Category Archives: Uncategorized

ConFusion 2016

I’ll be spending this weekend at one of the two conventions that I consider to be “home” for me. Over the last decade, ConFusion has increasingly become a place to be for authors of sci-fi and fantasy–so while there is plenty more going on here this weekend, if you are into genre fiction, you owe it to yourself to come visit the more than 50 authors that will be milling about in a much more relaxed, personal atmosphere than you’d expect. Continue reading ConFusion 2016

American Horror Story

I’ve been thinking an awful lot about this post lately. According to Evernote, I first bookmarked this for myself almost 2 years ago, but if you’ve been paying attention, you’ve almost assuredly seen it come across your social media feeds from time to time.

It’s worth a read; take a few minutes and do so. It’s certainly a better expenditure of your time than continuing on here. I’ll wait.

Welcome back. I have thoughts… Continue reading American Horror Story

Tweets of 2015

Things I Said on Twitter in 2015

As I say each year: The year in review, in micro-blog form. This is mostly for my own reference, but, you might be bored enough to look at this as well. Who knows!

Tweets of 2012 • Tweets of 2013 • Tweets of 2014

I continue to hover in the “just shy of 1k tweets” club for the second year in a row, dropping slightly to around 870 tweets. I assume most are about teenage drama shows. Continue reading Tweets of 2015

The Best Christmas Album of All Time!

I am not, in any appreciable way, a Christmas enthusiast. I enjoy giving presents but receive them awkwardly, am often exhausted by the planning and parties and all, and the holiday foods—especially the fixation on peppermint—are tiresome.

But I do love the music. To me, the Christmas experience is my father making the family wait with diminishing patience on the big morning as he makes coffee, brings in the paper,and takes care of the fire in the woodstove—all to a soundtrack Christmas albums that he has carefully (read: slowly) selected and placed in the CD changer.1

In the spirit of the holiday, I wanted to share a collection of what I consider to be a perfect Christmas album—my favorite versions of my favorite classics, along with some non-traditional songs that I find suit the season. Enjoy… (and if you want to go listen to this as a playlist, you’re in luck!) Continue reading The Best Christmas Album of All Time!

Training Days

This and next week I will be performing a series of trainings for groups within our organization to describe how we’re using Scrum (initially, at least). This is easily my favorite part of my job.

Not the “performing training” part; while I enjoy that considerably, it is also utterly exhausting. No, my favorite part of the job is helping others understand things. Anybody can tell someone the answer. Some of those people can even tell someone the right answer. It is immeasurably more satisfying to walk someone through the though process by which the right answer was derived so that in the future you can watch them solve the next problem correctly. Continue reading Training Days

Gratitude

I can only assume that the general atmosphere around this time of year is to blame, but I’ve been thinking quite a bit for the last several weeks about how great I have things. I have life pretty easy, in all.

I was born into a country that affords me a tremendous amount of freedom and a ludicrous amount of invisible benefits that I usually take for granted. I can bitch about my government and its representatives with impunity, I can protest without significant fear of reprisal. I am allowed to cast a vote for the person that I best think will fulfill my wishes (or least piss all over my wishes) as they go to work for me as my representative to the government. Continue reading Gratitude

History Repeats Itself

A few months ago, I wrote a lengthy post describing the various ways that I found Donald Trump’s deplorable campaign to feel eerily reminiscent to that of a circa-1920s Adolf Hitler. As I wrote and rewrote my post describing the way that both of them tugged very similar chords within a very similar group of people, I just couldn’t find happiness with the wording. At its core, no matter how you slice it, I’m essentially calling someone ‘Hitler’ which has become a lazy shorthand among ignorant people for ‘someone with whom I disagree strongly.’ Continue reading History Repeats Itself

Moving to Agile: Adjusting to Change

This post is the third in a series that began here.

It did not take very long for one of our projects to see its first curveball. As our client fell behind on providing information that was necessary for us to progress, we were in danger of running out of work. In our traditional waterfall model, that meant that we were stuck in a common position of having to pull the dev team off the project and delay the progress of the project—pushing the project day-for-day until we have what we need to move forward.

I must admit, it didn’t even occur to me to handle this a different way until someone said in jest, “shouldn’t this magical new process fix this?” Continue reading Moving to Agile: Adjusting to Change

Moving to Agile: Strategy

Over the course of the last 3 months, I have been coaching my team through a transition to scrum development. This hasn’t been simply an exercise in trying something new for the sake of something new; this move has been an attempt to alleviate the problems caused by years of technical debt and unsustainable work practices that have resulted in significant points of pain for our organization. While I would certainly like to get into the why (and that will almost certainly be a topic for a different post), I’d like to focus on some of the details as to how we have chosen to execute the transition. Continue reading Moving to Agile: Strategy

Moving Our Tools Out of Our Way

An interesting observation as I work with several teams to migrate a very waterfall process to Scrum: it is ridiculously easy to let the tools and the ceremonies become pro forma exercises rather than thoughtful representations of the spirit of what we’re doing.

I think that the biggest value I add as a coach has been to remind entire teams—regularly—to focus on the spirit of the manifesto rather than following the “rules” for using the tools or ceremonies. The tools do not define our process, the tools are there to facilitate our process. Something to remember.

Social Justice Warrior

“…but, you know, you have that whole thing you do on Facebook where you stand up for women and the poor and different races and stuff…”

This was actually said to me quite a while ago; and it has bothered me sufficiently that it has stuck with me for several weeks. My first draft of this opening actually implied that I wasn’t initially upset by it, that it grew to annoy me; that characterization isn’t true, though. I was sufficiently off-put by it the first time that I heard it that it prompted me to whip out my notebook and jot it down for later review. We’ll see if enough time has passed for me to remain relatively dispassionate as I attempt that review. Continue reading Social Justice Warrior

India: Food

I don’t think we realize what a finely balanced relationship we have with food until we’re completely divorced from our typical culinary comforts. Any traveling I’ve done in the past (even the very modest amount of international travel I’ve done) has never caused a significant departure from the habits and cuisine that I am used to. While in Korea, I was able to sample heavily from the local food while still returning daily to my “safe space” foods on-post. Even when having to be careful to avoid certain foods or to eschew unbottled water, it was still less a functional change to my habits than a brief food adventure–quick to visit, quick to return. Continue reading India: Food

India: Shopping

We arrived in Nagpur late on Saturday night after around 30 or so hours of travel (around 17 hours of which involved sitting in an airplane), so Sunday was a day to recover from travel and make preparations for the week. Since I am in no way a grownup, for me this meant going shopping for collared shirts to go with my three pair of long pants. Continue reading India: Shopping

The Company You Keep

As a leader, I have been unbelievably lucky to be surrounded by some pretty amazing teams, and my current team is no exception. I have consistently asked a great deal of them, and they have always found a way to meet my lofty expectations; they have treated each other with respect, even when things are difficult; and they have remained reliably focused on our goals, even when the pace of a project and external forces work to bump us from our path. Nothing that I could do at work could have done a better job of making me look good than the excellence of my team.

I think, at times, it’s easy to look at your successes and assume them to be of your own making—it’s important to me to remember that most of mine relate more to the company that I keep than the actions that I take.