After the Jump

I’ve never resigned from a job before. The experience was a little surreal, even while I was having the conversation with my boss. His look of shock helped, though.

I wasn’t looking forward to it at all. I have a decent working relationship with him, but my manager and I haven’t been close. I hadn’t the slightest idea of whether he was going to laugh, be furious, or get strangely quiet. Getting a new job can be a lot of fun, but I think only the most bitter employees look forward to quitting.

There’s nothing quite like changing jobs to teach you about the sovereignty of God. I had breakfast with Frank that morning and he raised the question: “So, what have you been doubting Him about lately?” I don’t know whether it’s the corporate world or because we constantly struggled with finances when I was growing up, but I’m often pressed with the weight of responsibility of providing for my family.

Beyond the immediate, we also talked about the idea of one’s “Life’s Work” and of having “arrived” in one’s own career. I think artists struggle with this question in a more dynamic way than many business people, but I think everyone working a job they don’t like wonders what they should _really_ be doing with their lives.

In the end, after the initial shock, my manager was ecstatic for me. He said I was one of the best people he’s worked with, that my career growth was limited in my current role, and said I made absolutely the right decision. I was floored — of all the things to come out of his mouth, I expected this the least.

My new job within Citigroup starts at the end of the month, and then we leave for three weeks for Europe. I’m looking forward to stepping back from work for a while and getting some perspective on what it really means to eat and drink and find satisfaction in my work.

Before the Jump

Darryl came by the old stomping grounds on his way to the color printer. “Hey Ken, you’re good with databases and web development, right?”

“Sure, why?”

“‘Cause Adam has a job he’s looking to fill. You should ask him about it.”

“Okay, sure, I’ll send him an email.”

***

August 4th

monster interview questions → Monster: At the Interview (3:51 PM) → Six Interview Mistakes

 

***

I met Dan for lunch after having bumped into him on Church Street two months before. I know him, but not really well — just some passing conversations in church and during his work in his “former life.”

We met up over pizza and swapped stories about work. Dan is really excited about his job: he’s a product manager for the CRM system at an education and curriculum company, and they’re branching out into other enterprisey information tools like ERP. He’s being stretched, and he’s learning the nuances of project management in a large organization. He asked me how things were with my job.

I told him what I did, and that I was sorta working on making a change. I mentioned in passing that I was concerned that my leaving my group was going to be pretty disruptive with a major project coming up in September, and that I might try to work out helping with that project for a few weeks in my new role. “No,” he stabbed a plastic fork in the air, “two weeks, that’s it.” But I don’t want to burn any bridges, I said. “Fine, then don’t burn any bridges. But just give them two weeks. You’re too talented to be doing things like taking meeting minutes and scheduling video conference calls.”

***

August 13th

transfer internally career advice → Being Bold Blog: Managing Internal Transfers (12:30 AM) → Transfer Internally the Right Way

***

I ran into Marty as I was walking across campus the other day. We exchanged pleasantries and he asked what I was up to. “Oh, the same old thing,” I told him.

“The same old thing?” he asked, incredulous — and maybe a little disappointed. This same manager shook my hand in his office before he left the group and told me in no uncertain terms that I should be looking for another job. He thought well of the work I’d done for him during the eight months we’d worked together, but that he was unsure of the future of the group and the stability of my role.

After a quick internal calculus, I decided to keep my mouth shut, “Yeah, a few tweaks, but pretty much the same old thing.”

***

August 17th

rands resignation checklist → Rands In Repose: YOUR RESIGNATION/LAYOFF CHECKLIST (11:18 AM)

Tradition

So, in the fine tradition of blogging “about sandwiches”:http://textism.com/article/798/monty-you-terrible-word after long “blogging absences”:http://kennsarah.net/2006/07/30/one-thing-rethinking-on-the-radar/#comment-1875, I’m pleased to report that I finally had the long-coveted “PB&J sandwich”:http://www.panera.com/familynutritionalprofile.aspx?familyid=228 at Panera. I’ve been debating ordering this from the kids menu since they started offering several weeks ago. First, some highlights:

* Yes, I did feel a little stupid ordering it
* But, only after the guy behind the counter asked if I wanted apple juice or chocolate milk
* I got a fountain drink instead
* The sandwich had grape jelly on it
* I would have preferred strawberry
* The bread was awesome
* It came with chips
* I wasn’t offered (nor did I ask for) the squeezable yogurt

All in all, it was _really_ good. And, given that my entire Panera lunch cost me a whopping $3.28 (!), I’d totally do it again.

