gurustu's muse the daily thoughts of an every day guru
Daily Guru Thoughts
Saturday, November 29, 2003 Eye can't believe it... It felt like a speck. With a simple flick, the world turned blurry. My contact lens was gone.
It felt like the lens had lodged itself into a corner of the eye... an unfortune price to pay for sticking a little piece of glass in one's eye every day.
The rest of the evening was spent visitng various bathrooms around town, giving it "one more time" to see if I could find a lodged lens. It seems the search did more to irritate my eye than the original loss and by evening I had a red basketball where my eye once was... and one "good" eye which was wondering what all the fuss was about.
I will probably have to make a trip to the eye doctor tomorrow, to check up on my "work." It's not something to put off, as come Monday, I have the joy of Jury Duty looming in my future...
Lesson for day:
The little things in Life really DO matter... especially when they're gone.
Friday, November 28, 2003 TGI... Fireday... Today, a day when most people were not in the office, they decided to have our annual fire drill. Being the Warden, I had to prepare everything for the event, especially since all the other "officers" were on vacation. I did the rounds the other day to remind them of this event. It was funny seeing everyone sitting at their desks with their coats on, just waiting for the alarm to sound. Some emergency.
As we re-entered the buildings, vowing to improve next time, I just got to thinking about my cartoon with the cart. An "orderly" fashion would have been to practice before we needed it.
Had this been a real emergency, like the fires we had last month, people wouldn't be getting out in an orderly fashion; standing in their designated areas... they would do what they did last time... get in their cars and block up the exits on their way home. People would revert to their basic nature of survival... for us to expect anything less would leave us unprepared for a real emergency.
Thursday, November 27, 2003 20 Thanks... Today, as we held hands and went around the room saying what we were thankful for, my answer was simple
"Thank you for the constant reminders why Life is worth living."
Despite some of the trials and tribulations that I often write about, even they act as reminders as to why Life, as we know it... and as we make it... really is worth the effort.
I was starting a "100 Thanks" list, but ran out of time, so I'm just thankful to pick 20...
1. My health
2. Friends and family who support me
3. My ability to write
4. Strangers who say ďthank youĒ
5. This website, which expresses my passion
6. A job that pays all my bills
7. My ability to draw
8. That I love words
9. And silence
10. My cat who greets me at the door, no matter what mood Iím in
11. A sense of humor
12. The gym being close to work
13. Being able to remember the past
14. Being able to forget
15. That Iím not a celebrity who committed a crime
16. The holiday season, cause itís when we remember the homeless
17. January 1st, cause it makes things seem newer
18. January 2nd, cause the hectic holidays are over
19. That there are people who still believe in World Peace
20. That people still do something about it
I'm nearing the half way mark for another list "100 things about blogs" ... I'll really be thankful when it's done.
Wednesday, November 26, 2003 Appreciating appreciation... This morning I got a note saying that someone has signed my guestbook. It was from one of my "passerbys" who happened upon my site in a search for "words of wisdom." It just seemed to fit so well into this week's theme of "giving thanks."
It seemed more significant since yesterday, a number of people demonstrated how little appreciation they had... either through disregard ("the meeting is postponed / cancelled / whatever")... through presumption ("the food's 'ok'... no, it's good... I'm eating it, aren' t I? What do you want me to say... how good it is every day?") or just direct apathy ("I don't care")**
It brings up the interesting issue (well, interesting to ME anyway) of how reliability breeds complacency. It is, for me, often why the closer I get to people, the less they show their appreciation. Perhaps I've become too "dependable" where if I do anything remotely selfish, it gets called "out of character" ... or if I'm being too selfless towards someone other than themselves, I'm just being "foolish."
It brings to mind the fascination some people have with the " bad boys" ... since the "good" is more random and unreliable... like gambling. "Random acts of kindness" is a nice bumper sticker... but when it's mixed and unreliable, it seems to be more successful with other people.
I'm not advocating "random acts of badness" or not being supportive of other people (since I'm not planning on changing my reliability for anyone else, even if they don't "get it"). I think what I really want to say today is:
Be yourself; appreciate yourself... and taking others for granted sometimes makes you both forget that... so don't.
** long stories edited for space, time and boredom issues.
Tuesday, November 25, 2003 Low on the Time Chain... Today acted as a reminder that my time is not as valuable to other people as it is to me. Out of the four meetings scheduled, two were cancelled, one was postponed. I'm well aware of how "important" everyone is, how busy they can get, and how easy it is to fall behind quickly; but if they don't learn to respect their own time, they will never learn to respect the time of others.
