I began planning for this year’s Penguicon with the best of intentions. I put together a handful of panels that I wanted to do and submitted them on time, like a proper planner. Then I agreed to be a panelist on a couple that seemed to be a good fit. Of course, I forgot about the recurring board panel. So now my current load for Penguicon is 6 sessions. I’ve done worse, but, I’ve certainly done better :) I don’t know exactly when they’ll be at the moment, but this is WHAT they’ll be:
- The Narrative Art of Agile Stories – Whenever I run into a backlog owner that struggles with making stories to describe a software feature, I lay out this narrative method. It has reliably helped. It recently occurred to me that this might be beneficial to others as well!
- Code of Conduct: Balancing Between Helpful and Toxic – Making a good Code of Conduct is surprisingly hard (or its difficulty seems to surprise the sort of folk that are offended by the existence of, or lack of existence of, a code). This is a huge panel with great group that I really want to hear from, so hopefully it either thins out some or they get a moderator, because there’s an important conversation to have in here.
- Tech Interviewing Demystified – This was another that I was asked to join, and I’m humbled to be able to sit alongside Nuri and Dave. This is a topic that’s near and dear to my heart, and I look forward to the conversation…plus they’re both hilarious, so it’s likely to be entertaining AND informative.
- Leading Questions Live – Yanni Kuznia is joining me in the role of Jer again this year (I will be playing the role of Dawn). Last year was fun and we got some great audience questions. This year we’ll try to get people warmed up and comfortable more quickly.
- What I Learned from a Year of Your Questions – This is one I’m pretty excited about. Due in no small part to the fact that I’m on a podcast where we answer questions about knowledge work and leadership, I now get a ton more walk up questions from friends and acquaintances. The majority of these questions are similar, so a lot of us are spending a lot of time wondering about the same shit. I think it’ll be fun to talk about those things.
- Penguicon Board Meeting – Each year we hold a “bonus” board meeting at the convention so that people can come, meet the board, ask questions, and occasionally ask us to fix their Linux installs.
It’s going to be a busy weekend, but, I’m looking forward to it. What panels are you excited about?
I’ve always felt a little uncomfortable being thanked for my service; typically I wave it off with some reference to the wasteful, frivolous, and dangerous way that I spent much of my enlistment. I don’t like to talk much about what my service meant to me, and there are so many amusing stories to tell instead that I tend to just focus on those.
In reality, the Army saved my life. I enlisted through the delayed entry program shortly after I turned 17 because years of being told I was useless, lazy, and that I would amount to nothing had convinced me that it was true—that I had nothing of value to offer the world. I make light of it now, but I reached out to a recruiter because I wanted to join the infantry and die alongside the soldiers that were currently in Iraq and Somalia. It’s not that I especially wanted to die, it’s that I didn’t much care if I did, and this seemed like a way to be of value on the way out. It was a way to bring value to a valueless existence.
A recruiter convinced me to leverage my experience with computers and enlist as a software analyst. Rather than to join as infantry, that I could be of more value plying the skills I’d learned through years of writing little stupid programs. Reluctantly, I agreed; in my naivete thinking that army was army and I was just as likely to go fight as a 74B as I was a 11B.
In the military I found a purpose. I slowly learned that I wasn’t as useless and lazy as I’d been lead to believe. I learned that I had talents and that I was capable of growing them. I found camaraderie among a group of largely thrown away people as well. My alcoholism deepened considerably during this time, but my battered self esteem grew to the point where I generally felt worthy of life.
So it’s uncomfortable to be thanked for my service each Veteran’s Day; when I shipped out in the summer just before my 18th birthday I was volunteering life that I didn’t want and didn’t think had value—and what I got in exchange is a tremendous part of what makes me who I am today. I definitely won that exchange.
Thank you to every member who served honorably, regardless of why you joined or what your duties were. I am proud to have been among you.
For the past 20 minutes or so, I’ve been sitting at a table at a professional conference—an impostor in the natural habitat of the Business Professional. Continue reading Being a Professional
There’s this great hashtag floating around the Twitters that invites you to list your 42 favorite books. I’ve been enjoying reading everyone’s lists, but I can’t bring myself to tweet book titles back-to-back-to-back 42 times. Instead, here’s my list; I don’t know that they’re my favorites, but they’re pretty much the first 42 that come to mind, so they have to be ones I enjoy quite a bit.
