Musings Review

Two Years At NetNumber

As tradition dictates,
once another year passes I must write up my thoughts.

What Did I Learn This Year?

1. My gun affair is not abating. If anything my collecting has increased in
scope, complexity, and intensity. This has been unhelpful in terms of my long
stated and long running goal of retiring early. That said there
have been some nice unexpected benefits. I enjoy the atmosphere at the local
club and this hobby is a good excuse to get outside on occasion. I am hoping to
cool things down a bit this year as my collection rounds out, but I remain
vigilant for new pieces. Right now this happens to be French rifles.
I cannot imagine why

2. Metallic cartridge reloading. Riffing off the above, I was able to reload
small batches of cartridges this year (~200 or so total) in a few differing
calibers. I considered taking a class on this, but instead I got a book and
watched a lot of videos on the subject. This was sufficient to get me going,
but I am still considering a class so I can clarify some of the finer points.
This will be a skill I need to curate as my collecting habits lead me to pieces
with no commercially available ammo. As a collector who shoots everything he
has I will need to be able to “roll my own” as they say.

3. Adobe Premiere and Adobe After Effects. I used both of these applications
extensively for my April 15th project.
After Effects was definitely required, given all the rotoscoping I had to do,
but I probably could have gotten away with using my old standby, Sony Vegas. I
just wanted to branch out and try some other editing suites to see what they
offered. What I found was I still prefer Sony Vegas, but it was a fun diversion
to see how other applications handle similar tasks. I do like how Premiere
manages effects on video clips though. Luckily, I tend not require a lot of
that so it is no huge loss.

4. I am not a huge racing fan. After dabbling with a Lemons racing team for over a
year I decided that the racing life was not for me and retired. We did have
some success, taking home an Organizer’s Choice award at our
first race
, but I decided that it was just too much of a time and money
sink and I did not have the passion to needed continue. I do however still
follow the team’s progress and some parts of the car mysteriously keep finding
their way to me.

5. Corn tortillas are weak. Flour is the ultimate tortilla. I tried corn
again this year, just in case my taste buds have changed, but I can report they
remain loyal to the one true tortilla.

What Am I Looking To Explore This Year?

1. Civil war reenacting. I mentioned this last year, but I feel more serious
about it this year. That has not translated into any tangible actions yet, but
with the money from the racing team freed up I think the stars are starting to
align. This also lines up nicely with me wanting to go to more reenactments in
general. There are a couple groups in MA I will investigate.

2. Convention Panel Running. Last year I ran a panel at Connecticon on
firearm history and federal law. I think it went well (people showed up) and I
am planning on running it again this
. I am hoping to spread out and bring it to other conventions, but I
accept it can be a hard sell.

3. A new convention somewhere out west (we must go west young beans!). I
think right now we have a good distribution and mix of conventions we go to,
but I would like to rotate in a new one to try. Maybe Gen Con or Anime North in

4. Podcasting. I had so much fun doing this video about my April 15th project that
I would like to do it again. I am not sure about what though or with whom. More
research will be required.

What did I Fail at This Year?

1. Saving money. It is the same refrain as last year. I did increase my
savings rate, but I will need to do better if I want to retire early. So long
as I keep my hobbies though, this is looking doubtful.

2. Cooking. I have felt in a bit of a recipe rut as of late. The problem is
I am too comfortable with my normal standbys so it is hard to branch out.
Oftentimes I will find some new interesting recipe, but I will be intimidated
by the steps or the new ingredients. I think I need to find simpler

3. Lawn care. That said, is it really failing if you do not care about the
outcome? I do occasionally wish the grass looked a little nicer.

4. Home improvement. Last year I said I would work on the downstairs
bathroom. The downstairs bathroom has not been worked on. The mission


Thoughts on being unemployed

I am a few months back to being employed and I have some thoughts on the two
or so months I spent unemployed.

1. I am not ready to retire yet. The one nice thing about being unemployed
is all the free time you have. While this was nice originally, I mostly did the
same thing I always do with my free hours: watch TV, play video games, and read
books. It was awesome for a while, but after a month or so of gorging it begins
to become unstimulating. While it is true I did work on some side projects,
like an AMV or two and a Chex Quest
, I mostly have little to show for my long break. This does not bode
well for my early retirement
. Consuming media is fun, but not rest of your life fun.

