gurustu's muse the daily thoughts of an every day guru
Daily Guru Thoughts
Sunday, August 31, 2003 Settling in... I'm now settling in from my daily jauntsabouttown, with my sofa and my site seemingly more together. Still more to do on both of them... but tomorrow IS another day...
Coming Home... Well, it's almost like giving birth, but nine months after the start of this journal, my "blog' is coming home. If all goes well, it will no longer be hosted on blogspot.com, but be located at:
http://www.gurustu.com/daily/index.php See you there!!
Saturday, August 30, 2003 It begins at home... It hasn't been easy watching makeover shows like "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" and "While you were out" while you're sitting in the middle of a home that qualifies for their "before" pictures.
Instead of going off to "play" today, I spent a good amount of time "getting my house in order."
Thanks to those shows and the fine people at Ikea, I'm on my way to seeing a really nice "after" effect.
Friday, August 29, 2003 Slowly we turn... Today after a meeting where my 'prototype' got rave reviews, I was told,
"Put all your effort onto it... it rolls out to production in two weeks."
Being that it's nearly ready to go now, this shouldn't be a problem. We'll have to wait and see. it sounds though like the tide is shifting... if only a little bit in my favor.
The biggest "trick" here is how to get through this without anyone getting hurt. It's kind of like swimming through the jellyfish in Finding Nemo. You have to go as fast as you can, watch where you're going, and just
Thursday, August 28, 2003 Perception is Reality... There is a catch phrase at work that "perception is reality". Those that spout it act as if they're uncovering a truth... but in reality, they are just giving themselves permission to act any way they feel.
My project has been perceived as a 'prototype' now by everyone up the chain of command, even though it is already several times more sophisticated than some of the 'production' sites made by those who want to lay claim to my site.
And so 'perception' is skewed into odd definitions of 'success.' Sites on personal computers are viewed with high regard, somehow overshadowing the reality that I lead a team to successfully building the most visited site of the entire company. I don't understand how it got this way, but I'm determined to turn reality into their perspective.
Wednesday, August 27, 2003 Write away! I went to the gym to ride the bike and write as usual on my book, but it's gotten to the point where I can't work on the book. I've run out of random topics to cover. It's come to the point where I need to get it into a structure, to find out what goes where and just how much left I have to do.
Instead of worrying about that tonight, I just decided to work my next article ahead of schedule. Not knowing hat to write, I just put the pen to paper and waited for a catchy title to come along.
I wrote two articles and the beginnings for two others; all within a half hour.
Tuesday, August 26, 2003 An inspiration... Wow, I just applied for an award called "You're an Inspiration" and within an hour I got a response:
"I simply adore your website and couldn't stop myself from checking it all over and finding just TONS of things that I love about it! I would be so honored for you to accept the attached "You're an Inspiration" award.
Monday, August 25, 2003 Et tu EQ? In our leadership development workshop today the topic was the Emotional Quotient, which measures how "intelligent" you are about emotions (yours and others). I did well on the little test, and not because I went after the "right" answers (some were pretty obvious) but rather because that's the type of person I am. I brought my empathy into the workplace and that's the type of manager I became.
It made me reflect back over the last few years at the place that they're trying to bring this EQ to. It hasn't been a very EQ-friendly place. Some of the most "successful" people showed very little regards for the feelings of others.
I'm glad there's attempts at improving emotional awareness. It feels late in coming. Will it be here in time to stop some of the damage I see others trying to create right now?
Sunday, August 24, 2003 Finding Yourself... Often called "ego-surfing" it's when you go into search engines looking for yourself... typing in your name or your nickname; anything to see if you're there, or if there are other people like you out there.
I started my morning like that. Thanks to Bravenet's stats, I'm able to get a general idea of how people find me. I was very happy to discover that I ranked in the top 10 for the following:
It's one thing to be found when someone is looking for you directly, but it's more important when people find you when they're looking for things that you're about. (It means that my site is basically "working" the way I intended).
So that theme sort of carried itself throughout my day. Although it wasn't that much different than my past weekends, I happened to meet a few new people along the way. Some short, friendly conversations... but it says so much when someone asks you "so what do you do?" What do you say? In 100 words or less, how do you sum up your life. What parts of your past do you search over to define the answer to that question?
Perhaps it's in that summary that you truly find yourself.
Saturday, August 23, 2003 To Write about Wrong The mind is always a fascinating creature... something just festers in the back there until you need it, then pop! a new idea.
