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I did what I consider to be one of the nerdiest things last night. I still love it though, so I’m going to share. So frequently, I’ll be at home and remember that I need something, but forget to write it down or whatever. So last night, after dinner, I was in the same mall as a Fred Meyer. Fred Meyer’s, by the way, are the equivalent to a perfect combination of your local grocery store and Costco. They’re cheap, they’re fricken enormous, but they also have goods of regular sizes (see previous post about things to avoid while buying at Costco). I knew there were at least a couple things I wanted, so in I went. I proceeded, as I usually do in the grocery store, to wander up and down every aisle. A brief list of what I bought included:

• Shredder (with support for credit cards and up to 6 pages at a time!)
• Cheap slippers for my cold apartment
• Serving dish
• Ground beef
• Bottles of wine so I can seem classier than I actually am
• Tail lights for my car
• Couple of paint chip palettes

And so on. As you can see, a pretty fruitful outing! I certainly could have been more efficient than walking up and down every aisle, but it’s the only way I can feel complete.

I used to think I was the enemy of all marketers, but I have to say I’m probably the customer the most long for. First, I have no short term debt, and my only long term debt is my mortgage. Second, I do alright for myself money wise. Third, I watch and remember way too many TV ads (even with UltimateTV!). Fourth, I’m very quick to believe what people who sound like authorities say. Maybe this is changing as I get older, but I remember thinking that if someone demonstrated on TV that their detergent gets out grass stains, and _I_ have grass stains, then dammit, I’m going to buy their product! Makes sense, no? No. Or does it? It doesn’t. Nonetheless, I definitely tend to be much more brand focused than I ever thought I would be, especially after looking behind the curtain, if you will, and seeing exactly how artificial the entire concept of adding value through brand actually is. Ooo look! Something shiny!

D

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I was in a bit of an interesting discussion the other day about my conversation topics. It seems all I talk about is work and computer stuff. This may be true. However, it led me to think... what do any of us talk about? I mean, you see be blather on here about meaningless nonsense, but does this qualify about actually talking about something else? Part of the problem is that I'm very focused on finishing out this job I'm working on right now and, so, to some degree this is my whole life. I go to work, I work all day, I come home and eat dinner and watch a little TV, and then go to bed. On the weekends, I relax by going out with friends for drinks, or seeing a movie or something similar. I don't feel like I'm leading some kind of sheltered or not fully realized life... it just is the way it is. But if I was going to talk about this with other people, it seems like it'd be pretty boring. Do I bore you? Wait, don't answer that.

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Don’t you hate it when you have a bunch of stuff written in an HTML form, and then the browser fails for whatever reason and you lose it all? Not that this has happened to me…

Saturday was the caucuses for Washington State, and a few thoughts spring to mind.

First, I did not vote. I’ll get to why that is in a minute, but what I’m always amazed by is how disempowered I feel in the national elections. Generally, for senate, house and presidential elections, I’ve lived in places that are overwhelmingly in one direction, be they for or against me. So much so, that I never feel like I have any reason to get out there and vote. This seems to be exacerbated by the recent electoral redistricting, in an incredibly interesting article in The New Yorker. But on the other hand, I read a piece some time ago about the EMpowerment offered by the Electoral College generally. Something along the lines of by living in a smaller state, your votes actually count for more through the Electoral College. Well, I guess that’s a good thing, but it’s a pity I’ve never lived in a small state. I always am so amazed and touched by the pictures of people lining up to vote in elections for the first time, but it never seems to come home for me. This is not to say you can’t make a difference on the local level, but the national levels are another ball game (although, on the local level, I never seem to be able to learn enough about a given issue by the election to make a satisfactory decision; and I’d rather make no decision than an ill informed one.)

Second, I basically don’t care much about the government, except for a couple of key issues. Primarily, I never fail to be amazed at how shortsighted politicians seem to be on big issues. The two big ones are usually the environment and help for the poor, but, most recently, the deficit seems to be taking the lead here. For the environment, basically I think that there’s a sense of it’s worked for this long, it’ll keep working. While that may be true, I doubt that we really want to take a risk with the human population. I mean, there’s almost no chance we could do something that would wipe out all humans, but would we feel comfortable if we wiped out a billion due to mass starvation? We probably would as long as they were not in my backyard. See previous postings re: Dave being a cynic. On help for the poor, it’s basically the exact same thing, except instead of putting money into schools and programs designed to get people other avenues of work, we put money into prisons. I bet $1 spent up front would save us $10 on the back end. The deficit is a whole other issue… I think that it’s roughly around 25% of the tax income to the U.S. government goes to servicing the debt. If we were really concerned about finding a way to get more money for the war, for jobs, for tax breaks etc, shouldn’t we try and mine this down a bit? Again, this is a complete economic novice speaking here, but just reducing deficit should help, shouldn’t it?

