Yeah, so, the last time I posted anything, it was about Amanda Batty. But she's fuckin' awesome.
For one, she's full of hate. For another, she was at the Utah townhall that sent Chaffetz packin' and was sending out reports. For yet another, despite the hate, she's somewhat of a voice for reason, even it it's filled with profanity. Like this.
But as for the townhalls, which are turning into a nice 10 Minute Hate, Chaffetz has made the opinion known that he thinks people in Utah were paid to be there. Does anyone recall the rise of the Tea Baggers, and how they packed the townhalls? The similarity stops where we get to the point that people showed up and shouted. Recent townhalls are because people are actually pissed off. Not because someone told them where to be and what to shout.
Amanda Batty is dismayed at the din, the chaos, and the lack of organization on the part of Dems, but shit man - these have been the first few townhalls since January 20th. People will rage, vent and then take some action.
Meanwhile, my local Congresswoman had the tact to see people in small groups. On one hand, that keeps the chaos down and makes for an intimate moment with your rep (for all of 10 minutes or something) but it also keeps the rabble from being organized.
I came to her twitter feed because of cycling. I stay because she is full of rage. Truly a delightful read.
Man, I'm just tired and annoyed. There's this guy I knew from a few gigs ago. He was just as disgruntled as I was when I left to do the start up thing. He stuck it out a little while longer before he split himself. He lasted a short span of time at his next position before ditching THAT to wind up at where I am now. And... he wasn't happy there, either. He moved on to his third new job in the span of what... three years?
My pissy attitude comes from the notion that this guy has been flushing away gainful employment while I was pulling teeth to get into the position where I am now. It's not that our skill-set is any different. I'm guessing he interviews better. Or something. I don't know. I'm really bitter. I mean - there's kids starving and he's throwing away food.
The thing is - where I am now - it's really amazingly easy. There's the every day challenge, and the codebase is a horrible, twisted mess. But it is so easy for the paycheck (which is solid). There's really no reason to quit other than, I don't know, you don't like being a code monkey.
There. I said it. Code monkey. But whatever.
And while so many of my cronies are doing the "Senior"-this or "Lead"-that and sharing all of the really smart blogposts or commenting on the next trends in user experience design, I'm just giving less and less of a fuck because I know it's all so incredibly stupid. Good design, good code, meaningful experiences - it's all bullshit when it comes down to one thing - will your product sell? It does? Then good. Keep going and try to do good work. The rest barely matters any more.
Just get out my way with the bullshit, let me write some code and get on with my life.
A month ago, the dryer took a crap. A few weeks ago, my catalytic converter failed. And yesterday, the washer quit.
That's three. And that should be it, right?
This was really a lot harder than it should have been. After three months, I'm off the queue and back in the working sector. In that time, I've received hundreds of emails from dubious recruiters, had many dozen initial phone screens, been subjected to office tours and "meet the teams", assurances from my network that "oh yeah - they're gonna snatch you up", ridden about one thousand miles on my bicycle and lost 15 pounds.
This really sucked.
Your best friend and worst nightmare. Truly a source of frustration. I received plenty of "Are you interested in this position" and not nearly enough of, "Yes, we understand that you're a designer and not a back-end developer". If you're going to work as a recruiter, at least try to understand something about the technology.
Please have a clue what you're looking for. Don't tell me one aspect of the job is not important and then tell me I wasn't a fit because you wanted that one thing. Don't be surprised when I question your HR rep about that bait and switch.
Don't offer to call me to talk about feed back and then never do so. I'm looking at you, JD from Salesforce. I didn't think you were a good fit when we interviewed YOU to be my boss with my now defunct company. But I gave you a second chance. Looks like you're not nearly as open when I came to you. I worry for my friends who work under you. Do you have their best interest at heart? Will I see you name in the ranks of Unizin soon?
Get your story straight with your HR department. Either you're interested or you're not. If I get one story from your HR, telling me that I'm super much the guy you want, prove it by talking me about the job, the future and other aspects that will make me believe that you do. Don't waste my time by bringing me in to a "final interview" only to give me a design assignment. Seriously? You make me wait a week, reschedule several times, make me get dressed up, drive to your office just to say "design something for me - I don't know what - surprise me". That could have been a phone call.
Stop offering me a drink. Not that some water isn't helpful, but carrying around a bottle or an open can of soda for three hours really sucks.