Do less. Accomplish more.
For me, every cancelled meeting was a gift of Time. I did what I could to put the most into it; and get the most out of it. I just wonder how different my day would be if they had valued my time just a little bit more.
Monday, November 24, 2003 Koo Koo Atchoo! People joke about being "allergic to cleaning" ... but I really am. Despite my best attempts to "wet clean" my place, by the end of my adventures I was feeling like I was in Day Four of a week long cold. For Thanksgiving I had started a list of 100 things I was thankful for, and "my health" was number one.
My sister-in-law's battle with Multiple Myeloma and the recent loss of my uncle was what inspired me to put "health" at the top. Today, not feeling at my peak, solidified its position.
Health is a gift you often don't think about until you don't have it anymore.
Take care of yourself, you are your own life support.
Maybe another time... The last article talked about that A-ha moment that changes you direction in life. I had one of them last month when I went, once again, to my empty post office mailbox. It belonged to another time... my past life when I ran my own web design / video company. I tried converting it over to my Gurustu mailbox, but still no one wrote (that sounds sadder than it is... my electronic mailbox is full of good gurustu stuff... guess now my life is just more on than off-line). I figured
I was paying for nothing
nothing reminds me of what I have left of that old business, and
getting a new mailbox when the time is right will be an off-line version of a new beginning.
Ironically among all the bills to "please pay for this empty mailbox" was a yellow slip... I got mail !! It was a sweatshirt from Blogger.com, for being one of their paying members. Something to keep me warm as the weather turns colder... something which represents my "new" life going forward.
So, you see, you can get something out of nothing... and it's warm and fuzzy too!!
Friday, November 21, 2003 What's the price of "free"? As I sat there, staring at my computer screen, the past three years keep flashing in front of me. There it was, an intranet app from diggersolutions.com... it had everything that the company needs in an intranet... in fact it does things that we've spent an awful lot of time, money and aggrevation fighting to get into production. Yet in my head, I could just hear the future...
"We can't do that we already have such-and-such"
"Well, so-and-so already staretd building that piece, so we can't stop now"
"We'd still need to tweak it" ("That'd only cost you about $150")
"I know but we'd still need to discuss it" ("How much will talking about it cost?")
Now don't get me wrong, what my team is building is going to be AWESOME, I know that. In fact, it'll be "more awesomer" than anything we could get off the shelf... it's just when you're presented with something so easy, so simple, so "free" of a solution, you wonder "why not?"
I mentioned the software to a couple of people, perhaps against better judgement, I don't know. The past can often cloud the future if we let it. I'm just mentioning it here cause I think this thing can really help a lot of people... maybe one of you people out there will find this "free" thing freeing.
For me, getting to this free thing might just cost too much.
Wednesday, November 19, 2003 The light goes out... Who would think that the flicker lights at work would signal just the beginning? It was like an omen of the light going out...
First I came home to no power in my home (which was why there was no entry yesterday). Having gone through this sort of thing in the past, I didn't get upset, but rather settled in for a darker evening. The battery lamps and candles came out; the power radio got fresh batteries... and I did what I could with 2.5 hours of battery life on my laptop (that's call "slumming it" in the geek world). Fortunately the evening wasn't too cold, so the place stayed quite comfortable throughout the night.
But then a few more lights went out last night. My friend's brother passed away last night, after a life of much darkness... crime, drugs and heavy drinking. For him it was a matter of when, not if he would die young. Though mid-50's isn't exactly young; these days it's not exactly old either. Who knows how long his life would have been had he chosen different paths.
Today, I got the news that my uncle also passed away last night. He was 85... had a long full life; and was sick only towards the very end.
Their lives are now "complete" ... legacies to what they created. I wonder where they are now, and where their lives have brought them.
I wish them a peaceful journey, and thank them for the reflections they give.
Monday, November 17, 2003 Space issues... I knew when someone showed me pictures of space from the hubble this morning, that it was going to be one of those days. My head felt like it was in space from morning til night. I don't know why exactly... I only know I still haven't landed back on earth yet.
The rest of the day was out of space in a different way... no space for Time. I lost track... I think there were five new projects that came by today... some little, like Dwarf stars; some which could be explosive, like a SuperNova... all of which are due within the next couple of days.
Not too bad, as long as everyone knows what they want... oh wait, the requirements are a lot like space... a lot of nothing.
So now with no time, and no space... and my head out there somewhere... let's see if we can shoot for the moon :-)
Sunday, November 16, 2003 Moving on underground... This is a weekend busy with making changes that won't be very noticeable on the surface... a few changes to a page or two on the site, but underneath, it's getting an overhaul (or is this an under-haul?).