2. Job Hunting is hard. Even for a field in-demand like software
engineering, job hunting was not an easy task. I applied to 50 places, had 10
phone screens, and three in person interviews. Part of the problem was
geography, since a lot of work is in and around the city of Boston and I did
not want to work there, but I feel the main issue was a disconnect between me
and the applications I was viewing. While it is true not all the jobs I applied
to were perfect fits for my experience and skillset, I felt most of the
applications I submitted were good matches. Given the 20% contact rate the
employers disagreed. This leads me to think their job postings were not
accurate to what they wanted.

3. Youtube is awesome I started really using Youtube and subscribing to
channels and there is quite a lot of good content to be found there. Some of my
new favorites are: 1. Forgotten
2. LGR 3. Tank Museam 4.
The Examined
Life (of Gaming)
5. Spacedock

4. Baldur’s Gate is awesome I had beat Baldur’s Gate 1 (along with Tales of
the Sword Coast) before I was “budget actioned”, but all this new free time
begged for long, involving RPGs. Thus began epic quest to rid the world of evil
in Baldur’s Gate Siege of Dragonspear, Baldur’s Gate 2, and Baldur’s Gate 2
Throne of Bhaal. Ultimately that is 100+ hours of classic D&D gaming.
Overall I would say it was time well spent. The isometric graphics hold up
well, the voice acting is solid (Irenicus portrayed by David Warner being the
highlight), and the story being pretty compelling. I will say, I am still
rubbish at the combat.

5. Gundam is awesome Surprising no one I started watching Gundam and it is
as good as everyone always told me it was. I do get to cheat a little and watch
just the good series though. That turned out to be Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War
in the Pocket, Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team, Mobile Suit Gundam: The
Origin, Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans (just the first two cours),
and Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt. I would recommend those series if you are
in the market for a mecha anime.

6. Unemployment Services are a pain I got my first taste of the MA safety
net when I started to collect unemployment. What I did not know was I had to
prove to the state that I was looking for work every week I wanted benefits.
That was not a huge issue, even if the site for reporting what you did that
week was slow and poorly formatted, but it does highlight an unfortunate gap.
Specifically, if you have signed an offer, but have not started work yet you
still have to be looking for work to get benefits. That seems rather
disingenuous so I did not do that, but I missed out on two weeks worth of
benefits. I also had to go to a unemployment class which was a huge waste of my
time. I did not need a class to tell me MA offers a site to do job searches

7. Being unemployed hurts the ego Its pretty deflating to be unemployed. I
very much enjoyed being a software engineer and having that title. Lacking it,
is was a big bummer. It is strange, because I was still the same person, but it
was harder to prove I was who I said I was without some sort of outside
validation (like being employed).

8. The MA healthcare bureaucracy is vast I almost had to switch to MA
healthcare and it was a huge pain. They wanted forms faxed (no online upload or
emailing) and it took forever to hear back from them. One day I got two letters
in the mail. One saying I had been denied health care and the other saying I
had been accepted into the plan. It was all very confusing and I am glad to not
have to deal with it now that I am back to work.

And that is my unemployment nutshell. I hung around the house for a bit,
played some games, watched some anime, and then went back to work.

Confessions Musings Work

Four Years Later

It generally takes three times for the normal mind to understand something.
The first sign I got was seeing my senior coworker having part of his cube in
boxes, the second sign was having another coworker come by and shake my hand
saying, “it had been great to work together”, and the third sign was my new,
one on one meeting at 10:15. This is what it is liked to be laid off (although
I prefer the more humorous “budget actioned”). That was March 7, 2016 for me.
It was the end of a (just about) four year period of employment, my first
post-school job. I want to take the time, now a week or so later, to describe
what I actually did for four years. I want to give the highlights, the
lowlights, what I thought we did wrong and what I thought we did right. I will
preface this all by saying I harbor no ill will towards anyone I worked with or
Oracle itself. Oracle always treated me fairly, I am just sad it never worked
out for them.

May 28 2013 My first day of work. The week immediately
after Anime Boston. It was going to be the 27th, but that was a holiday
(Memorial Day). I was horribly late, the latest I ever was in my four years
there. I left early, but spent ages in bumper to bumper traffic. I called in to
let them know I was going to be late, but I was still majorly embarrassed.
After getting in late I was rapidly given a bunch of documents and a cube. As I
was getting setup in my cube, I remember opening the bottom drawer of my filing
cabinet and finding three liquor bottles in it. It was nice liquor too. I told
my coworker and he secreted it away never to be seen again. The rest of the day
I sat in a HR conference call. I would be the last legacy TEKELEC hire before
the company was completely Oraclized.

