Tag Archives: life

16 Years of Gratitude

Periodically over the years I have taken the opportunity to reminisce on this date, the anniversary of my first day without drugs and alcohol. There are several posts to that effect, and I’m sure there will be several more in the future. On today’s “clean date”, I want to focus on gratitude.

I am married to a wonderful woman who is my peer, my partner, and one of my favorite people in the world. After years of unhealthy, codependent, and manipulative relationships, I am a part of one wherein we both make each other better.

I have a fulfilling job that I enjoy, that I feel that I am especially good at, and for which I am well suited. I work with a group of people that are supportive and challenging and always help me to grow. Across the board—the team I lead, my peers and colleagues, and the team that leads me—collectively and individually they inspire me to do my best work and provide a nurturing environment where a deeply flawed individual such as myself can improve and develop.

Financially, I am grateful to be in a stable place for once in my life. In the past I’ve made much more than I do, but at the expense of my integrity, my self respect, and my general happiness. I have also worked an honest job for an honest day’s pay that left my family on the brink of (and at times even beyond the confines of) financial ruin. They say that money can’t buy happiness—and they’re right—but a baseline amount sure can buy your way out of certain types of misery. Today, we have the gift of comfort without sacrificing the things that are actually important to us.

I am incredibly thankful for the relationships with my children and my (gasp) grandchild. It was not always a given that we would have any meaningful relationship, and the fact that I can be a witness to both my son and my daughter as they start new lives as adults is awe inspiring (and more than a little confusing…I cannot be old enough for this to be happening).

All of these newfound areas of stability in my life have resulted in my wife and I becoming homeowners for the first time last year. For my entire adult life I’ve resisted owning a home in favor of the ability to cut and run whenever the mood suits me. For most of the last decade, I’ve kept one foot out the door, ready to say “to hell with it all” and take on a sexy, Silicon Valley job at any time. That’s never been what I’ve wanted, though, it’s what I have felt like I’m supposed to want. So I’ve put down roots and nestled more firmly into what makes me happy.

Today I have friends and acquaintances that I love and respect that love and respect me in return. My personal relationships are not transactions and are especially not rooted in who owes who what. I’m thankful for the ability to shed unhealthy relationships and nurture those that are healthier. Together, we can celebrate life’s joys and support one another when needed and simply be on this journey together.

It is very easy to slip into cynicism, frustration, anger, or sadness today—the world is a trash fire being hosted inside of a dumpster fire during a gasoline monsoon, and somebody keeps playing free jazz at full volume—so I wanted to use this anniversary of mine to remember some of the myriad reasons I have to be grateful for my life at this time. Thanks for bearing with me during my uncharacteristically maudlin moment, I’ll be back to dick and fart jokes soon enough!

Moving Sale

As part of our move, Ger and I are getting rid of a number of things we no longer need. Our plan is to put a list below, if you want any of this, let one of us know and make an offer: we will accept the first reasonable offer for each item provided you can pick it up on the weekend of 8/12-8/13.

Anything that doesn’t find a home with one of y’all gets donated to Goodwill that weekend.

The items:

  • Leather Futon: great shape, barely used
  • Countertop Dishwasher: this works surprisingly well, connects to the sink directly (no need for plumbing work) and served admirably for a family of 2-3
  • Server Rack: 5′ tall and 3′ deep with cable management, a few shelves, removable sides and doors, and a power strip…note, it’s fairly heavy SOLD
  • Shoe Cabinet: the Hemnes cabinet from Ikea near our front door… holds 12 pair of shoes  SOLD

I’m sure I’m missing some that I’ll add here as I come across them.

Kill the Messenger

I had a friend when I was in my early 20s named Dave. He wasn’t a great guy, but then, neither was I at the time. Among his other less-than-stellar qualities, Dave was constantly cheating on his girlfriend.

This had been going on as long as I’d known him. His girlfriend spent most nights at his place, but on those nights once or twice each week that she stayed at her place he invariably had one of a handful of women over instead. He rarely spent a night alone.

Dave also enjoyed antagonizing his neighbor. For some reason, he thought it was hilarious to park half in his own driveway and half on his neighbor’s lawn. Most of the hilarity was probably derived from the red-faced, apoplectic approach his neighbor had to informing Dave that he had “done it again.”

Ultimately, the two avenues of my friend’s dickishness collided: the neighbor let Dave’s girlfriend know of Dave’s extracurricular activities. Tammy came by for an unexpected visit one night, and after the requisite fireworks, it was over.

What I remember most, though, was being at the bar that weekend commiserating with everyone over Dave’s terrible fortune. Dave—for his part—was incensed; his nosy neighbor had no business interfering and his girlfriend was an asshole for breaking his trust and coming over unannounced on the say-so of his neighbor.

I found myself thinking about Dave quite a bit last week while I watched President Trump melt down on Twitter and even more while I read the coverage that followed.