All this talk about doing things right and wrong ended up spawning this week's article - The Price of Wrong.
It makes my weekends about living and learning and sharing those moments; and all the "nothing" moments of the week seem more full.
Today was also about living in harmony with our neighbors, when I attended the Sunset Junction Street Fair... designed to help everyone "just get along." Too bad my friend didn't understand that, as he and an old lady screamed obscenities at each other as they gridlocked on a sidestreet corner. Being locked into position, with neither one of them able to move very far, it gave them ample time to think up ways to tell the other one where to go (some of their suggestions weren't quite feasible, let alone humanly possible).
It gave me plenty of time to roll my eyes and just think "well, this is a memorable moment."
I spent the rest of the afternoon, eating fantastic Cuban food, half-waiting for the old lady to show up as a vendor and working on a sunburn that would show off the shirt I was wearing for days to come.
The food stayed with me the rest of the day, the sunburn will indeed be a shining example of no sunblock for days... and the old lady was gone... maybe she found some neighbors she could live in harmony with.
A day that wasn't all right, but it was alright by me.
Friday, August 22, 2003 Inspired by Nothing... You can be inspired by just about anything, if you really want to be inspired... even Nothing.
Today I thought a lot about Nothing.
For a long time at work, "nothing" has been happening. Projects get queued up, budgetted into impossibility and talked about years longer than the two weeks it'd take to do.
I went forward and built something that some people think is the greatest thing since sliced bread, while others behave as if it's "Nothing." (because they have their own bread in the oven no doubt).
Today we've been preplanning our budgets for next year, trying to figure out how to get stuff done, when we know we're going to get "nothing." (yet we all know the price of producing "nothing" now don't we?)
And then tonight, I went to a very nice looking restaurant that had "nothing" wrong with it, except the food and service had "nothing" really to offer... bland food, with bored waiters. It just left me with a stomach full of "nothing."
So I'm inspired... I know I can cook better (yesterday's meal I made was far tastier); I know I can make make projects that are far more than "nothing" ... even if they give me "nothing" to work with.
Thursday, August 21, 2003 Time flies when you do it right too... Today I was back to doing the kinds of things I do best... the creative -- writing, art work, designing... and time still went by quickly.
Time is a funny thing. I hear that it can just crawl by for some people, but lately, not for me. I think partly it's because there's a bunch of "fat" around the things I do... drive time, set up time, getting from here to there time... that the actual concentration time is not as long as you'd think.
But then, whenever you're concentrating on something, you can get lost in it. When it's about building something, and you're only thinking about the next piece and the next piece and the next piece, you really have no time to think about the next minute and the next minute and the next.
Perhaps our minds are the ultimate time machines after all.
Wednesday, August 20, 2003 Experiencing technical difficulties, please stand by... Another one of THOSE days... if it's not da software, it's da hardware. I didn't expect a "five minute easy installation" but I didn't expect to spend countless hours trying to get a "new" editing machine to work with my VCR. It just kinda makes me wonder what it is I SHOULD be doing with my life.... cause this ain't it.
Today was bad enough to cancel the project. I just don't think under these constraints that the way I'm going about it is going to work. It's sad to have to stop now, but "cutting my losses" is more of a victory than suffering any further along.
I will have to get this equipment to work eventually (it is my stuff after all) but not on the client's dime. Although they'll be disappointed in not getting the project done, they'll appreciate me stopping the cost. (or perhaps it will inspire them to give me the time/money this thing needs to be done right).
I'm cutting the price of doing it wrong... now I wonder what's the price of doing it right?
Tuesday, August 19, 2003 The price of doing it wrong... Buried myself in if statements... and not in the guru sort of way...
Spent the whole day with someone else's code, that I downloaded off of the internet. I thought it was me... being a "non-programmer" and all. I started over with their original code at the end of the day, just to test it; only to discover that it really was them, and I wasn't going crazy.
It just makes me wonder about the cost of doing something wrong. We always say "we don't have time to do it right the first time, but always tiem to do it again" ... but what about those who have a hard time doing it right the first time? I know for me, a lot of it is trial and error. I know only enough to be dangerous, but eventually it turns out alright. But the price was the entire day and a bit of struggle throughout.
The final project will be well worth the effort, but just imagine if all the right people in the world was able to just do all the right things. How much further along would we be?
