I watch a distressing amount of Christmas movies during the season, so this year I thought I’d share my awkward obsession with you all in the form of a Christmas Movie Advent Calendar! Starting on December 1st, I posted a new holiday movie each day until Christmas Eve on social media with the tag #XMasMovieAdventCalendar. Below is the list of ESSENTIAL(ish?) Christmas flicks.Continue reading 2022 XMas Movie Advent Calendar
Tag Archives: me
Leadership, Empathy, and Burnout
I first ran across this thread in early 2021 a couple of months into the COVID pandemic response (and all the stress that came along with that), and I doubt a week has gone in the year since that I haven’t thought about it. It lives in the top of my consciousness, and I highly suggest you give it a read before (or instead of) this post.
The question that kicked it off is an astute one: is burnout for management inevitable for people who actually care about the wellbeing of other people? I have thoughts.
Continue reading Leadership, Empathy, and Burnout
The End of an Era
How’s that for a melodramatic title? “The End of an Era”? My narcissism knows no bounds!
Today I have opted to resign from the Penguicon Board of Directors, ending more than a decade of service to the convention nearly half of which as a member of the Board. There are numerous reasons for this, but as much as I will discuss publicly is described in my letter of resignation, reprinted below. Suffice to say, this isn’t a “rage-quit”, it’s not a call to brigade those who may or may not have done wrong, and it’s not the start of some battle. The direction of the Board and my direction are no longer aligned and so I am distancing myself from them; no more, no less.
I wish the Board and Penguicon both the best, and I will see you all at this year’s event!
Several years ago we as a group met with members of our community to discuss the concerns those members had about the direction of our newly expanded code of conduct and that of the extension of those guidelines by the convention committee. Their apprehensions were and remain valid: certainly the policies outlined could be abused and over-applied; similarly, these policies could be misapplied as zero-tolerance mechanisms for antagonism by those so inclined. All behavioral policies carry risks, and–without strong stewardship and careful oversight–ours could as easily become tools for abuse as they could empty words. We knew this then, and we promised to provide that stewardship and oversight.
I made assurances then as I did over the ensuing years that the purpose of those policies was not to allow such abuses and that those of us on the Board of Directors considered it our responsibility to ensure that these policies were applied evenly, intelligently, and judiciously. I made a personal promise on that call–a promise that I have reaffirmed numerous times in the years since–that I would fight overreaches of these policies as strenuously as I would fight to see them applied where needed; that I would not be a part of a governing body that allows our codes of conduct to fail to be applied nor would I watch them be maliciously applied. I would resign before I would be a part of either type of misconduct.
Since that time, I have had numerous opportunities to honor that promise alongside many of you. I have fought to apply the code of conduct to situations requiring it and I have wrestled with those that would use the policies as a star chamber to punish or expel those they found undesirable. I have found it simultaneously exhausting and fulfilling to do that alongside a board membership that was largely like-minded. Even when we have personally disagreed with one another, I have genuinely felt that we were doing the right thing and fighting together in the direction of that judicious, intelligent application of our guidelines.
Today, however, I come to the end of a much more exhausting and much less fulfilling period. One member of the Board seems to have decided that their agenda is more important than our shared mission and that any attempts that aren’t in alignment with that agenda are to be met with hostility and subversion. More recently, I have watched with some disappointment the formation of cliques within the organization that overlap significantly with the Board and that member. Those cliques, in turn, have started to leverage the guidelines in order to push this singular agenda and–especially since the January 2019 Board meeting–actively abuse the harassment guidelines with the goal of engineering a convention committee of their liking. I remain firmly devoted to our code of conduct, so much so that I cannot abide by the willful abuse of it; an abuse that undermines and lessens the authority of it. With those potential abuses now coming from within our numbers, I find that I must honor the second half of my promise and tender my resignation to the Board of Directors, effective immediately. I cannot prevent the abuses that are on the horizon, and I will not be a part of an organization promoting such malfeasance.
I wish you all well and I know that this year’s convention will be another amazing year. I can only hope that the remaining Directors can find someone with more time and energy to ensure that this mismanagement doesn’t continue to grow.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve,
Signed by…you know…me :)
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!
Social Media Musings
It is with a degree of trepidation that I return to Twitter after a month-long hiatus. There are numerous reasons, but my primary justification is that they’ve finally started banning shitbags like Alex Jones, and you reward good behavior, even if it’s late and reluctant.
A more direct reason, though, is that for all of its faults, Twitter fills a gap that neither Facebook nor Mastodon can yet manage. Facebook is obvious; from a ethical standpoint it is no better than Twitter (and might manage to be worse in many ways). More impactful to me is Facebook’s lack of topic muting coupled with it just being the wrong crowd. Facebook is where I’ve aggregated friends, family, colleagues, and acquaintances for life updates and event planning. It turns out that the politics of many people in those groups tends toward horrifying.
Mastodon though, in my experience, is almost worse. Whereas Facebook and Twitter are those racist cousins that you visit briefly until they drop an n-bomb in front of your kids, Mastodon is that seemingly polite aunt or uncle that seems sweet until you find out that 20% of their income goes to the Westboro Baptist Church and they lobby to keep “certain types” out of their neighborhoods. The former gives you the option of beating a hasty retreat or standing your ground and fighting. The latter just makes you wonder how much your presence in their life is advocacy of their beliefs.
Mastodon just feels uncomfortably like everyone is wearing their most presentable mask…but as Wil Wheaton saw, the faces beneath look awfully similar. Sure, it’s nice when it’s your “side” doing the dogpiling, but when you think of the ramifications it does cool the enthusiasm a bit.
But Mastodon is supposed to be safer than Twitter, so at least everyone is protected from that abuse, right? While Mastodon bills itself as more like a roll-your-own, artisanal social media experience–just pick an instance with whose ethos you’re aligned today, and if they abuse your trust you can just cart it all to a different instance–but that merely serves to distribute the burden simultaneously too broadly and not broadly enough. Wil was dumped from his instance because he was getting dogpiled and it was excessively burdensome on the admin. Mastodon, in a nutshell.
I hold out hope that we as an electronic community can come together and figure out a solution to the egregious abuses, but I’ve come to believe that the problem isn’t the network; the problem is the people. We have to solve our social problem, not our technology problem.
Until that time, I won’t cut off one potential abuser in favor of another, this time…although if we do run the into the problem of failing to ban painfully obvious abusers again, it’ll again be time to go.
Penguicon 2018 Panels
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: Continue reading Penguicon 2018 Panels
“Thanks for your service”
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. Continue reading “Thanks for your service”
Being a Professional
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).
April and May Conference Schedule
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).
What Am I Doing NOW?
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.
Acknowledging My Good Fortune
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!
Tweets of 2016
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.
2016: A Year in Review
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:
Leading Questions (a Podcast)
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!
Confessions of an IT Pro: Precious Ideas Will Hold You Back
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?
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…?
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.