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2002-11-27 - 9:47 a.m. - BITTER, ANGRY SOUL
Well, I should finish this story (and I will, dammit), but the constant barrage of board calls, customer implementations and pre-sales bullshit seems to absorb and inordinate amount of time. Funny how life gets in the way of one’s desired pursuits, huh?

Anger, anger, anger – I need to lighten up. Lately my obsessions over business and friends no being able to return phone calls has taken an ominous, irritated concern. Ever since my 5 year business school reunion, I am obsessing over the networks complete ignorance of my ex’s philandering. Yes, I remarried right away but, hey, it wasn’t hard to get over the break up when the bitch was fucking some married guy behind my back.

OK, loosen the grip on the steering wheel buddy. You know, I am really happy. Actually, infinitely happier than I was a few years ago, forced into celibacy by a tattered marriage to a career-hungry atheist with a complete lack of moral upbringing. Eh, this is a so-called anonymous forum so I can let loos the occasional bitter comments.

Yes, I took the high road and avoided the strong urge to completely wreck her personal and professional reputation. So why is it so hard to forget it and take pride in my good acts? Unfortunately, the recent sale of my house and disproportionate payoff left me particularly taken-advantage of, and a strange feeling that assumptions are being made about my remarriage to a hometown friend. Fortunately, at least a handful of close friends have finally gleaned the truth and earned me (I think) respect in not attacking the ex publicly.

Why care what thoughts flow through the network outside my immediate circle of friends? The current upheaval at “The company” and obsession over what exactly are my next career steps seem to be triggering a great concern over my inadequate networking skills.

Is it paranoia? Do people really care, or are they simply too busy to call back? I’m busy too – maybe people simply drift on to other friendships over time.

It is frightening that career success is driven by network skills, and not the naïve assumption that it is job performance. In a way it is, since hard work makes others look better and garners recognition. Unfortunately, it means having people enjoy working with you, fostering strong interpersonal biz relationships and avoiding harsh criticism of incompetence. Not that I haven’t done anything stupid to warrant a lifted eyebrow… However, it is a military-learned trait to push hard and use less than sensitive methods to get people to do their jobs. Perhaps not the most career-enhancing move in the long run after all.

It smacks of my disregard and contempt for wishy-washy “you like me, don’t you” workers or glad-handing sales types with Teflon smiles. I guess that’s why, despite my occasional abrasiveness, I have great job opportunities right now, when the moronic business partner I started this dog with is desperate to stay employed at the only job that lets him smile and keep a 20 hour work week.

Thanksgiving – a good time to reflect on what good things I have and who I am. Better yet – compare my self-respected persona with some of the pathetic excuses for professionals around me. Falling back on arrogant superiority does help smooth over the twisted bitterness, doesn’t it?

2002-11-14 - 6:39 p.m. - BURIAL AT SEA - PART 1
The seas towered over the sub's sail like great walls of gray mass, slamming into the steel of the hull and the two of us lucky souls clinging to the open cockpit like foolish marching band geeks that get caught on the field after halftime by linebackers. We even had the stupid uniforms on. Oil-soaked, seawater drenched khakis for me and the standard issue bell bottom dungarees and faded blue shirt of the lookout, now soaking wet as well. Of course, we both wore bright orange exposure suits over our working uniforms, which only worked as loose fitting diving suits to keep the gallons of water dumped over our heads safely soaking our clothes and stinging whatever open cuts we might have accumulated climbing around the countless valves, pipes and sharp edges that fill your standard issue US navy submarine.

This wasn't hurricane strength winds and seas, mind you. Just the thoroughly impressive 25 footers rolling across the Va-Capes operating area off Norfolk, Virginia. Contrary to popular belief, submarines do not always glide along under the surface, never subjected to the rolling swells and freak storms that pummel the average surface ship or unlucky sailor crossing the Atlantic. At any given moment a handful of submarines are running around in the far reaches of the world. Despite the non-existence of a truly formidable foe (the aging Russian navy now rusting in scattered ports, fallen victim to a lack of money for operations or repairs) the Navy budget is fully protected through years of military careerist budgeting, multi-decade pork-barrel politics and a bloated, incomprehensibly expensive and wasteful infrastructure that must be maintained to 'keep up force readiness'. Submarines operating off the east coast must transit many miles before submerging, to avoid the many shallow spots typical of the Atlantic shelf. This causes envious and elitist thoughts toward the west-coast sailors, who not only see beautiful south pacific sunsets but also get to submerge practically next to the pier into the deep depths of the Pacific. So we withstood the pummeling of the sea for many hours, lumbering out to the unmarked spot off the eastern seaboard where we would disappear from the surface world, whereabouts unknown for all practical (and impractical) reasons. A sub isn't designed for surface transit, so rough seas slow movement to a gentle, rocking crawl.