What we know, at this point, is that Flynn did talk about the sanctions which may or may not have been illegal. Obviously Flynn found it shady enough to lie about, and that lie is where the trouble really begins, because that lie is what makes him susceptible to blackmail. While Flynn has resigned, it’s fair to guess we haven’t heard the last of this particular issue.

Like Dave, Trump is focused very intently on how he was wronged…about how someone is leaking to the press, how those complaining are sore losers, and how it’s all overblown anyway. The entire thing is “fake news” despite it being based on leaks that Trump confirms are accurate—a feat of mental gymnastics that should defy the imagination but somehow lands with an unsettling number of people.

Neither Dave nor Trump are especially good at taking responsibility, and as it turns out, their supporters seem reluctant to hold them responsible for their own actions in general. There is a reason for that.

Dave and I didn’t speak for a decent while because I had the temerity to, after listening to the same whines for the millionth time, blurt out some truth at him—to hold him responsible for his actions.

“Who cares about the neighbor, you were cheating on her you idiot!”

I hope someone in Trump’s circle is doing the same for him.

But I doubt it.

Leading Without Ego

The lede of an interview in which I was recently featured ended up being the notion of not being precious with your ideas—as a result, that concept has been the topic of conversation quite a bit over the last few weeks. As often happens, the most common question to arise also happened to be the most obvious one:

How do you avoid being precious with your ideas?

Continue reading Leading Without Ego

An Electoral Theory

I would like to apologize before you attempt to read this. I’m naturally pretty verbose, but this got out of hand even by my lofty standards. I’ve attempted to trim it back some, but, it remains quite the slog. I, personally, think it’s worth it. I’m also pretty biased.

I would like to begin with a few postulates—a few things that we can assume to be true for the sake of argument. I’m not trying to play any rhetorical games here, so I’ll attempt to show my work as I introduce each postulate (after a few up top that I hope to be relatively uncontested).

Continue reading An Electoral Theory

Another Year Clean and Sober

When this post goes live, provided nothing completely irrational has happened in the last week or so, I will have been clean and sober for 14 years.1 I have now been absent of drugs and alcohol for as long as I used them.2

This is traditionally where I pat myself on the back and reminisce about how difficult it was3, but instead I just want to say this: today my life is immeasurably better than it was when it was ruled entirely by my addiction. That isn’t to say that it immediately got better—initially my life became a complete shit-show as I took away my crutch—but as I became capable of making smarter decisions, acting more like a person of whom I could be proud, and learning to be an empathetic human being, things improved at a rate that was astonishing. It has been years since I’ve actively desired to use, and that freedom is a weight lifted from my shoulders that I didn’t even know was there.

Today, I find myself happier than I’ve ever been, enjoying a life that is not dictated by booze or drugs, and I rarely miss it even slightly. I assure you, when you get clean, it gets better.

 


1 Give or take two swallows of an iced tea that turned out to be sangria at an Olive Garden, serving to prove two incontrovertible things: no dinner at an Olive Garden shall go unpunished and the only fruit that should be found in an iced tea is a lemon.

2 Not to say that I used drugs and alcohol continuously at the same rate for 14 years; I doubt highly I would have survived it. At 12, however, the ebb and flow of use that characterized my addiction started its…flow…?

3 In a manner that is COMPLETELY FUCKING JUSTIFIED!!

Permission to Take a Break

A few weekends ago, I looked through my stub posts to see which I could finish up to post; they were all a long way from done, and none were really grabbing me in any real way. Ultimately, I got distracted and, by the time Wednesday rolled around, nothing was ready to post, so I missed a week.

This week, as I look at the things available to post, I find myself in the same spot. I have a handful of drafts that are in no way ready to post and a handful of political rants of which I am so weary that I can’t imagine you don’t dread them. (Honestly, after my recent floods of them on Twitter, you can get your fill there.)

At the intersection of a chapter that I really want to get written, a review that I’m having difficulty coalescing into reality, and the flood of new-ness that I’m trying to absorb at work, I’m fairly intellectually exhausted.

So, I’m giving myself permission to take a break. Posts for the next month will potentially be sporadic or unsatisfying updates about life with the new gig. Or not. I don’t know, I’m not the boss of me.

Gig-quest 2016 Edition

I feel like there is scant discussion out there surrounding job searching mid-career. The Internet is full of helpful advice for early-career job seekers describing resume creation, job posting, searching job boards, and the like. What I don’t see very often is what to do when you’ve been in the field for a while; when you have built up a network of contacts, when you’re no longer looking for entry-level or near entry-level work, or when what you’re looking for is very narrow in terms of specificity or of job prospects.

This is probably not going to be that post either, but I would like to take some time to describe my job searching journey this summer.

Continue reading Gig-quest 2016 Edition

Malaise

I have so much going on at the moment; several cool development projects to work on that I’m really excited about, numerous books on the queue, the weather is nice and the bikes and kayaks are calling, there are some recently released video games that I enjoy quite a bit, I have writing ideas that sound like fun, my foot pain seems to be improving…I’m surrounded by great shit and life is, by any real measure, great!

