Sunday, February 26, 2017

blossom and flowering.

It's February in the Bay Area, so of course it's Spring and the grasses are starting to go to seed, including the astonishingly well-evolved foxtails. Previously a mere annoyance, they appear quite capable of actually killing your dog if left alone, so. Harsh lessons of the American West.

I see I haven't written anything in several weeks, and this is because I now have a delightfully insane job that involves having video calls and processing flows of information for hours at a stretch, and after hours I'm often really excited to step away from the computer. When I pick it up again, I've been doing little "Home I.T." projects, from the necessary (buying a hard drive array to make sure various data are safe and accessible) to the near-frivolous (making it so going to http://tv.snuggle brings you to a media server actually running on the drive array, making it much easier for Anna and J to watch stuff).

Being a manager is very hard, and it's easy to see why most managers are terrible, and also why it's such a path of least resistance for companies to sustain a culture where being a terrible manager is rewarded.
"I hate to ask you for this, I try not to be a lazy manager and ask you for information I can find elsewhere, but I don't have another source."
"Well, I certainly don't see you as a lazy manager."
"I appreciate hearing that, but the only reason I'm not a lazy manager is because I work hard not to be."
Could I really be a lazy manager? Probably not without a brain injury. It's just not me.

I am doing all the things I imagined I'd do, like listening to people, devising humane and spontaneous responses to situations, and helping everyone communicate with each other. It is a very visible, focus-of-attention kind of experience, which pushes all kinds of buttons. I'm also very, very good at it, and it's exactly what I want to be doing. I feel like I'm taking on the kinds of stuff I'm probably better at taking on: notwithstanding my catastrophic pre-30s romantic life, I have a really high emotional intelligence, polished with some years of Zen study and even more years of aikido. (In another life, I would have been an excellent therapist.) I am literally trained to help people communicate and settle conflict.

My co-workers almost all notice, too: that I care about their experience, that I can cut through heated issues to address the individual needs underneath, and that I'm willing to step in to do that. I could choose not to, but how can I do that? I can't just stand by and watch people be really unhappy, when I can help them bridge the gap and settle down. So I don't.

We finally called a rat exterminator. The general vibe on rat exterminators from friends was "Dunno if they do anything, but they set a lot of traps." That appears to be one part of the removal, and I chose these guys not only because of the 100% 5-star rating, but also (and somewhat irrationally here) because they have dozens of photos of their work, most of which are trophy shots with dead rats. They also win points for cool techniques for closing entry points.

Armed with their knowledge and experience about rat behavior--e.g. in theory you can find rat routes by lines of oil marks along walls where they run--they set a bajillion traps in the right places, then come back at some point. In theory, we could educate ourselves, and set the bajillion traps ourselves...but those classic Victor traps take us a long, nervous time to set up, and the pros clearly have some routine for doing it quickly. (Maybe involving those yellow plastic pyramids, I dunno.) Expertise is worth the money.

I leave you with a 1-hour lecture by the author of The Ark Before Noah. The lecture is quite a bit more fun than the book, because OMFG this guy is hilarious in the most English way possible.

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