113 Slices
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Medium 9781574411836

The Church Softball League

Robert Flynn University of North Texas Press PDF

The Church Softball League j

My wife and I visited an aunt and uncle in a West Texas town that is best left unidentified. It was big enough to have two

Baptist churches as well as Methodist, Church of Christ, Assembly of God, Bible, and El Sendero churches. It was big enough to have a church softball league, requiring only two churches from neighboring communities.

My uncle, whom I will call Roland to protect the innocent, played first base for Second Baptist Church, that loved all people and all churches, and their softball teams, except First Baptist that they hated worse than sin. And they hated First Baptist softball team worse than they hated sin that someone else got away with.

First Baptist had brick walls, artificial stained glass, an electric organ, and a steeple with a cross that revolved like a windmill. When the wind blew. And the wind always blew. Their team had real uniforms with First Baptist Church on the front.

Second Baptist had clapboard, venetian blinds, and an upright piano. Their team wore blue jeans and tee-shirts with “’round

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Medium 9780596155407

13. The Impossible

Michael Lopp O'Reilly Media ePub

Right now, there’s a CEO standing in front of his 85-person start-up at an all-hands meeting and he’s saying, “In the next 90 days, we need to do the impossible.”

The particular version of impossible doesn’t matter. What matters is that everyone in the room is shocked when he says it. You can tell by the intensity of the silence.

“We’re going to what in the what?”

What gives this guy the right to ask the impossible? Sure, he’s the CEO, but does that mean he gets to stand in front of the room and ask the team to build a levitation machine?

Yeah, it does.

However, this does not mean the CEO isn’t screwing up.

Asking for the impossible is an advanced management technique, and it’s one that is particularly abhorrent to engineers. Engineers are very clear on what is and isn’t possible because they’re responsible for building and measuring all the possible. When you ask an engineer to do the impossible, they often laugh in your face, not only because they think it’s an absurd, irrational request, but they also have the data to prove it.

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34. No Surprises

Michael Lopp O'Reilly Media ePub

At the end of each fiscal year, companies take stock of their performance. How’d we do? Better or worse? This is a natural time to reflect upon individual performance. This is when your boss writes your review.

In my ideal management world, a review is simply a documentation of well-known facts about your performance over the year. It also contains constructive advice and insight regarding how your boss believes you can improve on that performance. My dream is that you already know all of this information because you’ve been getting year-round feedback from your boss.

I wish.

Whether your manager is consistently delivering this information or not, getting written feedback is completely different from receiving it verbally. The path to your brain via the written word is dramatically different than for the spoken word. Reading the highs and lows of the past year makes them permanent and makes them real.

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37. A Disclosure

Michael Lopp O'Reilly Media ePub

My management career began with a misunderstanding.

“Rands, you’re doing a great job on tools development, and I’d really like you to Lead the effort.”

It sounded liked your standard professional compliment. Atta boy! Go run with it! Problem was, I didn’t hear the capital L.

Lead is what my manager had said. Not lead, but Lead. He asked poorly and without definition and specifics, but he did ask. He was subsequently baffled two months later when I said, “I don’t think I can finish this by next month, I need more time.”

Him: “Why don’t you hire another engineer?”

Me: “Wait, I can do that?”

I see three possible situations whereby you might become a manager:

You decide. “I believe I am going to be a better manager than engineer. I choose management.”

You evolve. This is what happened to me. Essentially, a series of small decisions and actions where, at the end, you end up being a manager.

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3. The Itch

Michael Lopp O'Reilly Media ePub

My expiration date for a gig has, historically, been three years. Strangely, this mirrors what I believe is the development cycle to get a product right—three releases before it’s real. One release per year, the product is done...and so am I.

I say this like there’s a plan, like I know that after three years it’s time to move on, but this is not a science. This is historic observation. As I look at my resumé, it’s obvious. In fact, I often start leaving before I even notice I’m leaving.

Leaving starts with an itch.

I rarely answer my phone at work. There are really only two types of people who call: lawyers and recruiters. The lawyers are calling for good reason. They know that anything that passes through the keyboard is forever, and since their jobs hinge on conversations that we might not want to be forever, they use the phone.

Recruiters, on the other hand, are just cold calling. They’ve got a name and the main number of your company and they’re dialing. They don’t care who you are—you’re just 10% of your first year’s salary. And they’re the main reason I never pick up my phone.

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Medium 9780596155407

8. The Culture Chart

Michael Lopp O'Reilly Media ePub

They played bridge every Wednesday at Netscape. In the middle of the cafeteria. Like clockwork.

The players were a collection of ex-SGI guys, and they worked for a variety of different groups at the company, but as I learned a few months later, this core group of men quietly defined the engineering culture of the company...with a bridge game.

In the first 90 days of a new job, you’re going to have a solid feel for the construction of your team. Who is who. Who does what. What they know. Who the freak is. Who the free electron is. In a start-up when there are only 12 of you, you’re done. You know the initial people landscape because, from where you sit, you can see them all and you interact with all of them regularly. In a larger company, however, 90 days is only going to give you a brief glimpse of what you need to know about your coworkers, the company, and its culture.