Ask me things. Don't spend all of your time telling me that you don't know what to ask me. If you don't have any questions, just have a conversation. Tell me about the tech or some problems you're having. I might be able to help out and in turn give you some insight into my own experience. If your lack of interviewing skills are the reason why you don't think someone is a fit, then you're doing a disservice to your company. Ask to sit in with someone next time.
I Ain't Mad
I'm just tired. So many times you can say "I'll take this as an opportunity to really go for that thing I wanted but never had time for", but no. Paying the bills is nice. Job hunting makes for a sporadic and unpredictable schedule. Unemployment benefits are a joke and the process for getting paid sucks. The job spam is endless and you just want calls from IT sweatshops to just stop.
The cult of LinkedIn rockstar wonder-kid high energy go-getter should not exist in software dev. But it's expected and somehow quantity over quality drives the job market. It's hard to pretend to be excited over marketing companies, social media tracking apps, and car sales corporations making a buck off of the backs of the poor.
It sucks that, in the end, I started to see openings with places that really excited me when an offer came though. I never had the chance to really explore those places, but oh well. I'm still going to be able to help people without feeling like a corporate shill.
I'm getting a lot of bicycle rides in.
I'm suddenly very qualified to sell insurance for State Farm.
Whilst out on the trail - on my daily commute or on the week-end sport ride - nothing gets the blood going more than these guys. And I may have mentioned this before, but it's been so common lately, it grinds the gears, so to speak, every time.
Bald, middle-aged men wearing ear buds on mountain bikes.
No one rides like a bigger asshole than these guys. Not the little kids with mohawk helmets, not the hipsters on the fixed gear chopped bar Schwinns, not the roadies in lycra, not the flock of families that stretch for a quarter of a mile on their Sunday rides.
Bald, middle-aged men wearing ear buds on mountain bikes.
I know they're bald because they wear no helmets. I know they wear earbuds because I see the wires flailing as they swerve across the path with abandon. I know they're middle age because... Because. Because of the mountain bike, really. It seems like the go-to form factor for some jackass that wants to "ride the trail".
I know that because that's exactly what I did about ten years ago.
All I see is their inconsideration, lack of care, disregard for etiquette, rules or common courtesy. All I see is them cutting off people - pedestrian and peddler alike. All I see is their brains oozing out of their melon of a shiny head, since helmets are out of the picture (or worse yet - dangling from their handlebars).
Every time I see these guys, I must destroy them.
It's easy enough to pass them and drop them on the road bike. It's zippy. But I also have to keep myself in check, lest I become one of "them" that cannot share a two-lane multi-use path.
But it's oh so much fun to do it on my commuter. Solid steel. Heavy as shit. Decked with racks, fenders and lights. And a bell. Drop them like a fuckin' rock. Watch their face as a fully loaded touring bicycle slides past them with ease as they "crush" their "workout". Signal with a gesture that I'm coming into their lane because I got tired of drafting and going slow.
And then I watch as they return the favor, doing a no-look cross of an intersection where I've stopped because I don't want to be a hood ornament.
And so the cycle repeats. Pun intended.
If I yelled this at everyone I passed, I'd go hoarse in the first five miles of most of my rides. On your fucking left. People expect it, they know cyclists are going to pass them, but get shitty when they don't hear every single warning, every single time. On your fucking left means I'm coming past you - either move or don't but be aware that I am coming past you, ready or not.
Some people scooch to the right or maintain their lane, say "thanks" and everything is awesome. Some do nothing at all. Some, I don't bother with, because they have headphones or earbuds engaged. But still - if you're close to the center line, I'm going to say on your fucking left.
A month ago, I moved to pass a man and a woman in their casual khakis, walking their mop of a yappy dog. The dog was on the far right of the couple, but shot to the far left when it heard me coming, barking and growling. The woman gasped in fear and shock. The man controlled the cur as I broke hard and swerved. He blew me the usual shit - "Say on you left next time!" What... do you think the dog would have behaved differently? "Control your dog!" said I.
Seriously, don't take your dog on a trail if it's going to go after runners and cyclists. DON'T.
Yesterday. Three people walking abreast, stepping over the center line of the trail. Fuck. Slow up and... on your left I yelled. Nothing - no reaction, other than to scooch over the center line into their own lane. I pass with as much room as I can - which wasn't close at all.
"Say on your left or something!" Oh fuck me. "I DID!"
"Well I didn't hear you!"
Go die. "Sorry about your hearing loss!"
After many years, I've finally been able to put some real time and distance on my bicycle and the only way to continue to do that is to ride the local multi-use path. There's no way to do that without dealing with a stretch of self-important and unaware jackasses who don't realize that the world does not revolve around them and other people are going to be out there, in the world, who won't meet their every level of expectation while on a frickin' trail of all things.