July 2013 My first real assignment. Before then I had been
familiarizing myself with the code, trying things out, going to meetings to
learn our process. Now I had my first real piece of work to do: S9. You can
read more about S9
. I was responsible for everything: GUI and backend. I would work on
this for the next few months. It would never ship as the customer who wanted it
never actually wanted it. Company wise, everyone was stoked that Oracle was
going to keep our office in Marlborough and not have us commute to

November 2013 I am a bit hazy about this point, but at some
point I finished S9 and moved to building the “Subscriber Activity Log”. A
feature that allowed a customer to track a subscriber as the subscriber’s calls
flowed through the system. You can read about this in the 11.5 release notes
as it actually shipped.

December 2013 My first company Christmas party. We go and
watch: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug at the IMAX in Jordan’s furniture.
It was good, but my boss was mad it ended on a cliffhanger, so we went back
next year to see the final film. I remember spending a long time in traffic
trying to leave that area.

January 2014 Again, I am bit unsure when this happened, but
at some point I finished up “Subscriber Activity Log” and was moved to a new
project: MPG. The Mobile Policy Gateway (MPG) was a project to develop a device
that would deploy policies to a customers phone. One of the big use cases was a
provider could offload certain customers onto wifi if the load in an area was
too great. I would work on this for nine months, but it would never ship and it
would ultimately be cancelled. Company wise, things are going great. We are
making good money and selling a lot of product.

September 2014 NGCMP, our replacement for our current
configuration management platform (CMP) begins. I am project lead and I start
investigating new technologies. My first challenge is to pick between OJET and
LUX, two competing JS GUI libraries. I end up picking OJET, which
you can use today if you want. Weekly Wednesday calls with the offsite groups
(Bangalore and Nanjing) start. I went to JavaOne at the end of the month and
got this great photo:

I wrote more about that trip here.

November 2014 My first raise and bonus! I live the good
life. The NGCMP is starting to grow as other people finish up the projects they
are working on and get assigned to it. NGCMP starts driving major reforms
around how we do work. Code reviews are formalized, code quality tools like
SonarQube start to come into play, and we get serious about unit and robot

December 2014 Second company holiday party! We see the last
Hobbit film in IMAX. It is ok, but not worth sticking through the traffic in
that area.

February 2015 I miss most of the super bowl (I hear about
the Patriots winning during the flight) as I travel to India to meet the team
in Bangalore. I stay for a few days. I
wrote about this trip back then

March 2015-May 2016 Nothing of real note happens during
this period. I do get a raise, and we continued to make a lot of progress on
NGCMP. Customer demos are being planned at this point. NGCMP itself is in an ok
place. It has a lot of functionality, but a number of bugs. I produce the
greatest Star Trek TNG parody video during this time. It was a demo

June 2016 Things are not going well for our business unit.
We have our first layoff. Management talks about pivoting to a cloud based
deployment. NGCMP gets “paused”. We no longer want to build a product that does
exactly what our legacy product did, we want to build something for a cloud
based customer. TREC is born and we pivot to new use cases.

October 14 2016 I close on my first house as more people get laid off
the same day. This would start a gradual local attrition of talent.

March 7 2016 Judgement day. I along with 90% of the office
get budget actioned. Layoffs are around 200 for my business unit. The Bangalore
team gets assigned to different projects and the Nanjing team gets reassigned
back to the legacy CMP product. TREC presumably dies as there is no one
assigned to work on it. The show ends.

That is the whole story. I really think things started to go wrong when
Oracle panicked and moved us to the “cloud”. It never made sense how we were
going to make money in that area and we certainly could not produce a viable
product for another year at least. In the end, I think Oracle could not take
the losses it was taking so it bailed. Ultimately it was a pretty good ride. I
had a lot of fun, made money, and learned a lot. It is just a shame it never
worked out.

Musings SciFi

The Doctor Who Problem

Doctor Who is back for a new season and having seen the latest two episodes
it is right back to having the same problems that have dogged the new series
for years. Before we get into it, some background first. I do not claim to be a
super who fan. You will find plenty more knowledgeable folks than I. That said,
I have watched a number of the old serials, and all the new series, and there
is a distinct difference between the two. More than just the clunky special
effects the old series approached its stories and characters in a fundamentally
different way. Some spoilers incoming, so you have been warned.