We were an older class of submarine, not yet updated with the latest newfangled gadgets like vertical missile launch tubes or retractable planes. We were an attack sub as well, lacking the roomy space and homemade comforts of ballistic missile subs that deploy on set schedules with two sets of crews. No, we were the rough and tumble hunters, out to sea at a moment’s notice to spy on foreign shores, track enemy ships, and generally remain a thorn in the side of all parties foolish enough to cross swords with the American homeland. In rough seas, the fairwater planes are the worst feature - large 'wings' projecting from the small tower that projects from the submarine's deck, elevating those of us squeezed into the cockpit on top about 20 feet above water level. Waves sweeping over the submerged deck slam into the side of the sail and crash down on the large, 10 foot planes and create a loud shudder which reverberates through the entire football-field-length hull. Amazing how thin a 3 inch thick hull seems when you’re inside, listening to the sea trying to fight it’s way in.

Modern fast attack subs have evolved very little from the World War II era submarines that populate movies. Simple space planning and nautical design drives the crowded conditions. A submarine is limited to a size that a compact naval reactor can push through the water while maintaining some maneuverability. The subsequent nuclear reactor and engine room takes up two thirds of the space, complete with piping, electronics, pumps and machinery to create electricity, drive the propeller, make water, create oxygen and all the hundreds of other things that keep the self-contained community functioning. Russians aren’t so lucky, savings space and improving speed by cutting down on ‘non-essentials’ like reactor shielding – thus the nickname ‘Widowmaker’ for an early model. The remaining third is shared by torpedoes, missiles, weapons, navigation equipment, weapons systems, launchers, sonar equipment, periscopes and control equipment. Last, the living quarters, galley, and shitters that the crew actually use. Even the officer's dining table doubles as an operating table. After it's all said and done, the crew itself becomes limited by simple space considerations. The end result is an understaffed crew with little time to relax or even sleep. An uninterrupted schedule of maintaining the reactor, monitoring weapons, navigating, listening to sonar, fixing broken equipment, practicing drills, cleaning, engaging the enemy and all the other activities that any warship must do. Thus creates a bizarre colony of highly trained professionals, thrown together in close quarters with nerves rubbed raw by sleep deprivation and an engulfing atmosphere of high stress. Thus reveals a small benefit of being officer of the deck, navigating the sub from the small cubby-hole on top of the conning tower and counting the hours until sunlight, moonlight and breaths of clean, fresh, seawater soaked air slide into memory when the ship finally submerges.

2002-11-14 - 6:32 p.m. - DISAPPEARING ACT
When it rains, it pours. Why is it that no job seems to have a happy medium? It is either mind-numbing boredom, or a full in-basket of activities THAT MUST BE DONE NOW! How is babysitting another potential acquirer on a due diligence fishing trip that important? Single-handedly solving the all-important optimization that will SURELY change our customer fortunes? Analyze new customer data for the all-important cost-benefit results that they will mull over for months with hand-wringing apoplepsy over clear cost savings. Big company employees are so pathetic with their irrational cover-your-ass lack of initiative.

Please god, do not let me be desparate enough to become one of them again.

Well, time to add content, now that the curious crowds have subsided over illegitimate references...

2002-11-01 - 1:05 p.m. - ANONIMITY
Well, the inherently public nature of weblogs has provided a rapid education in un-read anonymity. One quick reference to oneself (yes, it was a narcissistic self-comment urging myself to please, please stop the addictive need to add another weblog entry) results in a quick link and a subsequent slew of visitors.

It certainly speaks volumes to another writer's established readership, doesn't it?

If I'm lucky, people won't bother reading my actual content and I can sink back into anonymous entries for the sole purpose of improved writing skills.

The attention does provide additional motivation to produce worthwhile content, however. So thank you!

2002-11-01 - 11:15 a.m. - FIERY RETORTS AND FROZEN BITS
Cold - but not too cold - on the bike ride in today. Crunch of leaves and overcast gloominess - hey, this could be Pittsburgh. I always feel better once I hit the road - it is the working up to it that creates dread and discontent. Is this the day an 18 wheeler with shiny big-busted-women-reclining mudflaps finally sends me to my maker? Instead, I hit a sidestreet on the way to the bike path and catch...

'FAG'

With the wind whipping by, it could have been anything - even 'nice BIKE' (it is a sleek shiny Italian number). Too late - vitriolic response ensues. The finger - how nice. Aren't I a little old for that? To 3 hoods...I mean kids..waiting for school. 2 black, one white. Probably left them looking at each other perplexed, however. Who the hell rides their bike after labor day? In the cold? And then gets pissed for the rather appropriate derogotory comment for such blatant stupidity?

