Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Work Integrity

Ever watch the HBO series "The Newsroom"? I just started watching season 1. I know that I am a year behind, but I don't care. I like watching a show when I can view episodes in rapid fashion. No waiting a week for the next episode. Just click on the next one in HBO On Demand and no waiting.

I mention this show because I love how truthful each character is with each other. Sure it is a TV show and people don't talk like that in real life. I feel that is a shame. One thing I appreciate about a person is knowing where I stand with them. I have had only one supervisor in my career in which I knew exactly where I stood with him. No wondering if I was doing a good job. He would tell you. Good or bad he let me know, and I loved it.

I have worked in many team settings in which the truth was rarely told. Sure someone was told the truth about their abilities if it was good news or bad news on an easy target (low on the totem pole), but never if it will be uncomfortable for both parties. So, what ends up happening is poor performers that are not easy targets go on not knowing that they are not living up to standard and many times promoted.

Who suffers? Mostly the high performer who is really low on the totem pole. High performers who are not seen as promotable often carry the team. At least in my experience. I have witnessed time after time someone get a promotion because the team performed well and that person is either good at selling themselves or has the right credentials. Many times the promoted person was the dead weight the team had to carry and still go a good job, but gets all the credit because no one shared the truth of the situation.

I would love to work for a company in which honesty and integrity were not buzz words, but actual values. A place in which an honest exchange does not end up with hurt feelings and a trip to HR. The only place I have seen this happen has been on sports teams I was a member. If my performance was not good enough to be a starter, I rode the bench. I didn't whine and complain to the equivalent of amateur sports HR - my parents. Instead I worked to improve my technique or conditioning or whatever shortcoming I was told I had in hopes of improving enough to get on the field.

Why can't working in an office be the same? "Sorry, Jimmy you don't get a raise because you cannot perform tasks a and b that are critical to your job." Then Jimmy goes and works on tasks a and b to get better at them and improve his skill set. Instead we hide behind a 1 to 5 rating system and give a 2 or 3 in hopes Jimmy gets the picture. It doesn't matter anyway because corporate is giving everyone the same raise dictated by budget constraints. Boy I bet Jimmy really learned his lesson.

Maybe you view this post as someone just bitching. Maybe you are right, but think about it. How many times have you seen someone getting ahead and you know in your heart that they are below average and maybe even terrible at their job? Don't you wish someone was honest with someone up the ladder and the truth was well received? Instead the company will unknowingly suffer from the poor performance. Employees become disenfranchised, moral lowers and productivity falls. That seems so much better that facing the truth. Right?

Monday, July 2, 2012

You Can Go Back Home

I just returned from visiting my parents. They live in Yuma, Colorado. They moved back to Yuma three years ago after a 26 year stint in Salt Lake City, Utah. Yuma is the town I spent most of my school years. I was there fifth grade to high school graduation.

When I graduated high school, I could not wait to get away from that town. I disliked the town and most of the people I went to school with. I could not tell you why, but I did.

I did not visit Yuma until my parents moved back. I would travel about anywhere to see my parents. So, going to Yuma was a small price to pay to see them.

With an accidental step into Facebook, I started to hear from former classmates. At first I just accepted the friend request and continued to ignore Facebook. Until Xbox Live added Facebook functionality. I, on a whim, posted on Facebook from my Xbox mentioning my skill to do it. Immediately a classmate I haven't seen for years asked for my Xbox screen name so we could game together. I complied. We still play first person shooters together and I look forward to the times we get to do that.

Last year just before my Thanksgiving trip to see my parents I mentioned that I would be going to Yuma to my Xbox friend. He said he would also be back to Yuma at that time and we should hang out in person, without a controller in hand. I agreed and we exchanged cell numbers. Another classmate that I have kept in contact with over the years without the help of the internet was also going to be home for the holiday. So, he agreed to meet us and we would have a mini class reunion.

The Friday after Thanksgiving we decided to meet at the local watering hole and catch up. My Xbox classmate invited a couple of other classmates to join us and our numbers grew to five. The two new invites were women that I hardly knew in high school. The fact they remembered me and I them was surprising. We chatted and had a good time that night and I started to feel more of a kinship to my classmates. Probably more than I did during our school days.

