Being Honest With Myself

One of the guys who moderate my FireWall-1 Gurus Mailing List wrote these couple of paragraphs in a private mail exchange. I felt the advice given herein was good enough to share with the rest of the class:

I have been through some rough times and have learned the hard way (enough to risk my job) that it is better to make a clear decision and do what ever you choose to do to do well and let others do the rest. Trying to commit yourself to something which you can not find the time for is not good for those who think they can count on you and not good for yourself either.

Ever since I have been more clearer on this, I feel better about myself and others do feel better about me as well because they can rely on me without second guessing. But I have to admit this was not an easy fight. Me being my toughest opponent to overcome.

What I am finding interesting is that the various advice I am starting to read lately involves the simple, yet very difficult task of being honest with yourself and being honest with yourself regularly. The techniques at 43 Folders for bringing your inbox down to zero, for instance, are all about being honest with yourself when looking at email. Are you going to act on it? Is there some action that this email represents? Well get it done and get that inbox empty! While my inbox isn't exactly zero--it does get there sometimes--but it is definitely a lot more manageable now that I ensure that I manage it daily and keep the message count down into the single digits. While it hasn't made me completely ecstatic, it has made my life seem a little less hectic.

Being honest with myself is tough, as this post I wrote about moving the FireWall-1 content on my site to cpug.org shows. It took me a long time to make the realization that post represents. Of course, some people lie to themselves for a lifetime.

There are plenty of areas in my life where I need to be a bit more honest with myself, I will admit. However, at least I am seeing the need to do it, which is a step up from before. :)

The Ten Commandments

For the past several years, ABC in the US has shown the legendary Charlton Heston / Yul Brynner flick The Ten Commandments. Even 50 years later, this movie is still quite a cinematic feat. The special effects definitely show their age, but I'm sure they were great for their time. The acting is top-notch and the story is, of course, as timeless as The Bible.

Another Day-Before Easter in Seattle

When I lived in California, rain pretty much caused activities to grind to a halt. Here in the Seattle area, things generally happen rain or shine. Today was no exception as our neighborhood had our annual Easter Egg hunt in the rain and had a fairly good turnout. Even the Easter Bunny sat out in the rain and took pictures. My daughter didn't go because she's a little bit too young to be out in the rain for that long.

And of course the rain continued for my son's tee-ball pictures, which had individual pictures done under tarps and the team pictures done out in the rain. I feel sorry for the kids who had to get on both knees in the mud. I also feel sorry for the parents who have to wash the white pants the kids some teams had. Fortunately, Jaden's team wears black pants and he didn't have to kneel.

Tee-ball is a hard sport to do in the rain, though, so we didn't have our Saturday afternoon game today. That and, after dealing with pictures in the rain and the Easter Egg hunt, we weren't particularly interested in being in the rain anymore. My son and I went home and played Monopoly where he once again managed to beat me.

A Long Week

This has been one of the more difficult weeks I've had in a while. I've been sleeping far more than I usually do this week just due to the exhaustion I have been feeling at the end of the day. Part of it is the amount of work that I've been doing, part of it is some of the emotional turmoil going on with a friend of mine.

This weekend, my wife is out of town attempting to enjoy herself with a couple of friends. That leaves me taking care of the kids, which isn't so bad, but between the lousy weather and being the end of Spring Break, not all of our usual weekend activities are available. It is a bit of a challenge to keep them entertained and get everything else done too.

Last night was a bit of a challenge as I ended up having to strip and remake my daughter's bed while holding her. Nothing like a bit of barf to make things interesting. Today was a bit of a challenge because my son and I were butting heads more often than usual--it is sometimes so painfully obvious that Jaden is my kid it's scary.

On the plus side, Jaden and I played Monopoly and I got soundly beaten by him. I just wasn't getting good dice rolls. He managed to build up just enough so that a fatal visit to Pennsylvania Avenue was enough to bankrupt me. Since he's still learning the ropes--after all, he's not even 6 yet--I aml ooking forward to the day where he can beat me totally unassisted and I can actually unhandicap myself. My wife thinks I play "too hard" with him, though, but she obviously doesn't know how I play when I play for real. What's scary is how much of the strategy I am "teaching" him is already starting to sink in.

A Positive Week

Overall, I have to say this has been a productive week in the office. I managed to get a lot done, make some positive "first impressions" on a person that has the potential to be a future boss, and received encouraging news about my future. Considering I've heard and seen a lot of bad news over the past few months, it's nice to know my employer still values my services. The news I received undeniably confirms that.

It was not all positive this week, though. A co-worker in a different group passed on this week, losing his long and drawn-out battle with cancer. Given everything this person went through during the end of his life on this world, he was truly an inspiration. Even has his health deteriorated and he experienced what can be best described as bad luck, he was always positive and didn't complain about his situation. I am happy to have known him and hope that he finds peace in the afterlife.

Nothing Like a New Challenge

Today a co-worker and I had lunch with someone that offered me anopportunity that I haven't had in quite a while: basically a new job.My day job acquired another company recently and this new group hassome support positions open. The products this division supports is abit different than my current area of expertise. No big deal, I canalways learn new products. What they need is someone who has a generalunderstanding of networking, which I definitely have. A co-worker ofmine also has this expertise and is in the process of transitioninginto this group.

Transitioning within a large company givesyou a lot of the benefits of getting a new job without a lot of thedownsides, namely the loss of seniority and redoing your entier benefitpackage. It's also good for the new group because you are basically aknown quantity and they don't have to go through as much red tape toget you. It's a win-win.

This manager I had lunch with wasparticularly gung-ho. "When can you start?" he asks us. This co-workerof mine will probably transition in a month or so. The project I amcurrently on is winding down, but probably won't wind down until theend of June at the earliest. There is no way I could transition beforethat. I have to get some people in a different office up to speed totransition my work to them--something that already in the pipelineanyway, but it takes time.

