Day 26

Writing early today because I’m not leaving for work until about an hour after I normally do. Chance to get today’s writing out of the way, so I don’t have to worry about it this afternoon.

It’ll also give me a chance to shut off my brain tonight. I have real work to do today. That work will be done properly. If it’s “on-time,” great. If I don’t finish, it can wait until next week.

What brings out the best in you?

When I’m given the opportunity to work through something. I am not so infirm that I can’t figure things out. I am so infirm that I’m a lousy Minesweeper player. And I don’t have the money to gamble on it all. (Or other people’s money, in many instances.)

Professionally, for over a decade now, I’ve found cost-efficient ways to actually meet users’ needs. I’m not being allowed to do that, nowadays.

Day 25

Today was incredibly trying.

Between ineffective communication, and omniscient sots whipping out the letters after their names, I’m spent.

I do know what I’m doing, and I can prove it to you.

But that’d require you actually spend a little time in recon. As I used to hear repeatedly from the USAF folks I worked with, “knowledge is power, but ignorance is bliss.” Stay blissfully ignorant, certs dude. Don’t ever let evidence dissuade you from your preconceived notions. It’s more awesome that way.

You’re awesome. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise. You don’t learn from your mistakes, because you don’t even take a moment to consider them. Lessons learned are for losers. Everything you ever need to know you learned by finishing your Minesweeper certification.


What is your favorite birthday memory? What is your worst birthday memory?

I honestly have no idea on this one. Christmas was a much more memorable holiday, gift-wise. I already had my license when I turned sixteen. I really didn’t drink when I turned 21 (though I did go drink). Twenty was kinda weird, taking just-turning-21 Thanksgiving-made-babby friends out……

This year, my boss sprung for pizza. But the important thing was that my ass was in a cubicle a good part of the day — a cublice someone could bill for. Awesome.

Day 24

It’s Sunday. It’s early. I fell asleep way early last night, and missed Drunk Uncle on SNL (who favorited my tweet wondering whether he’d be on; it is Thanksgiving, after all).

My idea about how to fix a broken spring in the recliner didn’t work. I would have messed with it longer, but my legs just weren’t letting me hunch over and work.

Wonder what will be on TV football-wise this afternoon. The Saints kept the Failcons from doing what they od Thursday, and the Redskins play in SF tomorrow night. Going to guess we’ll get the Stilluhrs-Browns, Bucs-Lions, then Colts-Cards.

The NBC game is Manning v. Brady for the umpteenth time.

What are the 5 biggest fears you have? Have you overcome any of them?
1. My body embarrassing me in public
Even when I was young, I was always worried about being that kid, you know, the one who puked in the classroom, wet his pants, etc.. I haven’t necessarily gotten over it, but there’s little I can do anymore. My body does what it wants, despite my protests.

2. Death
See the letter to thirteen year-old me a few entries back. It happens. Live life like you’re gonna die. Because you are.

3. Girls
Given that I sleep with one nearly every night, I’d say that I’ve overcome this one. It’s still a little unsettling to find one giving me the once-over, though. That didn’t used to happen. I tend not to subscribe to the everything-is-driven-by-sex worldview, but I find communicating easier now that it’s not even a consideration for me. Yeah, she’s kinda cute. And? (That’s when my vision works well enough to let me notice, whihc is kind of a rarity these days.)

4. Public transportation.
Traceable back to number one, really. Airplanes still bother me. Trains I’m okay. Buses, all depends. I’m still uncomfortable riding in other people’s cars, though.

5. Writing.
Sometimes I’ll stumble across something I wrote long ago. “Wow. This is really bad.” Then I’ll read others’ new stuff, and I feel better.
It’s incredible how scared some people are of putting down a concise thought. I get that you don’t have to do it at point-and-click.edu to buy letters after your name that’ll be recognized by someone outside your industry. Just for the store-bought letters after your name, you’re more concerned with passing a multiple-choice test than actually understanding the material.
With letters properly perched in your seventeen-line email signature, you boldly embark into the wild world of business development where you fill space with meaningless blather just to hit the page limit.
Yes, I’ve dealt with folks who believe that if there’s a page limit on a proposal, that means you have to write exactly that many pages.
You look smart wearing a tie. You think that people like you. Then you’re asked to actually apply what you’ve learned, and it all falls apart. You’re so concerned with fit-and-finish that you don’t actually pay attention to the content.
Newsflash: The content is what really matters.
I’ve been trying to get back to basics with my writing. That entails concise, complete sentences in active voice. It also entails paragraphs with only one topic sentence. (This is something that really tends to get lots in Proposalville.) Finally, it means never writing, “as per.”
I admit I also get hung up on things that rubbed certain professors the wrong way. “Impact,” instead of “affect,” and “effect.” A “negative impact” is a vacuum; it sucks. “In-depth,” instead of “thorough.” Numerals instead of writing out the number for values less than twenty, etc.

Day 23

Awake early on a Saturday again. It’s supposed to get really cold this weekend, really for the first time this year. What to do today (aside from scouring classifieds)?

Tempted to try and make Dana’s gingerbread recipe. (The cocoa powder sounds like a really interesting twist; I was wondering why the color was so dark….) I don’t have all the ingredients, unfortunately, and don’t know that there’s any stores within stumbling distance of a bus stop that might.

It’s incredible just how difficult it is to get around without a car here. Things that most people would be able to do without really considering, I have to do with a fair amount of planning.

That said, that’ll probably be true for the rest of my life, regardless of where I live. It doesn’t even take into account my extremely limited energy level.

What small victory has given you the most joy recently?

I don’t spend much time dwelling on accomplishments. Whether the effort is a success or failure, I spend more time paying attention to what I could have done better. Maybe that’s the wrong way to look at it. Maybe I should be think highly of youth sports leagues where they don’t keep score….