Fortunately, in a large company, tools and documents have been created to help you traverse the culture and process and figure out where people fit. For example, what do you do when you get a random urgent mail from a coworker stranger? Even if the stranger takes the time to explain who they are and what they do, you still fire up the corporate directory with the simple question: “Who does this bozo work for?”

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Medium 9781574411836

Do You Have a Rapture Lawyer?

Robert Flynn University of North Texas Press PDF

Do You Have a Rapture Lawyer? j

The Lord is going to return very soon, probably before the next election. If your chances of being raptured are greater than those of a pecan pie at a Baptist picnic you need a rapture lawyer. As you rise into glory, what happens to your estate?

You may think you don’t need a rapture lawyer because you have a valid will leaving everything to your wife. What if the rapture comes while you are driving your car, you disappear in the air, and your car goes smash into an X-rated video store?

Your wife is going to the poor house, and your estate is going to a pornographer and pervert.

You may think you don’t need a rapture lawyer because you have given up driving, along with other litigious liabilities, and you have a valid will leaving everything to your wife, children, and grandchildren. What happens if you raised them right, correcting your wife along the way, and they are raptured with you? You may think you will be so happy in heaven with God, the angels, your relatives—including your sainted mother who preceded you—that you won’t care what happens to your estate. Think again. The estate that you spent your life trying to protect from the government is going to be seized by Uncle

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32. The Reveal

Michael Lopp O'Reilly Media ePub

You’re building...something.

The whiteboards are covered with multicolored, indecipherable flowcharts, there are 16 empty coffee cups on your table, and both flat-panel monitors are covered with code. Your plant is dead. Again. It is in this moment that you discover the one thing about the thing you are building, the one feature that, when your users see it, will help them fully understand what you have been building.

This is the Reveal.

The Reveal is the other half of the Holy Shit. You, the developer, create the big idea—the Reveal—and when the idea is discovered by your users, when they recognize the magnitude, they literally say, "Holy Shit.”

A Reveal is a contradiction, and it’s this contradiction that gives the Holy Shit legs. The contradiction lies in the Reveal’s deceptive simplicity. It’s the construction of a very simple idea from previously incoherent complexity. This is how it slips so easily into the mind of the consumer. It’s a single word or image that completely sums up that which was until only recently described by a book, an application, or an entire college degree. The amount of unspoken information contained in a good Reveal is staggering, and that is why, when we see it, we say, “Holy Shit.”

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Medium 9781741795240

A Special Kind of Fool

Simon Winchester Lonely Planet ePub

Bill Fink is a freelance writer based in San Francisco. He is a regular contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle and a variety of regional and international publications. More of his true tales of stupidity can be seen at www.geocities.com/billfink2004. He is currently working on a book about his year of basketball-themed misadventures in the Philippines entitled Dunked in Manila.

According to a Japanese saying, there are two kinds of fools: those who have never climbed Mt Fuji, and those who have climbed it more than once.

I didn’t want to be either kind of fool, so I decided to climb the mountain once, and to do it right.

As a college exchange student in Japan, I had been studying the language for six months. So I was able to translate – a little – when I saw a Japanese TV segment showing jolly people climbing gentle, well-marked paths up the mountain: ‘Something-something-something Mt Fuji something-something walking something-something this spring.’

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Medium 9781741795240

The Garden Kitchen

Simon Winchester Lonely Planet ePub

As a young woman, San Francisco native and resident Holly Erickson ate her way across Europe, sampling the likes of reindeer stroganoff and poached whale – and much delicious food as well. She then studied literature at the University of California, Berkeley, and cooking at the California Culinary Academy. The owner of Mrs Dalloway’s Catering service, she is also writing Lights! Camera! Cuisine!, a cookbook based on cinematic food scenes, and The Devil Sends Cooks, a book about private chefs and their clients, from which ‘The Garden Kitchen’ is excerpted.

Friends of my family had bought a rambling old house in South London. They were an affable young British couple, who thought that their three-storey renovator’s delight was too big to waste on two and so had taken in lodgers. After I graduated from college, but before I’d been to culinary school, they hired me to cook. I would be given one of the vacant rooms and in return would cook for the lodgers and the food-loving couple themselves.

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4. The Sanity Check

Michael Lopp O'Reilly Media ePub

The amount of infrastructure sitting between you and your next gig is impressive.

Ironically, this infrastructure was purchased and configured to get you as close to this job as quickly as possible, but it doesn’t. Corporate job sites are usually outsourced affairs, because HR departments traditionally have neither the budgets nor the expertise to build the system they’d actually use. They shouldn’t; it’s not the core competency.

With half-baked solutions manned by contract recruiters, it’s almost a miracle when your phone rings or an email shows up with a recruiter wanting to set up a phone screen. Someone, somewhere in the organization has successfully mapped you to an open position. This is a really big deal because, in my experience, the chance that you’ll get this job has improved logarithmically. It’s not 50/50, but it’s vastly better than when you were a random resumé sitting on a desk.

