to find a girl.” My escape line of “maybe I’m just picky” didn’t work especially well, leading to a 5 minute explanation of what he thought was required in a relationship. To my glee he went from a very simple (and rather unrealistic start) through various layers of complication before I told him I needed to go.

I think I know what I’m looking for, and though I might be making things more complicated than they have to be, I’m getting back in the saddle. Honestly, it looks to me like some of my friends have finally decided that I’m too old or too strange to spend time with, or they otherwise don’t really know how to relate to me. These things happen. Guess it’s time to verify as best I can, and most likely, it’s time to move on into that part of the world where you don’t have church groups handing you ways to meet people. Might teach me to make more of the opportunities I have.

Anyway, we’ll see what the future holds. Right now, I just gotta get through tomorrow’s workload and get some sleep. If I get time after phone calls and lesson prep, maybe I’ll watch some of the Superman stuff I bought to keep me in that Supes place now that I don’t have Reza and Parastoo calling me Superman every day. (The work was good, but they were the best part of my old job. I need to call Reza tomorrow and see how he’s doing, find out when I can visit with him.)

For not much to say, I’ve written way too much. Saw something today that said “talk less, say more.” Looks like it’s time to follow that advice.

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Journal: Vox Mackenzie

My Vox invite came through today. Looks like it comes with a guest invite or two, so if anybody’s wanting to check it out, get in touch. Initial playing around says it’s got some cool stuff going for it. Down side? The free version runs on ad revenues from bottom slung text ads. Not as intrusive as top banners, but that detail still feels a bit ’98. Well thought out services from what I can tell, some good hooks for getting non-blog folks going, and lots of buzz on the blogosphere about it being “blogging for adults.” (I think the “for adults” is overblown, but something tells me that’s how the public at large with think of it… those that think of it at all anyway.)

Since I couldn’t work out where I’d seen Veronica Mars pal “Mac” Mackenzie, I did the obligatory imdb search this morning. Mac’s played by everyone’s favorite (and probably only) Tina Majorino. Most folks will know her as side pony tail sporting photographer Deb of Napoleon Dynamite fame.

Willow’s still my biggest TV character crush, but given Majorino’s real-life computer geekiness, opera background, and hip hop choreographer ways, Mac’s giving blessed Will a bit of a run. (That said though, I’m finding VM a shade meaner than I’d like lately. Maybe it reminds me too much of middle school. The rich kids were as vengeful, capricious, and insecure, but even my worst encounters never got quite VM mean. Similarly outcast, but nobody trying to frame me for felonies.)

Work was pretty cool today. I was able to get some things clarified and am a little closer to being able to make use of our Tues and Thurs flex days. (Whee work at homeness!!) Got a bit of a brain dump from Justin about data structures on the learning system I’m adding features to, and a lot of “don’t worry about throwing our programmers stuff they can’t handle, they’ll blow you away” and “just do what’s best for the user.”

Have I mentioned lately that I love my job?

Home evening was fun, if maybe not my greatest social moment. I socialized a little more than I’d been doing lately, mostly with James and his sister.

Charles asked me if I was exhausted again today. Apparently what I thought passed for mellow comes off as closer to unconscious. That might help to explain why I haven’t really got to know new folks or got to know known folks better at social functions lately. The “I don’t know what to talk about with these people” factor has been increasing lately, as has my read from people that they don’t really care to talk with me anyway. Such is life, but I need to find the way I’m going to break this pattern or despite my unspeakable coolness, I’ll be all by my onesie for a long, long time.

So, some things to do:

  1. Rend the veil of lethargy
  2. Find where my mojo ran off to

It’s been ages since I got an event together (responsibility exhaustion with a case of low ROI). It may be time to make some things happen again. Even if nobody else really cares for the event, people tend to appreciate that I’ve provided something to do that they didn’t have to come up with themselves. Sometimes people actually get into whatever off the wall thing I’d come up with and enjoy themselves.

Coming back to more general sociality, when I’m on, things tend to go well… just haven’t been on much lately. Had a double case of failed whammy early this spring and haven’t quite caught my rhythm since. Doesn’t help that I tend to restrict things to mormon girls. In a culture where women lament being old maids at 21, and my interests are already afield of tradition, I’m not really inhabiting the same world as them anymore. (I also sport a touch of Medea’s curse, but that’s largely a locality issue. If I lived in NYC, DC, SF, Boston it would be less pronounced.)

And we won’t get into how much more interested non-mormon girls tend to be in me than mormon gals (and vice versa.) There are at least three solid opportunities in the past four years that I totally threw away for fear of religious differences causing trouble if things actually went anywhere.

But I wasn’t getting into that.

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Journal: <em>anote que te amo</em>

Presidente Hernández (my branch president, leader of my congregation at church) called as I was writing up the introductory journal entry and I mentioned that I was writing in my diario. He asked me to put down that he loves me a lot (he was more flowery than that, but that gets the point across).

Thing is, he called me because he feels like I haven’t been feeling really comfortable in the branch lately, and he’s right. I’ve had a hard time of it recently.

About a year ago, I was called as the elders quorum president in the newly formed Cunningham spanish speaking branch. (Elders quorum president leads a quorum of priests in a congregation, consisting of all the men in that congregation 18 and older.) It’s been a real blessing, a lot of work, and recently, I’ve been letting myself feel really overloaded and a bit unhappy. I was talking with Clayton about it last night, because I’ve taken to being rather frustrated on Saturdays with the work that typically needs to be done to get ready for Sundays.

