Monday, August 26, 2013

party aint a party...


I can say without a doubt the world I inhabit now is less bright, less cheery and less of a place I long to be a part of.

Kevin Cotter was a friend, a mentor, a storyteller, a jester and so much more. I hate myself for never acknowledging that to his face, but I know him well enough to understand that he in fact already knew that. I never needed to tell him because his intuition was stronger than most.

I was blessed to spend more time with him as a youngster than as an adult. I honestly I cherish that more for no other reason than the fact that Kevin always had a youthful soul and spirit. As an awkward teen I identified with him more than I believe I ever could as a dour and tired adult. Thankfully that painful discussion of death and finality never happened, and I believe in my soul that it wasn't ever supposed to. He was too joyous of a man to ever let that conversation take place.

Truthfully I knew him casually, but I adored him like family. Kevin Cotter is a special kind of wonderful that only a few people get to know.
You left too early.  I adored you, and always hoped one day to be worthy of your praise as a writer. You had an unusual gift of storytelling and I am eternally jealous and grateful that you always cheered me on. If I am even a quarter of the writer you were, I would be honored. 
You knew even when I was young, that you had my heart in your hands. And you were so careful and so delicate. You never once, not ever, led me to believe that you didn't love me too. As a young, lonely, and awkward pre-teen, too long of leg and clumsy to feel comfortable, you made me feel like a princess more times than I can count. You made me feel radiant and brilliant and special. Every time.
You knew, without my ever needing to tell you, what means to have your first crush acknowledge you. To love you back in the best way possible.  I am forever grateful for never actually needing to tell you this. I don't know if you understand how much I cherished that time together. Then and now, it was always a treat. I am forever your happy lapdog, or nuzzling kitten, or other wonderfully playful but innocent metaphor of unrequited love. You will always be my first superman. My Hero.
I can never tell you how horrible it is to know that the essence of who you are was stolen from you in your last years. That your wit, your candor, your ease of conversation wasn't yours due to that damned tumor lodged so deep in your head. But I know that you were always there. 
Kevin, I hope you know, I never felt you were ill. You were just waiting for the next better thing to come along. Your intuition won out. Now you know more than the rest of us.
I was lucky.

He was luckier.

He got to leave before it got boring. He always did have an ineffable sense of timing.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

the schizhophrenia of black women

I spend a lot of time worrying about how I am perceived by others. I also spend a good deal more of my time hating the fact that I can't be myself.  The frustrating thing about never knowing or never feeling like you are fully yourself is the fact that you are forever left uncertainty.

So you ask yourself questions, pose scenarios, try to understand others all in an attempt to 'fit-in' or at least to understand how you are perceived. Its exhausting work because ultimately you rarely get the chance to decipher what it means to simply be. The freedom have an emotion, a look, a movement and not dissect it is a luxury that I believe I have ever had.

It was made clear to me, very early on, that I was not my own person. That I was going to forever be a representative, and informant, a secret keeper, and an outsider. This is tough stuff for a kid to handle, and I did the best that I could with it. I didn't get any guidance with how to navigate the daily decisions, and what little guidance I got was sometimes naively disingenuous.

So I stuffed it down, pushed it all in and pulled a mask over what I could when I could. I got really good at  performing for others. But I never felt like myself, I never felt safe. I gave up my childhood, my adolescence to the process of being that someone "else." When the pressure became too much I let it out in private ways. In ways that I hoped no one would notice, or if they did would think it attributable to something other than my frustration at simply being. Being a woman and taught that outward expressions of frustrations aren't acceptable I turned inwards, again. Self-destructive behavior is acceptable for a girl, and it became second nature.

I was blessed with a reprieve. A brief time when I got the taste of what it must be like to be someone other than who I am. I got to do things that I was certain I had been denied before because I spent so much of my life busying myself with the concerns of others.  It may sound strange, but for a brief period I did what I wanted, my consequences were my own and I cared very little about what others thought. It was freedom.

Now that I look back on it, I wonder sometimes if this is what its like for most white people in America. You don't have to worry about the little mundane things, like whether or not something you say or write will be received as you meant it or if it will be contorted into some strange amalgam of emotions and perception. That your history is not directly related to your present. That you aren't yolked by a past that had nothing to do with you, and has no daily consequences in how people interact with you. To move about with the freedom of knowing that your actions are your own - and to have it so common to your everyday life that its a subconscious thought. That you don't have to think about the rest of the world, because you already think like you, and you know this deep in your bones as an irrefutable truth.

