Archive for October, 2007
So one of those things that I don’t really put out there that much is that I’m interested in Unitarian Universalism.
My first interest was peaked by Amanda Bennett of Lambda Union. She mentioned wanting to go to a UUA congregation a couple of times while we were hanging out in the Lambda Union Office back in the day.
The first congregation I actually got to was the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta, while I was in town on an internship at Horizon Theatre. The thing that really struck me about the place is the person who welcomed me mentioned that I’m welcome, but if this doesn’t fit me they encouraged me to look elsewhere. This floored me, essentially because it was contrary to the usual response in organized religion that “we want you to be here”.
I wandered a little bit and visited Miami Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship a couple of times, although it never quite clicked, and at that time sleep was more valuable than it is now.
The whole UU bug really bit me once I moved to Cincinnati and kind of started going to St. John’s Unitarian Universalist Church where I eventually became one of the leaders of YADA, the “Young Adult Discussion and Action” (err, the Action was a bit thin as I remember, and interestingly enough I’m still listed as a leader…) Of course doing this my own way I never actually joined St. Johns.
After making the Seattle leap, I started looking around again, visiting the West Seattle Unitarian Universalist Fellowship a couple of times. But that wasn’t really the right fit for me..
Last week I finally dragged my ass over to the University Unitarian Church. This place really feels right. Last week I also practiced with the handbell choir for the first time. I really really really really enjoyed playing handbells. I played them for about seven years in middle and upper school and really missed them. I was pleased and impressed that the group respects each other enough to actually practice intently and put heaps of effort into it. Very little annoys me more than a musical group where people don’t respect each other and put time and effort into learning and performing
Ack, so I got off on a huge tangent that I never initially intended to go off on.. But there you have my UU history.. The point that I was actually wanting to get to is that this congregation and bell practice are something that I really think I could make part of a routine, and so far I’m two for two in making it a routine..
In many ways I have been resistant to routines, not seeing much value in them. I remember a counselor who I saw in my summer in Atlanta telling me that routines are a space from which we can build upon, and which provide us stability. (She should have made this point with a 2×4. No seriously counselors need to hit their patients over the head every so often so that the patients know the counselor is serious. Sure its odd from an ethics standpoint, but if your counselor hits you over the head you probably will remember what they told you. (either that or you’ll forget from the trauma, in either case it prevents you from having to kick yourself later.))
The other piece of this is last week I parlayed this into a visit to the library (right across the street from the church) and a run down to Pikes Place Market on the way home where I bought some produce and honey…
I finally feel that I’m making some progress and gaining some traction in meeting my goals, which really thrills me.
I’m just conscious of the fact that I need to keep putting forth effort to change in the ways I want to change.
Playing handbells is one of those.
I’ve been ruminating on the relationships between employers and employees.
To no ones surprised I’ve come to the conclusion that its horribly unbalanced.
On the other hand I think the balance between Unions, employees, and employers sucks just as much.
I remember one of the guys I used to work with who had worked with unions on the employer side said, “You get a contract then you let them hang themselves by it.” Basically the employer gets what they need out of it, and you start terminating people for violations. Even if in a non unionized situation an employer would make accommodations.
I don’t have any broad sweeping suggestions, but two areas that have been bugging me.
The imbalance on expected notice. An employer usually will give no notice to an employee when it terminates an employee, but will expect two weeks notice when an employee terminates their employment.
My take on this is an employer should expect what they give. If you want your employees to give you two weeks notice, put in your policy manual that you will give them two weeks notice. (Or two weeks severance pay for anything but gross negligence.)
If I were to write a policy for my company it would go something like this:
An employee is expected to use their best judgement as to how far in advance to provide notice terminating their employment. We ask that you provide at least twenty-four hours notice, and take into consideration major projects and workflow. Former employees are also requested to provide email and telephone consulting, that will be reimbursed at two times the employee’s equivalent hourly rate.
Yeah, its unorthodox, but it also reinforces freedom, while encouraging people to take responsibility.
