Meesha’s Friday Feast

I dedicate this Fridays Feast to Meesha, because he loves it.

Name a color you find soothing.
Blue and green… the ocean :)

Using 20 or less words, describe your first driving experience.
I put the heavy semi into gear and did not know about the air breaks.

What material is your favorite item of clothing made out of?

Main Course
Who is a great singer or musician who, if they were to come to your town for a concert, you would spend the night outside waiting for tickets to see?
Nobody really… I have been disappointed by listening to acts live, over and over… not a big deal for me.

What is the most frequent letter of the alphabet in your whole name (first, middle, maiden, last, etc.)?
D and N are tied.

The Nice Programmer

I dislike the fact that many people think that computer programmers are hermits that like to live in little cubicles under the fluorescent lights. What does not help is that there are plenty of them that do think that computer users are just the enemy trying to break down the precious system.

The reality is that programming is something that requires concentration. To truly solve a problem with good logic you need to use your brain power to make sense of the steps that have to be taken. It sometimes takes time and then peace to be able to translate the thought into actual code.

Some programmers are always coding in their heads. I have actually woken up in the middle of the night with the solution to a problem and if I have remote access I log in and either solve the problem or send an email to myself. Trying to remember the next day is kind of difficult. Some programmers like to walk while they are solving some logic issue in their head so to other it looks like they are in a completely different world. I don’t pace when I think, however I do listen to music a little too loud and the more input the more I am able to work out a problem, but I am not the norm.

I think that this is where the problem with communicating with the mythical creature the programmer is comes from. You see a dude walking down the hall that does not acknowledge the world around him as a rude person. I think both sides feed off each other and the disconnect just becomes greater and greater. I have seen it in several organizations.

One of the most frustrating things as a person is to be ignored. While users would probably think that they are ignored the most on the equation, programmers are also only approached when they are needed for something. Like Milton in Office Space, they are the lasts ones to get the piece of cake if they even get any.

I will never forget the day that a user had a problem at one of my previous employers and I showed up at her desk. She was a middle age woman that I later found out was actually married to a programmer. When I said hi to her and asked her for more details on what was wrong with her report she looked almost scared. She then said, a programmer never talks to us. I later found out who the worse offender was in our department who even refused to talk to the help desk people.

I cannot solve the problem for everyone but I did find out how to make it better, at least for me. Start communication with people on a regular basis. I am not talking about full on water cooler talks with people but just saying hello in the morning when you walk in the office. I have observed that most people do not do this, or don’t like it. A good morning goes a long way into making you look more personable, specially for a programmer.

Money Talk

Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems is probably one of the biggest pieces of wisdom to come out of a rap song. Even thought not many people will come out and ask you, how much money you make, plenty will start the getting to know you process with what do you do for a living. I don’t think that there is anything wrong with that, the reality of relationships is that they all have some kind of basis in also economic principles. If I cannot afford to go to a luxurious vacation, or the trendiest night club where a bottle is over 100 bucks I am going to have to decline invitations. However, it is all personal choice and not a rule. I know people that have plenty of money but still prefer to go to the local watering whole.

Most employers have a do not talk about your salary policy. I completely agree with that notion and never want to find out what my coworkers make. It is bad every single way you look at it, if you make more they feel bad, if you make less you feel bad, if you make the same probably both of you are going to feel either more qualified or harder working than the other. I also saw how a company finding out the IT department’s salary wreck havoc on many relationships there.

My first job out of college I was lucky enough to have landed before I graduated. At graduation I had a job and an above average salary for a recent graduate. While this was not the best job I have ever had it did teach me a lot about what it is to be a professional. I learned many lessons that I apply even today, and even though at the end I felt like money wise I was getting the shaft, I still have to thank them for the opportunity and experience I gained in my years there. We supported a sister company with their system. It was a call center and many of the people that work there became friends with us over time. We would go there to set up something new on their computers or just to install new servers. I used to go there a lot because of some sales call where they needed technical people as well as doing some business analysis for new reports and features.

The president’s secretary was a chatty girl that always wanted to know more about you than what was really appropriate for a professional setting. I did not dislike her but I always had my guard up when I was around her. For corporate reasons the company decided to merge health plans, our company had 10 employees the call center about 100. The little snag came about when a report with our salaries came through the front desk before being handled by HR. The president’s secretary took it upon herself to disseminate our salaries to certain people and before the end of the day we were the talk of the call center.

Our next visit there was not pleasant. Some people had looks of resentment on their face, others were right out rude towards us. “You make too much money seemed to be the theme.” Nobody wanted to exchange pleasantries and we became relegated to only communicating to the people that were at “our level.” It was sad, but it was a reality I had to learn, some people cannot handle the thought of you having something they don’t. Envy is a powerful demon to have descend upon you… it can override even knowing a person for months, even years.

Since leaving that first job I worked on consulting and made almost triple what I made on that first job. I was never completely happy with consulting for a set firm because at times they put their needs before the client’s needs. I have enjoyed consulting independently a lot more, but what I truly love is working for a set company where I am part of the staff. I do not make nearly as much as I could have if I consulted but I am very happy… more money means a lot more pressure plus a lot more traveling and that gets old quickly.

One of the past companies I worked for I was making good money but not my best paid job. I tried not to think about what other people made, we had a pretty large department and I had made some personal relationships there. My boss ruined that when he informed me while giving me a review that I made a lot more money than the other people that worked there. It was a strategy to make me swallow a 3% raise when I was really expecting something around 6%. After the speech of insurance and other potential bonuses he dropped that nugget on me. It weighted heavily on me that I made more money than others. While the biggest reason for me making more money was because I had some very specialized certifications the company need to be supported, it did not feel fair. Some of the people working there had been loyal to that company for more than 5 years and now I knew what range they were on. One of my friends there told me he was interviewing and I was happy for him until it did not pan out because he was not going to make much more money and the move meant more drive time. He told me how much he was offered and even that was about 20K less than what I made… it made me feel pretty horrible because he was a very hard worker that was dedicated to doing a good job… maybe he did not have as wide range of skills than I have and some of the technologies he was working on were outdated, but overall I felt we should have been closer in range.

Many companies clean up their IT department as soon as they are getting too expensive. It is not an uncommon practice that almost fuels the job hopping IT professionals are sometimes famous for. You get new unexperienced people and pay them very little and let got of your seasoned people that are costing you too much. I am lucky that I don’t have to worry about these kind of problems anymore and that I have no clue what the other people at my company make. Ignorance is truly bliss when it comes to how much other people make.

Exciting weekend

But can I get an extra day? We had tons of fun this weekend, and it went by flying. Friday I did a little SSBB playing with a buddy while Bea watched Arrested Development. Saturday she actually had to work, so I was a good husband and did all the laundry and got my Warrior to 26!

Then in the afternoon we headed to see the Royals, but ended up heading to 75th street brewery to watch the rest of the game. While we both like baseball, we don’t want to freeze our noses off when probably next month we can watch them with beautiful weather outside. Still, thanks to Chimpo for setting all of it up… it was great to see everyone, Eric, Michelle, Cry Baby D, Sponge, Dan, Jim and get to talk to Celest and Toast. I heard Just Cara was there, but I did not see her… supposedly she left before and forgot to reimburse Chimpo.

We met some friends for lunch on Sunday at the Colombian restaurant and had to hear a pretty sad story of someone being denied their refugee status… but that is something for another day. The we just relaxed the rest of Sunday, but wow… we need an extra day just to catch up. What did you guys do this weekend?