Pay attention. And look around some times. Coz I'm probably going to be there - on your fucking left.
This is what I've been doing lately while slugging away the days in the mines. First, I tune into some nice background atmosphere. The site A Soft Murmur works nicely for that, especially the rain/thunder mix.
Then, I fire up the YouTube. Namely, old timey fire and brimstone, castin' out demons, preachin' from the likes of AA Allen. This is a bloke I've stumbled upon who, like any evangelical preacher worth the stereotype, ended his days in pills and alcohol. But the recordings are tons of fun, such as this one entitled Witchcraft, Wizards and Witches.
And then, finally, I add in some sinister texture. Eerie noise from such as the NASA Voyager's "Symphony of The Planets" recording.
It makes for some great, focused, work as the thunder rolls, cracks and reverberates under the cosmic force of the thin, frantic fear mongering from the past.
I've heard the following words today to describe the action: riffing, separating, parting-ways, moving on, unable to support, transitioned.
I've heard the following words today to describe the people: capable workers, those affected.
I've heard the following words today to describe the situation: pivotal, crunch, opportunity, optimistic, redistributed.
No names were mentioned. Not in the company email, not in the team meeting. Only aside in whispered conversations did the managers speak the names of those who were (and let's just say it) laid off today.
I wasn't one, as the the people who do the heavy lifting are usually the last to get it in this industry. But being in the "design" department (for lack of a better term) means the situation is just as tenuous. Any more fat trimming and the knife is bound to fall my way.
The amount of spin is what makes me angry. It's the "stick our heads in the sand, thank the stars it wasn't me" vibe from the rest of the company. The "we can overcome this pitfall which has happened to the company".
No... it didn't happen to the company, it happened to five individuals who came to do some work here. Five individuals out of a group of fifty is a huge chunk of the business. It's not like we're not going to forget or the impact will be minimal. It's a blow to the confidence and the morale for a company that is suffering from attrition anyway.
There's fault here and it didn't have to happen to anyone. Call it what it is. Say it in plain English: We overspent, didn't pay attention to the money, hedged our bets on revenue that wasn't there and now we have to send someone to the unemployment office. Oops.
From the historic past comes this YouTube gem. Way back in 1994, a punk band played for a group of elementary school kids. Not since young Koreans singing The Ramones or The Cramps playing a mental institution has a weirder clash of music and audience occurred. This was back before it was cute to teach kids about anarchy.
Well, ok - it was the tail-end of the grunge movement, but that's ok. The general populace was still scared of anyone with odd hair and piercings.
Here's the URL.
The really hard part of my job is dealing with all of the people who leave. I don't understand what the real problem is, but there's a serious retention problem with where I'm at. Either people get burned out or just burned or - who knows.
We'd suspected that one of our devs was getting ready to split just because the dumbass was stupid enough to leave his chat window open during a large meeting, where he'd been talking to about being offered a position elsewhere. One of our user researchers decided to move on at the end of what amounted to a highly paid internship to work for an accounting firm, despite a large amount of involvement and enthusiasm in what she was doing here. And... then... the finance guy decided to split.
I think he was just really burned out on keeping the numbers happy for a start-up that's moving slowly.
Chances are very good that now that our finance guy has put in notice, our office admin will follow. They were pretty close office pals and one of her other office pals left about six months ago.
What the fuck is the deal? It seems like I'm always the hold-out. I'm the one who is last to put down the flag and jump the sinking ship. But is the ship sinking? I don't THINK it is. Our numbers are slightly better than last year. Our product is definitely better than last year. Our sales force is better than last year.
I at least want to make it here another two years. Then, my stock will be fully vested and whatever happens then, I can at least get a pay out of some sort. The big rub is that I absolutely love being downtown. If I start looking elsewhere, I may have to go back to the soul-less north side.
I went with some friends to see Dick Dale Tuesday night. After missing him twice in Austin (once by mere minutes), I finally got to see the legend. He was playing at a local rock-dive, known for its rough looks but variety of music - the kind of real music venue that you'd expect to host a regular event called Punk Rock Night. It's a small joint but it's packed to the walls with tons of history with many decades of shows under its roof.
I expected it to be packed. I expected to see an older crowd. I expected to see some of the rockabilly crowd. But holy hell, I didn't expect a fight to break out.
Two, stupid, 50-something meaty guys, who should fucking know better, got into a shoving match about whom inadvertently brushed up against whom. These parrot-head rejects started to tussle when a third meaty guy (in a fake lei no less) starts sucker punching the smaller of the two.