Lets start by comparing the very first episode I saw of the classic series,
Pyramids of Mars,
to the most recent two episodes: The Magician’s Apprentice and The Witch’s
Familiar. At the start of Pyramids of Mars an outside force surprises the
Doctor and his companion (Sarah) and the Doctor stops to investigate. They then
start to uncover a mystery while avoiding malevolent unstoppable mummies. It is
all very fun and engaging. In The Magician’s Apprentice in the first scene we
encounter a younger version of an antagonist to the Doctor. Then we spend the
next 30 minutes or so (in a 45 minute episode) trying to find where the Doctor
is and what he is up to. Everyone is all concerned about having him solve their
problems, or they want to talk to him about this and that. In my book, that is
a problem. The new series has always been focused on the Doctor. How he impacts
the worlds he goes to, his past, his motivations. The old series was never that
concerned. Who cares why the Doctor travels around, who cares where he comes
from. Let us go someplace exciting and different and have an adventure. The new
series is obsessed with the Doctor to the detriment of the story. In the
Whoverse there is no one more important, and that is a problem. I may sound old
and crotchety here, but the older serials had the right idea. Doctor Who is an
anthology series that happens to have a few recurring characters.

The second problem in play is the characters. Lately Doctor Who has just
been a factory for tumblr memes. Sure you are allowed some funny lines from
time to time, but all this off beat, look at me I am so random, twitter chaff
is just distracting. Especially guilty is this Missy character. Every other
sentence is trite “I’m evil so I speak in stream on conscience style and it
only makes sense to me. But you know I am serious because I kill people from
time to time.” I admit to having a special loathing for this character. She has
added so little to the series and it is just awful to hear her lines.

Next up we have some serious worldbuilding issues. Nothing is ever final in
the Whoverse. People die and come back. Planets are destroyed and come back.
Whole races are killed off and then miraculously reborn the next season. In the
series 8 finale Missy dies. She is literally disintegrated. Series 9 starts,
shes back just fine. Just a simple hand wave and no respect for the continuity
of the series. When your universe has no consequences there can be no suspense.
At the end of The Magician’s Apprentice, Claire (the companion) and Missy are
both disintegrated by Daleks. It is supposed to be a great cliffhanger, but you
literally brought a character back from death at the start of this episode, no
way I believe these main characters just bought it. And of course at the start
of the next episode you drop some contrived garbage for how they survived. Take
some risks, kill some characters, have some actual consequences in your show or
else no one will ever trust you when a main character is in peril.

Speaking of the Daleks, that nicely highlights another issue the new series
has. It keeps going back the well. Star Wars has this same problem. Everyone
likes the old characters, the old races, let us just roll them out again
instead of creating a new idea. I am so sick of the Daleks showing up every
series for a few episodes. Seriously,
look at how many races we have to play with
! You can use them too we do not
have to have the Daleks be the big bad again. Maybe then we can have the Doctor
use something other than his sonic screwdriver to get out of a jam for once.
Maybe then someone other than the Master can be the Doctor’s big nemesis.

Let us summarize, the new series: 1. Revolves around the Doctor instead of
the adventure. 2. Loves to fill dialogue with jokes and upstart memes instead
of contributing to the plot. 3. Prefers to constantly fiddle and retcon the
past instead of having something they did be final. 4. Loves to go back to the
well instead of creating new things.

And yet, after all that, I am still going to tune in next week, because when
everything works the show really is something special. When they go somewhere
wonderfully new and meet a new race and have a rip roaring trek it is magical.
It is worth all the awful. Each time I hear that music I hope this will be the
episode all sins are forgiven. Sometimes I am right.


Two Years at Oracle

Today is the second year of my full time employment by Oracle. Studious
readers will remember a similar
exactly one year ago on this day. There is nothing particularly
important or auspicious about this day, but it is a good milestone to reflect
upon the previous year.

What Did I Learn This Year?

1. Buying a house is hard when you are picky. At this point I have looked at
around 20 houses or so. I have come close to making offers on two of those, but
ultimately decided against it. The benefit to this is a growing down-payment
which will make the purchasing easier. The downside is a a kind of purgatory
where I wait for something to happen. I am going to give it a few more months
and then consider more seriously a place less optimal than I would have liked.
The thought of another winter, house less is decidedly unpleasant.