Monday, August 18, 2003 From the brink... I discovered that water is not good for laptops (well, not mine anyway). It has a tendency to make them stop working. I don't like to work after a shower myself, but in the case of my computer, I don't like it when it decides to not work.
Needless to say I had a panicky moment. I wasn't so much worried about the work I'd "lose" if they couldn't fix it. I just saw the next several days flash before my eyes as I struggled to rebuild everything form the ground up... "where did I put that plugin?" "who was it who set up that password?" "what was the network address for that printer?"
I was pleasantly surprised to have it boot up in the office; only to have my hopes dashed as it went back to black. Half an hour on hold with the help desk, and some swapping of hardware, and I was miraculously back up safe and sound. Well, safe and sound, yes; but secure, no. I spent the rest of my morning backing up every single thing I could think of!! Nothing like taking post-cautions.
Other than this incident, the remainder of the day went very well; as did the weekend, that I couldn't blog about. I got my article and newsletter completed on time, got out to the beach for some sun... and my project at work is starting to work even better than before.
So if I can selectively ignore my little disaster, I can count these last several days and very much rewarding.
Friday, August 15, 2003 Opening Lines... "This horse walks into a bar..."
Actually, that's not what I mean by "opening lines." What today was about was opening the lines of communication.
Because we're new to this manager, we need to build a foundation so that everyone can benefit. I think we're on to something. My new manager is sincere and means well; and has a lot of daunting tasks ahead for her (and so she passed that down to us, to help get all this stuff done).
I hope a lot of what she says is going to be true -- because she talks about growth, expanded responsibilities, making a real difference. I certainly can see where we CAN; and if we DO make a difference, it will be worth releasing the past pain and loss. If this just turns out to be a "losing battle" then we're facing repeating our past.
For me personally, this can be an exciting time. For my team, it's going to become important for them to fly a little higher on their own steam; it's not that I'm going to be taken away from them (or them from me) but the direction that the whole department is heading is going to force everyone to become more like a "free agent" in baseball.
My new tasks will be all about communication and opening those lines between people. I explained that opening the lines will be easy... dealing with what people say is going to be the issue. Everyone jokes that they "can't handle the truth," ala Jack Nicholson in "A Few Good Men!" when they think of management actually listening, to which I reply back ala Jack Nicholson in Batman
"Just wait 'til they get a load of me!"
P.S. per my opening line...
"This horse walks into a bar; the bartender turns to the horse and says "why the long face?"
Thursday, August 14, 2003 C**P*RATION... I'd like to solve the puzzle. I wish I could figure out the best way for everyone to win, through team work and integrity.
"Can't we all just get along?" was more profound than Rodney King realized when he said it.
Today was a meeting to untangle the issues that have arisen over this latest project. It was a start. We still have growing pains ahead and quite a bit of knots to untie. The site I created had a quote surface today
"Value the relationship more than the disagreements."
Wednesday, August 13, 2003 To truly win... No one should lose...
No one should compromise their morals...
Today tested everything that I am about. I had to weigh a desire to win over a desire to do Right. A lot of people told me to cheat... since that's what "they" are doing. They shook their heads at my "naivete" wondering when I would "get it"; they imagined my demise. Someone even said, "you have to lie to get ahead."
I CAN'T ... and WON'T.
I want to win, and I want to do right... and no matter what some might think, I refuse to pay the price they're suggestion. There are rules, that I might not be able to put into words, but they dictate this life of mine. "Ethics" barely begins to describe them.
In any case, it was a rough day. I tried to "play nice" until I was told by this "gentleman" (I'm still playing nice) that he not only controlled my old project, he also controlled the one I just finished. No one has so brazenly stolen a project as this one has.
So a heartfelt note went out to my boss... and my team rallied around me in ways that make me proud to have them around.
And earlier in today, one of my old team members walked out of his way to tell me that he was still trying to get my team work. After all this time, after two moves away, the loyalty that was built through honesty, integrity and empowerment, still stands.
So whatever happens to these recent events, have I won?
Judging by some of these moments, I'd have to say yes.
Tuesday, August 12, 2003 To be happy or fulfilled? I've been continuing my conversations of two days ago, and my philosopher friend picked up on my change of tone when talking about work. I complimented him on his astute observation of my humanity; then talked about the differences between being happy and getting through the tough times to find fulfillment.
Here's what I said:
Wouldn't it be easier for the salmon to swim downstream?