Totally unrelated: I know I haven’t been _blogging_ per se, but I have been digging. Check the links over at the left. If you need the feed, “here it is”:http://digg.com/rss/kwalker411/index2.xml.

One Thing: Rethinking 'On the Radar'

After blogging dozens of On the Radar type posts “like Thursday’s”:http://kennsarah.net/2006/07/27/on-the-radar-10/ for the past four years, I have to admit it: it’s a lot of work. Slavishly cutting and pasting select quotes, formatting, and writing the copy is something I’ve thought of as fun ever since I first saw Mark Pilgrim’s “earlier efforts”:http://diveintomark.org/archives/2002/10/28/i_need_a_name_for_these_lists back in 2002, weeks before I started blogging myself. But, lately, I’m not so sure.

Please blog me

My desire to troll my news reader every week for the purpose of reposting the links on my own site has started to seem downright insideous: sucking away valuable time that I should be _creating_ content, not regurgitating it. Even the word “content” is troublesome — as if it were this soulless ether that we just pump out for the purpose of consumption by the blogosphere. I think the word I really mean to use here is “stories.”

The web — and its predecessor, the “Bulletin Board System”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bulletin_board_system — has always fascinated me in its ability to connect people through thoughts and ideas. I spent countless hours as a slacker teenager BBSing in front of MTV and arguing about the merits of…well, the “SysOp”:http://the-forgotten.org/ only knows what. But it gave me the opportunity to connect in a very real way with a community where thoughtful dialog was valued. We were telling our stories, whether they were actual stories, or debates, or artwork, or source code.

Six months, a year ago, I would have talked about what I think made Wonkette successful and makes Gawker successful, to a certain extent, and other blogs: A strong, defined personality with a sense of humor about themselves. An ability to filter news quickly and to recognize, you know, what is interesting to other people as well as interesting to themselves, and finding the balance between those things.

What I think is changing is that people have now become addicted to the rapid update. You know, the not just 12 times a day; 18 times a day, 24 times a day. And it’s almost physically impossible for one person to do that.

— ??Ana Marie Cox?? on David Pogue’s blog, “Wonkette’s Ingredients for a Successful Blog”:http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/?p=102

When we were introduced to the Internet in the early nineties, the prospect of cheap, instant communication across vast distances was exhilarating. I found myself spending hours and hours in front of the ad supported, dial-up email from “Juno”:http://www.ebuddies.org/informed/computers/juno.html, writing friends all over the world. Those were thrilling, innocent times, before Wikipedia and Google and Digg and blogs. Before we realized that too much information can be a “bad thing”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_overload. Before we used words like “attention economy”:http://www.google.com/search?q=attention%20economy.

I’m highly suspect of the attention economy — the idea that your attention, your thoughts themselves, will be monetized and commodified, and that even attention itself can become a sort of currency for the exchange of goods. I’ve found that many places on the web are steadily heading in this direction, creating a culture that is becoming numb to all but the most immediate and easy-to-digest information, lacking depth and insight. Digg has just launched “Swarm”:http://labs.digg.com/swarm/, web app that lets you watch news stories break and gain attention in real time. I find it to be both brilliant and terrifying, but this is the future: the web will continue to demand more and more of our attention as we learn to process information at an ever-increasing pace. And, by “process”, I mean just about anything other than “think deeply about.”

It is a wonder of the world, the Web. I have facts at hand by the thousands about everything from the different kinds of government to the names of the stars of television shows I’ve never even seen. I’m smarter, then, with my computer on, but not much deeper. I worry that my knowledge of the world is actually growing shallower, in fact, because for every idea there are a dozen articles and Wikipedia entries to read that allow me to avoid thinking for myself.

— ??Paul Ford??, “Followup/Distraction”:http://www.ftrain.com/Followup.html

All this to say that I’m starting to wonder about the process of my contributions to the echo chamber. These On the Radar linkdumps have kept me well informed, but less thoughtful, always providing an easy escape from the mild discomfort of rerouting a few synapses. If this blog is to really convey something meaningful about our story, I think I’d like to devote time to writing more thoughtfully, rather than collecting the detritus of a thousand other bloggers.