(Again, this is a question where I could snark about people making the same mistakes over and over, and getting accolades, despite the overall failure, and not having bought enough letters after my name to understand that.)

If you aren’t honest with yourself, you’ll never improve.

So, I’ll go with the Failcons’ latest failure against the Saints Thursday night. That did brighten my mood for a bit.

Day 22

Things progressed a bit more today. I’m still unhappy with the general direction, but I do hope people are seeing where my experience is valuable.

At the same time, I’m woefully under-compensated for the work I’m actually doing.

That so little effort’s been made to make me happy and keep me says it all.

Maybe I’m just a fool that I continue trying to give my best.

Next week is a short one, which is good. I need a break longer than two days.


Write about a funny childhood incident you experienced.

I’ve been mulling this one for awhile now, and am not coming up with anything. My mother has a few, I’m sure, but my memories consist mainly of the transition from the mischievous smart-ass fat kid to the awkward, sullen, acne-afflicted teenager.

Nothing really funny about that, is there?

I feel like I wouldn’t like me if I met me

Day 21

I’m still amazed by the lengths people will go to in order to do what they know is wrong.

I really don’t care about splitting hairs.

I don’t want to regret the work I’m doing. It’s incredibly frustrating that others do not share that desire.

So, people find whatever way they can to justify doing what they know is wrong.

Pathetic.

(And here’s where I’d normally snark about buying some letters after my name that’d teach me to rationalize it….)


If you could do something without anyone knowing you did it, what would you do and why?

I have absolutely no idea on this one. It implies that I’d be doing something I know to be wrong. I can’t think of anything that I could possibly want to do that I’d want to hide.

Am I striving for sainthood? No. Of course not. But I do know what I’ve done, and I would always know what I did.

Day 20

Day 20 — two-thirds of the way through.

Yesterday’s entry is slamming hard. People do understand that I do know what I’m supposed to be doing, even without tons of artificial fanfare.

I do find it interesting, though, how much people do the same things and expect a different result.

As I asked my wife when she dropped me off this morning, isn’t that the definition of insanity?

You have a group of people who’ve failed on their previous efforts, now you’re using their expertise as the basis for your efforts on another task?

Really?!
Seriously?

Maybe I just don’t get it. I’m okay with that. But I’ll remember it in the future. Rest assured.

What is the most heroic thing you have done in your life?

Heroism isn’t something to dwell upon. I’m sure I’ve done things that people might view that way, but nothing is coming to mind.

Why?

Because I can’t think of anything I really regret doing or not doing. Maybe that’s a function of acting with proper foresight. Maybe it’s something else.

Day 19

Angry tweet this afternoon, which I have since deleted because I had a wording error. Damn you, autocorrect.

But the sentiment remains — how do you look at yourself in the mirror every day? How can you be okay with delivering bad work just to do the bare minimum?

Moreover, why do people reward you for your continuous string of failures?

Maybe there’s some letters after my name I can buy that’d teach me. But you, sir, are the reason people are skeptical of the work we do. It’s attitudes like yours that lead to disasters like healthcare.gov.

What things in your life make it worth living?

That’s a tough question. So many things I once enjoyed I can’t anymore. In light of above, it certainly isn’t my work situation.

Day 18

Another fun day at work. I really hate digging up my past work to show people what the fuck they’re supposed to be doing, but sometimes I have to.

There’s no other way.

I also don’t like studying for the letters I’m going to buy after my name while I’m at work. If I’m expected to do that there, why can’t I work from home? Why does my ass need to be in a cubicle?

My wife is off at work, which means I’m left to my own devices for a few hours.

I will probably spend a good portion of it napping. It’s one of the few things I do well these days.

Write a letter to your 13 year old {sic} self.

Dear Me,

You’re a jerk. You really aren’t as smart as you’ve been told throughout your childhood. Are you stupid? No. Are you above-average? Yes, but within two standard deviations. (You’ll understand why that’s relevant after you finally take statistics in college.)

You will have an opportunity to do what you dreamed of. It’ll be short-lived. Enjoy it while it lasts. You won’t be as good at it as you think you’ll be, but you won’t totally suck, either.

You will marry. It will happen later than you think right now. She will be someone you’d have never considered while dating around. She will be closer to you than anyone has ever been, including your parents. Don’t worry about the fact that she’s in First Grade right now; she’ll grow up.

Your body is failing you. In fact, those nights of burning feet you’ve already hed? Yeah, those aren’t athlete’s foot. It will get worse. Much worse. There’s really nothing you can do about it. It’s not because of something you’ve done, or will do, most likely. I’m not going to tell you what it is, but you will find out when you’re in your thirties, and it will have a major effect on your life.

Your relatives will start dying off real soon now. Some of them you’ll be prepared for. Some, it will be much too soon. Unfortunately, death is a certainty. Sure, you know that there’s a chance you could die in an accident, but that’s not the way that most people end up going.

Baseball will be completely screwed up next year. It will never get better for the Royals. Stick with the Saints, though. Your loyalty, there, will eventually be rewarded.

Day 17

Still working this, and that I haven’t missed one sort of implies that I’ll finish.

How do I do that?

What characteristics define you and make you unique?

I think I am good at improvising — finding an effective solution to get past whatever roadblocks I’m facing.

Professionally, right now, I’m precluded from doing that. It’s not just my pedestrian job title (and the abysmal salary that goes along with it). No, I’ve been given practically nothing to work with, and even less time to work.

In many of my previous jobs, I found simple ways to solve complicated problems without spending a shitton of money. Here, I’m not allowed to do that. I’m not allowed to be a hacker, much less apply proper engineering technique to that.

No, I’d be better if I had a laundry list of store-bought letters after my name, and zero proven successes.