Monthly Archives: November 2005

The Emancipation of Tattered

As of November 22nd 2005 I am a free man. I am freed from that most heinous of taskmasters, my own materialism. The real background for this exists already in my ‘Poverty of Plenty’ entry from June, but in summary, the possessions had come to possess the possessor. I blew two and a half years of my life with a frivolous pursuit that brought little in return save for lower back pain and endless hours of tedium.

Why, you may ask did I bother? The answer is simple enough: greed. I’ll admit that with no hesitation. I had some deranged idea that if I could just make enough money, I could buy my way into a happier existence. That is not to say that I was unhappy per se but one of the clear messages that society sends our way is that more is better. Consume, consume, consume and you’ll be happier. What right had I to disagree? If I can sell more, I can make more money and therefore buy more stuff which will make me happy! YAY! That’s a wonderful and simple formula that results in total happiness for everyone!

Well, finally, it seems the fog has lifted. I’m in the process of selling off enough of this ‘stuff’ to keep me in ‘oranges’ for an indefinite period with no real desire to acquire anything else. Due to some recent contacts I’ve had with a certain Buddhist friend, I’ve realized that stuff sucks. Material possessions only lead to suffering and disappointment. No matter how much item X may please me today, it’s only going to end in regret later that I wasted scant resources on X instead of Y. Of course Y is no better than X but I don’t actually HAVE Y so it’s bound to seem better.

It seems the only real satisfaction comes from within. I cannot begin to tell you how amused and satisfied I have been reading back over some of my previous blog entries. These cost me nothing to compile except for the time it took to write them and yet they’re infinitely more amusing to me than the coin collection I’ve compiled over the past 2 years in my pursuit of … well, whatever I was really pursuing. Such irony… all these years, looking for the yellow-bricked road to happiness when all the oranges I could eat were right here all along. Now I know how Dorothy must have felt.

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The Eye that sees itself – 2005

It’s that time of year again… oh yes, review time at work. For those not familiar, they ask you all these self-assessment questions to be inserted into your review. I’ve paraphrased the questions and included my responses below for posterity…

* How well does Rob do at keeping up his technical knowledge?
Rob keeps on hand exactly enough technical knowledge to do his job. Rob has long ago lost the sense of awe and wonder associated with simply knowing something about computing that can’t put to any practical use. While his associates all clamor about AJAX and Stylesheets, he’s perfectly happy to continue to plod on in whatever south-going groove he’s been in for the past 10 years. If some new technological insight is called for he will happily go acquire whatever information is needed but until that time comes he sees no value in surfing the web looking for the ‘next big thing.’ This differentiates Rob from his colleagues in a significant way. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing is left as an exercise to the reader.

* How well does Rob balance his quality and quantity of work?
This question, like many of the others, is an impossible conundrum. What standard exists for either the quality or quantity of work a person does? I personally, have only a poor sense of how much work other people in the department actually do. Worse, I have an even worse sense of what would typically be considered a “normal” amount of work. Having spoken to Rob on this point at length, I know that at times he ‘feels’ lazy and relatively unproductive and that the quality of his work has also suffered significantly over the past few years. My analysis leads me to believe that this is largely due to a sense of ennui and let’s face it, on most levels this job is pretty boring. But the real question is, how does Rob’s work stack up compared to his peers? Who can say with any surety?

* How does Rob get along with others?
For a guy who interviews like a moldy sack of potatoes, Rob seems to get along fairly well with others around him. This isn’t so much, I think because he’s pleasant or amusing to be around because he does an immaculate job of putting on a façade of misanthropy for those who don’t really know him. If he gets along with other people it’s only because he’s so utterly ignorable. Underneath, Rob may be an agreeable and interesting person on the inside, but to the outside world he’s as utterly free of personality as the aforementioned sack of potatoes.

* How does Rob do at planning?
If there’s one thing that Rob does with absolute and utter precision, it’s not planning. Rob is a support person at heart. As a support person, you don’t plan, you just do. If a customer calls up with a problem, you fix it, regardless of whatever plans were set down before. In general, Rob will try desperately to plan, to bring order to the chaos of his job but invariably the tides of change and customer need wash those away like a sidewalk chalk drawing.

* How is Rob at Decision Making?
Yeah, Rob sucks at this. Your question seems to steer towards long-winded analysis of the problem, followed by action. Rob’s style is to formulate 10 hypotheses and try them all while the rest of the table is still arguing about what best to do. Again, this goes back to the whole support issue. If a customer has a problem, they want the problem solved NOW. They don’t want an hour-long discussion of best-case/worst-case scenarios.

* How does Rob do at communicating Orally and in Writing?
In general, it’s rare that Rob actually SAYS anything. When he does, it’s usually confusing, poorly thought out and makes him look like a simpleton. But, that’s what you get from having introverted employees. In writing, Rob comes across as stilted, sesquipedalian, and with an unusual style that’s sometimes hard to follow until you get to become properly accustomed to it.

* How does Rob adapt to change?
Adapting to change is Rob’s only real solid job skill. I’ve often heard him say that he’d be happy to sweep the floors if only provided with a proper broom to do so. A new system is largely the same to Rob as an old one because he doesn’t really hold on to information about a system much past the point at which he stops working on it. Luckily, this doesn’t seem to hinder his productivity significantly; he can pick up whatever skills are required for a job in short order and be prepared to do it with relative efficiency.

* Other comments?
Rob should come out of his shell more and show the people around him his softer, gentler, less perpetually annoyed at the world side. He needs to expand his skill sets beyond mere programming and into more interpersonal realms like sales and marketing; let his expressive and creative flare express itself more than what’s allowed in the confines of a programming position. The majority of Rob’s real talents are wasted at the desk of a lower-level programmer. Rob needs to find a position that will make use of the full spectrum of Rob’s abilities.

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