joe cool

How Time Flies ...

Last post was a day over a month ago. Facebook is sucking me in and I don't like it because I don't have a record of my ruminations like I do here my my lj. Oh well.

Gracie is in the shop so I did public transport yesterday. I'd just taken my seat on the train last evening when my phone rang - my youngest was calling me. He greeted me and then asked if I had $1000 to borrow. I said no. He laughed and said that he was just starting out our phone conversation in the traditional way. He was really calling just to catch up.

His wife is at 34 weeks and things are going well. They are staying in Wichita until after the baby is born. He's had only two job opportunities that looked interesting -- neither of them ideal -- and didn't get either. So they have to stay put until something more compelling comes along.

We plan to stop by the 27/28th of June on our way back home from our road trip to the Black Hills.

I'm looking forward to a little holiday. I enjoyed the weekend with Mom for my nephew's college graduation (a couple of weeks ago) but am ready for a bit more "fun things I want to do". It looks like Munchkinlette has passed all her courses and will, in fact, graduate from HS. We all rejoice. I'll expect she'll want to move in with us around her birthday (early August). Lots to do before that happens.

Work is chugging along nicely. I'm getting a little coding in and the folks who are working with me are making progress. There are things that are trying to distract me but I'm working to manage them.

The cats and dog keep us hopping at home. I'm beginning to regret taking on two cats. One is more than enough and my leather furniture has aged more in a few months than it has in years :(.
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    awake awake
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happy dance

TGIF Edition

Another busy week gone by and the lion's share of my energy and focus have gone into work. It's a vocational hazard because I enjoy what I do. Back in '98 when I left Landmark to go to work for a management consulting company, my motivation was to get into a place where I'd have more customer-facing responsibilities. I wanted to grow in soft-skills and get closer to the coalface -- really understand what customers really need and how I could employ my skills to meet that need.

After about 4 years doing that, I came out, got divorced, moved to Houston and subsequently lived out of a couple of suitcases for the next 3 years. In Fall of 2007, I had the opportunity to move back into a development role and I took it.

Now I'm back doing what I love to do -- design, project management, coding, solving software puzzles but with the benefit of having had the experience of seeing things through our customers eyes. I also made the transition during that time from one industry segment to another. My entire career had been developing software for the upstream oil & gas industry. In 2006, I moved to pricing. The benefit to me was that I got to actually use my business undergrad degree and I've enjoyed it immensely whereas in the O&G arena I always felt a bit on the left foot because of a lack of an engineering degree.

So, oddly enough, I'm pretty content in my job even though it consumes me 9-10 hours a day and sometimes on weekends and it's stressful & some days I come in and end up working on urgent things that I couldn't have predicted without getting done the things I planned to do. Predictable and boring it is not.

Then there is the fact that I work with really smart people who challenge me all the time. I like that. Like Jack said to Helen in As Good As It Gets, "You make me want to be a better man."
joe cool


We went to the Alley Friday night and watch the performance of "Mauritius". It was OK ... the acting was good but it was really hard to care much for a bunch of sleaze-ball characters that the play is about. I told +1 that if it were a TV show, I would have turned it off at the intermission and gone to bed :)

We had dinner at the West Gray Cafe afterwards. We'd been wanting to try it out. Next time "Niko, Niko"

It was a quiet and relaxing weekend with sporadic rain on Saturday and chores on Sunday. I managed to squeeze in a viewing of "Steamboy" and I enjoyed the eye candy. Some of the premise of the story was gunk -- the Japanese (rightfully, probably) love to harp on how science can be used for ill in the world.

I worked a good chunk of Saturday on my Mac via remote desktop getting various work-ish things done that I hadn't managed to finish during the week. It felt good to be caught up and a couple of the things were tasks that I really enjoy -- a bit of a creative element to them.

Church was good. Desperate Housewives and B&S were OK -- I'm tired of the story arc about Senator & Kitty marriage falling apart. Get it over with already. Good story line with Julia.

The right rear tire of the Acura slowly deflated over the weekend so I changed the tire Sunday afternoon and took it in this morning. Not repairable. Fortunately I bought the road hazard warranty on them. I'll take the car back in on Wednesday to get it changed out, get the tires rotated and balanced and the valve stems replaced.

Work's going really well. I'm enjoying the job and we're getting into the swing of the release.
happy dance

Marriage Frame of Mind

Two of my nephews have called me/texted me within the last week to tell me they've proposed to their sweeties. Something must be in the air. I've met both of their fiance's and I approve in both cases.

Good to see the kids growing up!
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    excited excited
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got geek

Tuesday at the Beginning of a Release

I've been trying to get a number of technical stakeholders to agree on how we should approach a feature.

Everybody keeps taking irreconcilable technical positions. I keep taking more swipes at it. Meanwhile, my boss is asking me: when is this work gonna start.