Chalk it up to the excessive adreneline, creeping coldness and seething anger at my own stupidity for being way out in the 'burbs riding in the cold. Hey, who would blame me, though? I was in Cobb county, close enough to Kennesaw to smell the cow shit falling off the overalls of those red-neck mofos. Hmmm...can african americans be rednecks? Guess so.

Hey, lets skirt political correctness. Why is it that the biggest idiots I have faced on a bike have been white trash? Even in the poorest rural backwaters outside Chicago, Norfolk, Pittsburgh, Philly, Phoenix and Atlanta...are young punkass trash with camaro cutz? Ironically borderline anti-white racist for someone who grew up in the backwater to end all backwaters, eh?

Damn, it was worth it to take the nephews trick-or-treating. It is funny how even young kids can sense the underlying mischievousness of all hallows - I think they can tell it will be fun to grow up, put on costumes and run around getting drunk and doing stupid shit. They certainly are entertaining - that is until they shove a few handfuls of sugar-based products in their mouth and then it's off to the races. Question: how many times does a 2 year old have to be read the same book before he finally nods off? Answer: Trick question - he never nods off, just keeps jumping on the bed in a candy haze rivaling any emphetamine high a junky could achieve.

Writing is time intensive, isn't it? It does present an objectivistic perspective on all activities, however. For instance, my current work with Open Source is cool, but how do these programmers motivate? I am too inherently lazy to work that hard for free. Do they have some clever 'work hard now, get rich later' scheme?

Hmmm... wasn't that the whole idea behind stock options?

Well, back to optimization, constraint-based heuristics and psuedo-artificial intelligence shit. It is healthier than figuring out what machiavellian schemes the board of directors are manufacturing behind my back... although that sounds a bit paranoid, doesn't it?

Well, enough cathartic self-inflicted writer's therapy.

2002-10-30 - 3:40 p.m. - FUCKIN' SHUT UP ALREADY
Wow, can't seem to stop adding stuff today. I shouldn't say shut up, though. Oddly enough, in my wife's house growing up 'shut up' was considered a severe no-no, but mild profanity in such forms as 'shit' and 'ass' were OK. Her parents are pretty cool, huh?

Anyhoo, the jury is still out on Mimi - is she a gifted, if young and un-world-wise, Medill-do whose work is diluted by the daily nature of her additions? Or is she one of the spoiled, snotty oh-so-smart products of Evanston Community College I spent my formative college years with? Either way, she has a few years to go to compare with the sublime insight and creeping sadness of my hometown Hollis. Or does that just happen with (ungraceful) aging?

2002-10-30 - 3:31 p.m. - MORE ON SUCKY VCs
Oh yeah - my retort. Actually, not a retort since I agree with the wise and beneficent ND.

***********************************

Yeah! That's the kind of ND rant I don't get enough of! Well spoken.

Unfortunately, I just finished a board update with said VCs and Harvard-MBA types. The sad truth is that they don't know what the hell they are doing either - especially at running small, agile, bleeding-edge-technology companies that have to do exactly as you stated: balance technology innovation with solving real business problems with effective cost controls with effective project management and execution. That leaves a pretty small sub-section of the business world populace.

Sounds like a good job for graduates of the Dohse school of hard knocks and mis-micro-management. With a graduate degree in workoholism and integrity.

ND: try to get a quick trip to Agra in - no trip to India is complete without viewing the Taj in person. Especially after sacrificing a pair of lungs - makes ya appreciate catalytic converters, don't it.

Oh, also remember to invest in Tata Industries while you're there.

**************************************

Hey, I kind of like venting in a semi-public (if unread) forum 'anonymously'. Cool.

2002-10-30 - 3:25 p.m. - VCs SUCK
I feel compelled to add content, but what the hell, I'll take the easy approach. How typical.

Excerpts from (one of many) email exchanges today. Shhhhh....don't tell anyone I waste so much time.

*************************ND's RANT************************

Please help me with something.

On what basis would Mr. Cringley make the statement that "

in some cases the founders were at fault and should properly have been

replaced, but in many cases it was something very different at work --

simple greed on the part of the financiers and venture capitalists

Bull*#%$!!!!! The fact is that most "visionaries" and "founders" (present

company excluded) are sadly inept at changing their socks much less

managing a group of people against a set of tasks or requirements. To say

that companies go under purley because of professional management and greed

is ludricrous and self-serving.