In no particular order…
- The Ultimate Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (Adams)
- Phantom Tollbooth (Juster)
- The Giving Tree (Silverstein)
- Kill Whitey (Harvill)
- The Dead Zone (King)
- The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (Heinlein)
- The Android’s Dream (Scalzi)
- The Way of Kings (Sanderson)
- Ender’s Game (Card)
- Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (Berendt)
- A Supposedly Fun Thing That I’ll Never Do Again (Wallace)
- A Short History of Nearly Everything (Bryson)
- Behind the Beautiful Forevers (Boo)
- Mistborn (Sanderson)
- Skeleton Crew (King)
- Persuader (Child)
- A Painted House (Grisham)
- Lamb (Moore)
- Name of the Wind (Rothfuss)
- Uprooted (Novik)
- American Gods (Gaiman)
- Tell No One (Coben)
- The Complete Sherlock Holmes (Doyle)
- Interpreter of Maladies (Lahiri)
- Gone Girl (Flynn)
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Twain)
- Le Morte d’Arthur (Malory)
- 1984 (Orwell)
- Pillars of the Earth (Follett)
- Little Brother (Doctorow)
- Slaughterhouse 5 (Vonnegut)
- The Martian (Weir)
- The Dispatcher (Scalzi)
- Dark Sparkler (Tamblyn)
- I See by My Outfit (Beagle)
- Crooked Little Vein (Ellis)
- The Fuck-Up (Nersesian)
- A Darker Shade of Magic (Schwab)
- A Hatful of Seuss (Seuss)
- Waltzing With Bears (DeMarco)
- The Road (McCarthy)
- Redshirts (Scalzi) (of course)
What are yours? Tag me when you start your list (or when you end it).
Everything is happening in April and May, and I’ll be at a decent amount of it. The following is my event schedule for the spring:
- Fri, 4/21 — Dollop Live (The Crofoot, Pontiac, MI)
- Sat, 4/22 — Michigan DevFest (Grand Circus, Detroit, MI)
- Fri, 4/28 – Sun, 4/30 — Penguicon (Westin, Southfield, MI)
- Fri, 5/19 – Sat, 5/20 — Self.Conference (MotorCity Casino, Detroit, MI)
- Sun, 5/21 – Thu, 5/25 — ATD Conference (WC Center, Atlanta, GA)
Obviously, the break between Penguicon and Self.Conference needs to be filled! Shout out to me on social media if you will be attending any of the above (or something else that I’m missing).
Prompted by Amitai‘s /now page, I’ve put together one for myself. You can find it by appending /now to the end of my URL (or, if you’re into that sort of thing, you can click here)
To find out more about now pages, check out nownownow.com.
I’ve been having a lot of trouble actually posting anything here. It’s not that I don’t have tons to write, it’s the opposite: I am constantly inspired to write things, but they’re all about politics.
I really don’t want to just blog about politics all of the time.
To begin with—and contrary to the makeup of this blog lately—I’m not really exceptionally politically active usually. As a result, I’m not an ideal person to write about politics. I’m rabidly moderate and unevenly informed, not the stuff from which political screeds should probably be derived.
I try to keep generally up to date on the news, and sometimes that process results in my having a strong opinion on a specific item. On those occasions, I write about it—as much to make sense of it to myself as to spread my thoughts to others. Sometimes, those posts spawn a great conversation on Twitter. Less frequently, they spawn a great conversation on Facebook. I enjoy that, but not enough to make it the bulk of what is posted here.
So I’m having trouble writing anything of substance that isn’t about politics lately (I wonder why?) and I don’t really feel like posting most of the political posts that I jam out each week. I’m sort of caught between what I’d like to do and what I’m actually doing.
Hopefully, before this posts tomorrow morning, I’ll have come up with a solution…but I doubt it. I suspect I’ll just post less often until things normalize a bit or until I get sufficiently sick of our political scene as to feel like writing about something else instead.
I say it frequently—but it bears repeating—I am so unbelievably lucky to have repeatedly found myself leading fantastic teams of hard-working people.
Consistently, these teams are willing to experiment and try new things; sometimes skeptically at first, but they always come around. They might worry about outcomes, but without fail they act from a willingness to take risks and see what happens.