On the Radar: Giving the blog some love again

* ??Mark Glaser?? for ??PBS??: “Should Community-Edited News Sites Pay Top Editors?”:http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2006/07/digging_deepershould_community.html (via “Digg”:http://digg.com/tech_news/Kevin_Rose_Responds_to_Jason_Calacanis_Rant_from_Netscape → “Kevin”:http://krose.typepad.com/kevinrose/2006/07/calacanis.html → “Jason”:http://www.calacanis.com/2006/07/25/kevin-rose-cracks-or-how-to-know-when-youve-won-the-debate/). Aside from the Digg vs. Netscape drama that’s been erupting over the past couple of weeks, Calacanis raises some interesting questions about how people in the *attention economy* are compensated for their time and hard work. The next 18 months as these two players in community-driven news hash it out should be really interesting.
* ??John Gruber??: “Magic 8-Ball Answers Your Questions Regarding Microsoft’s ‘Zune’”:http://daringfireball.net/2006/07/magic_8ball_zune. That 8-ball. He sure knows a lot about the *digital music* industry.
* ??NPR??: “Avoiding the Housing Market ‘Dead Zone'”:http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5565128 and “Location, Location: What to Buy, and Where”:http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5565119. The nesting instinct kicks in: these interviews were pretty insightful about the state of the housing market right now. Of course, there are derivations for where you are, but the overall buyer’s recommendation is to wait until some of the *already-present market pressures* (housing surplus, higher interest rates, and exotic mortgages held by peers) bring prices down — perhaps even way down.
* ??Everything Newark??: “‘Newark is an Emerging Market””:http://blog.newarker.info/2006/07/19/newark-is-an-emerging-market/. The ??New York Post??, of all places, has a practically beaming article about Newark’s comeback. Booker’s enthusiasm, that Newark is a place of *untapped potential*, hangs on the very critical results of his stopping crime in the city.
* ??Washington Post??: “Religious Left Gears Up to Face Right Counterpart”:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/25/AR2006072500437.html (“via Digg”:http://digg.com/politics/Religious_Left_Gears_Up_To_Face_Right_Counterpart). Favorite quote: ‘I’m an evangelical Christian who thinks that justice is a biblical imperative,’ said Wallis. ‘The *monologue of the religious right* is finally over and a new dialogue has just begun.’ I really hope Wallis is right.
* ??The Motley Fool??: “Opportunity Knocking for Citigroup”:http://www.fool.com/news/commentary/2006/commentary06072514.htm. Citigroup may (or may not) be on the rise if the Fed stops raising interest rates to counteract inflation, which would be nice for shareholders given the “latest anxiety”:http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=aWJ3CLLNPUp4&refer=us over rising costs. A thought for Mr. Prince: consumer banking is sucking wind because *the customer experience is just awful*. The ATMs are nice, and the marketing is fun, but customer service just pales in comparison to banks like Wachovia.
* ??37signals??: “Writing Words vs. Writing Software”:http://37signals.com/svn/archives2/writing_words_vs_writing_software.php. I love these guys: Everyone and his cousin is working on a web app. But how many are actually finishing? That’s why we argue for biting off less. Write a short story/small app instead of a novel/massive app. *Shrinking scope means you actually finish*. And finishing is huge. When you finish something, you show up. And, like Woody Allen said, ‘Eighty percent of success is showing up.’
* ??Rosecrans Baldwin?? for ??The Morning News??: “The Maine Attraction”:http://www.themorningnews.org/archives/the_nonexpert/the_maine_attraction.php. Never been, but this sure was funny: Crystal Meth is easier to obtain in rural Maine than it is back home. So are crystals, and posters of *wolves kissing dolphins* in outer space.
* ??Paul Ford?? for ??43folders??: “Are there ‘good’ distractions?”:http://www.43folders.com/2005/10/24/paul-ford-distractions/ Paul’s struggle between accomplishing something with his life vs. “swimming in a sea of data” really touched a chord. I’ll have more thoughts on this later, but, if you read only one of these linky-things, make it this one. When I’m not getting enough done I get unhappy and depressed and think about the billions of years I’ll be dead before the heat death of the universe erases everything. I want to feel like *I did something during my brief life* besides check my email.
* LAUNCHED: Sarah goes independent with “Side by Side Dog Training”:http://sidebysidetraining.com/. The quick-and-not-so-dirty site brought to you by the wonders of “WordPress”:http://wordpress.org, “Quilm”:http://oriol.f2o.org/qwilm-a-wordpress-theme/ theme, and the “DreamHost”:http://www.dreamhost.com/r.cgi?63570 “1-click install”:http://wiki.dreamhost.com/index.php/Goodies_Control_Panel#One-Click_Installs. Feel free to pass the site along to your friends with dogs — especially the ones that accessorize their dogs with *Louis Vuitton dog carriers and DKNY collars*.
* ??Jon Katz?? for ??Slate??: “The Loneliness of Rose”:http://www.slate.com/id/2146000/. Rose is not cute. She is a working dog, a farm dog. She herds sheep, keeps the donkeys apart from the other animals during graining, alerts me when lambs are born, watches my back when the ram is around. *She battles the donkeys*, the ewes who protect their lambs, and stray dogs who approach the farm. She and I take the sheep out to graze two or three times a day. On Sundays, we sometimes march the flock down to the Presbyterian Church to hear the organ music and present ourselves through the big windows. ‘Hey, Rose,’ the kids sometimes shout after the service is over. With Rose, we don’t need fences. As my friend Peter Hanks said, Rose is the fence.
* ??Washington Post??: “US waives sanctions on Saudi over religious rights”:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/19/AR2006071901178.html (“via Angela”:http://hereisangela.com/2006/07/25/galatians-221-turbans-teaching-and-temperance/) The United States has extended a waiver that avoids imposing sanctions on Saudi Arabia because it has made efforts to *improve religious tolerance* in the kingdom, U.S. officials said on Wednesday. The US ignores the religious freedoms of millions to suck up to one of its few allies in the Middle East.
* ??New York Times??: “What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage”:http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/25/fashion/25love.html (via Angela over IM). If you read _two_ of these linky-things, make this the other one. 🙂 It was only a matter of time before he was again tearing around the house searching for his keys, at which point I said nothing and kept at what I was doing. It took a lot of discipline to maintain my calm, but results were immediate and stunning. His temper fell far shy of its usual pitch and then waned like a fast-moving storm. I felt as if *I should throw him a mackerel*. Incidentally, this is how Sarah trains Dina (and maybe me).