There’s a sense of relief when you have an actual conversation with a human being, and as soon as you hang up the phone with the recruiter, you’re going to call your best friend and say, “Hey, I got a interview with The Company!”

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Slouching toward Zion

Robert Flynn University of North Texas Press PDF

Slouching toward Zion j

I

Thurston Morton was the kind of Baptist who when he said

“thirty-ought-six,” he expected everyone to understand what he meant. Elaine was raised in the Church of Christ and when she said Acts 2:38, she expected everyone to understand what she meant.

However, when Elaine reached puberty she became a Baptist because the Baptist Church had something every night.

Giving Elaine an excuse to go out every night. Best of all, her

Church of Christ parents wanted to hear nothing about Baptist meetings, which meant they would never know where she went or who she was with. When she and Thurston became engaged,

Thurston’s buddies warned him that Elaine had dated every male in Chillicothe. “Chillicothe’s not that big,” he said. Five others, including the halt and the married.

Elaine had proved to be a good wife—silent in church, faithful at work, obedient at home—the way the Good Book said. All she asked was that some day they take a trip and

Thurston promised some day they would.

Thurston worked at the grain elevator in the summer and the gin in the fall and listened to radio preachers who promised that God would prosper him if he would prosper them. And

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Medium 9780615928272

Bad Feminist

Dani Burlison Petals & Bones Press PDF

DANI BURLISON

other in so many ridiculous ways. Gallery openings, protest marches, morning cafe rushes, craft fairs, fucking Tot Time with the kids at the local library. Women pick apart other women from head to toe or ignore them completely, even though they’ve met, like, seventeen times. And even though you are standing right fucking there.

“I’m married to a successful civil rights attorney and play in the New York Philharmonic. What do you do?”

“I know. We’ve met a few times. I’m a writer, remember? We met at that charity bike ride and–”

“You don’t have the body of a cyclist at all. And you don’t really look familiar. Have I read your work?”

“Probably not.” You’re too amazing and a way better person than I am. You probably don’t even need to read and just absorb knowledge and worldly wisdom through your perfectly tight pores or your extra- long eyelashes, you evil bitch. My out-of-shape body and I will just go home now and make a voodoo doll with the button I ripped off your purse while you were bragging about your perfect kids.

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Medium 9781741795240

On Safari, Only the Animals Sleep Through the Night

Simon Winchester Lonely Planet ePub

Kelly Watton has been chased by wild horses on Georgia’s Cumberland Island, stalked by a hyena in Botswana and jumped on by a monkey in the Peruvian Amazon. She has travelled near and far to see animals in the wild, but she’s starting to get the impression they’re not so happy to see her. When she’s not daydreaming about Africa, Kelly writes travel stories for newspapers in the US. She lives in Atlanta.

When I woke up it was cold and black inside the tent. It felt like I’d been asleep for hours. The sweet, charred smell of citronella incense hung in the crisp air. At first, I didn’t know whether I had heard a noise or caught the tail end of a dream. I lay still, holding my breath and listening for anything.

Before long, the sharp crack of breaking wood punctured the silence. Only this time, it didn’t stop. Limbs snapped repeatedly, as if something was walking over the fallen branches outside. I had every reason to believe that something was a lion.

Yesterday after arriving in Botswana, my husband, West, and I had flown into the Okavango Delta, where southern Africa’s Okavango River empties into the flat sands of the Kalahari Desert. Supplying much-needed nourishment, the Delta draws Africa’s magnificent wildlife into this untamed and unfenced region. We were visiting during the dry season, when the streams that spill out from the river would be dried up, and those animals would stay close to the few remaining waterholes.

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The Culinary Chaos Principle

Simon Winchester Lonely Planet ePub

Don George is Lonely Planet’s Global Travel Editor and the editor of this anthology. His most recent book is Travel Writing. Don has edited four previous anthologies, including The Kindness of Strangers and A House Somewhere: Tales of Life Abroad. Before becoming a travel writer and editor, he worked as a translator in Paris, where he subsisted happily on biftek-frites and house red wine; a teacher in Athens, where he was honoured to eat the sheep’s eyeballs at an Easter feast; and a TV talk show host in Tokyo, where he was treated to sashimi so fresh that the fish literally flipped off his plate.

As a traveller, I am a fervent follower of the Culinary Chaos Principle. This principle is based on the theory that the universe is like an all-you-can-eat buffet that is proceeding ever so slowly but ineluctably past the prime rib, the tandoori chicken and the kung pao shrimp towards the baked Alaska. Our goal in this smorgasbord is to sample as much as we can before closing time. The best way to achieve this goal is to leave your menu selection in the good hands of chance – a mysterious force you might best imagine as a dapper figure in a tuxedo saying, ‘Hi, I’m Chance, and I’ll be your waitperson this evening.’

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