Rocket Science

§ October 14, 2014 15:01 by beefarino |

So, funny story in honor of Ada Lovelace day.

My first job was pretty amazing.  I worked with a bunch of really smart people doing really smart things.  Space things.  And optics things.  Now my role on this team was fairly meager – I basically helped the documentation team try and capture all of the smart things the other smarter people were doing – but it was still amazing to be around that stuff.  Space telescopes, satellites, cell phones, automotive components, this team helped design all sorts of useful and interesting crap.

Anyway, one woman on the engineering team – we shall call her Mary although that’s not her name – had a very sharp sense of humor and keen hearing, both of which come into play in this tale.  One evening we were out celebrating …. something – a release perhaps?  maybe a project wrap-up?  There was drinking and nogoodnicking.  One of my outside-of-work friends from my previous stint in grad school was there – let’s call him Joe.  This evening Joe happened to be hitting on Mary.  Hard.  I watched from my bar stool several meters away while he strutted about her like a peacock with a spare ego.  Mary was unimpressed and Joe eventually took the hint.

So Joe politely adjourns from Mary and joins me at the bar.  I asked him, “So, what do you think of Mary?  She’s kind of awesome, right?”

Joe sighed and said, “Yeah, she’s cute.  But she’s no rocket scientist.”

I started laughing.  That loud obnoxious laugh you may know.  Joe wanted to know why.  So I turned around and shouted, “Hey Mary, what is it you do for a living?”

She finished her beer, slammed the stein on the table, stood up to look Joe square in the eye and as she was leaving, she said:

I’m a fucking rocket scientist.

And the best part?  It was true.  100% honest.  She did rockets for a living.  A literal rocket scientist that sends things into space.  Ego Joe never stood a chance.

Re-Entry

So originally this post was a bit different.  It wasn’t a story, it was a rant.  I didn’t like the rant so I wanted to turn it into something positive. 

Here’s the thing – Ada Lovelace is important, and I’ve told my girls about her because I want them to know that women have had a profound impact on society.  Having that history is vital for them I think – I do believe the technical contributions from women are under-celebrated and often deliberately downplayed.  So I want them to know about Ada and what she contributed, and that we can literally thank her for my career and our family’s happiness.

But I know that won’t do anything real for them.  I mean, why should I expect stories of Ada to have a significant impact on my girls, when similar stories about C.S. Babbage had fairly milquetoast effects on me when I was their age.  Interesting, perhaps necessary, but it won’t light their fuse.

Which is why I spend so much time finding Marys.  Living people my girls can see doing real and amazing things, people they can talk to about wonders and interests.  Sure I want them to know that “once upon a time there was Ada,” but I think knowing that there is Mary right here, right now, doing really amazing stuff, is far more important to their mindset.

My biggest fear for my daughters is that they will come to believe that they can’t do something because of their gender or sex.  My biggest tool to counteract that fear, is to show them someone who can – someone like Mary.



Two Notes to Self

§ October 6, 2014 10:29 by beefarino |

Dear Jim;

This letter is to inform you that my last day at Code Owls LLC will be Oct 31, 2014.  I have been offered a full-time opportunity to do amazing things with an amazing group of people, and I simply cannot turn away from this venture.  I will provide more details when I am able to do so, but if you appreciate how much I’ve enjoyed working with you, you will understand the potential of my new venture.

I know that self-improvement is something you value greatly.  In that vein, I would like to share a few thoughts with you about our time together. 

You are the best boss for which I have worked.  You are also the worst.  You have high expectations but balance them equally to my work and my life.  The amount of responsibility you place on my shoulders is immense – crippling at times, but the freedom you offer in exchange is worth it.  You are hyper-critical of my work, but at the same time you provide any resource necessary for me to succeed.  You expect me to work hard for my living, but don’t expect my work to be my life.

I’ve grown immensely these last five years with you.  Thank you for the opportunity to work together - I would welcome the chance to do so again.

Best regards,

Jim


Jim -

I’m sad at your decision, but I am definitely excited for you!  I know you did not come to this decision lightly – actually you tend to overthink these things if I’m being honest.  The value of your contributions to the company have been substantial, as evidenced by your being named “Employee of the Year” every year you’ve been with us!