Continue reading Malaise

My Right Foot

I’ll begin with a spoiler: it would appear the last several weeks of pain in my right footular region was the result of acute gout. This means, ostensibly, I am too fat and wealthy for my body. Only half of that assessment is accurate; alas, it’s the former rather than the latter. In all, this is an unexciting end to a typically quirky story.

My pain began several weeks ago when I got up in the middle of the night and brutalized my ankle in the most moderate way one can be said to have brutalized anything: I stepped on one of the dogs’ rawhide bone ends in a hallway and slightly rolled my right ankle.

The stuff of legends. Continue reading My Right Foot

Valentine’s Mash Note for my Wife

In April of 2006, I was fairly well devoted to bachelor-hood. I had already done, at that point, the entire marriage thing with all of its pain and expense and failure, and dating had never been a significantly better experience for me. By 06, having just ended another rough relationship, I was determined to stop getting serious with women since I clearly chose them very poorly. Love was a load of bullshit that everyone opted to pretend was real.

Then I met a woman entirely unlike those with whom I typically found myself: self-possessed, smart, well-read, intellectual, strangely knowledgeable about dairy. In my mind she was a relatively safe friend because, while I was crazy attracted to her, she lived hours away from me and–a decade my junior–was far too young for me. We ultimately exchanged email addresses and proceeded to spend a couple of months falling in love by text and by voice.

I knew by the time we planned our first in-person date (which we couldn’t wait for, so we had an impromptu test-date shortly before) that my single status was not going to be a permanent thing: even were things with this new woman not to work out, I now knew that I was capable of falling in love and that a relationship could be a great experience.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to test that theory…in March of 2008, Geralyn agreed to marry me, and in May of 2009 became my wife. In the near-decade since we met, Ger and I have shared adventures as partners, as friends, and as a single unit against the rest of the world. She’s perfect for me, and I’m awfully glad to have her this Valentine’s Day…despite it being a stupid holiday in which I absolutely do not believe!

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

Upgrading to Windows 10

I upgraded to Windows 10 this weekend on the only Windows system I use, my gaming system. I had it on good authority that the games that I’ve been playing occasionally were well supported (pretty much Guild Wars II) and that it was an improvement over Windows 8 (which, unfortunately, came on my system and I was too lazy to downgrade it).

Overall, I’m pretty happy with it. They got rid of the fullscreen start menu replacement in favor of a much more user friendly option that is a natural extension of what they had right in Windows 7. There are, however, some pretty significant privacy concerns, so right off the bat I did the following (most of which I document here in case it’s not exhaustive and for later reference):

  1. Privacy Settings
    1. General: Turned all off
    2. Location: Limited to only those apps that I want to see my location
    3. Camera: Limited to only those apps that I want to have camera access
    4. Speech, etc: Turn off “Getting to Know You”
    5. Contacts: Turn off “App connector”
    6. Calendar: Turn off “App connector”
    7. Feedback: Set to “Always” and “Basic”
    8. Background Apps: Turn off all but apps I actively use and want running in the background (Twitter, Dropbox, etc)
  2. Wifi
    1. Wifi Sense: Turn off “Suggested” and “Contact” connection
  3. Cortana
    1. Turn off Cortana
    2. Turn off search suggestions
    3. Turn off popular news
  4. Edge
    1. Save passwords: off
    2. Save form entries: off
    3. Do Not Track request: on
    4. Search suggestions: off
    5. Block all cookies
    6. Media licenses: off
    7. Page prediction: off
    8. Set Chrome or Firefox as default browser then never open Edge again

Adopting the Proper Stance

Something like 20 years ago, I found myself in the position of standing in a wide open parking lot with my then-girlfriend attempting to hit me with her pickup truck. (Why I found myself in this position is not especially germane to the story. Suffice to say that I was not then a particularly good decision maker, and even by those standards that this was not a particularly good decision—but I digress.) So there I was, standing in a parking lot, faced with the certainty that I’m going to be hit by a pickup truck driven by somebody who is interested in doing me a tremendous amount of harm.

I did what I felt at the time was the only thing I could do. I charged toward the truck, rather than away from it. Immediately before getting hit, I leapt back in the direction the truck was traveling, I curled my body into a ball, and I tried to aim mostly non-soft and non-squishy bits toward the oncoming vehicle.

The net result was that I was bounced clear of the vehicle—very sore, pretty scraped up, and with a fairly badly injured right arm and shoulder—and took an opportunity to run to safety while she tried to turn the truck around.

Sometimes, you can’t avoid something terrible that’s going to happen; in fact, I think it’s fair to say that a LOT of the time you can’t avoid something terrible that is going to happen. What you CAN do is turn into it, take it head on, and meet it on your terms. Getting hit in the back by an oncoming truck driven by a lunatic could have been a pretty tragic moment for me. By setting at least some of the terms of the engagement, I turned tragedy into a pretty uncomfortable bone bruise and some scrapes and bruising.