In the beginning, I don't think I could have done it without Bravenet. They added so many features so quickly; they made me look good. (I still ABSOLUTELY recommend them for new web builders, even if it's time for me to move on)
Over the weekend though, my subscription went from the professional version to the free one (I let my subscription expire) and ADS started popping up all over the place. I knew it was coming, and I know what the ads look like... but I still felt violated, watching all the flashing, lime green boxes littering my design.
Forgoing a latest article (which is still in my head and coming shortly) I've spent time cleaning up. Feel free to drop by the new guestbook and forum and leave a little note to let me know you've been around.
Subscriptions to articles, cartoon and daily thoughts
Friday, November 14, 2003 Seeing is believing... Today was evident of how some people absolutely must see something, or else they don't believe it. The effect of which only seemed more intense because it directly affects me.
The irony is that it all revolves around communication. .. which is something I was put "in charge of" and which I have been doing since it became my duty to do so. My boss, in fact, has complimented me several times on my "success."
However, communication has only gone so far. Seems my boss's boss doesn't read her email... or more specifically, she hasn't been reading MY emails that (had she read them) would clearly show her the efforts that are taking place.
Because she has not "seen" my progress, it is "obvious" to her that nothing is happening and consequently she is very "disappointed" in our "lack of results." And it is THAT message that she passes upwards to her bosses. So with only two degrees of separation, I am sent spinning 540 degrees. **
** (that's all the way around and heading backwards for the mathematically challenged... or "I think that was a one-and-a-half gainer on that diver there, Bob, that's gonna cost him some points!")
So it comes down to taking 80% of my time to prove that I'm doing 20% of the work. I told my boss that my focus is on improving the communication to ALL of the department, not just compensating for the lack of understanding of the few. However noble that may be, it's not very practical. The work doesn't just speak for itself; so I have to speak for it... to the people whose misconceptions can make or break the rest of what I have to achieve.
Communication... it's not just what you say that matters, it's also what they hear.
Wednesday, November 12, 2003 A quarter for change... I guess this is one of those half-full/half-empty sort of things. The fourth quarter is half way through and I'm just now getting around to doing the quarterly goals/reviews with my team. Nothing like prioritizing things that have been done for weeks now.
Regardless of their timeliness, it's great to be doing them now (rather than, well, never...) because they help to bring a good sense of structure to the rest of the year. I have a guruism...
"Work is like a circle, anywhere you start is the beginning."
Unfortunately, if you don't have a direction, you really just end up going around in circles.
Being a free-flowing leader, with a free-flowing team, working on open ended projects have proven unproductive at times. So...
"Even a river needs its boundaries to flow in the right direction."
Today was a good day for change; now let's hope it results in a good quarter.
Tuesday, November 11, 2003 Bringing 'em home... Home is where you hang your hat... where your heart is... where you start... and where you always end up at the end of the movie...
On the web, it's where I've put these daily thoughts and my cartoon... all being done through an RSS feed from my daily thoughts and cartoon blogs. I'm my first subscription, but this is just the beginning. My home is definitely where my heart is.
Speaking of home, today is Veteran's Day... another reminder of the value of home. Thousands of men and women fought to make our homes safe... many of whom never returned to their own.
So remember, wherever your home is, be it Wisconsin or the web, it's a freedom that's been earned... so let's respect and use it wisely.
Monday, November 10, 2003 I'm sorry... time's up! I was scheduled for a 15 minute presentation at a meeting today; the basic message being "we don't have enough time." Being part of a big company, there's a lot more policies and procedures between here and "getting stuff done." Often, the solution is to "improve processes" with additional applications and forms.
To measure the time saving, more procedures are put in place... all of which concludes that people are spending too much time doing administrative tasks and not enough time is being spent on actually getting the work done.
Sunday, November 09, 2003 Rocco down the house... On TV, I caught an episode of The Restaurant, which follows Rocco DiSpirito and his self-named New York restaurant. The show's drama comes not just from quick editing and sharp angles, but rather from an awful lot of angst. It was a shining example of how a really stressful, unpleasant work environment takes its toll on people. People fought and cried; and called in sick and quit left and right.
Some of the "mistakes" I saw Rocco make during the show was:
Pushing people to hard
Talking down to people
Changing the "rules"
On the flip side, which may be his redemption was:
His absolute love for his restaurant
The love for his mother
His willingness to get into the trenches
His willingness to change
Everyone reaches success differently; ultimately it will come down to what they deliver. There're a lot of issues, but also a lot of hope... both for the show and the restaurant.