If Mr. Cringley was anything but a complete academic sissy, he would have

posed a more meaningful dialogue around balancing the competing demand for

technical innovation against the requirement for financial accountability

and investor return. That's where the interesting debate lies......not

some simpleton insult about "sell-outs" or similar sophmoric slams.

I would enjoy reading the case study that demonstrates the economic

viability of massive, unstructured, poorly directed research.

Frankly....most of (myself included) just aren't bright enough to be IBM

fellows. Were that the case...then maybe

Let me sum it up - the article is a good fluff piece for the evening news

in a time when the robber barons have returned however it caves quickly

under direct investigation.

I'm finished now.....you can have the soap box back

Gotta run - time for the rickshaw ride home.

**************spawned by my missives**************************

It is pretty hard to feel sorry for Michael Dell and the other 'poor

entrepreneurs'. They chose to bring in VC money - and try to tell me it

wasn't greed. The only reason families take their successful private

businesses public and young entrepreneurs bring in VC money: cashing out.

Otherwise, they would stick to hard work and slowly building the business

over time through organic, self-funded growth. Otherwise it will involve

entering public markets, bringing in outside professionally managed money

and/or M&A - which all incur the deep involvement of professional money

grubbers (more than likely MBA-trained).

The right thing to do is still maximize shareholder value for public

companies - standard MBA training. The wrong thing to do (ala Tycho and

Enron) is mislead investors by selling a long-term play and taking a

short-term strategy. Most cases of that are rooted in management trying to

get rich off stock price manipulation, which is NOT maximizing shareholder

value.

that's my story and I'm stickin' to it...

-----Original Message-----

From: MB

Sent: Tuesday, October 29, 2002 1:59 PM

To: ND; me

Subject: FW: Interesting Article...

This weeks I, Cringely is a frightening monologue on the plight of

over-managed companies: VC's and professional managers who are

looking to make a quick buck, even if it consigns the company to the

rubbish heap.

The link is http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/pulpit20021024.html

2002-10-30 - 3:14 p.m. - CONVERGENCE
It was Shreikback that sang 'Everything That Rises Must Converge'.

Like a great unified theory or sudden Einsteinian realization, I came across this Reason article today. What an unexpected surprise to find references to Suck AND independent film in a rationalized expose on the blandness of Walter Mondale. Simply Awesome.

Can't beat that with a stick.

2002-10-28 - 3:08 p.m. - WRITER'S BLOCK
I guess it is difficult to reflect actual moods and feelings of myself in a journal. It is simply too time consuming to create a daily synopsis of my life's emotional and physical activities, with writer's commentary. I do so want to avoid a jumping, disjointed narrative ala Hunter S and Jack Karouac, unless I happen to go on multi-day drug-induced hallucinagenic binges. Judging by my post-Halloween party hangover after a handful of tequila and beers, I'm too wimpy for that. My body doth protest.

So, the process of writing. When does someone sit to put pen to paper, so to speak? Unless professionally employed for said task (nope), I will only end up catching current thoughts down from the thoughtstream aether when the mood strikes me - more likely than not being a dark, self-reflective point in time. Maybe I should try banging on the traditional typewriter, acting out the fat, stogie smoking sportswriter of days long gone? Mike Royko, where have you gone?

How about a microphone, recording thoughts to be later transcribed. Life would go on, but thoughts could be captured in real time. Note to self: was Night Shift the only decent role Michael Keaton ever got?

Either way, my hope is pegged on the fact that my commitment to writing consistently = improved writing skills. Hmmmm, wonder if Stephen King's critics agree?

I suppose I already started walking down the meandering path of a darker self-reflective mood as I created this diary. Why Das Bot? For me, it symbolically references all the psychological drama, physical and mental strain, sleep deprivation, and crushing pressure of sea (read: internal psyche and self created environment) described in this masterpiece of celluloid.

Born under a lucky star I guess.

Too much information? Probably - but what writer bearing their soul doesn't reveal plenty about their internal struggles. Aren't most passionate writers going to produce semi-autobiographical work, anyway? No one starts a diary to write a third-person fictional novel, that's for sure. Should I delve into the dangers of throwing too much personal information out onto the internet? Nah - most of it is out there anyway, and I ignore emails and most phone calls anyway. So there.

Hey, nice way to circle back to the process of writing.

2002-10-28 - 2:33 p.m. - LEARN THE HARD WAY
Well, that sucked. Lost a whole bunch of work-in-process by linking without saving the latest entry. From now on I need to save off-line and then paste. Lesson learned. Noted.