Trust is a difficult thing in the workplace, and I’ve been profoundly fortunate to have always had teams that took those scary first steps to place their trust in me. They’ve given me room to work for them, and have given me room to fail and try again. That trust has consistently translated into being understanding when I fail or come up short, and a willingness to give me another chance to make good.
Because of all of these things and many more, my teams have reliably made me look good. That’s certainly not the point, but it is a nice side effect.
There’s no real point to this post…no lesson to be learned…just, be as lucky as I’ve been, I guess.
This weekend, I’ll be attending ConFusion in Novi, Michigan. In addition to getting to rub elbows (literally, the bar gets crowded) with the likes of Daniel Abraham, Ty Frank, Amal El-Mohtar, Joe Hill, Gail Carriger, Mark Oshiro, Cherie Priest, Tobias Buckell, Jim Hines, Mur Lafferty, and something like infinity more authors, publishers, and people of note, you get to attend great panels about gaming, literature, science, and even movies and television.
‘Fusion is one of the two local conventions that I make it a point to attend each year, and for $60, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better price for a weekend of entertainment, food, and beer. You’re basically losing money by NOT attending. I think. I’m actually pretty bad at budgeting, so someone might want to check my math.
But when you’re done checking my math, come see me at ConFusion this weekend!
Things I Said on Twitter in 2016
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 • Tweets of 2015
Something quirky happened with October/November tweets, but as soon as I get bored enough to manually scrape those, you’ll see them here too! In all, I have around 1870 tweets this year, double either either of the last two years. I suspect a lot of this can be hung directly on the shoulders of a really shitty election cycle and a propensity for live-tweeting things that irritate me. At this point, my account in general is over 19,400 tweets and I’m almost assuredly going to hit 20k in 2017. That’s ludicrous.
Continue reading Tweets of 2016
It would be trite to the point of cliche to lead off with a hearty “Fuck You” to 2016; more importantly, it wouldn’t even be entirely true. After starting in a lovely way among friends, this year has been up and down and featured moments both triumphant and terrible. As with all things, time will tell what stands out and what does not. For now, here’s what I recall of a year about to end:
Continue reading 2016: A Year in Review
A few weeks ago, Dawn and I were participating in a leadership conversation in a slack that we both frequent when the idea of us doing a leadership podcast was brought up.
Neither of us have ever waited to be asked twice to throw ourselves out there publicly, so we hastily pulled together a concept, some material, recording equipment, and set to work making a thing.
Yesterday, we posted the first episode of that thing!
Continue reading Leading Questions (a Podcast)
This is a placeholder for an article about me that was posted on a different site. If you want to read the article, you’ll have to click through! Please try to ignore the ginormous picture of me at the top. Please try to ignore the use of the word “Pro” in the title. Creative liberties were taken!
Unlike being a lawyer or a doctor, IT has a number of entry points. Some go to school. Some convert their passion from childhood into a career. And some, like software professional Jer Lance, initially get their training and expertise through military service. We spoke with Lance about his roles spanning education, management and software development and what he’s learned over that time.
Q: How did you start your career? And how important do you think education and certifications were for you?
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!!
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.
Each year, some friends and I form together like a grossly inappropriate Voltron to form team Light Recoil with one purpose: to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network. This will be our fourth year of fundraising, and each year we’ve managed to up our game some; last year we raised over $1,600. This year I’d love to make it $2,000. If you want to help, donate now!
This is where we sweeten the pot; what’s in it for you?
Continue reading Extra Life 2016
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
I will begin with a one sentence summary of paddling down the Au Sable River: I will absolutely be going back for longer trips, probably even this season.
Needless to say, I enjoyed the trip.
Continue reading Kayamping the Au Sable
Next weekend, I’m going on a 3-day, 2 night kayak-camping (kayamping) trip down the Au Sable River near Grayling, MI. The plan:
Continue reading July Kayamping Trip
This post was originally going to be posted once the formal announcement of the change it describes was announced at work. Having been laid off mid-month, that announcement will never come, but I consider the concepts to be important enough to post anyway.
I resigned from my managerial role today.
Actually, it is more accurate to say that at the beginning of this month, I gave notice that I would be stepping down from my managerial role by month’s end. Today, that resignation simply became official. [Edit: Plus or minus a little…]
Continue reading Stepping Down