Lunaya Pravda

29 August 2007

Must I hold your hand?

Why is it some folks seem almost willfully incapable of considering all the effects of their actions? Recent interactions with a coworker have me so frustrated that I'm nearing the point of calling for someone to post her head on the battlements as a warning to others.

This woman is in a position of enormous responsibility--she manages all the data many, many other folks use in their analyses. And for reasons unfathomable to me, she's incapable of notifying anyone when there's a change, what changed, why the change was made, or providing any other warnings that our analyses may need to start over from square one. Twice in the past two weeks, I've found out sheerly by accident that everything I thought had been settled was in fact in a state of flux, and she wasn't capable of quantifying the amount of flux in either instance.

Her preferred method is to make changes, document nothing, and then maybe send out a summary email, or instead sit back and hope no one notices. If these miscalculations were really someone else's fault, as she claims, she'd be in a position to prop herself up a bit for finding and fixing them. But I can't help but suspect these problems are directly attributable to her, and that's the real reason she's not telling anyone about corrections. That's the only reasonable explanation for taking a "hide and hope I'm not discovered" tactic.

And I suspect she truly believes she's not at fault, though I'm not clear whose fault she thinks the mess is.

This happens all around us. People routinely deceive themselves into focusing on the benefits of a decision without weighing the potential consequences, either to themselves or to others. Whether it is government forcing some new law down our throats only to be suddenly astonished at the unintended consequences, or the individuals who are almost entirely responsible for the entire practice of product liability law, looking ahead and seeing the ramifications of one's actions is rapidly becoming a lost art.

It's to the point of the absurd--even pedestrians don't want the responsibility of considering what happens if they step in front of the car. If you ask them, they'll focus on suing the bastards who had the temerity to hit them, but they never consider the hours of physical therapy, the crutches, the stitches, or any of the other negative implications associated with stepping into the path of a moving car.

And, just like my coworker, they demonstrate a complete inability to take responsibility for all the consequences of their actions that follow. They hide, and hope no one calls them on their role in the ensuing mess.

I know sometimes hearing "I'm sorry. I screwed up. It won't happen again," isn't satisfactory, but right now, I'd be content to just hear it ONCE from a responsible person who means it and commits to looking both ways before crossing.

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13 August 2007

Step up to the plate and swing!

I promised myself that come Monday, I'd decide whether Company A or Company B would employ me. Unfortunately for me, someone who dwells, I spent most of the weekend mulling it all over--sleeping little, eating even less, fretting with the weight on my soul. B. was the only person who managed to get my mind off the whole sordid affair for any measurable length of time, and I'm grateful for those precious moments where I could forget the decision pressing on me.

This morning, I arrived to work nearly three hours earlier than usual. First, horrid construction has been threatening the commute of South Sounders, and warnings have been issued for some time about how bad the drive downtown could be, so I wanted to get on the road as early as humanly possible. Second, I really do have plenty of work to get done, and the early morning hours in a silent office make it feasible. But last, I wanted a last few moments in the almost religious silence where I wasn't given over to wonderings and suspicions about how much my coworkers knew. On Friday, some of the glances I got made it pretty clear who was in the know, and I didn't really care to repeat the gawk show upon my arrival today.

Oddly, my manager arrived early, too, and though I know he's busy, I suspect the hour might have had something to do with me. I'd formulated the main points of my speech over the endless weekend, and needed a few hours to work on my nerves, so I didn't immediately seek him out for a meeting. Later on, I emailed him and we agreed to meet at 10.

At the appointed hour, I went to his office, and we snagged a small conference table in one of the partners' offices for neutral ground and some privacy.

My first goal was to make it plainly clear that I wasn't drawing any joy from the situation. Though some high-powered career types probably get off on having their employer over a barrel, that isn't a position I've ever wanted. He understood, and apologized for making this so much harder on me--a slight understatement. If he'd just wished me well and sent me on my way, I'd have had a weekend devoted to enjoyable pursuits, not ruminating over the decision facing me.

Then I laid out my bottom line. I'd accept the salary they've offered upon three conditions. First, in 9 months, the company would agree to renegotiate my salary based upon my performance with the new responsibilities I'll be taking on--a mid-year raise. Second, I'd be sent out for a specific kind of training, and the sooner the better. And last, that I'd be sent to the major GIS user's conference in San Diego next year, with no restrictions upon how many days I could attend. My previous manager just couldn't abide the thought of me being gone for an entire week, and put so many caveats on my attendance that he killed my motivation to go.

