November 5th, 2002

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Work, Bad & Good

First the bad. I am working on a project that is looking more and more like a death march. Basically three months to finish it and the specs aren't even finished yet. Plus I am sidetracked with a totally unrelated feature that got thrown into my group for want of a better place to put it. Add in two and a half (I have a person on loan from another group for the duration of the project) new employees to train and bring up to speed on the code base. Mix in the fact that I am a new lead at the company, so I have a bunch of new things to learn myself. I am a pretty good lead, but it's been a while and my previous experience with this was under a very different environment with a lot smaller project twice as many people making a lot less money. So there was a lot less pressure to make it work there. Add all this together and I have a lot of stress.

I need to get a whole bunch of administrative things taken care of, and clear up a lot of issues with other teams and groups, and get my head into leading the team and writing some code. Actually designing and writing code helps keep me focused and moving forward. I am not so good as working through distractions when there is no work product.

Now the good. I am out of the broom closet I shared with an intern and a DB dev for the last six plus months. I shared an office when I started. Then they moved me to the broom closet, but didn't move in my office mate. So I had it to myself for three or four months. Then they moved in the intern, but he and I worked out well. And would have continued to do so as he worked limited hours. Would have worked out well cause I could still have held private meetings during the mornings. The DB dev prevented that, as he was there all the time.

So today I moved into my new window office. It's not as private because the walls are partitions and so sound carries. Not quite a cubicle though because they are tall enough to prevent passersby from peering in, and it has a full size door. The rest of my team moves to adjacent offices next week. Which will make working together a lot easier; we are currently scattered all over the place. We will likely move again in January to the space in the building across the street (when they finally have it ready) and then I probably will go back to having an interior office. But for three months, I will be in a better environment.

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NOLA: Jihad vs. McWorld

Written 1 Nov 02. Since this is a political screed and not really related to my NOLA trip even though I wrote it while there, I am putting it in the public Live Journal. Speaking of which, it appears that very few people are wanting to read the trip entries this time around. This is fine; I write them mostly for myself. However, only a little bit is really private. I truly only am making them private cause they might seem boring (I've been accused of writing a novel in someone's friends list). So if that's your reason for not reading I'm okay with it. But if my last comment (about it being hard to be on my close friends list) in the administrivia post scared you away, don't be. The NOLA stuff isn't going to that except for a very small part dealing with my fears and insecurities.

During the flight, we were treated to a showing of "Men In Black 2." It is a short, vapid piece of Hollywood fluff. I thoroughly enjoyed it. During the rest of the flight, I read "Jihad vs. McWorld," by Benjamin Barber. THis book spends the first third of its pages inveighing against the vapid homogenization of world media by American culture (McWorld). I'll review the movie elsewhere, as I will the book when I finish the tome in a couple of weeks (it's slow reading).

The juxtaposition of the two morsels in my media diet is too tempting not to mention though. At this point, I have not read Barber's section on jihad nor his analysis of the conflict between McWorld and Jihad. My impression of his work is incomplete. Yet his invective against "American" culture, although correct on it's ubiquitousness, I think is misplaced.

I am not really the typical member of American culture. While I see the point that America is consumption oriented, and I do not think this focus is good for our culture or the world, the situation is not so dire as he makes it out to be. In my experience in sponsoring people in A.A., I've had to learn to let people make their own mistakes. SO it does not behoove one to take on worry on the part of the sponsee. If you do, you accomplish nothing expect stress yourself out. Meanwhile, the sponsee makes his mistake and learns from it, or doesn't. I truly believe a largish percentage of people will reject McWorld after trying it. Maybe not in this generation or even the next. But at some point citizens will wake up to the vapid Hollywood offerings and demand more. Or better yet, create their own.

The point being, civilization naturally goes through phases. While not necessarily good, I don't think we will permanently kill off growth in our culture because of this. We will recover and become better.