I was feeling a bit rushed intomaking a decision about this. I could totally sense the urgency in thismanager. I have to say, he was extremely high energy, clearly knew themarket, and would be a great person to work for. I know that I have alittle bit of time to think about it, so I'm not going to make any rashdecisions. But it looks like a great opportunity that, unlike mycurrent project, appears to have some life to it. And I got scared fora little bit and even a little excited.

I think I nowunderstand what it is that I've been missing for a while: a newchallenge to conquer. A new product. A new situation. New people towork with. New customers. New situations. For too long now I haveexperienced "too much" of the same. The same customers. The sameproblems. I'm just bored. I think it's the reason I lost my desire towork with Check Point FireWall-1 (though, ironically, I installed ittoday for the first time in two years).

I suddenly understandwhy a friend of mine is big into working in small startups and thenleaving after they reach a certain point in their evolution. Iunderstand why people change job every few years. I understand whypeople are serial entrepreneurs. The thought of a new challenge mustenergize them.

I remember some of my "new challenges" and how itgave me some extra energy. I remember when I first started at my dayjob in 1999. I knew I had a bit to learn, but I was also good at what Idid and I had something to prove--that I could be effective workingseveral hundred miles away. I remember in 2003 when I was given anopportunity to try something new with Knowledge Management. I didn'tknow how over my head I was going to get when I started, but I embracedit and took it on as a new challenge. I ultimately ended up backsupporting products again a little over a year later, which itself wasa new challenge due to the fact it was a different product. Each one ofthose changes was an infusion of energy.

I think I understandwhy I like new gadgets: they too can be a new challenge. Unfortunatelytheir challenge is short-lived since they tend not to be too hard tofigure out and decide if I want to integrate it into my daily life ornot.

Bottom line: my day job needs a new challenge. Fortunately, I see it on the horizon.

The Ever-Evolving Job

As many of you know, my day job is with a large, multinationalcompany. I didn't know how things would progress whe I started in early1999, but it has been quite an adventure that has stretched mycapabilities and even my endurance. Having a family to support(hopefully) increases your constitution for dealing with job adversity.At least you have some reason for enduring it all.

Meanwhile,some changes are afoot for my job. It's fairly clear what I will bedoing for the next few months. It is unclear what the future beyondthat holds. It is quite likely I will be repurposed as I have been inthe past. Some possibilities have been thrown out, but I clearly needto flesh those out in detail. That is something I hope to accomplishthis week in the office.

Meanwhile, some projects I am involvedwith at Voxilla are coming along quite nicely. I am looking forward tothose projects seeing the light of day. Can't say much about them, ofcourse, but it is nice to see the progression.

Walk The Line

I finally got a chance to watch the movie about the life of Johnny Cash. I personally liked the movie. Maybe I enjoy seeing a bit of the "reality" of a famous person, which isn't always pretty. I also didn't mind the music either, which this movie had a lot of. I don't usually listen to Johnny Cash-style music, but I enjoy many of Johnny Cash's songs.

My wife, on the other hand, doesn't understand why this movie is popular. The thought it was too long and a bit strange, but at least the strangeness was based on a person's actual life rather than something completely made up. But then again, most of the "popular" movies we've watched together she didn't get either.

The Electric Company

Up until a few years ago, there was this huge hole in my memory. There was this Nike commercial on that played a very familiar sounding song. It has two heads saying B, OING, BOING over and over. I knew that looked very familiar, but damn it I couldn't remember what show even though it was so familiar and I loved it so much. Edit: Here's the commercial on YouTube

Since then,of course, I realized the show was none other than "The Electric Company." It was a show produced by Childrens Television Workshop (now Sesame Workshop) in the 1970s that ran on PBS stations into the mid 1980s. The show's primary goal was to teach kids who graduated fromSesame Street (another fine show from Sesame Workshop) how to read. The show used a series of comedy sketches, animation, and just plain silliness to get the point across. Of course I didn't know it at the time, but the show had some star power, both current at the time (RitaMoreno, Bill Cosby), and "future" stars (Morgan Freeman), not to mention some state-of-the art animation technology (Scantimate, according to Wikipedia).

What amazes me is that up until the release of Electric Company on DVD, it was impossible to find any legitimate mechanism by which these olds hows could be viewed. There were various sites on the Internet that hosted sound and video clips, there were some butchered episodes run on the Noggin network, and who knows what else.

Personally, I think this would be great for my son, which is getting closer to age 6and is learning to read. I think even if he gets nothing out of it, he will enjoy the show because it was just a fun show to watch, even with the focus on fixing grammar.

Something About Live Music

This evening, I was looking around on my hard drive for things to cleanout. A while ago, I had downloaded video of the four songs Pink Floyd played at the Live 8 concert in London. And when I say Pink Floyd, I mean Pink Floyd with Roger Waters too! Watching that video reminded me of when I went and saw PinkFloyd sans-Roger Waters in 1993, as well as some of the other acts I've seen.

I really like music played live in front of a real audience. A sizable percentage of the credit card debt I accumulated in the 1990s went toward bootlegged recordings of Pink Floyd and a few other bands. While I stopped buying that stuff years ago, I've still got most of the stuff I bought. When I get the chance, I enjoy listening to it. I didn't go to too many concerts back in my free-spending days, most likely because the bands I liked didn't tour then. I did get to see a couple of favorites, though.

I think what I like about live music is that you're never quite sure what you're gonna get, even with songs you know and love. Sometimes it's a nice surprise, sometimes it's not so great.

"And nobody knows what it's really like but everyone says it's great" -- They Might Be Giants

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