Category: Introspection

Personal posts

Zombie theory of the COVID World

In the course of making small talk tonight I mentioned my zombie approach to Covid.

I love a good zombie movie and I look at other people I don’t know as zombies. They’re walking through the world and they may be infected.

Zombies

They’re infected. They know they’re infected and they’re doing their best to infect others. Maskless. Unvaccinated. Going about their lives like nothing has changed.

The Unturned

They might be bitten and waiting to turn while trying to convince themselves they’re ok. Meanwhile surrounding themselves with other who may get hurt when they do.

Survivors

They’re perfectly ok and trying to navigate the infected works and trying not to get bitten. Or put themselves in situations to get bitten.

It’s exhausting. Trying to remain uninfected in a world filled with Zombies, the Unturned and Survivors.

Dates with people you don’t know discussing books you’ve not read

Woke up this morning with remnants of a dream in my head. I present it to you now.

You go on dates. But you don’t know the other person. On the date, you read books. Discuss books? Books play a big role. So it’s people you don’t know discussing books you haven’t read. That’s the headline.

And there’s a number. 2 books? 9 dates? Dreams are weird and foggy afterwards. There’s some specific number if books and dates. And some reason both are important.

You are both knowledgeable enough about the book to discuss its merits and the problems it presents. You’re looking for solutions. The books are the way to those solutions. This is about dating and problem solving.

Maybe it’s a way to determine compatibility between people. Can they solve problems? Can they hold a conversation without shouting or bullying? Are they problems solvers at all? Or do they simply talk about or around the problem in front of them?

No idea. It’s a dream. Dreams are weird and I rarely remember mine. And this one was coherent enough to capture what I have. So here it is. Enjoy?

Where Would You Move?

I came to the realization this week, during a visit to Portland, Oregon that every city is the same.

I play the game where I would move often enough and pretend I live in the different places I visit. I try to take note of what would be different about my daily routines. I discount the fanciful daydreams of what I might do or the type of person I could become if only I lived there.

I keep my expectations based in reality. I know moving to a new place won’t turn me into a new, better person overnight, or even over months or years. I am 40 years old and am still the same person I was when I was 20.

I’m a little older, a lot wiser (and wider). I used to think when I turn __ I will ___ and now that I am those ages, I realize, I am the same me I was then. I didn’t become this other Adult Me.

But the same person with the same interests and habits. I am not going to immediately transform into a whole new me by being in a new place. I’m still going to love book stores and movie theaters. I’m going to be drawn to interesting attractions and weird signs. Whether I am outside Washington, DC. or Portland, Oregon, I am going to want to do the same kinds of things.

Each city is a collection of its historical choices that shaped the neighborhoods. Each city has grocery stores and restaurants and recreation and public buildings. There might be more of some than others and one might be a specialty of that city. But overall, it’s a city with city things and city problems.

As I look at what kind of life I want to continue to cultivate and create for myself and my wife, I look at the climate. I look at what kind of life I want to have. What experiences I enjoy most and where can I find a mix of those and other pleasantries.

No place is perfect. There is no perfect city or suburb or place to move. Everywhere is going to have its own problems and irritations.

I want to find a place where I can accept the trade-offs and build a life that pleases me. And we’ve done just that where we are. Sure, it’s not perfect. There is plenty about the DC area I would trade-in if given a crystal ball. But there are so many benefits to the area I’d give up, would it be worth the trade?

One Year into Web Conferencing during a Pandemic

It. Has. Been. A. Year.

One year since I left the government contract I was supporting and took a job with an events company as a Web Conferencing Platforms Administrator. That basically means I make Webex and Zoom play nicely with our software platform.

Let’s set the stage.

Zoom, Zoom, Zoom
March 2020.
Unsuspecting Carl leaves his last job supporting Webex/VTC/video streaming to accept a new position at an events company. The job is to oversee Webex and Zoom. Both keeping up on the changes across both platforms and how to improve the company's offerings using them with its own events management platform.