Now as an adult, I realize that I must cope with this schizophrenic situation. I can never truly be myself, as I don't know who that true self is. I've spent so much of my life deciphering others that I think that I lost myself in the process, maybe. Honestly I'm not even sure Its my problem. I'm starting to think that its yours.
the fact that I've not updated in so long I think has everything to do with the fact that I've been so focused on everything and everyone else other than myself. I'm expecting again, this time a boy, and have begun trudging/walking merrily down the road of adult hood. (whatever that means.)

Having made my "choice" so far so, so good. Its been a grind, and its difficult, but so far my little love is happy and healthy for the attention and interaction than she can get from others. My bigger love on the other hand - he's a superhero for all of the things that I ask of him and he willingly does... for some unforeseen reason. I've taken on more responsibilities (both in work and personal lives) and trying to remind myself what it means to be creative outside of the requirements of my job.

*sigh*

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Weighing options for the future

At some point in our lives, you're going to be asked to make a choice. Now I'm not talking about the "tall, grande or venti" choice... I mean a real choice, the tough choice. If you're lucky, it works out. If you're even luckier it doesn't, and you learn something from it, and you can live to see another day.

Here's the thing, it doesn't always present itself like we're told in literature or by popular media. It will and may appear as a mundane/throwaway decision. Sometimes it's does feel ground shaking, and sometimes not. What I've learned is that you'll never know until after the choice was made whether or not it was that choice. The one that will shape you forever after.

So then when you're faced with something that feels big... like I am now... I've learned to not put too much pressure on it. Just let it be a choice. Not a big choice, just a choice. Now whether or not I follow my own advice is another thing altogether. But I have to try and be Zen about it. Its a choice, its not the "butterfly wing-flap" that will send be careening off a cliff, its only going to be a decision. a small one at that...

Being Zen is more difficult than it sounds. Too much pressure to be without pressure.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Returning to work, with baby in daycare.

Its an odd thing to think in this modern day that I am asked to make a choice. Be a "Stay-at-home-mom", or be a "working-mom." Truthfully to me, both seem like ironies. I am a mom. No matter where I am or what I do, I am someone's mother. But I am being asked to align myself with a choice.

I feel the guilt. I know it deep in my bones about leaving my child with a virtual stranger in the hopes that they will care for my young love in the same way that I would. I hurt when she cries in the mornings when I leave her, and I am near breakdown in the evenings if I am minutes late to see her. I cherish the few precious moments that we have before she sleeps at night and I find myself near tears if I don't get to kiss her goodnight. Does that stop me from leaving each day, not yet. The nightmares are there (and I do have them) about what happens when I can't care for my child, but they aren't yet pungent enough to stop me from wanting to be an adult and live in an adult world.

Besides its too early to say if this will even hold. Its only been day 5 of my new job, post baby. I need to let this marinate more before I get too deep in the psychological aspects of being a 'working-mom.'

Friday, October 08, 2010

What its like to be fat in America today

My husband actually sent this link to me. So far it is the one truly clear statement of what it is like to be 'overweight' in modern day America. The most truthful part is the one that cuts deepest:
"When your significant other tells you you're pretty, or beautiful even, you assume he's saying that because he thinks he should and not because he believes it. Not because you're self-deprecating or have low self-esteem or anything else; you can accept all other compliments from him, about being smart or funny or whatever, and you can even smile and say thank you when he says you're pretty, but you don't internalize it the way you do other compliments, you don't really believe it, because how could it be true?"
I realize that it may be hard to understand, but for a lifetime of being told that you aren't worthy of anything because of your size, its difficult to even put into words what you deal with everyday. The awful thing about it is that I am truly fearful, that my daughter will be stuck in a world where the potential for her weight far 'outweighs' her potential in any other venue. I've been overweight my entire life, and although I promise myself that my daughter won't have a 'fat mommy' I can't delude myself into believing that I'll ever be 'thin.'