The look of relief on my manager's face...well, it won't be soon wiped from memory. He honestly believed I'd chase the money, that the company never had a chance of retaining me. And he confessed that he'd been worrying about some of my same concerns. Those worries came from a friend hoping to see me in a good career, not from a manager hoping to retain me. He shared my fears over the economy and the "too good to be true" salary, over the potential loss of workload and billable hours which, in consulting, are everything. He'd have laid claim to none of those fears if he were acting completely on the best interests of the company. He was worried I'd be stuck and unhappy, or perhaps worse.

And I confided in him some of the reasons I decided to stay. In addition to the fears we shared, I told him my concerns about the honesty and integrity of the woman under whom I'd be working, concerns I don't have with this company. The fact that our minds both reached the same conclusion independently has me feeling completely at ease with my decision. He agreed to everything I asked for, and it will be in writing tomorrow.

Not half an hour later, one of the project mangers ducked into my cubicle and said "A little bird told me a rumor you just made my year!" and then ducked out to a meeting before I could respond. Our IT manager found me later and said "I'm glad you're staying." So far, everyone's been supportive, and I've gained the knowledge that I have some rather powerful allies in my corner. All I can hope for now is that in the coming months, I can look back on this and grok the rightness of my choices.

I can't adequately thank everyone who provided advice to me. The folks who chose to comment, my friends M., B., and T. who suffered through my one-track mind over the weekend, and my family--all your advice, patience, and thoughtful responses were all part of my decision-making process and cannot be overvalued!

Now, in this moment, I have the unrivaled clarity and calm I was so sorely lacking over the past week. Perhaps now a sound, dreamless sleep will grace me with her presence.

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10 August 2007

Fuck you, Seattle PD, redux

Looks like their response to crime and thugs is to turn downtown into Stormtrooper Central. I hadn't noticed it today, given that my mind is on other things, but I'll be keeping watch over the next few weeks. I carry my camera with me at all times, so if I get any interesting pictures, I'll post them.

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Rumpled spirit

Internal conflict seems to be the order of the day, lately.

On the one hand, I have an incredibly lucrative job offer from a reputable firm, a firm that sought me out to recruit. On the other, I have my current employer who is putting up a fight for me to remain. I am now, unhappily, the rope in a difficult, tense game of tug-o-war.

The new offer with Company A comes with a greater salary (and future salary potential) and more paid time off. It's in a field I'm slightly less enthusiastic about, but I'm giving it serious consideration because of the doors it would open for me financially. I'd be able to work from home more often, and in the next year would be moving to an office that would give me a third of the commute I have now.

But (again, you knew that was coming), there are potential pitfalls, too. The EFC is the one offering the job and under whom I'd be working, which is sending up "too good to be true" flags. She is the glass ceiling staring me in the face: I'll never get above her while we're at the same company. I have less of a feel for their workload, both current and future, and its swings, which worries me--I get bored and start hating my job when I'm not busy. Though my last job change was for several very specific reasons and goals, I've been something of a drifter, and it's starting to get dangerous to put that all on my resume. It makes me look flaky. And finally, it might be unwise to start over with no seniority and no one who can verify the value and quality of my work with the economy in such a questionable state of flux.

And then there's Company B. Company B is by far the best place I've ever worked. I like most of the people, the work is challenging and interesting, and they've really worked to preserve a great atmosphere despite a recent spate of somewhat alarming growth. My manager is by far the best person I've ever reported to. He's straight up and honest, and a fierce advocate for those of us under him. Were it not for the money, I'd never have even considered leaving.

When I dropped the bomb on my manager, the shock on his face was so palpable I couldn't stop shaking--not from fear, but from guilt. I don't handle confrontation particularly well (that secondary Amiable characteristic coming out), and I actually broke into tears when I returned to the blissful sanctuary of my cubicle (at least I held it together until I could retreat). I've spent the last 36 hours beating and berating myself for both what feels like a betrayal and for crying at all. Why does emotion, having nowhere else to go, leak out my eyes instead?

It was painfully clear that he never, not for one instant, saw this coming. After a stunned silence and some regrouping, he leveled with me that wheels were in motion to adjust my salary upwards, even before my news hit. And then he asked if I'd be willing to entertain a counteroffer. He then emailed the internal management team, the partners, and any project managers with whom I work regularly who weren't already on either of the first two lists--basically an all-hands alert to the powers within the company.

Later, one of the partners with whom I work regularly came up and said he'd heard a rumor that I was leaving. I eventually told him yes, but I think my countenance betrayed me even before I said it. He, too, expressed shock, and said they were working on a counteroffer because they'd hate to lose me. Funny how advocates can crawl out of the woodwork, smoked out by the pheromones of crisis...