Some things in are a struggle, but we do it because there is something greater after the challenge.
Yet should I shrink away from unpleasantries? Sit on top of a mountain like a good guru and eliminate the world from my life? That's not what I'm about either. I've realized that the world can't be changed with a magic wand... so I find each and every other way I can. Sometimes it's a struggle. Some changes are easier than others; sometimes great patience is required.
I think of the people who came before me... how much they struggled, even suffered, in their attempts to make the world a better place. Should they have thought only of their own happiness? I doubt that their life was filled with happiness, as much as it was filled with fulfillment.
Sure I would love to love that 1/3 of the day. There was a time that I couldn't believe I was getting paid to do all that stuff... but things changed. I let the wolf in.
But when this is done, I will have made it upstream. I'd reach my destination where real birth takes place.
Monday, August 11, 2003 Things that make you go "hmmm"... This day was a mixed bag ... some good, some not. Some things went as expected; others were surprises. It was just enough to make you think.
I unveiled the project I had been working on.. which got the reaction I expected... "I love it!" followed by "let me think about it for a while" and concluded with "I'll have to run it past a few people." It's a can with a picture of a worm on it, and I opened it.
The games that may evolve from that are tiring, to be sure. I hope this time (optimist that I am) that it will work out for the best of all, and no one (esp. me) will get hurt. Well, I can dream.
And yet, to put it all into perspective... today is my brother's wedding anniversary; and my sister-in-law is back in the hospital. Although her Multiple Myeloma is in remission, she still does not have an immune system strong enough to fight off a sinus infection. Something as simple and annoying as that is to us, it's deadly serious to her.
It's even got my mother putting the loss of her dog into perspective.
Life's moments, that make you think about Life... and those that overshadow the silly things that people make such a big deal out of.
A lot of the "other stuff" from today is still important; and will still play a big role in my tomorrows... but for today, all I have to say is...
Sunday, August 10, 2003 The Power of Kind Words In my inbox were two emails right next to each other... sitting there, unknown to one another. Each one was from someone whom I've been chatting with... one a teenager who wants to go into acting; the other, an intellectual philosopher such as myself, just looking at the wonders of Life. They shared a common theme... a sincere thank you for taking the time to share my thoughts with them.
Really now, it's been so much of a pleasure for me, that I hardly even gave a thought to the "service" that they believe I've been providing. Perhaps they didn't know that they've been giving me so much, just by reaching out to talk. Maybe they thought it's been a one way street. Who knows... I made it clear to them that their sincerity and good thoughts are like treasures to me.
Considering some of the craziness I put up with in the Corporate World, just two simple words makes it all worth it.
Saturday, August 09, 2003 A taxing weekend... As part of my fiscal responsibility, August 15th is one of those taxing days that I should've been more prepared for earlier (August 15th does come the same time each year), yet time slipped away and so this weekend will be a busy one, buried under paper.
Although I'm fairly organized with my collection of forms and receipts, it's always a real pain in the surprise when there's just only little thing missing... and the scavenger hunt begins.
It hasn't exactly been a fun day, thank you IRS, but I'll be glad to have my weekends back once I get through this.
Friday, August 08, 2003 When enough is enough... Been trying to finish up a project this week, because there's really not much time to do it in. The sooner it gets "out there" the better off it will be. Timing is crucial here, and missed opportunities in the past still cost me now... so I don't want to repeat that.
It's just, you know, when you get this vision in your head of what it "could be" you see some finished project much further out than the time you have. You want it all now, and that's just not going to happen.
There comes a time when you have to put down the hammer and clean up.
First thing Monday, I have to polish it up, sweep the dirt under the rug and get ready to present the project in the afternoon.
Enough is enough for me... will it be enough for them? Only time will tell.
Thursday, August 07, 2003 I'll have the Chicken Feta with a cup of Auld Lang Syne After work, I had a reunion dinner with a friend who left earlier this year for a better job. Ironically, the host of the restaurant remembered him from when they worked together years before. So the day was about reunions and reflections.
As we had done before, we talked about the office, and all the players within... the winners and losers of the political games. We talked about 'regrets' that have so little impact with the time that's gone by.
By the time the main course arrived, we moved on to talks of future. It was more hopeful, with brighter colors... even if some of those colors are jade... the options are still open to what we make of it.