We're on the outside of the grope-fest, trying to keep ourselves from getting stabbed by the one guys dangly pirate ear-cuff while attempting to get the attention of the bar staff. Quickly, a scrappy gal, who was certainly half the three mens' age but wiser in years, stepped in-between the geriatric grapplers. All she needed to do was raise a hand to the two, utter a few words and they stopped, hung their heads in shame and went back to watching the show.
I've been to many many all-age punk rock and metal shows over many many years hosted in many many dives with varying degrees of violent dance action. I've seen maybe two or three fights (Once in like - 1988 and then in 2002 - there may have been one other in Chicago in the '90s). Kids are better self-police than adults.
What buffoons. I hope they got pulled over on their drive back to suburbs because there's certainly no room for shit like that in the city.
I've been going through boxes recently. Boxes upon boxes. Some of the boxes hold other boxes. Most are full of things I've collected over the years - comics, sketch pads, scraps and mementos. Some of these things have been sitting in boxes for many years.
What in the hell do I do with these things?
Ultimately it's "stuff that'd need to stay in boxes and be stored" but... stored for what? What sort of rainy day am I waiting for? What sort of scrapbook can these things go into? What portion of my soul would I be chucking were these things to hit the bin?
An adult bicyclist was killed Thursday morning after colliding with an Indianapolis Public Schools bus on the Northwestside.
The bicyclist, whose name has not been released, was traveling west in the bike lane on Westlane Road when he collided with the eastbound bus turning north on to Ditch road, authorities said. The accident, just north of Westlane Middle School, was reported shortly before 7:30 a.m.
This is pretty personal. Not because I ride. Not because I ride almost every day to work. Not because I ride every day to work, sharing the road with traffic.
But because I knew the man.
We'd worked together for a year-and-a-half before he sought his fortune elsewhere last fall. He hadn't started commuting by bicycle then, but had decided to do so this Spring. He was moving into a new apartment with his fiance that overlooked the local multi-use path and said "why not?"
This is more or less my story as well. I moved into an apartment with a girl. The girl didn't stick around but the apartment that overlooked the trail did. So I started riding in to work. That was about ten years ago for me.
Neil (that was his name) didn't make it a month. He was 24... maybe 25. He'd been groomed to work for the company where we met when the CEO saw a demonstration of his at a local university when Neil was in his junior year. Neil was incredibly sharp, forward thinking and was out to make a true difference.
The guy had absolutely everything going for him.
Death at the hands of someone behind a ton of metal and fiberglass crosses my mind every time I leave the house. Sometimes I grit my teeth when I see others fly past me and cut the intersections and crossings. Why can't I be that fast? That nimble? And then... this.
Neil was a guy who was completely into cycling and the advantages of a bike-friendly city without ever owning a bike. This spring he bought a new Cannondale cyclocross bike (perfect for commuting) and outfitted himself with lights and a helmet. He wasn't some hyped up hipster on a bender. He wasn't a wrong way rider on a bike shaped object. For a month, he was a cyclist.
And now, the local cycling community will be placing a white bike at the intersection where he died.
Fuck everything about this.
What's worse than having your bicycle tire blow out unexpectedly while in the office?
Having it blow out unexpectedly while in the office and parked right behind the ex-Marine with PTS flares is infinitely worse.
We all more or less were pretty well shocked by the enormous BANG that the tire gave off, but the Marine was the first on his feet, shutting the door to the room and looking for cover. It wasn't until he'd left the building in a small panic and was on his way home before we discovered the cause of the sound.
Luckily I had a spare tube, but damn, frame pumps take some gumption to inflate a tire past 60psi.
Slowly but surely my machine of seven years is becoming a tad obsolete. The programs I know and love run just fine. The performance is getting slow-ish, but no real complaints. However, I know it's time. The new wizz-bang games won't run on XP and if I want to do anything remotely media related, I have to exercise great patience while Maya or Premier renders like slug in molasses.
But I don't want Windows 7. Or 8. Or anything related. I stuck with XP because Vista was certainly a no-go. I can't say that the Metro (or whatever it's known as these days) interface is stellar. My mom's new laptop runs it and I find it damn un-intuitive because it wants to tell me what it thinks I want to do.
My options though, are, what? Pay three times as much money for a Mac and still be behind the times on games? Sit down and learn some Linux so I can hope and pray that I know what I'm doing when it comes time to fix anything that may go wrong?
Maybe I'll just get a Chromebook.