Today, they countered, and it's sadly not what I was really hoping for. In truth, it was like pleading with a lover you hope is going to give you a reason to stay, only to have them dash your hopes by telling you that they can't mount a decent fight for you. They've thrown money at me, sure, but only about half the raise from Company A. (Company B's salary offer is more than my manager makes now.) And more vacation is politically sticky. But they've given me a generously wide range of career options that are worth considering, all of which involve advancement and more authority. And all this at a company whose future and workload in which I have more trust... they're the devil I know.

Part of their fear--justifiably, if I look at this from their position--is that they don't want to give me too much of a raise BEFORE I take on all these additional responsibilities. And I think that's fair. My mom had the brilliant idea of staying on with the provision that after a year, we renegotiate my salary based on performance, and they're open to that.

So, is money everything, or does happiness count even though it doesn't pay the bills? If I have to slow headway on my financial goals in order to stay where I am, is that foolish? If I stay, will they think me a pushover who can't pull the trigger on an opportunity? If I leave, will I constantly be looking back to see if I made the wrong choice? Do I take the means to an end, or the thing that makes me happier?

My head is swirling with an interminable sea of questions, none of which have answers. I can't eat, and sleep comes only in 2-hour windows. I feel like every corner of my brain is stuck in endless compute cycles of agony over having to make a choice I never had really mentally prepared to face. Nothing else matters right now.

My manager knows how tough this is on me, and I think he regrets that. When we talked this evening, he asked if I needed anything else, and I jokingly said I needed someone to make the decision for me. He, without any hesitation, responded "I'll do it!" Grateful for even a little humor, I laughed and said that no, I need someone impartial and that he doesn't qualify.

What do you guys think? Money first, happiness second, or vice versa? What would you do?

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Constitutions matter?

All over the city of Tacoma, I'm seeing these, and they move almost daily. A media blitz.

What is the point, and who's making it? Clear Channel, probably, given the battle over billboards brewing in this particular corner of Puget Sound.

Some of the comments at the blog entry above are...disappointing. And of course, my cynical first response to the question on the billboards was "Since when?"

True to form, someone on Craigslist hasn't hesitated to turn it into humor.

06 August 2007

Theo van Gogh revisited?

Like Leonardo over at To The People, I'm wondering why the assassination of Oakland Post editor Chauncey Bailey isn't getting more press coverage. Is it because the killer, though a Muslim, didn't do anything as horrific as stab a 5-page letter filled with threats to his victim's chest?

The more details that emerge about Your Black Muslim Bakery, the shadier it looks, particularly since founder Yusuf Bey's death and the subsequent passing of its leadership to Yusuf's son, Waajid Aliawaad Bey. And the confessed killer, Devaughdre Broussard, described himself as a "good soldier" for gunning Bailey down, but that's apparently not sensational enough to get wide-spread national coverage from Bailey's journalist brethren, either. Or maybe they're afraid that a politically incorrect commentary about the whole sordid affair might cause them to join Bailey in the afterlife?

I mean, really, what does it take for a murder to get noticed around here? Broussard must not have been creative enough to set himself apart from any other Oakland thug such that the media would give Bailey's murder the attention which, judging from initial news coverage, it seems to warrant.

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01 August 2007

Fuck you, Seattle PD

Busy downtown corner is a "hot spot" for crime

It just takes police too long to respond, he said. Even for something serious like Monday's shooting, it takes police too many precious minutes to get to the scene, he said.

Pan said he met with an officer about a month ago, but he doesn't feel like there's much they can do — they're too understaffed — and the city can't afford the number of officers it would take.

(emphasis mine)

I have a bit of an interest in all this for multiple reasons, not the least of which is that I work a block from the McDonald's where the shooting took place, and it didn't occur, as most incidents around here do, late at night or on a weekend. It happened at 4:30 in the afternoon on a weekday, a time when I might conceivably be out on the mean streets, as it were.

But I just have to say this: fuck you, Seattle PD. Spare me this "we need more police!" bullshit. You have apparently inexhaustible resources to place police to catch drivers who inadvertently venture onto 3rd Avenue when it's closed to any traffic but buses. You have plenty of bicycle cops who have nothing better to do than hand out $60 tickets for jaywalking. Why? Because those activities generate revenue. Dealing with violent and property crimes cuts into your precious operating budget with absolutely no financial return, and we can't have that, now can we? Plus, how would those poor officers meet their quotas for ticket-writing?

Not that I want to see more jackbooted thugs around here. It was bad enough when my employer decided to cooperate with your drug task force by allowing you to use some of our window offices to spy on the drug dealers below. And every fucking one of your officers did nothing but scowl at us as we went about our business in our own office space.

Just stop blowing smoke up my ass about needing to hire more officers, and the ensuing money crunch associated with hiring them. You HAVE the officers. You've just chosen to dedicate them to more lucrative pursuits.

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