Auld Lang Syne --------------------
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And days o' lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my Dear
For auld lang syne
We'll take a cup o kindness yet
For auld lang syne
Wednesday, August 06, 2003 Peace by Piece... Despite the struggle over the last couple of days out of my expertise, I actually got enough pieces working... thanks to some old code snippets and some new lines of code from a programming guru friend. I actually had learned enough over the years to be able to build my own dynamic frameset... and it worked!
You have to understand the significance of that? It's like that moment when you take off on your bike for the very first time... or when you take the car out and make it home all on your own... it's about growing your abilities... and about empowerment.
I'm not saying I'm off to program anything more than a few dandy add-ons, but for all the pain and suffering, these momentous breakthroughs are liberating.
Tuesday, August 05, 2003 01010000 01000101 01001111 01010000 01001100 01000101 You can tell so more about people in the present when you ask them to look five years into the future.
Our five year strategic meeting covered a lot of important items for sure... improving the processes through automation and reduction of redundancies... and all that. Yet when it was nearly done...
OK, we've only got five minutes left, let's talk about people; how do we retain our employees, and help them grow?
To which the first two responses explained about the benefits of improving the processes through automation and reduction of redundancies.
I cleared my throat.
"I noticed that we went back to talking about processes and policies when asked about people. I think it's great that we want improvements, but policies are not people."
I made it known in the remaining two minutes and later to anyone who would listen, that when you see people as "resources" it dehumanizes them. People become headcounts and job titles. Skills become something you either have or you don't; with no real understanding nor appreciation for the person's ability to do something with those skills.
It reminded me, once again, that I'm different; and that I see things that just don't fit into a standardization process.
That's OK... it gives me things to go into my book; and that's a better fit by far.
If you want to interpret the title, good luck with the chart here
Monday, August 04, 2003 DIDO, GIGO, SOSO... Day In, Day Out
Garbage In, Garbage Out
Same Ole, Same Ole...
Such is being back to work. Trying to get a web site to work using programming, which is something that's just not my forte. So the day went by quickly, though the progress was slow. After mucking through, things started to work, but a "real" programmer would have done this in five minutes.
Sunday, August 03, 2003 Saying goodbye to the past... 12 years ago, against a mild protest, my parents accepted a puppy from my brother and sister-in-law. The big feet gave away that "J.B." was going to be a big lovable mutt.
I didn't get to know her very well, since I only got back to visit once a year... but it was always great to hear that bark and be greeted with a wild, wagging tail.
For about a year, a pesky fatty growth kept coming back behind a leg, making walking difficult; though within days after an operation, she was back up and running all over the place.
Just a few days ago though, things just turned for the worse, and my parents were faced with the unnerving decision to "put her down."
As if to relieve them of the painful decision, JB left the world a few hours ago.
Losing a pet is like losing other members of your family. Grieving takes time...
And time is the most precious thing we have left to enjoy.
I recognized myself in those pages, and in those stories. These were people like me, who if someone they knew very well walked away for only a moment, would disappear into a crowd. I can't tell you how many times I followed the wrong yellow hat, or stared into the face of an annoyed friend impatiently waving their hands... "helllloooooo.... over here!"
It's been frustrating looking directly at people wondering "how come I can't recognize them? I know who they are." It's taken a long time to recognize this, let me tell you!
Perhaps it's why I don't judge people too awfully much, cause I'd forget it was them anyway :-)
Not that I need sympathy of workers comp for this, but I'm glad I can finally put a name to this facelessness.
Friday, August 01, 2003 Facing the Past... It was dark, so I really couldn't see but a guy was stopped right in front of me, staring and pointing, and searching his memory... "I know you..."
I searched my "database" ... my mind racing quickly over the last umpteen years... could it be?
It was a friend from my acting class, over a decade ago. We had lost touch after class, had talked about each other a lot over the years, and never really did anything about it. In fact, I wasn't quite sure, but I could swear I even mentioned his name in the morning.
He had some miles on his, but the trip had been quite kind to him. He changed careers, was preoccupied with a breakup after eight years, but was otherwise the same guy I remember.
It's amazing how quickly you can "Reader's Digest" your life... giving someone the quick "Cliff Notes" of a decade. "Then I did this for three years, and that for four..."
Was that how quickly time flew? Is that how easy it is to summarize "what you been to?"
After quite a bit of "I can't believe it's you" and "we can't let time go by like this" I gave him my card and he promised to call.