Friday, November 30, 2012

Turns out sprinting makes you tired

We just finished our very first SCRUM sprint at work.  Or, as I like to call it, the first of the Psycho Cycles. The last week has left me pretty frazzled, to be honest; and the worst part is, there’s not a whole lot I can do about it.

Well. There is, it’s just not what I’d prefer to do. The thing that would probably be best for me would be to hand in notice on Monday, finish out this second sprint if they want, and look for something else to do with my time.

I can think of a few things.

But I don’t like being a quitter, and I don’t like leaving people high and dry. And since I’m one of the most senior developers there, and one of very few who are ‘wired’ for this kind of super-fast pace, if I were to leave…it might not be all that great for the people left behind, you know?

Which opens up a huge can of worms with names like “why I think that is my problem is beyond me” and “it isn’t nice to do things you know will hurt other people” and “argh, look, you’re not the Savior of the World™ you totally can look out for Number 1 sometimes” and “what’s so bad about eating a couple Twix bars for dinner once in a while, it’s not like it would kill you or anything…”

None of which is going to get my anywhere. I always find that trying to make Real Decisions when I’m kind of ruffled up like this just doesn’t end well, so! Guess I’ll leave all that for another day. See where All This actually goes and like that.

And instead, look! I found knitting!

Talk about a blast from the past, huh? This project has been marinating for, like, two YEARS. And then I found it in bag on the bottom of my ‘things that need buttons sewn back on or something’ bin and remembered that I had set it aside because I was on this tricky bit on the main sweater, and didn’t want to deal with it on BART.

So I finished the main body of the sweater and moved on to the sleeves. This is the second sleeve, so, progress.

That’s the kind of thing you can do when you have, you know, a clear picture where you’re going and also clear instructions. (HINT: I’M TAKING A DIG AT MY WORKPLACE RIGHT NOW. SUBTLY. PRONOUNCED “SUB-BUH-TAH-LEE” FOR FULL SARDONIC EFFECT.)

PSA: Extra $10 at Coinstar until 12/9

If you’re one of those people who likes to hoard up coins in a jar or something, and you’ve got a Coinstar machine in your supermarket, AND you have plans to be shopping at iTunes, Dell, or Old Navy / Gap / Banana Republic – Coinstar has a deal for you: Cash in at least $40 in coins, and they’ll add an extra $10 to your eGift Card.

And, no fees apply for the cash-in. (<= always my main frowny-face thing when it comes to ‘cash in your coins’ machines!)

Here’s the details.

Love me the “free money.”

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Logic, Part II

This morning while getting the wonton soup I suddenly became convinced I would DIE without, I saw a woman tottering up Montgomery Street toward the BART station wearing a pair of boots that looked like something the Inquisition would have come up with to encourage particularly resilient suspects to confess to particularly odiferous charges.

She was dragging a suitcase that looked like it would be costing her an extra $300 in over-weight fees, an only-by-comparison smaller duffel bag over one shoulder, a probably-going-to-be-told-she-has-to-check-that carry-on bag on the other, and a purse that put my biggest knitting bag to shame.

I was not the only person watching her with an expression of great bemusement.

Because she was really hard to to miss. Seeing as how she was not exactly floating like a serene butterfly who wears that kind of footwear all the time.

No, it was more like…a drunken Teletubby heading homeward after an all-night howl.


In the rain.

So, you know, muddy hill.

Plus there may have been a strong headwind.

At first, I was thinking to myself that these were a damned odd choice for someone who was obviously traveling.

But then, as I winkled the bottom edge of my sweater from its favorite spot – you know, between my pants and my skin – I had to admit that a woman who wore wool next to the skin two days in a row probably had no right to scoff at somebody else choosing to wear shoes that were possibly designed by the Marquis de Sade himself.

Logic, after all, comes in all shapes and sizes…some of it will inevitably be shoe-shaped…

(But then again, this sweater isn’t itchy. No guard-hairs in this bad boy. This is, like, twelve micron wool, right here…)

(OK, maybe fourteen…or so…but well below twenty, anyway…)

(whaaaaaat? everybody talks about wool fiber in microns, pfffft, I thought you’d know that…!)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Logic: A Case Study

Normal Human Logic: This dress is kind of itchy. Especially on the insides of my elbows and the backs of my legs. Yeah. Definitely itchy. How irritating. When I get home, I’m going to donate it to the People Against Nekkid Rhinoceroses – I don’t think it would bother THEIR skin much.