Within a month, the global pandemic has hit. I’ve been sent home to work remotely and I struggle to learn my job, learn the people I’m working with, learn what exactly the scope of my new role is and field questions coming at me from all angles about how and what and how many and do you thinkā€¦

…all the while praying to the tech gods that Zoom and Webex stay up and running…

This past year has been a massive learning experience. Taking this job was the second hardest time I’ve had start a new job. But that’s a story for another time.

But how does Zoom look in different browsers and platforms?

I’ve been the entire world change from under me. I’ve seen the business reinvent itself and respond to requests and demands from all sides. I’ve seen the team I got hired into completely change. (I’m the only one left on the team from one year ago.) I’ve learned how to build a product. How to plan and write developer tickets and think about scope of work. I’ve learned scrum and agile processes. I’ve learned so many new terms and systems and ways of working I can’t even try to remember them all now.

It’s been a year. I’ve still never met in person many of the folks I work with everyday. I’ve largely worked remotely, living in instant messaging, Zoom meetings, and Webex meetings. I’ve stared at myself for countless hours trying to document specific functions or answer questions from our team.

I’ve learned how to not only read but interact with APIs. I can speak to Zoom and Webex fairly fluently. I’ve been reminded how I could never be a programmer, but can read bits of code and generally understand the parts of it.

The value of having a supportive, positive, encouraging team who unfailingly has your back as I have theirs cannot be overstated. It has been an absolutely exhausting year. But a challenging one full of failure, success and growth in all the right ways.

I could not be more proud of the work we’ve done and successes we’ve shared this past year. My timing could not have been worse but my decision could not have been better. The team that’s been built around me is unparalleled.

I work in a a positive, supportive environment. I joked this past week that we were working holding a Mutual Admiration Society because we’ve all been thankful for the work our teammates have done these past few months. But this week particularly, as things were coming to a head and crushing us all in different ways. The ability to ask for help and not only receive that help but no where is no risk taken in making that ask.

We’re here to learn together, fail together and succeed together. This has been the most stressful year of my life. I look back and it’s an absolute blur. Even now, it’s been nearly two months since it was a year. I wrote a short post on Linkedin around the actual anniversary to express my thanks to the team and the company.

March to March. And here we are on the cusp of May. Things haven’t slowed down, they’ve only changed. I’m still on a marathon. I’m still sprinting towards a never-ending finish line. But I’ve got good people with me. A phenomenal support network. The best friends I could ask for. And a marriage that has only grown stronger after this storm we weathered together.

I’ve grown extremely fond of Mourning Doves this year. We share a certain lack of preparation but determination.

Lessons from last year

  • It’s OK to say you’re wrong.
  • It’s OK to admit something failed.
  • It’s OK to start over when something doesn’t work.
  • Sometimes, the week of work you put in towards a project just doesn’t work in the end.
  • Document the failures and move on.
  • Take notes.
  • Save those notes in a place you can easily search later.
  • Give Future You a chance to see what Current You is thinking and working on.
  • Rely on your team and they will rely on you.
  • Give Praise.
  • Praise good work publicly. In front of others. Especially your manager.
  • Give Thanks.
Keep your hear up. Look around. Take a breath.

Reminders to myself

  • Nothing is as big a deal outside of your own head.
  • When you’re exhausted, everything feels worse.
  • Take breaks.
  • Eat lunch.
  • Step away from the computer.
  • Walk outside.
  • Breathe.

Gardens Nourish

I got Moderna #2 on Monday.
Yesterday, I felt wiped out. I can best describe it as the flu with a touch of dementia. I couldn’t find words. My brain was foggy. Everything ached. I laid around all day half-watching things on Netflix.
Today, I took the day off to fully recover before leaping back into the stress of work.
I spent the morning listening to poodcasts and taking a photo walk around my favorite lake.
Then I went to Brookside Gardens, and took more photos of the beautiful flowers there. It was a superb day that I desperately needed.

White little flowers
Tulips
I loved this two-toned flower.
This one reminds me of NIN’s 1999 The Fragile artwork