Flash forward to last week and I find myself back in Yuma. As usual we spent a lot of time driving to bigger towns for some entertainment. We always do this as Yuma does not have much to offer. On one of the days we were in town we attended a flea market organized by the local credit union. While browsing the tables I ran into a classmate's mother. We had a good conversation. Again, I had another positive moment in Yuma.

While we were talking my mom found one of my classmates that worked at the bank and brought her over. We hadn't seen each other in years. I thought it would be a little awkward since she was my prom date in high school, but it was not. It was actually nice to see her and catch up a little. I think my mom enjoyed this part. She still has our prom photo hanging on the wall in her house. I guess she thought we would end up together. Well, that is not going to happen, but I did start to realize that Yuma and Yuma-ites are not the assholes I remember. Maybe it was me and they were fine. That is probably the more likely scenario, but it feels better to blame them.

Anyway what I am trying to say is that after a year or so of reacquainting myself with the town and the people I spent so much of my past with, I find I do not dislike it anymore. In fact, I look forward to my next visit this Thanksgiving. I guess I can go back home.

Monday, June 18, 2012

UFO Sighting

I have always been fascinated by the paranormal fields. I watch every show about UFOs, bigfoot, ghosts, Bermuda Triangle, etc. I am not sure I could be called a true believer. I have more of a curiosity of the people who have the encounters. My belief was that if you believed hard enough you can see what ever you want in a photo or video or in distant lights in the sky. I, also, believe that a smaller percentage of the encounters just cannot be explained conventionally. Maybe one day we will be able to explain, but for right now we cannot.

I thought that I would never see anything like a UFO or bigfoot in my life. I thought it would be cool if I did, but did not expect it. This brings me to my encounter.

Saturday, June 9, 2012 approximately 10:00 pm.

My wife, her mother, and myself had just spent the day at an event called Symphony in the Flint Hills, and were driving back to Kansas City. We were headed north on I-335 and was just about to the Topeka city limits when I noticed about 7 goldish/yellow lights in a hap hazard formation. I pointed them out to my wife and remarked at how weird those lights seemed. She agreed and we kept an eye on them.

The lights seemed to be about 30 degrees up from the horizon in a cluster of varying altitude. At first I thought it might be a series of radio tower lights, but these were not red. The lights seemed to be more or less hovering. Eventually the lights moved into a horizontal line without seemly changing altitude. I have included a sketch to further illustrate.

My first reaction was to try and explain it away. I thought that it might be night sky divers from Ft. Riley, but the objects did not seemed to be falling. They seem to hover. Though I cannot be 100% sure as I was driving on an interstate highway. So, I am just going to say this is unexplained. Maybe someone who lives in the area has an ordinary explanation for what I saw. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A day in the life

Monday Recap:

-Got out of bed. This was no small feat I promise.
-had a healthy breakfast. Oh God why can't donuts be healthy?!
-watched Wil Wheaton's new show Tabletop on Youtube. Excellent stuff.
-work (yawn)
-went to Weight Watchers and weighed in. Another 0.8 pounds gone. I wonder where they go.
-had a healthy lunch. Oh God why can't french fries be healthy?!
-more work (more yawns)
-received the game I got in a trade.
-received my check for the money I earned in a bowling tournament. I'm a professional bowler, now.
-worked out for about an hour at the gym. If I keep this up, I'm going to name my arms pythons. Yeah, brother!
-had a healthy dinner. Oh God....nevermind.
-mowed the lawn. Not a euphemism. Sadly.
-killed a jumping spider.
-had an online discussion about the jumping spider and its high AC. (DnD reference, sorry)
-tried to read, but was too restless
-played Modern Warfare 3 until 1 a.m. What? No. I'm not 12.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


I don't get to spend as much time alone as I would like. Don't get me wrong. I love my wife and cats and friends, but I have always required alone time. Time to recharge. Time to think. Time to reflect.

Recently my Friday lunch hours have become my alone time. Last Friday I went to Half Price Books, browsed and purchased a couple of Legend of Drizzt paperbacks. Since I was close to a Bo Lings Chinese restaurant, I decided to grab some food.