Genetically I've been blessed with broad shoulders, long muscular legs, a wide-torso (aka big boobs), and these things are truly blessings... but to the rest of the American public they are curses. Although I'm almost 6' tall, it doesn't make up for the rest of the 'heft' that I've inherited from my heritage of peasant farmers, (on both sides.) Ironically I'm better suited to survive almost anything that nature can throw at me due to these blessings, but according to modern day media, I'm a freak because I weigh over 200 lbs.

ugh. this is horrible. There are times when I wish blinders were available in human form.

Friday, September 17, 2010

She was in fine "Zadow" form. Impatient and a little early to the party

So I gave birth.


Yeah it was interesting... more for the fact that it was so damned fast and for the most part textbook. I've never been "textbook" or normal in any other thing in my life, and for this...this amazingly, painful, wonderful, exhilarating, and exhausting thing... I was for the most part textbook (with the exception of the speed of delivery.)

Now I'm a mom. I'm not sure what that means, or how I'm supposed to be. Strangely enough I'm ready to go back to being me pre-baby... almost. I've had my share of breakdowns, my share of nervous moments and a few frenzied nights. Otherwise I vacillates back and forth between freaking out and pure joy.

I know after next week I'll have more insight to this whole strange biological miracle called birth. For now...I'm just over the moon to have had 7 hours sleep last night. (in chunks... but it still counts)

Thursday, July 01, 2010

I'm expecting... or am expectant...

For those of you who don't know... I am pregnant. This is something that I've been working on (if you can call it work) for some time. It's both for personal and medical reasons that I'm overjoyed with the fact that I can get and am pregnant for the first time in my life.

With that said, here are the details: As of today I am 6 months 3 weeks preggers, with a little girl (we believe) and yes we've already picked out a name. My belly is now the size of a prize pumpkin, and my gas is phenomenally unbelievable. Otherwise I am doing just fine. I am active, healthy and doing pretty much everything that I was doing before I got pregnant, minus the skydiving, flame throwing and rollerskating.

I am, as is my husband, trying to remain as normal as I can be. One of the great things about being pregnant is that it also kind of gives you lee-way to stop and recognize that "normal" is a personal thing that varies from person to person/couple to couple. What I may see as normal, someone else may think of as horribly irresponsible, and yet someone else may see as tame. Truly I have no conception of what I will be like, or what this little alien in my belly will be like, but I've gotta say, its a great impetus to learn how to "let go." This is not as easy as it sounds considering that I am a self-described control freak. As I progress with this process I've learned how truly adaptable the human body and psyche are when faced with change. This is more than just shrugging it off and going "oh well," I mean that when I've given myself the opportunity to take stock of what the hell is going on inside, I'm really amazed.

The human body is pretty darned interesting.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Going back to the drawing board

Part of the sour part of leaving the working world unintentionally is that you do have to revisit all of your older evidence of work past. The difficult part with that is that it is not always consistently available.

Worst part is that because I work kind of frenetically I have stuff all over the place. Case in point I forgot that I had some stuff published with the eLearning guild, (pg 55) as well as with the ASTD. goes to show that I really don't have my stuff together.

I have to hunt this all down and the collate it again into one spot for an online portfolio again. this is not going to be easy.

Monday, November 02, 2009

The beauty of push-button publishing....

For those of you who care, and even for those of you who don't I've recently taken it upon myself, and my husband to renovate a 1929 Cottage.

It's not one of those namby-pamby renovations... i mean gutted - down to the studs renovation. And not only that, but as an exercise in shared responsibility my husband and I will also be blogging the process. I personally hope that it'll be a good exercise for both mine and my husband's writing and cooperative efforts on this house... and it may have unintended but postive side-effects of helping us log and learn from our mistakes.

I will as ever continue for time-to-time make my 'other' entries here, as I have since 2001.

for those of you who are intersted... the blog is http://oaklandshack.blogspot.com

Friday, October 16, 2009

My friend... the blogger!!

My ex-roommate and friend Jess Hemmerly is taking part of, or could be considered at the bleeding edge of this revolutionary thing called "the interwebs"

She's a part of a select group of people who are delving into the details of what the future will be, and how current structures of both political, social and legal will form what that future means. I should be jealous, but I can't be. I'm proud to know someone who'se navel gasing will help me in the future as I'd rather have good people like her at the helm than others I don't know and couldn't trust to by even my mom a drink.

