28 April 2006

Engineering Lies

My current "paying-the-bills"-strategy involves working with a company that is doing offshore development.  I've been burning the candle at both ends trying to keep this engagement running smoothly.  Shortly I will have to spend a significant amount of time overseas to handle this fiasco.

Kawasaki recently posted "The Top Ten Lies of Engineers".  It was humorous but definitely struck a chord with my situation.  Specifically #8:
We can do this faster, cheaper, and better with an offshore programming team in India.
Rank and file engineers usually don't tell this lie; it's the CTO who does. Somehow we've got it in our heads that every programmer in India is good, fast, and cheap, and every programmer in the United States is lousy, slow, and expensive. My theory is that for version 1.0 of  a product, the maximum allowable distance between the engineers and marketers is thirty feet.
Once again, funny and insightful all in one go.

25 April 2006


"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less."
- Lewis Carroll -- Through the Looking Glass, Chapter 6

22 April 2006

Showing Up

This evening I had the great pleasure of conversing with my father.  The weather is spectacular and sitting outside, sipping a strawberry shake, swapping stories with my dad is truly a recipe for contentment in my book.

During the course of our conversation we wandering onto the topic of maintaining relationships. My pop has always been a model of the christian life for me, and in his outreach and ministry this is especially true.  As far back as I can remember he has given of his time to visit the sick, the needy, even those in jail.  At one, time he was one of the few anywhere with the necessary clearance to witness to maximum security offenders in the federal prisons. His willingness to invest in others with his time isn't just central to his being, it's foundational to how he views The Walk.

One particular hospital visit made an indelible mark on my life. While attending a man who suffered a particularly painful illness I was left to visit with him as my dad stepped into the next room continuing his rounds.  The man waved me close and imparted to me the reason so many people enjoyed my dad's visits.  The words he said still resound in my ears from time to time, "Your dad knows when to come.  But more importantly he also knows when to go." Before then, I'd always wondered how these people shared such a connection with my father in the short time they spent with him each week. Those words were just the smallest glimpse into how my father Walks.

This evening, I got to share with my father a conversation I'd had the previous weekend with a friend I hadn't seen in a while.  I'd been on a whirlwind tour visiting friends that I wished I could spend more time with.  One in particular just casually mentioned that it wasn't necessary to see everyone. Which got me a little worked up I must admit. You see, I put particular priority on visiting my friends. Not just email and phone calls, but actually Showing Up.  Being there, live and in-person to share and fellowship. These things are vital to me in a way not easy to explain.  To my friend, I bumbled and fumbled but more or less got my point across or so I thought.  My dad, understood right away.

This evening my father told me another story. This story was about an elder who used to come to his Sunday morning group with the number of people he had called that week.  An elder who still wasn't being effective, because he wasn't Showing Up.  As my father put it, you can share significant news on the phone if you must.  But you can't share a significant moment that way.

This evening my father told me another story. This story was about one of the many people who have shared with my dad during their final hours in this life.  They seek him out, they speak with him, they reveal their fears and ask their questions. Because while they lived and walked and wandered, he continued to Show Up.  He gave a little of himself to each of them. Consistently. He Showed Up.

Even now, the biggest misunderstandings I face are from those who question my sincerity in servitude.  They reserve commitment in their hearts and with their time. They just can't comprehend the value of Showing Up.  It may take until the end of their life, but one day perhaps consistency will show the sincerity and simplicity within me.  Not for me, and not by my strength.  In spite of me and for His glory alone.

Until then, and like my dad, I'll just have to do my best to keep Showing Up.

21 April 2006

Beautiful Sunset

Phoenix is always so amazing this time of year. It was an AMAZING week. this closed it nicely.

11 April 2006

What Did You Expect?

Recently there was a Washington Post article about The Problem with Men.  It was blogged about in several good posts including by Coloring Outside the Lines and theviewfromher.  It's not worth noting that each of these authors was female.