The other imbalance (or perhaps I should just call it rudeness) is employers who don’t provide a “no thank you” note/letter/email/phone call to applicants who are not selected. Ideally any employer would provide this to every potential applicant. At a bare minimum an employer should contact any applicant who was interviewed but not selected. This is simple courtesy, and in the age of application and resume management systems it is unforgivable that they’re not programmed to automatically send an email to those who are not selected for a position. Email more or less a fixed cost, not a variable one like a letter or a phone call.
Bottom line. Employers: Learn the golden rule.
I’ll admit I’ve come to my wit’s end about ideas about Iraq. I still stand by my position that we shouldn’t have invaded Iraq, but now that we’re there we United States Citizens have a responsibility to the country and the people who live and lived there.
I recognize that I have little power to change what happens in Iraq. I can write on my blog, write my senator, or join a protest. Of course there are options that require more commitment, such as joining a humanitarian relief agency that does work in Iraq or with Iraqi refugees, or joining the Army.
I do one thing that actually keeps me connected and aware of my responsibility as an owner of the United States Government. I consistently read the Names of the Dead. It is a small pittance really, but it is a tendril that keeps me connected.
I’m surprised really on how often there is some way that personally connects me to the soldiers who have died in Iraq. In today’s article 22 year old Vincent A. Madero of Port Hueneme, California was the sole confirmed death. Those who knew me at Chiquita will recognize that I was the Logistics Coordinator for Chiquita’s trucking operations in Port Hueneme. I’ve been there, I’ve probably driven down, or walked on the same streets as Specialist Madero.
Reading the Names of the Dead has become a requirement and a high priority when I see in my RSS reader that it has been updated.
It is the least I can do to pay my respects.
If you watch me use a computer for long enough you’ll probably note that I’ll try not to use Copy and Paste. Especially in instances where I’m pasting in information but don’t have visual confirmation of what I’ve pasted. (e.g. pasting into a password field)
Instead you’ll see me going Cut, Paste into the field I just cut from, Paste into the field I need to place the clipping.
The reason I do this is I’ve run into enough instances where I think I have copied something, but upon pasting it I realize that I haven’t actually copied it.
The more and more I think about this the more and more I believe this is a design flaw that has been propagated all over many different operating systems. The key flaw is computers should provide some type of confirmation that they have received a user’s input and have acted upon it. (or are unable to act upon it.) As far as I know no OS provides this with their copy functionalities. The feedback doesn’t have to be bombastic or very explicit, but it should be there when you want to see it. With copying from text the feedback could be as simple as a sound or perhaps removing the selection on the text that was copied.
I’m not an interface designer, but I’ve been around computers and trained others on using them long enough that I feel I’ve got some intelligence about the matter.
I’ve learned that I share two major pieces of my core identity with a former classmate of mine from middle school and upper school. We’ both hold ourselves to high standards and we’re both gay
L, my former classmate and I were good friends, but we drifted apart in upper school. I don’t remember anything specific that pushed us apart.
I was chatting with another recently single friend in Columbus Ohio and I recommended okcupid.com to look at guys personal ads. Just out of curiosity and to validate that okcupid is as useful in Columbus as it is in Seattle I did a search for gay guys in Columbus.
I noticed a picture that looked familiar. It could have been L, but it also might not have been. (We’even’t seen each other in eight years.) In laziness and coyness I just left him a woo, a simple show of interest. A little more coyness later, I’ve confirmed that yes, this is L.
L has felt guilty for abandoning me in a “dire circumstance”. The thing is I can’t and won’t fault him with abandoning me. It would have been nice if we had been closer friends, but the closet is a strange place and I find it hard to fault anyone for their actions or lack thereof when they are in the social straight jacket of the closet.
So thats where I see L as being hard on himself. Now for the trickier and more personal part.
I don’t want to share this next part, but part of me says I must.
This occurred when I was 17, during the summer of 1998. A period when I knew L, and went to school with him. I had at this point started flirting around with Yahoo! Personals and I met up with D, a guy who went to Wright State University, at the local Don Pablos. We had a good lunch, then he invited me over to his place. Being naive in the patterns of gay relationships I agreed, and left my car at Don Pablos, and rode with him, to his apartment. Once we got there I had no idea where I was.