That doesn't mean though that I've got my own opionins on the matter - as her particular form of study is one that I used to be heavily involved in my previous positions, IP law (specifically trademark and copyright) and fair use.

It's one I don't suggest that you get into, as it, along with any form of communication that involves lawyers always devolves into it's own archaic language that is intended to obfuscate, frustrate, and ultimately eliminate any but the most dedicated individuals. The worst part about it, is that if you are one of those determined "know-it-alls" like myself, you tend to get high-minded once you feel like you've cracked the code of what it all means. The quick and dirty version? "What's mine, should be mine. But if you like it, and you ask my permission I'll let you play with it. " but ultimately whenever money's involved it's never that easy.

it's an interesting discussion... I'd say you could learn something about the future of what media may be.... or at least one corner of this discussion...as it builds uniquely on my ongoing internal discussion of how do (the collective) we manage/understand/filter/find information in todays' world?

I've yet to find my position, but all the same its an increasingly interesting discourse that I'll have with pretty much any person who'll let me.

Monday, September 21, 2009

...on how to manage IT geeks... or geeks in general

The key ingredient is 'r-e-s-p-e-c-t' - find out what it means to them... and you'll get what you want.

here's the article in full:

Opinion: The unspoken truth about managing geeks

j.ello

I can sum up every article, book and column written by notable management experts about managing IT in two sentences: "Geeks are smart and creative, but they are also egocentric, antisocial, managerially and business-challenged, victim-prone, bullheaded and credit-whoring. To overcome these intractable behavioral deficits you must do X, Y and Z."

X, Y and Z are variable and usually contradictory between one expert and the next, but the patronizing stereotypes remain constant. I'm not entirely sure that is helpful. So, using the familiar brush, allow me to paint a different picture of those IT pros buried somewhere in your organization.

My career has been stippled with a good bit of disaster recovery consulting, which has led me to deal with dozens of organizations on their worst day, when opinions were pretty raw. I've heard all of the above-mentioned stereotypes and far worse, as well as good bit of rage. The worse shape an organization is in, the more you hear the stereotypes thrown around. But my personal experiences working within IT groups have always been quite good, working with IT pros for whom the negative stereotypes just don't seem to apply. I tended to chalk up IT group failures to some bad luck in hiring and the delicate balance of those geek stereotypes.

Recently, though, I have come to realize that perfectly healthy groups with solid, well-adjusted IT pros can and will devolve, slowly and quietly, into the behaviors that give rise to the stereotypes, given the right set of conditions. It turns out that it is the conditions that are stereotypical, and the IT pros tend to react to those conditions in logical ways. To say it a different way, organizations actively elicit these stereotypical negative behaviors.

Understanding why IT pros appear to act the way they do makes working with, among and as one of them the easiest job in the world.

It's all about respect

Few people notice this, but for IT groups respect is the currency of the realm. IT pros do not squander this currency. Those whom they do not believe are worthy of their respect might instead be treated to professional courtesy, a friendly demeanor or the acceptance of authority. Gaining respect is not a matter of being the boss and has nothing to do with being likeable or sociable; whether you talk, eat or smell right; or any measure that isn't directly related to the work. The amount of respect an IT pro pays someone is a measure of how tolerable that person is when it comes to getting things done, including the elegance and practicality of his solutions and suggestions. IT pros always and without fail, quietly self-organize around those who make the work easier, while shunning those who make the work harder, independent of the organizational chart.

This self-ordering behavior occurs naturally in the IT world because it is populated by people skilled in creative analysis and ordered reasoning. Doctors are a close parallel. The stakes may be higher in medicine, but the work in both fields requires a technical expertise that can't be faked and a proficiency that can only be measured by qualified peers. I think every good IT pro on the planet idolizes Dr. House (minus the addictions).

While everyone would like to work for a nice person who is always right, IT pros will prefer a jerk who is always right over a nice person who is always wrong. Wrong creates unnecessary work, impossible situations and major failures. Wrong is evil, and it must be defeated. Capacity for technical reasoning trumps all other professional factors, period.

Foundational (bottom-up) respect is not only the largest single determining factor in the success of an IT team, but the most ignored. I believe you can predict success or failure of an IT group simply by assessing the amount of mutual respect within it.

