Archive for November, 2010

Fall Recap

November 27, 2010

Well, this weekend marks the end of gun deer season here in Wisconsin. This was my first year hunting solo, I didn’t get anything. Actually, I didn’t even see a single deer. While I wasn’t gone for 9 days solid like some people I know, I spent some hours sitting on some neighbor’s land just adjacent to ours, and I did a day of driving with some guys I barely know. My blaze orange vest is new and missing that faded hue that comes from Experience. My rifle is shiny yet. I hope that both will change in time.

Reflecting on the firsts of this makes me think back on our past year. We’ve lived in the country for just over a year now. I think I can safely say I’m on my way to the kind of life I envisioned: I went hunting. Yesterday morning I spent a couple hours cutting wood and loading sand into the back of my truck. The plow is on and ready to go, and hopefully the truck will work this winter. We had a decent garden this year and learned a lot. (Lesson One: Weed the dang thing thoroughly). I’ve been working on cars, and repaired our deck.

I wanted a slower pace of life moving out here, I can’t say that has really been the case, at least most of 2010. Business is slowing a bit with the holidays, and with that, hopefully some more time to reflect and take care of the things around that need to be taken care of. Next year will bring new challenges and adventures. I am surprised at the ease of balance between Remote and Wired living. I cut wood, I come inside and stream a Netflix movie. I think I once thought the two should be mutually exclusive.

Perhaps a moment of reflection is currently allowed because the Baby (more accurately: the Toddler) is asleep and my wife is out and about. Time to think; the question, for me, as always is “am I who I want to be?” This moment is rare: at least today, at least right now, I can look out at the snow on the hillside, look around my land and say “I’m on my way.”

Different people, different problems

November 23, 2010

People are rarely glad to see their IT person; they see their IT person because there is a Problem.

IT employees generally have a reputation as arrogant and slovenly. Occasionally smelly, too. I’ve striven [sidenote: I have a hard time with “strive”. I’ve…strove? I’ve…strived? I’ve…stroven?] to relate to people (in IT you say “users”) and I’ve realized that the people I help are both frustrated and often embarrassed about whatever their issue is. Frustrated, because something is not working right. Embarrassed, because so many people feel like they should be able to just figure it out. A computer occupies a weird space in modern life; it’s not exactly an appliance, or a car, but it is just as common. It is sort of approachable (at least more so than car maintenance for so many people today) but troubleshooting is mingled with the absolute terror that Something could definitely Go Wrong.

I encounter so many people who say “Oh, I know enough to be dangerous” in regards to their computers who would not think twice to call someone for a car problem or a broken appliance. Not that computers should be left solely to the “experts”…but misplaced confidence can be a bad thing.

But that last paragraph reveals something I am concerned about-the creeping arrogance. One thing that allows me to do my job well is my ability to empathize with people and help them out of their particular problem (hopefully!) without making them feel bad or stupid. But there are times when I want to throttle someone, to demand to know how they got to where they are.

I have a few clients who say “oh, I don’t care, just make it work,” and in some ways that is a better approach–we both know where we stand. They call, I fix it and go.

I’ve dealt with a particular person recently who displays an astonishing lack of knowledge about their own position. I am not an accountant, nor do I have any knowledge about this company’s custom financial software. The only information I can glean from this person is “Something is different” in the software at the moment. When I inquire as what should be happening, they are unable to explain or demonstrate how things should be; just different then they currently are.

Usually this means I’m not asking the question the best way, but I’ve run out of ways to ask and cajole; I’m met with blank stares and the same explanation “it” should be “different”.


November 9, 2010

Growing up I remember when a local radio station changed formats. It was my favorite station, and one day I turned it on to groove to some Oldies, or at least whatever my probably-around-10 years old self did when listening to the radio. (I’m fairly certain it involved Legos.) [sidebar: notice that there are essentially zero stations that refer to the music they play as ‘Oldies’ any more?] Either way, as radio stations rarely give any notice to listens when formats change, on this particular day the station simply played David Bowie’s “Changes” all day. I was young and assumed something was wrong, so I remember tuning in again and again throughout the day, wondering where the music was.

Anyway, whenever I think of change now, that stupid song gets stuck in my head.

I pretty much hate that song now.

I’ve recently gone full-time freelance with my job. A Big Perk of that was supposed to be no more traveling two days a week. Well, my very first week of not traveling I got a call from a client who would pay well and be a short-term, once-a-week gig that would require…traveling. At least for the next couple months.
I took it, knowing that you pretty much never want to turn work down, but in some ways I still feel as if I am waiting to “really” start working fulltime for me.

The good news is I have been busy enough that even as things slow down for the holidays we’ll be just fine. Which is what I’m sure you were all concerned about.