I do put a lot of effort into becoming a better me, and I get the impression you do as well.  So let me share a few items that you might want to take with you as you leave our humble company…

You have certainly grown, but you’ll never be done learning.  That’s not an insult, it’s a compliment.  You don’t fear unknown things, and that’s how you succeed in this industry.  You’re not afraid to say “I don’t know” and that’s refreshing and necessary. 

You’ve learned what makes a “good decision.”  It’s not always what’s best for you, or for your employer; sometimes it’s the better of two bad choices.  Although I tend to question the processes behind your decisions, that isn’t an indication of mistrust.  It’s just how I do.

Also, you need to stop showing up to work in your robe.  It isn’t really a good idea, ever.  Seriously, stop doing it.  Put some pants on.

Despite the robe thing, I too would love to have you back with us at Code Owls LLC.  If you ever find yourself looking for another opportunity, please consider us.

Obliged,

Jim



If it’s Worth the Going it’s Worth the Ride

§ August 9, 2014 18:34 by beefarino |

My best friend from childhood is Lee Carpenter. 

He and I lived in adjacent lots that shared a corner.  That corner never grew grass because we were always stomping back and forth between our houses.  He had a swing set in his yard and I had piney woods with trees to climb and access to the creek.  He used to let me ride his larger Big Wheel because I was bigger than him and couldn’t ride mine anymore, but that way we could both cruise around our neighborhood together looking for trouble.  I went to his First Communion even though I had to wear uncomfortable clothes and no idea what a First Communion was or what was happening.  Our Lego collections routinely intermingled.  Once he added pretend wings to our pretend pirate ship because he knew I was deadly afraid of the ocean.  We protected each other when our neighbor’s big mean dog got out of its yard and came after us.  We took a dance class together because our moms wanted us to.  We once spent an afternoon figuring out how matchbox cars are put together by smashing ours apart.  Lee’s awesome, and I just got off the phone with his mother.  He passed away on July 24, 2014 from a rare germ cell cancer he apparently carried in him for his whole 41 years on Earth. 

Getting back in touch with Lee has been on my GTD “someday” list.  For years.  I’m looking at the list right now, and it’s on there.  It just says “Lee?” but I know what it means.  I probably copied that item from list to list maybe a dozen times over the span of years.  Something I should really do at some point.

And that’s as far as my effort went.  The stupid line item doesn’t matter anymore.  It’s no longer within my purview as to whether it happens.  It’s a terribly harsh reminder that as important as goals are, they’re just meaningless noise if you don’t make the effort.

So I know a Lee whose father left, but I’ll never know the Lee who raised a son on his own.

I know a Lee who couldn’t read.  I’ll never know the Lee who taught himself to do so in his Twenties. 

I know a Lee who went to some “special” school no adult would elaborate on.  I’ll never know the Lee that worked in the Smithsonian restoring historical pieces.

I know a Lee who could build homes for Star Wars action figures out of Legos.  I’ll never know the Lee who could recreate authentic furniture stains and polishes from different historical periods.

I’m happy to know the Lee I know.  But I think I’ll always wonder about the other one.  He sounds like a pretty great guy.

So hey, why don’t you stop reading this and do that thing you’ve wanted to do that you haven’t done.  Please.



A Great Start to April

§ April 8, 2014 16:30 by beefarino |

WP_000468I’m pleased to report that I’ve been renewed as a PowerShell MVP for another year!

I spent the bulk of 2013 focused on making open-source software – much of it orbiting PowerShell and integration with various technologies like transactional file systems and scriptcs.  I was nervous about losing the award by focusing less on teaching and speaking, but thankfully the team saw value in what I’ve been up to.

Looking ahead, I don’t plan on changing my focus much.  I have plenty of projects in the pipeline (pun intended) that I want to get to a release point in the coming months, and yes most of them still orbit PowerShell.  No reveals here, but perhaps a few hints – do you work with large SSIS package deployments?  Do you like the idea of SeeShell but not so much the cost?  Oh, or maybe you find yourself wishing PowerShell could just learn things by looking at data?

Sound interesting?  Then perhaps you should keep a close eye on my little blog this year.