Third, and finally, I think I’ve been at odds with this president’s decisions almost as much as any elected official since David Duke. I don’t think he’s a bad guy; he’s just doing what he sees are the best things for the country. Really! People are generally not that evil, especially when working in positions in which they get so much feedback. I’m absolutely sure he thought that what he was doing at any time was probably best for the country. While you may or may not agree, this view tends to give you a much better feeling for what people are doing at any given time.

That said, I’ve probably been as opposed to this president’s policies in on a number of things as any president I can remember (not that I can remember that many). But in the grand scheme of things, it’s not the end of the world; I can keep on living and, though things aren’t ideal, we get another election right now to boot him out. The interesting thing for me is that we couldn’t have identified ANY of these behaviors during the last election cycle. He said what he was going to say, and he got elected. Generally, I just think that there is virtually no correlation between what someone says during an election cycle and what they do in office. This is not news. But what I find to be pretty interesting is that even though I disagree a whole bunch about the policies, it really just hasn’t affected me THAT much. That’s not to say the men and women who have died in Iraq should have died, but who’s to say there wouldn’t be some peace keeping mission, or some other thing that would have taken American lives. Ultimately, it just feels like whomever we elect gets a 4 year chance to prove themselves, and then we either decide to reelect them, or give them the boot. Elections are basically chances to change power, and not necessarily install the guy/gal you want (since you have no idea how that guy/gal will behave until they actually get in office).


D

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Wow. I'm a big fan of this. Pentrix - Videos

I remember in high school seeing people do all sorts of these things all the time, and they actually did it so fast I couldn't watch them enough to get it right. I doubt that in my old age I'll be able to have the hand coordination to pick it up now, but who knows.

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Wow... could an entire campaign be sunk by a single scream? I guess so... Dean Goes Nuts.

I remember when I heard this the first time... I was actually pretty impressed that he was able to name off all the states like that, though I didn't check to see if they were in order of primary. And, to be honest, I actually admired the passion a bit. But I guess I'm the only one.

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What is this? Three posts, in three days? What's next... dogs and cats living together?

First, I saw this on a banner ad today.

Are you really in love? Click our free love meter to find out!

DON'T CLICK ON IT.... it'll only encourage them! But, let me let you in on a little hint. If you have to ask a Web site, the answer is no... or it better be.

Second, and more philosophically, I'm so astounded at how much I thought I knew in the past, and how little I actually knew, now that I look back. I helped start up a company when I was 25... it was the height of the Internet boom and it was what all the cool kids were doing. We had a great first release, got funded, and got a fair bit of hype relatively quickly. When the second version came around, I thought I could move easily into the CTO position and help manage the developers we brought on. Naturally, the second version crashed and burned miserably and, while I wasn't the sole person at the cause of it, my fingerprints were all over it. The interesting part is that at the time it was not like I was blaming everyone else. I thought I knew what I had done wrong, but I was way off.

If I asked you to cut me a piece of metal, or as one of my favorite focus group leaders likes to say, how long a piece of string is, you'd come back with a thousand questions. How big? What kind of metal? What color? and so on. The reason you'd come back with this is because you would have no idea how to tell when you were done without significantly more information. Today, I was going through a bunch of test suites that we have at work, and I realized that this was exactly where I failed in my prior software project. It wasn't that I didn't work enough, or didn't watch the project closely enough, it was that I couldn't tell when the project would be done, and I certainly did not any method to measure progress. We did not even have formal workitems that had to be completed, let alone something as granular as a bug tracker (to actually see what is going wrong). It really is such a simple concept, but so frequently in life we seem to miss it. "I'd like to make more money" you might say... but when are you done? When you get a raise? Two? Ten? And what if you never saw your paycheck? How would you know you ever actually DID get a raise?

I suppose the net of it is experience is a phenomenal teacher, and so on with other cliched phrases. But in this case (as in most cases I suppose), the cliche is accurate. The 2.5 years I've spent at my current job, as well as the 2 years I had at my previous job, really did educate me enormously. And now that I've spent just 6 months as a release manager, and a good amount of time just creating the tools to watch exactly where we are and what where we need to get to, the differences between then and now seem even more extreme. Just FYI, the company _is_ still in business, and doing fairly well (from what I understand). Check them out!

I'm sort of using this space to reflect on how quickly we all learn by doing and how much even a short time of distance can mean to reflection. But I also want to temper any arrogance that I (or anyone else for that matter) might have at all. I'm 29 now, and when I'm 35 I hope to re-read this and say, wow I was a moron then.

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