The core article, while giving a nod to a balanced view is fundamentally alarmist in its slant towards key symptoms with little or no perspective on underlying cause. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for alarmist if it gets people discussing root causes. ;-)

Each of the various posts made me consider the core issue from different perspectives which I assume was the point.  As I considered a variety of responses, I decided to just knock them down in the order they came to me.  So while I'll repost on this subject again with other angles, this one covers only my initial reaction.

Reading the article my first response was "What did you expect?"  In today's workplace we are required to give women special treatment but equal pay.  The legal system gives preference to mothers over fathers at almost every turn. Our child support system is woefully corrupt. Casual sexuality leaves men completely disadvantaged in the dating scene. The education system is in majority geared towards a liberal arts education whereas the workforce continues to give preference to the aggressive and technically adept. The number of support and specialty resources for women vastly outstrip the parallels for men. And so on...whine, whine, whine.

Don't get me wrong, many of the protections afford women and mothers are necessary, crucial even. But if a woman can expect equal investment from a company while reserving rights not available to a man for example maternity leave, that's clearly shifting the balance of power.  When a woman can choose to leave a relationship for no cause and still enforce primary financial dependence on the man, clearly the balance of power has shifted.  When the scholarship basis is weighted almost 4 to 1 in favor of female applicants and the cost of education is stratospheric clearly fewer men or going to consider higher education.  Because I'm a coward I don't even want to get into the other more inflammatory examples.

Rest assured I am not so naive or ignorant as to be unaware that there are many examples of how power has been and continues to be abused by men.  I concede that men can really stink.  My point is that anyone can really stink, gender-neutrally.  As we continue to emphasize legalities that are gender-specific we only make this whole problem worse.

I'm all for gender-equality (or race equality or preference equality or height-equality or pc/mac-equality or...) but it has to actually be about equal, not just a form of special treatment.  Let me give one clear, simple example.  It doesn't make every point and surely has multiple impact points.  But it specifically showcases my point about equal pay and special treatment.

As a business owner I currently have to invest equally in women and men in my workforce.  However I must bear an increased cost in the health-care of women that I don't have with men.  As the business owner I am required to fund the cost of preserving a womans job during a maternity leave, regardless of the business disruption. In this simple situation I have employees that cost me considerable more but I am expected to pay them equally.  Of their own accord, they can choose with their health and family planning decisions to increase my costs and the associated business disruptions by more than 100%. Clearly, these employees are not being treated equally because of the special protections afforded one group by our legal system.  Keep in mind this isn't a bogus example, these are actual facts from current reality.  Because these costs are real, and the business must plan to cover them, the average pay available for anyone in that position is pulled down.  This impacts men because now they are faced with taking a lower wage job with no additional benefit to them.  Women however are afforded the equivalent pay but with added benefits. This isn't just one level of inequality it is actually a double impact. A negative impact for a man and a positive incentive for a woman.

When faced with a myriad of special treatments and challenges such as this, it is becomes possible to understand how this environment is demoralizing at a minimum, and ultimately debilitating. With women getting special treatment in the workplace, the legal system, and the education system, did we really expect men to continue being competitive?  If we increase their challenges to success (in the workplace, the social scene, and in education) and hobble them seemingly at random when they attempt to integrate (the child support system, the divorce courts, and the disparity with benefits and support resources). We can't expect them to do as well as women at keeping up, even if we assume they aren't completely beaten-down and demoralized to begin with.

Add to all of this the idea that women are, generally, more capable then men, is it really such news to discover that men aren't being as "successful" as women?  I use the terms "successful" in quotes because it was used in many of the posts and is another aspect I intend to discuss in future follow-ups.

Okay, so I covered my first response and gave away more of my controversial opinions than ever before.  Well, what's a blog for anyway? Flame away.

06 April 2006

Thank God You're Here

Tonight I got to catch an episode of Thank God You're Here from Australia's Network Ten.


From the moment the first skit started until the last skit ended, I didn't stop laughing.  If you get a chance, watch this show.  It's hilarious!

04 April 2006

Disneyland Rides

Disneyland California rocks!

Me and the babies had a great time.  More sets to come soon...