On the Radar: Quietly Freaking Me Out

??Angela Wu?? thinks the “sky is falling”:http://hereisangela.com/2006/07/13/coup-doeil-the-sky-is-falling/ — lately, I tend to want to agree. My news reader has been terrorizing me lately. For your consideration, a short list of things that have been quietly freaking me out over the past few days:

* ??New York Times??: “Accused G.I. Was Troubled Long Before Iraq”:http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/14/us/14private.html
* ??BBC News??: “Scores dead in Mumbai train bombs”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/5169332.stm
* ??New York Times??: “Japan Finds Still Harsher Words for North Korea’s Missile Tests”:http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/11/world/asia/11missiles.html
* ??ABC News??: “Extreme Weather Fits Global Warming Pattern”:http://www.abcnews.go.com/WNT/GlobalWarming/story?id=2115144&page=1
* ??NPR??: “Detainees at Guantanamo Bay”:http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4711397
* ??CNN??: “Hezbollah ready for ‘war on every level'”:http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/07/14/mideast/index.html

Ironically, the best news I heard all day “came out of Newark”:http://blog.newarker.info/2006/07/14/not-in-my-city/.

I started trolling Wikipedia this afternoon: “World War III”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_III → “Mutual assured destruction”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutually_Assured_Destruction → “Extinction event”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extinction_event → “Red telephone”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_telephone → “Brinkmanship”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brinkmanship → “Six-Day War”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1967_Arab-Israeli_war. Huh, strangely familar:

The Six-Day War … also known as the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, Six Days War, or June War, was fought between Israel and the nearby Arab states of Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, and Syria. Egyptian aggression initiated the war as Egypt formed a blockade of Israeli shipping in the Straits of Tiran, removed the UNEF peacekeeping forces from the Sinai, and deployed a large military force in the Sinai on the Israeli border.

Responding in an act of defense, Israel launched a preemptive attack against Egypt. Jordan in turn attacked the Israeli cities of Jerusalem and Netanya. At the war’s end, Israel had gained control of the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights. The results of the war affect the geopolitics of the region to this day.

Somehow, blogging a list of links to the latest Web 2.0 applications just didn’t seem worth it today.