And in the meantime, there're plenty of lessons in respect.
Saturday, November 08, 2003 Chop Wood, Carry Water Today was a very ordinary day... the kind where laundry clings to the door knob, wishing to be clean and hanging proudly in the closet... where there seems to be mildew than milk in the refrigerator...
However unpleasant the thought of maintenance can be on a semi-sunny day, sometimes you just gotta grin and bear it.
As I sat and watched the laundry spin around and around, I was reminded of Wu Li's "Chop Wood, Carry Water." After all, not everything in Life is curing diseases and going to the moon. Most of life is "mundane" ... not in the sense of boring (even if the special effects of the dryer isn't much to wrote home about) ... but rather "mundane" in the sense of "ordinary."
If we fail to see the extraordinary in our ordinary lives, we'll miss out of 99% of the action...
Tuesday, November 04, 2003 How much is a bad penny worth? I could pretty much have written this book... wait, I did... several times...
The intranet project has come back to me... or at least it's threatening too. It's been "mine" about four times over the last three years. When I'm "in charge" they never give me people to help build it... then they give it to someone who has people, who can't seem to build it without me... so they give it back.
This time they actually say I'll have people to help me.
This time they actually want it to be something they can USE.
Monday, November 03, 2003 A picture worth a thousand words; a video worth a million This afternoon I videotaped a celebration at work; it was all about us hitting a million transactions an hour... which for those in the techie-know is a fairly big deal. It should have been a bigger deal than what I taped.
For a couple of months, the people who put the celebration together kept asking what the big deal was all about. I kept telling them, "it doesn't matter if you get it or not; if the people in the know think it's important, we ought to treat it as such."
That wasn't enough to convince them. They allowed their lack of knowledge to translate into their lack of enthusiasm. That allowed weeks to go by, invitations not to go out and high quality graphics not to be made. In the end, it was a rush to get "something" together, using "we didn't have enough time" as the excuse for not doing more.
Saturday, November 01, 2003 Confrontation... Today was all about confrontation. It started with the WSU vs USC football game this afternoon... and ended with not being able to go back to my favorite restaurant for quite some time.
OK, so that's jumping ahead. The players were as such:
Mr. Wazzu: The guy who initiated going to the game, along with his co-workers...
Mr. New Yorker, who always has to be right, no matter what the truth might be.
Ms. Blue Eyes, a very pretty lady who just wanted to have a fun day.
and Mr. Film Guy, who is studying to become a filmmaker.
And rather early on we were joined by:
Being a non-drinker, I get the joy of always being the Designated Driver and observer of human behavior (and its inverse proportions to the amount of alcohol consumed). By the time we got to the restaurant, after a very disappointing loss to USC, the sorrows were already pretty drowned.
The place was packed, and the bar area was unfortunately too close to the kitchen and a table of patrons not lucky enough to get a better one. One woman sat and stewed over it for some time. Each waiter who had to squeeze by the gang seemed to annoy her further. She kept it inside until she said some snide remark to Mr. Wazzu... who promptly returned the favor. That put him in the mood to angrily confront the waitress; while Mr. New Yorker attacked the bartender. Being escorted to our table and given free appetizers to calm down the situation, didn't seem to work. Mr New Yorker refused to let it go.
Neither did Angry Woman. She came over to the table with a ring... the kind you get for a quarter... attached to a note that read:
"A lovely ring for a not so lovely girl"
Which made no sense, since Ms. Blue Eyes did nothing to this woman. It turns out they were trying to insult Mr. New Yorker, but we didn't "get it" right away. Mr. New Yorker didn't wait to figure it out... he simply grabbed the ring and followed them out of the restaurant.
Mr. Wazzu screamed a nickname for her that I can't repeat... and like a scene from a movie, the entire restaurant paused in silence. It was then followed by a rash of whispers throughout the place.
Mr. NY promptly came back, and at a very loud, fast pace, recanted all the events that took place outdoors. Mr. Film Guy, who had been relatively quiet up to this point, told Mr. NY to move his chair in because it was blocking the aisle. Mr. NY then turned annoyed at Film Guy and stormed off (knocking his chair into the table next to us, and adding more drama of course).
After paying a hefty tip as an apology, we drove around in search of Mr. NY and Ms. Blue Eyes who left to find him. Once everyone was in the car, we took the long road back to sobriety and their cars.
It made for a memorable evening; and taught us all a lot. It taught us about letting things go, and about creating drama...