January 2016

Going wrong

“Have you ever spoken up when you saw something going on that was wrong? Were you scared? What ended up happening?”

Every time I see a television drama about a bunch of people on an airplane and the pilot is incapacitated and they have to figure out how to land it, I always fantasize about how I would do it. (The Canadian television show “The Aviators” has an episode on this, where they put someone at the controls of a passenger jet simulator and “talk him down.”)

Every time I see a news story about attacks or hostages or some other disaster, I always try to imagine how I could have helped if I were there. And I work for a company that has a lot of contact with the public, so every time I’m out and about I try to keep an eye out for anything going wrong that I could help put right.

Hindsight is 20/20, of course, so my imaginings while I’m watching the TV news probably aren’t realistic. And when I’m out in public there are people far better trained out there for anything that could happen. So no, I’ve never seen anything going wrong that I would speak up about. Though I’d like to think that if I did, I could handle it.

Just about the only time I feel inclined to speak up is about our software projects at work, where management continually pushes for new features instead of ever allowing us time to go back and clean up what we’ve got, and frequently I try to convince people that this is just making what we’ve got harder and harder to maintain. But I’m not good at convincing people, especially where money is involved, so I usually refer to this as “tilting at windmills.”

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Lazy day

“What is your favorite way to spend a lazy day?”

I was born the year that “Information Overload” became a thing. I grew up with the Internet supplying whatever I wanted to know about whatever. Before the World-Wide Web there was USENET, so instead of Googling for an answer I would post a question to a newsgroup; people eager to show off would be quick to share their information and their opinions. So not only did I learn details about technology and politics and religion and economics, but I also learned the points on which people disagree and I got to see them spar in public. This is arguably a better way to learn than reading a Wikipedia article.

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