The elements of the stereotypes

Ego -- Similar to what good doctors do, IT pros figure out that the proper projection of ego engenders trust and reduces apprehension. Because IT pros' education does not emphasize how to deal with people, there are always rough edges. Ego, as it plays out in IT, is an essential confidence combined with a not-so-subtle cynicism. It's not about being right for the sake of being right but being right for the sake of saving a lot of time, effort, money and credibility. IT is a team sport, so being right or wrong impacts other members of the group in non-trivial ways. Unlike in many industries, in IT, colleagues can significantly influence the careers of the entire team. Correctness yields respect, respect builds good teams, and good teams build trust and maintain credibility through a healthy projection of ego. Strong IT groups view correctness as a virtue, and certitude as a delivery method. Meek IT groups, beaten down by inconsistent policies and a lack of structural support, are simply ineffective at driving change and creating efficiencies, getting mowed over by the clients, the management or both at every turn.

The victim mentality -- IT pros are sensitive to logic -- that's what you pay them for. When things don't add up, they are prone to express their opinions on the matter, and the level of response will be proportional to the absurdity of the event. The more things that occur that make no sense, the more cynical IT pros will become. Standard organizational politics often run afoul of this, so IT pros can come to be seen as whiny or as having a victim mentality. Presuming this is a trait that must be disciplined out of them is a huge management mistake. IT pros complain primarily about logic, and primarily to people they respect. If you are dismissive of complaints, fail to recognize an illogical event or behave in deceptive ways, IT pros will likely stop complaining to you. You might mistake this as a behavioral improvement, when it's actually a show of disrespect. It means you are no longer worth talking to, which leads to insubordination.

Insubordination -- This is a tricky one. Good IT pros are not anti-bureaucracy, as many observers think. They are anti-stupidity. The difference is both subjective and subtle. Good IT pros, whether they are expected to or not, have to operate and make decisions with little supervision. So when the rules are loose and logical and supervision is results-oriented, supportive and helpful to the process, IT pros are loyal, open, engaged and downright sociable. Arbitrary or micro-management, illogical decisions, inconsistent policies, the creation of unnecessary work and exclusionary practices will elicit a quiet, subversive, almost vicious attitude from otherwise excellent IT staff. Interestingly, IT groups don't fall apart in this mode. From the outside, nothing looks to be wrong and the work still gets done. But internally, the IT group, or portions of it, may cut themselves off almost entirely from the intended management structure. They may work on big projects or steer the group entirely from the shadows while diverting the attention of supervisors to lesser topics. They believe they are protecting the organization, as well as their own credibility -- and they are often correct.

Credit whoring -- IT pros would prefer to make a good decision than to get credit for it. What will make them seek credit is the danger that a member of the group or management who is dangerous to the process might receive the credit for the work instead. That is insulting. If you've got a lot of credit whores in your IT group, there are bigger problems causing it.

Antisocial behavior -- It's fair to say that there is a large contingent of IT pros who are socially unskilled. However, this doesn't mean those IT pros are antisocial. On the whole, they have plenty to say. If you want to get your IT pros more involved, you should deal with the problems laid out above and then train your other staff how to deal with IT. Users need to be reminded a few things, including:

  • IT wants to help me.
  • I should keep an open mind.
  • IT is not my personal tech adviser, nor is my work computer my personal computer.
  • IT people have lives and other interests.

Like anyone else, IT people tend to socialize with people who respect them. They'll stop going to the company picnic if it becomes an occasion for everyone to list all the computer problems they never bothered to mention before.

How we elicit the stereotypes

What executives often fail to recognize is that every decision made that impacts IT is a technical decision. Not just some of the decisions, and not just the details of the decision, but every decision, bar none.

With IT, you cannot separate the technical aspects from the business aspects. They are one and the same, each constrained by the other and both constrained by creativity. Creativity is the most valuable asset of an IT group, and failing to promote it can cost an organization literally millions of dollars.

Most IT pros support an organization that is not involved with IT. The primary task of any IT group is to teach people how to work. That's may sound authoritarian, but it's not. IT's job at the most fundamental level is to build, maintain and improve frameworks within which to accomplish tasks. You may not view a Web server as a framework to accomplish tasks, but it does automate the processes of advertising, sales, informing and entertaining, all of which would otherwise be done in other ways. IT groups literally teach and reteach the world how to work. That's the job.

