Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Thrash Thrash Gasp!

I've fought my way to the surface to report that we've finally had our software release at work. This is one we've been working on for a long time and are glad to finally have it done. I'm looking forward to getting more time with my family.

The new house is coming together. Almost all the boxes are unpacked and things are mostly in their places now. There are still some projects to take care of, but that kind of got put on hold this weekend since we all got sick. We're all pretty much over it now, except for my son, who ended up with a double ear infection. With that and five teeth coming in simultaneously, he is thoroughly miserable.

Some long-overdue photos:

“Hello, computer.”

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Life is Good. Really.

Overall, this hasn't exactly been a red-letter year for our family. There's been a lot of stress and a lot of bad news. So I've had occasion to get a bit mopey at times. Now, I personally think that occasional self-pity wallowing isn't a horrible thing. It can even be somewhat therapeutic, particularly if accompanied by some comfort food and “me time.” But too much indulgence in the “why mes” is bad for you. Too much comfort food, for one. But mostly because you end up with this almost palpable black thundercloud hovering over your head wherever you go, and people start not wanting to hang around you. A friend's recent blog post reminded me of the need to manage my expectations in order to keep the storm clouds from gathering.

We recently moved. The new house is wonderful, but actually getting into the house proved to be a nightmare in all sorts of unexpected ways (mostly due to a lot of apathetic corporate foot-dragging). Gorgeous Wife and I earned a bunch of gray hairs from it the hassle and occasional, genuinely frightening oh-my-gosh-what-do-we-do moments.

During that time, it was easy to think “If I could just get A, B and C to happen, then I'd be happy.” The problem with this kind of thinking is that happiness doesn't come from what happens to you, it comes from deciding to be happy. Then A happens, and you don't feel happier, so you assume it must be because of D. And the cycle continues, where you forever push off the time when you will allow yourself to be happy into the future instead of waking up, looking around and being grateful for and happy with your situation now. C. S. Lewis summed it up pretty well in his book The Screwtape Letters. The following quote from the book is instruction on temptation from the devil Screwtape to his nephew:

We want a whole race perpetually in pursuit of the rainbow's end, never honest, nor kind, nor happy now, but always using as mere fuel wherewith to heap the altar of the future every real gift which is offered them in the Present.

When I really stop to think about it, life is good. I am married to a beautiful, wonderful woman. I have two amazing kids and a great new house. I have everything I need and a lot of what I want. Watch out for the “why mes” and “if onlys.” Decide to be happy now.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Email Disclaimer

I was faced today with the prospect of writing an email regarding a sensitive subject. The identity of the recipient and the subject in question are irrelevant; let it suffice to say that I had things I needed to explain without upsetting the recipient. However, email is notorious as a medium for making it easy to be misunderstood. There are no gestures, no facial expressions, no tones of voice to help communicate the intent of the message.

So why not just call instead? Because a live discussion requires you to think on your feet, and that can be dangerous, too. I prefer to analyze what I want to say, then say it. There is no such luxury in a live conversation.

So what does one do? I resorted to prefacing my email with this:

As email is a notoriously bad medium for having a conversation about sensitive subjects, let me just preface this with a disclaimer: If anything in this email can be interpreted two different ways, and one makes you sad or upset, I meant the other way.