Knitter of the ‘Wool’ Faction Logic: {scratch-scratch-scratch} it’s not THAT itchy {scratch-scratch-scratch} it’s just 100% {scratch-scratch-scratch} good {scratch-scratch-scratch} REAL {scratch-scratch-scratch} honest! {scratch-scratch-scratch}  wool {scratch-scratch-scratch}

(And that logical thought process is why I hung it back up when I got home tonight instead of chucking it in the general direction of the donation box. AGAIN.)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Nothing much, just the usual

Man, I am skidding into winter sideways this year. I feel like a cat trapped in a room with a dozen snickering teenagers who all just got laser toys. Got it! Don’t got it! Got it! Don’t got it! HEY! WHERE DID THAT ONE COME FROM?! Wait, what the…but…I HAD that one! How did it get away AGAIN?!?!

I keep telling myself that things are going to settle down “soon” and will find their new center “soon” and etcetera “soon.”

And then Life snickers, “Well, ACTUALLY…!” and tosses me yet another ball to juggle.

Like last week, when right when I was congratulating myself on having sidestepped ending up in a sort of ‘first among equals’ role on my new SCRUM team – which was a bit of a dirty pool move on my part anyway, seeing as how I’m one of only two ‘level five’ developers in the whole department – I was unceremoniously shoved into the role.

I can’t argue with the call. It needed to be made – we were going to be in a world of hurt unless somebody was put into that role, and frankly there wasn’t anybody else who had the combination of skills and attitude (just call me Bossy McAttitude Pushy-Pants) to take it on.

Still. It’s also like…great. So now, I have all of “my” work, plus I have to do at least a quarter of everybody else’s in the form of “spelling it out for them, step by bloomin’ step, so that they feel comfortable enough to keep moving instead of freezing up like baby rabbits confronted by wolves…”

On the bright side, though, it also puts me in a great position to work myself out of a job – there’s no shortage of smarts on my team, it’s just lack of experience and overall exposure slowing them down. I suspect they’ll come up to speed really fast, and I’ll be able to start showing them stuff that will look damned good on a resume, next time they’re looking for something new.

They’re good people. It’s not their fault they’re being shoved into a role they just aren’t ready for…methinks Management™ has mistaken “been here a long time” for “actually has development experience.” Because overall, the department has extremely remedial development skills – but a lot of people who know every last wart on the existing system.

They ain’t the same thing, folks.

Just sayin’.

It’s going to be an interesting couple of months. Again.

…is it totally wrong that I kind of wish things could be boring for a change…?

Friday, November 09, 2012

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

We’re entering into the “slower” time of year, food-production-wise. While we are in a zone that can grow something year-round, the list shortens dramatically in this November – April time.

The transition period is frequently a bit startling to the eye, though; so many things hit the end of their season at once, and when combined with the fact that the days become shorter (thus reducing the already slim chance that I’m going to get out there after work to do anything to zero), well.

It goes from looking all green and lush to something more like this.


Yeah. The pumpkins are dead. And without producing even one viable pumpkins, too. A combination of watering issues (yeah, um, bad valves + bad communication about what was on and what was off + heat wave = lots of dead plants), powdery mildew I wasn’t aggressive enough about treating, some weirdly boomerang-y weather and a rather intense infestation of whiteflies rather doomed them.

Now, these on the other hand…

…it’s not actually at all bad that they look like that. I was harvesting a ridiculous number of butternut squash from this patch a month or so back, and noticed that the @^*&@ing squash beetles had moved in. Those little suckers are a real pain – they breed like crazy and don’t have a lot of “good” organic control methods. Your best bet is hand-picking and squashing (or dropping into a bucket of soapy water). Which doesn’t go particularly well with the kind of insane work schedules I’ve been keeping for the last way-too-long.

Since I’d already harvested waaaaaaay more than ‘enough’ butternut squash, I started to just yank out the vines to deny them their habitat…and then I glanced over at the (not so desperately sad looking back then) pumpkins right behind them and thought, …um…wait…if I pull this out, they’re totally just going to migrate over THERE, aren’t they…

So I left the vines and a couple of the sorrier-looking squash in place, and the stupid beetles have been cheerfully making themselves at home there. It didn’t actually save my pumpkins in the end, but at least squash beetles aren’t on the list of Stuff That Killed Them.