When you understand the mission of IT, it isn't hard to see why co-workers and supervisors are judged severely according to their abilities to contribute to that process. If someone has to constantly be taught Computers 101 every time a new problem presents itself, he can't contribute in the most fundamental way. It is one thing to deal with that from a co-worker, but quite another if the people who represent IT to the organization at large aren't cognizant of how the technology works, can't communicate it in the manner the IT group needs it communicated, can't maintain consistency, take credit for the work of the group members, etc. This creates a huge morale problem for the group. Executives expect expert advice from the top IT person, but they have no way of knowing when they aren't getting it. Therein lies the problem.

IT pros know when this is happening, and they find that it is impossible to draw attention to it. Once their work is impeded by the problem, they will adopt strategies and behaviors that help circumvent the issue. That is not a sustainable state, but how long it takes to deteriorate can be days, months or even years.

How to fix it

So, if you want to have a really happy, healthy and valuable IT group, I recommend one thing: Take an interest. IT pros work their butts off for people they respect, so you need to give them every reason to afford you some.

You can start with the hiring process. When hiring an IT pro, imagine you're recruiting a doctor. And if you're hiring a CIO, think of employing a chief of medicine. The chief of medicine should have many qualifications, but first and foremost, he should be a practicing doctor. Who decides if a doctor is a doctor? Other doctors! So, if your IT group isn't at the table for the hiring process of their bosses and peers, this already does a disservice to the process.

Favor technical competence and leadership skills. Standard managerial processes are nearly useless in an IT group. As I mentioned, if you've managed to hire well in the lower ranks of your IT group, the staff already know how to manage things. Unlike in many industries, the fight in most IT groups is in how to get things done, not how to avoid work. IT pros will self-organize, disrupt and subvert in the name of accomplishing work. An over-structured, micro-managing, technically deficient runt, no matter how polished, who's thrown into the mix for the sake of management will get a response from the professional IT group that's similar to anyone's response to a five-year-old tugging his pants leg.

What IT pros want in a manager is a technical sounding board and a source of general direction. Leadership and technical competence are qualities to look for in every member of the team. If you need someone to keep track of where projects are, file paperwork, produce reports and do customer relations, hire some assistants for a lot less money.

When it comes to performance checks, yearly reviews are worthless without a 360-degree assessment. Those things take more time than a simple top-down review, but it is time well spent. If you've been paying attention to what I've been telling you about how IT groups behave and organize, then you will see your IT group in a whole different light when you read the group's 360s.

And make sure all your managers are practicing and learning. It is very easy to slip behind the curve in those positions, but just as with doctors, the only way to be relevant is to practice and maintain an expertise. In IT, six months to a year is all that stands between respect and irrelevance.

Finally, executives should have multiple in-points to the IT team. If the IT team is singing out of tune, it is worth investigating the reasons. But you'll never even know if that's the case if the only information you receive is from the CIO. Periodically, bring a few key IT brains to the boardroom to observe the problems of the organization at large, even about things outside of the IT world, if only to make use of their exquisitely refined BS detectors. A good IT pro is trained in how to accomplish work; their skills are not necessarily limited to computing. In fact, the best business decision-makers I know are IT people who aren't even managers.

As I said at the very beginning, it's all about respect. If you can identify and cultivate those individuals and processes that earn genuine respect from IT pros, you'll have a great IT team. Taking an honest interest in helping your IT group help you is probably the smartest business move an organization can make. It also makes for happy, completely non-geek-like geeks.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

i've drifted..

The last few months have been hectic. And as a result I've been spending time reviewing, revising and revisiting my world view.


I understand that there are actually people who are out there that read this from time to time, so no worries.. this is all good stuff.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I've found my personal unlevened heaven

http://foodporndaily.com is a genius idea.... the idea of showcasing the one most universal thing that we all love... fooooodddd

http://foodgawker.com/ is a good one as well. but the big glossy moments aren't as satisfying.

this pic: http://foodporndaily.com/pictures/view/spice-rubbed-slow-cooked-pork-shoulder made me stop in my tracks and drool...