Normal stuff. We'll get there. It comes with the territory of herding cats and I'm actually OK with it.

Munchkinlette has made no progress that I can tell getting enrolled for next autumn -- no FASFA, no application, no working on scholarships. I'm toying with the idea of "laying down the law" by being clear that without some action in those quarters, I don't see why I should have to make accommodations.

The brick wall everybody is beating their head against, in this case, is the mother. Neither father or daughter want to go toe-to-toe with her and I'm watching time march on and nothing has happened.

It's time for something to happen.
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    aggravated aggravated
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Rainy Weekend

We got 8-9" of rain in the space of hours over the weekend. This pushes records that got set during Tropical Storm Allison (the Great Deluge). We did fine -- we simply didn't go out and drive in it though the ditch out front is a bit worse for the wear.

I did get a lot done yesterday -- lots of niggly, little projects that have been bothering me as needing to be done so I did them and felt a small sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.

Good night of TV with DH's denouement of Edie and an enjoyable episode of B&S.
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    artistic artistic
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joe cool

TGIF Edition

It's raining cats and dogs outside as a cold front rolls through and dumps 4" of rain on us in the course of an hour. We need the rain. Space it out please.

A and I were supposed to go see "Mauritious" at the Alley tonight. It's our weekend with the kids and he was unsure whether he could get them picked up, home, changed and down to the theatre in time so I called and exchanged the tix for next Friday. $10. Oh well.

Work's going well. We're starting a new release cycle next week and my team has been resourced up a bit. I've just had my title changed. I don't know what it means except, perhaps, it reflects more closely what I actually do.

I need to head out and get home and figure out food for the night. The kids are suffering from a bit these days. Munchkinlette is counting the days until she's 18 and can get out of the house. Munchkin is acting out at school. It makes for venting-type conversation at the dinner table at the outset of the weekend. Sigh.

Jury Duty and Hunky Court Clerks

I got a second summons to jury duty a few weeks back. The first summons must(back in Feb) have gotten delayed in the mail because when I got it and opened it up, it was already past the date I was to appear so I pitched it.

The second summons used a bit more harsh language *and* I got it in time to book time off from work so I deigned to appear this morning.

Apparently, a 30% turnout for summons is a *good* day. Good grief.

I was really impressed with the "user experience" that the Harris County District Clerk's organization runs -- it's clear they've paid attention to the experience of random Joe/Jane Doe attempting to fulfill their civic duty. The treated us with respect (none of that patronizing civil servant speak crap). The District Clerk showed up personally to thank us and his comments were brief and expressed gratitude for our time and presence. They were efficient and prepared ... telling us what to expect and when we might expect it, treating us as responsible adults. They handled a few jury pools and then expeditiously released the rest of us, thanking us again for showing up. They've got big screen TV's and a good PA system in the jury assembly room. They have a snack bar and well-stocked vending machines. They're getting wi-fi installed so those who are waiting and want to do work can. They were organized and ready to handle paperwork en-masse (handing out Metro passes, handling exemptions, writing work releases, writing releases such that jury pay could be donated to a choice of charitable organizations). My overall experience was extremely positive.

It doesn't hurt that Loren Jackson, said clerk, is a bit of a hunk.
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    impressed impressed
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Post-Modernism and the "Emergent" Church - A Concise Definition

Nadia, the "mission developer" (read: pastor) of a self-described "emergent" church in Denver, concisely describes what she thinks is meant by the adjective/handle. I like this because I was asked over lunch yesterday by A Catholic and a member of a MCC church what "post-modernism" means and how it relates to "emergent" churches.

From my perspective, it's all about acknowledging the impact of a cultural framing of reality and that work is required to understand truth beyond the cultural framing.

I think it's a death knell for biblical literalism (a fairly recent and regrettable theological innovation) -- The Holy Spirit *can* and *does* speak across the centuries and cultural divides but it is irrational and an abuse of God's words to insist that the Bible read "plainly and literally" means "just what it says". Given the variant cultural contexts of the writings, the various authors' intended message to their audiences came framed with different cultural common ground and expectations (even contrasted with each other -- the Bible was written over a period of millenia!) A reasonable person would admit that some digging might be required to get at the meaning an author was attempting to convey. That we can read the narratives, history, poetry, song lyrics, essays, pithy bits of wisdom, messages from God, and letters *at all* is a testament to strength of our commonalities of being human over the last 6000 years -- a blink in the eye on the cosmic scale of time within which we've gone from hunter/gatherers practicing oral tradition to the internet age.

Nadia says:
Emerging Church:
Christian communities that emerge out of very particular cultural contexts where the traditional church is basically irrelevant. These cultural contexts are more often than not urban, youngish and post-modern.
(emphasis mine)