I’m taking that as a ‘win.’ Don’t argue with me. I may become emotional.

Another thing that looks bad but isn’t? These guys.

Which have been turning into rather nice quantities of these.

Steuben Yellow-Eye beans make some of the best sweet baked beans, like Boston or Swedish. Plus they’re pretty. Never hurts when food looks pretty, IMHO.

The peanuts will be coming out soon, It’s getting colder and colder, so pretty soon I’m sure the foliage will start yellowing – the “OK, I give up” signal for a lot of underground growers.

Another Coming Soon: Yams. There’s a lot of yellow on those vines, although they are still putting out a few flowers here and there.

Oh noooooo, don’t talk about me, I’m SHY!!!!!

And as always, as everything else is slowing down and complaining about the cold, the peas are all…what? what are you talking about, ‘it’s cold’?

This is FLOWER-WEARING weather, y’all!

They’re like that annoying cousin from Alaska, who walks around in shorts in November while we California hothouse lilies are grabbing sweaters and hats and gasping in shock and disbelief at thin veneers of almost-FROST on the rooftops.

There are a lot of weeds stubbornly refusing to give in to the growing cold. The beds are starting to empty out, waiting to have a liberal spread of compost turned into them, for their bit of rest before time moves inexorably on into the next growing-time.

…and onward we shall go…

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Meaningful Something Here

The last couple weeks have been downright surreal, in so many ways. Some of them actually surreal, and some of them more because I’ve suddenly looked at them differently.

Like, an actually surreal moment would be when I went into the ladies room and noticed as I was washing my hands that my face and neck looked as though I had gotten several-many too many hours of sun.

Extra. Crispy.

To which I went, ? huh-face ? because, um…yeah. No such luck.

And my face stayed that way for the entire day. As far as I know, it’s still that color. It kind of feels like it is – kind of hot and ‘crinkly.’ But the lighting in the Den is so yucky-yellow that I always look vaguely jaundiced after dark.

The database I’m supposed to be loading has been out of commission since Saturday.



Again… O_o

The shift to the SCRUM development thing is supposed to start next week, nobody has any idea what’s going on, there are meetings and then there are tasks that are not tasks, they are storyboards, you know, to tell the customer story?

…but there are no customers…and no stories…preeeeeetty much, the average work day goes like this: Somebody skids into the room with their hair on fire and yells, “AAAAAAAAAAAH, {something you never heard of} is {taking too long to run! can’t be found! failed! inserted too many records! not enough records! added up to too many dollars! not enough dollars! why are there no records for Costco, shouldn’t there be Costco records in here somewhere?!}!”

And then we run around like crazy people stomping on things until something shakes loose and everybody goes home.

That’s how we roll.

But now, SCRUM.

Which we will use to…storyboard…the…well, the next time…see…we’ll say, “No, we can’t jury-rig that mission-critical whatnot back into service! WE ARE SCRUM NOW! You will have to write your storyboard, and put it in the backlog, and then in three weeks or so we will have three days of planning and we will commit to…something, probably not that…and then four weeks after that you might have it. Except probably not. Because we have a lot of storyboarding to size and tear up into four hour blocks. And if it can’t be done in four hours, then, we can’t do it we have to send it back and say ‘make it smaller'.”

Which, by the way, I proposed meant that we could now never do another day’s work again, because thus far absolutely nothing has been a four-hour-or-less proposition. EXCEPT. I’m pretty sure I could network Diablo in the server room in under four hours. Just sayin’. Word.”

Our SCRUM master (hereinafter referred to as Mah Mahster, because it amuses me) did not seem to think this was a valid theory.

We shall see who is right.

(It’s probably her. She has an annoying tendency to be right most of the time.) (Also, when she dyes her hair? It stays REALLY red, like, FOREVER. Whereas mine is like, really crazy red for about two-three days, and then? Mouse. Brown. Ish. …sigh…I guess that’s why she’s Mah Mahster…)

And another thing that feels rather surreal…I need to go to bed now. Even though I feel as though I just got home.

And didn’t get to do much of anything.