Sitting alone and not talking to anyone I was able to get some much needed brain time. Ideas started flooding in. It was nice. I tried to read one of the paperbacks I just purchased, but new ideas kept me from concentrating on the words I was trying to read. I kept settling on the idea that was generating about a table top RPG (roll playing game.) After some serious thinking and eating (Bo Lings makes the best General Tao's chicken in the city) it was time to head back to the office.

On my way home it started to sink in that I don't get a lot of time to think like this. My world is full of many distractions. Most self imposed, but they are distractions none the less. Usually my alone time is filled with Modern Warfare 3 on the Xbox or surfing the web or tv channels. All those things I consider distractions from using my brain.

I realized that the hour and a half that I was away I had done more real thinking than I probably do in a week. I'm talking personal type of thinking. Work thinking does not count in this example. I came up with ideas for a book and an RPG. Just in 90 minutes. Just think what I could do if I did this for larger chunks of time each week.

So, on my drive back to the home-office I realized I'm too distracted. If I'm not playing a video game or watching tv, I'm probably on twitter (computer or phone) or some other mindless activity. I decided that I was going to take back my brain time. I needed to get back to some creative thinking while recharging my batteries. I used to spend hours drawing, reading, working statistics (don't judge), and other quiet and creative activities. I'm going to try to get those moments going again. If anything it will feel good to be creative again. Wish me luck.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Some of the characters spotted at GenCon
Back in August I attended GenCon 2011. I planned on creating a blog post about it, but never managed to get one made. I have plenty of photos show and stories to tell about GenCon, but too much time has gone by that I feel I've missed that bus, but this post does have a GenCon connection. That is why it is mentioned here.

This was my first trip to GenCon. It was me and two of my friends that made the drive together to Indianapolis. One of my friends is a veteran of GenCon and had connections to get us hotel rooms. The only catch was that we would be rooming with people we had never met. I worried that we would get the socially awkward gamer that only leaves mom's basement to attend GenCon. There were plenty of those people there, but luckily none of them were our roommates.

Our roommates happened to be a quartet of guys from the Ottawa, Canada area. Three of them you could tell right of way were firm friends. The fourth was well liked, but always did his own thing. In getting to know our new friends we found out they do a gaming podcast called The Accidental Survivors.

After many conversations about RPG's such as Warhammer and Dungeons and Dragons, we were asked to participate in their podcast. At first it sounded like it would just be to interview us about GenCon. It ended up being that we participated in an actual podcast. The actual podcast can be found here.

I had a great time recording the podcast over Skype with the Accidental Survivors. At the end we were asked if we would like to continue on with the podcast. It was so much fun how could I turn that down.

So far, the podcast has dealt mostly with role playing games such as the aforementioned Warhammer and Dungeons and Dragons. I am more of a board game guy and I know little about role playing games. Fortunately there is talk about adding board games to the list. That would be great.

The second podcast I have participated in was recorded last week and was posted last night. You can find it here. We interviewed Howard Andrew Jones. Howard is an author and an editor at Black Gate. Howard gives some good advice for writers trying to get published. I hope you give it a listen.

Doing this podcast has been a lot of fun and I hope it continues for a long time.

Monday, June 6, 2011

It Has Become a Sickness

A few years back some friends introduced me to the board game Battlestar Galactica. We play it a few times and had a great time. The humans lost most of the time, but we still had fun anyway. I so much fun that I was always ready at a moments notice to play again.

Then Queentuffy and I decided to host some game nights at our house. We had a few games lying around like Apples to Apples and some trivia games. The game nights were huge successes and I started adding to our collection.

I recently found a game group that meets every two weeks and started playing board games with them. They have introduced me to games I had never heard of, but after playing I had to own. Plus I'm always on the prowl to find a game to introduce them to. Which is not easy as these guys are serious gamers and have extensive collections.

I have also been going to thrift shops and garage sales hoping to score the rare find of a good condition game that I want to play. I've picked up a few games going this route.

The bottom line is that in a few short years I have gone from a few household standard games to a pretty big collection. I know it is small in comparison to serious gamers, but I am proud of the collection I have grown.

I didn't know how many I had until I was adding it to Board Game Geek website. I have 54 games as of this writing. You can see my collection here. The problem is I still have a wishlist a mile long. I guess it is good to have goals.