I’ve got a very Bill S. Preston, Esq. poker face, so I’m an easy read, and President Hernandez has always had a good feel for me. Even in the rare event that my whole life isn’t showing on my face, he can pretty accurately sense how I’m feeling, so he knew I’ve been frustrated for the past few weeks.

It made for a funny start to our conversation. He expressed his aprecio for me (he sincerely loves me like a son), and since it’s hard to out-flowery language someone with a “love you back,” I came back with something like “thanks, what can I do for you to show the love on my part?” (Wow that sounds infinitely lame in english! Just trust me that it actually sounds cool in spanish.)

Since he’d called to see what he could do for me, my en que le puedo servir didn’t get especially far. He was really straight about noticing that I didn’t seem to be real happy in the branch lately and we set up a time to get together and talk… then proceeded to talk for about 45 on the phone anyway. (I should probably mention somewhere along the line here that President Hernández doesn’t really speak english. He’s learning, but it’s easier to just speak spanish when we’re talking.)

I think we’ve got some quorum reorganization things worked out (I need new counselors and a secretary), and I got a chance to tell him about my goal to have some of the brothers from the branch prepared so that there’s a choice of latin brothers that could do the job. (That may just be my white male self-hate flaring up over white guy me leading a latino quorum, or my feelings of overwork getting really sneaky about expressing themselves to me. The basic desire to have our quorum by latins for latins is good, but I think I’m letting feelings of cultural and linguistic alienation have too much sway at the moment.) I also got to tell him that I’m thinking of moving into the city in the next few months because it’s about time I became a homeowner and the property values near work are on the rise. (Briefly touched on marriage concerns too, but didn’t get that deep into them. That’s a hard subject because my latin friends would love for me to find a nice latin girl. Problem is, last time I tried that I learned that I suck at being a boyfriend to someone that doesn’t speak native-level english and have a working knowledge of north american pop culture.)

Anyway… gotta finish up so I can get to bed. Presidente and me talked about the quorum, about how I’ve been feeling, about how he doesn’t want me to leave and wants to find a way for me to enjoy myself in the branch. We talked some about going to Honduras for a bit around Christmastime. I’d enjoy that, though I’m not sure how practical it will be. We’ll see how it fits in two weeks of vacation days.

What I’m thankful for at the moment: friends that 1) can read me easily 2) use that easy read to care for me. (I tend to feel like my masking disability drives people away or makes people feel like they can manipulate me.)

Sometimes I get to feeling alone as the only white face at church, and certainly the only american pop culture geek. Sometimes I wonder if I should go back to the english world. (Especially when I’m feeling sharply SO-less.) Days like today remind me that although we have cultural differences, my latin friends have generally loved me better than anyone that wasn’t family. (One of the strengths rather common in latin culture that get overlooked by the bigots crying “stop the invasion of our southern border” in recent months.) As closed and detached as I can be sometimes, I really don’t deserve that kind of love from people I have so little in common with and so frequently take for granted.

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putting the j back in my lj

Journal writing by headlamp, from erik and matt's fantastic ride (robots.mit.edu/people/ lichter/biketour/index.html)Today in church we had a lesson about the value of keeping a daily journal, and while I was happy to count this as a journal of sorts, I really treat it as more of an article based blog than a journal covering regular or daily events.

Part of it’s an issue of not wanting to air everything on my LJ, another that I don’t really feel like boring people with the details of what I’ve been up to. (Though it might pay to remember that descriptions of one’s life are often most boring to the teller.)

So for the next little bit at least, 青龍偃月刀 will be fortified with journal entries. Fortunately, LJ’s view controls should work to provide McDLT style separation goodness, keeping the journal side journally and the blog side bloggy.

journally

adj.
written in a more daily “what happened today, what I’m thinking about” kind of format, not a lot of attention to voice, tone, or audience

I’m not trying to entertain, cover specific topics, or tell cool stories in these as much as just say what’s been going on in my life and maybe how I feel about it.
bloggy
adj.
written with more attention to voice, message and audience. These are the entries where I’m trying to address specific topics, provide some fun reading, and maybe even have fun with writing.

They’ll tend to be more topic based and less “this is what I’m doing this week.” Think stuff like the “silk is suk” entry or the MMO stuff that I’m still only halfway through. Some will include personal insights, some will just be me going off, highlighting something I think’s cool, or trying to be funny. (And hopefully being less redundant than these last 3 sentences.)

Here’s the plan so far…

  • I’ll mark all the journal entries with a “journal” tag so that they can be easily identified by the tag. I may also put “Journal:” into the titles, since my LJ layout doesn’t show the tags until the bottom of the entry.
  • Lock down the journal entry stuff down to LJ friends, subgroups, or just me, depending on how shareable the entry seems.
  • Depending on the entry, I’ll turn comments off on journal entries. Sometimes I’m just writing for myself, posterity, or to get thoughts down.

I think that will work reasonably well. The more bloggy folks that I don’t think will want to read the journal stuff tend to refuse to jump through the necessary hoops to see any protected entries, so they won’t see the journally goodness that I don’t expect they’ll appreciate. (And if they want to see it, I’ve got LJ free account keys they can ask for.)

For you guys that can see protected entries, if I mark the journal stuff clearly, it’ll be easier to skip if you don’t care about it. Comments on “I’d rather not see the journal stuff, I’d rather just see the bloggy stuff” or “I don’t understand why you don’t make this visible to everybody” will help me work out the proper balance for visibility/invisibility. (So comments are officially welcome, even requested. Just keep in mind that I may not agree with your suggestions and may not follow them, so no nerf herding please.)

We’ll see how it goes. Should be fun.

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