2002-10-28 - 1:50 p.m. - HMMMPH.
Well, I considered deleting all my entries but...who's gonna read this anyway? Interesting to read back through the entries - I hate to think I am that schizophrenic or manic depressive but yeah, my daily routine has lately been driven by boredom and an overwhelming need to find some creative outlet.

The current board struggles continue. Why again did I start the company by partnering with an idiot? It is so tempting to bail on resume building 'stretch jobs' and go for the pay-the-bills type job and live the bohemian professional cyclist lifestyle I have always dreamed about. Hmmm...maybe not.

This is supposed to be about entertaining the guests, right. OK then.

Good luck finding the rest of these on the web - worth the search. Mr. Gilstrap also provided much pee-your-pants humor here.

Yes, I still have a Phoenix New Times fetish. So sue me - one of the few pleasurable memories of that dusty valley.

While I'm at it, another link to another defunct (or simply non-updated?) site that provided much laughter - Disturbed Auctions.

Well, enough for now.

2002-10-25 - 3:32 p.m. - SELF LOATHING?
As I continue reading SmartyPants's's' website (do I sound like an English major? huh?), I chuckle. No. Actually, in a leaves-falling-melancholy-reminescent way it reminds me of college. Many years have passed, but the cleverness, the hipness, the coolness I could never achieve that so shone through in the artsy south campus types. You see, up in undergrad I was one of those. An engineer. A computer engineer nonetheless, although society has changed much since my early years, with a newfound respect for our inherent geekness, internet greed-mongering aside.

But back to campus inadequacy. Worse, a ROTC from the backwoods. So many smart(ypants?) well-travelled people. Been to Manhattan? India? How about Cleveland forchrissakes? Nope. Well, back to the sub-basement for you...get back to coding.

Actually, that's what consulting felt like too. A fish out of water - no Harvard b-school polish, no silver-spoond-I-grew-up-at-the-Four-Seasons-between polo-lessons pomposity. Not even some rich-or-not-I-am-super-aggressive-every-conversation-is-an-intellectual-duel sort of way. Oh well, still going for long sado-masochistic runs to flush out the demons.

But even that doesn't measure up, does it? Too many ultra athletes with one-up-man-ship. College crew. Naval Academy goons with the no-pain-no-gain oooohraaah. Hardcore cyclists with nothing but suffering in the saddle to show for their lives.

Hmph. Better get off the self-flagellation soap box. Otherwise I'll stress myself into another coma of self-induced overextension and attempt to over-succeed by externally-defined metrics.

2002-10-25 - 2:33 p.m. - STREAM OF UNCONSCIOUSNESS
I love this blog thang. So much creativity - like it was back in the old 'let me put up a crappola personal website with Frontpage', before the corporates and greed-mongers took over url_land. I love the colorful, artistic stuff. It reminds me of all the cool art Shellie puts out. Besides, not everyone needs to puke teenage angst all over the web - the world is gloomy enough as it is. Especially on a rainy day like today.

2002-10-25 - 2:01 p.m. - LITTLE SMOKEY LINKS
Oh. Let me add a link so I know how it's done. Might as well link to a cool site . btw am I the only one who misses the sucksters? No, not the net geek hit-and-run-with-the-money on their Net Mogul listing, but the charmingly witty commentary by the nyc gang at suck. Ahhh...back in the day. I do remember getting stuck in many airports in the consulting boom, desperately trying to log in from whatever local access phone I could take off the jack and dial from, guessing local phone access numbers in a sad attempt to pull offline content from suck and The New Times before the long flight back to sunshine and misery. Mmmmmm.....it reflects poorly on my character to think back on sipping wine in first class and reading about the misery of others. Well.....I had my own personal demons to fight. If I only knew better days were coming.

2002-10-25 - 12:34 p.m. - SURFIN' AINT CUTTIN' IT
Why do I feel like my brain is turning to mush? No job should entail looking for things to do - it may sound listless, like 'find something to do, there is always something that needs to be done'. So what. You shouldn't have to beg and borrow to find the things that need to get done, when you started the damn company. Clearly, I have failed to teach people to keep me informed. Or. Worked myself out of a job.

Ugh. I would rather be overworked and look up to find the clock suddenly at 7pm. When it rains it pours? What happened to happy mediums - like a challenging job that stresses the intellect but doesn't require 100 hours a week and sacrificed weekends?

2002-10-24 - 6:06 p.m. - WHY AM I STILL HERE?
Ummmm.......no I don't think so. I am totally apathetic today.

I haven't worked out since Sunday's race laps - I have decided to take the week off until Saturday. I was also going to not drink anything but I feel like going out and drinking pool and playing beer. Our vice versa.

Hey, look at me - maybe I should have a nonsensical blog too.

 

 

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