We had sex. It felt good, liberating really. I remember having confused tears of relief. Then it turned to a point where I wanted it to stop and it didn’t. I still remember cuddling with D, watching the red LED clock tick off the minutes.
I had a meeting at work that I needed to go to. It took far more conjoling and nagging than it should have to get a ride back to my car. I wanted to get a shower, but he said I’d get used to the feeling. I still remember the meeting. It was canceled, but replaced with tasks that needed done. I remember working in the office at McDonald’s on some plan to speed the drive-thru up.
I remember wanting a shower.
This story still makes me uneasy even today, ten years later.
I remember telling this to a counselor when I was in Atlanta in 2002. I berated myself for being stupid, too eager, letting myself place myself in a position where that could happen. She told me I was too hard on myself, that I was being unreasonable judging my 17 year old self by my 21 year old standards.
To be honest ten years later I still think I was stupid and naive, but that experience still drives the personal rules I follow when dating.
Thank you D for teaching me to be cautious and untrustworthy of people I’ve just met. Fuck you for the way in which you did it. Bastard.
So thats it. I often have high standards, but even so I sometimes fall short of them.
Recent revelations at my current workplace and personal life have brought back memories of working through the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
I know for many Katrina signifies failure and death on the Gulf Coast.
For me it signifies success in a blast fire oven.
When Katrina hit I was working in Logistics and getting stuff moved around the country. Usually this job was all about negotiation and getting everyone on the same page and with their ducks in a row to get things done.
Katrina instantly multiplied the number of pages ten-fold and sent the ducks into a flurry of action and interaction unmatched even by the sub-molecular flurry in a nuclear reactor.
It is amazing how much the usual political bullshit, turf wrangling, and general friction points get ground out and expunged damn near instantly when extreme situations arise.
Honestly much of working through Katrina’s aftermath is a blur.
There is one interaction that I still remember.
I was in the office late managing to get a few ducks in a row to get bananas from our Florida port to Atlanta. This wasn’t something we usually did as Atlanta used to be served from Gulfport, Mississippi. Our Gulfport operation had lost the gamble with Katrina when a casino was dropped upon it. Moving this sourcing point was no easy feat, as it doubled the transportation distance and time over pulling them from Gulfport.
I was working with one of our trusted, long term partners, an Atlanta based family run company. Usually we worked with MC, the operating manager, and son of the couple that ran the business.
However MC has volunteered and was driving one truck of a convoy of relief supplies into Gulfport, so I was working with HC, his father.
HC was an older man, sharp, personable, although like many his age he lagged in his computing abilities.
I remember I was talking with HC at the end of the day putting the finishing touches on getting the Florida-Atlanta lane ready to go and getting all the ducks in a row. HC and I had worked through a number of issues and we were wrapping up the call. When, he meekly asked,
“Nick, can I ask you a favor?”
“Sure HC, what can I do?”
“MC and our dispatcher are out of the office and they’re the ones that pull the loads,” trucker speak for the exact details needed to get a truckload of product from point A to B, “off the computer, and he’s not here.” HC paused and uncharacteristically meekly, and a bit embarrassed he continued, “I dont’ know how to do that.”
I quickly offered to pull the loads for him and fax them to him.
He held himself to high standards and was uncomfortable letting me see a deficiency. For me this was the simplest problem I had solved all day, it was a relaxing relief solving a simple problem. But for him, it was a compromising of his high standards.
I’m not sure if that was the last interaction I had with HC or not. It surely is the last one I remember.
He passed away on Christmas Day 2006.
I’m sure he never compromised on his high standards.
So I just completed another trip around the sun since I became a separate being. (For the purists out there, I’m declaring this about seven hours early. If you knew that, umm you better be my parents or you know a little too much about me..)
Nothing amazing, it feels like just another day.. I cheated and opened the gifts my parents sent me last night before I went to bed. Very cool snazzy stuff. ;-)