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May 12, 2015

Oh, shit!

Every company -- hell, every department within a company -- has an "oh, shit!" person. The person that gets all the last-minute projects, the projects with a suddenly changed and really close due date, the person who can work under the stress and strain of a suddenly changing working environment and still produce good work.

I am that guy at work, currently. The manager thinks nothing of telling me to drop everything and work on something "quick and dirty" or to assign to me the task that slipped through everyone's fingers and is suddenly due in a day, a few days, or a week.

His willingness to do this tells me that he has confidence in my abilities, shows respect to what I can do and have accomplished for him, and trust in me to learn what needs to be done and do it right on short notice.

However, the fact that lately all I have worked on are these types of projects can lead to quick burnout. Right now, everything I am working on is last-minute, short time frame projects. This leads to a lot of excitement, over time, and stress as I am given each project, work it, and complete it. It means I have to change my daily routine to accommodate sudden changes in the project's dynamics and due dates, which can lead to poor eating and sleeping habits, which further adds to the stress of the project.

I believe in the old axiom, "Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part." And, while I like to try to live by it as often as I can, the truth is that, as long as you have a boss or bosses above you, the axiom does not apply. If they need you to get it done, and it is their poor planning that caused the emergency, then it is your emergency to deal with.

My current boss, for example, realized that he was going to be overdue on a project because, and he was perfectly willing to admit it, he forgot about it. It slipped through the cracks until the department that needed it reminded him of it. Suddenly, he asked me to drop everything, learn how to do it, and get it done in a couple of days in order to appease the other department. And I, wanting to continue to have a job and get paid, bent over backward, learned the system, did the work, and got it back to him as quickly as I could.

After the last few weeks (months, really) of this level of stress, I may have to ask for an extended time off. I don't want to burn out and do crappy work, or be barely able to get anything done because I'm so mentally exhausted from the grind.

For now, I keep looking at the plus side of things: OT means flex time accrual and extra money coming in. And that's nothing to sneeze at, either.

May 11, 2015

Some Religious Thoughts

There are somewhere around 1.5 billion Muslims in the world today. It is the second largest religion in the world, behind Christianity. So, saying that all Muslims are extremist, or that all Muslims are hate-filled, or all Muslims are jihadists is about equivalent to saying all 2.2 billion Christians are like the members of the Westboro Baptist Church or the Ku Klux Klan.

I am willing to bet that most Americans do not realize that Christianity actually has more common beliefs with Islam than it does with Judaism.

I keep finding it bitterly funny, and distasteful, how many politicians in America, and the west in general, claim to be Christian and yet every policy and reaction to proposals stinks of a lack of understanding of the Bible, Jesus' teachings, or God's love. God is supposed to be the only one who can judge man, yet I keep seeing a whole lot of judging going on. And, how is taking one small comment out of context and in contradiction to the overall message of the Bible a way to make a stand on any Christian matter? But you are smart enough to use that to oppress, vilify, and condemn entire subsets of people -- how so very Christian of you.

I have a feeling that most Americans do not know or, if they do know, do not understand, that America was founded on the principle of religious freedom by people who were being persecuted in their homelands. And, because of this miss understanding or lack of knowledge, that is why they want more (Christian) religion in politics. If they would just learn this truth, then they would see that the laws of America are the way they are for a reason... and specifically to keep them from doing exactly what they want to do to others who do not share the same belief system as they do.

Just because someone is Atheist, non-Theist, or Agnostic, does not mean they lack morals. Morality can be taught without a Theistic belief system. Concepts like it is wrong to kill, steal, or abuse others are not religion-specific. And when I see/hear a theistic person who says otherwise, I can't help but wonder what their agenda is for vilifying an entire group of people (who make up about 1 billion people in this world, and growing).

As more religions turn more conservative, militant, and fearful of "the other," I can't help but notice an upward trend in non-Theists. Why aren't more religions being more inclusionary?


It's like we have all forgotten how to get along. You are either right or wrong, and there is no middle ground, these days.

If you have a baby and want to breastfeed it in public, you are right and everyone else who does not want to see that happen while they are out enjoying their day are wrong. If you are speaking loudly into your phone, or playing a game on it with the sound on, in public, you are in the right and everyone else subjected to your fun or phone call is wrong... and not only wrong, but why are they listening to your 'private' phone call in the first place?

If you are liberal and want to do something, you are right and the conservatives are wrong. If you are conservative and want to do something, you are right and the liberals are wrong. If you are a politician and you are speaking about some new topic that came up, you are right and everyone else is wrong. If you are shown evidence of the multitude of times you have said the direct opposite of your current stance, you are somehow right each time, and right now, and everyone else is wrong, especially the reporter who is somehow taking your previous comments out of context or misconstruing what you said or did before (even though they are your exact words).

The list goes on and on.

What happened to compromise? Compromise has never meant that you get your way and everyone else is screwed. It means that each side gets some of what they want and each side loses some of what they want. Hopefully, the most important bits are what are kept and everyone has something they can work with.

If you need to breastfeed in public, covering your breast and child allows you to perform the action and allows those who do not wish to witness to both be satisfied. Each side gets what they want, each side loses a little (the "right" to flash your breast and show your suckling baby to all who glance your way versus the "right" of all those who would rather eat their meal, shop, or just be out in public without seeing 'that sort of thing' at all).

If you need to speak with someone on the phone, or are bored and want to use your game for entertainment, going off to the side, leaving the room, or otherwise minimizing the effect of your conversation and game playing on the rest of the public in the area allows both sides to get some of what they want.

Just because you are Liberal and tend toward wanting to help people doesn't mean Conservatives are wrong to want to figure out a way to pay for those services, or make sure they aren't abused. Just because you are Conservative doesn't mean you can axe every program without repercussion or issue or that your constituents want you to. We used to be able to have low taxes and meaningful social programs without breaking the bank, with decent oversight, and while meeting in the middle on the hard choices about how to fund them properly.

If you think before you speak, and speak for yourself, you will often find your responses to media more consistent and without hyperbole. Instead of rejecting outright and being embarrassed when called on the carpet for saying one thing and then voting or doing another, how about you be smart, fess up, and admit when you are wrong? How about living with honor and acting like you care for your constituents instead of looking like you are only in it for the job (and all those perks that come with it).

And, as the public, how about we all try to get along? How about we look up the best candidate, regardless of party, that embodies what we want done in Washington and vote for him/her, instead of just voting for party? How about we walk next door and say Hi to our neighbor and talk with them a bit about what they want from life? How about we all listen to what is being said by those with whom we disagree and see if there is any truth to it that we can work with?