2. I do not have to do everything. For a few month I have been helping to
oversee a project at work. It has been tough, but I am growing more accustomed
to delegating things to be fixed instead of just doing myself. It is tempting
to try and be the guru who knows and does everything, but this leaves no room
for the team to grow and become empowered themselves. It also serves to
centralize knowledge which can make maintainability troublesome in the

3. I have a better idea of my long term life plans. Expect an article on
this to come, but I have a much better sense of how I want my career to go and
how (hopefully through good planning) I can retire early and pursue a second
less profitable career.

4. Investing is a big large monolithic subject, but easy to do once you
clear that first hurdle. I started a small account with Betterment and I am up $10 last I checked.
With continual investments every month this service (or some other endeavor I
run myself) will greatly contribute to my long term goals.

5. As you remember from last year I wanted to find old friends who I had
been out of contact with for some time. The good news is, in this digital age,
finding old friends is easy. The hardest part is starting to talk to them. It
is a lot like pulling out the knife from deep in the peanut butter jar, slow
but once you finish you get a sweet reward. I have had some great success
rediscovering what made us friends before.

What Am I Looking To Explore This Year?

1. Interested in doing some more metal working projects. With the great success of my foundry I
want to try actually making something useful with it. Maybe a butter knife. The
real problem now is making a good mold so my research will focus on that

2. More puzzle hunts. We have done two so far with a vast increase in
success with the second one compared to the first. Hopefully we can do some
more and maybe even finish one.

3. Film projects of the small variety. I really like AMVs so I want to try
making a few to see how difficult they are.

4. Improve my technical skills. I said I would do it last year, and I am
recommitting to that again. I learned a lot of web2.0 frameworks this year such
as knockout, angular, some of the new java 1.8 enhancements
(like lambdas), and a fair amount about our build tools like ant and rpm.

Things I Failed at This Year

1. Buying a house.

2. Doubling down on costuming. I did do a little work making a helmet, but I was nowhere close to making
the two costumes I thought I would. I am just less interested in this than I
used to be.

3. Historical reenactment. I did nothing in regards to this during the year.
It is on hold until the house thing is settled.

4. Contacting my old friends. I had some success, but there are still some
who elude me.

Overall, an enriching year. 6 more years to retirement? 16 seems more


Am I Making Any Sense?

I am nearing 50 posts on this little blog so an important question naturally
arises after having written so much. Does anything I write or say make sense?
Do people just nod along with it and then when I finally stop and leave think,
“man that guy is crazy, what is he talking about?” I like to think I am
Brain, but do
others just hear Pinky?

An example for context. I am talking about acting to some friends, and how I
am rubbish at it. So bad people would be asking “why did the filmmakers use
actors from Home Depot?”. That is not the exact line I said, but it is close
enough. I thought it was clear enough, but all I could see were confused faces.
The thing is, this is my humor. Anyone can make a joke about a person acting
wooden. You have to go to that next level, where you understand everyone knows
that. You build on that knowledge and layer a joke on top. A person is acting
wooden, wood comes from Home Depot. Simple right? Blank stares, no laughing,
failure to communicate.

It is not just jokes though. Jokes can be excused. The issue at play here is
I might think I am being clear, but actually not being so. Imagine a carpenter
made chairs in a sealed room. Wood comes in one side, the carpenter sends the
finished chair out the other. She does this for many years and things, “I make
so many chairs, I am a skilled carpenter.” Meanwhile, outside the sealed room,
the chair inspector keeps rejecting them and burning them for firewood. Without
feedback how can any of us know if we are making a worthwhile product? I just
happen to be making collections of words here though so we are even further
removed from my example. Not everyone is a carpenter, but, as the internet
teaches us, everyone can write.

So what is to be done? How can I know if I am clear or not? It helps if I
write without error in spelling or grammar. I think I am doing that well, I
have no proofreader, but myself to confirm. I study logical fallacies so that
should help with my arguments, but it is so easy to fall prey to them.
Discussing issues with others seems to help. Easy to establish a feedback loop.
See what is working, adjust, see if it works better. If anything I am going to
blame others for being too polite and not calling me out when I say something
dumb or make no sense.

I hope, dear reader, you are not expecting a sudden insight with a solution
to this problem because I have none. Which is why this is tagged ‘Musings’ and
not ‘Philosophy’. Just thoughts on a continuing process.

Convention Musings

Thoughts on BFIG

Boston Festival of Indie Games was last
weekend. This was my third time going to the festival which has been operating
for the same period of time.

There is a very curious dynamic at play at this festival. Generally I am a
very reserved individual. If you were in a charitable mood you could use the
word taciturn. The point is I rarely talk to people at these things. I am more
inclined to see and listen and take in what I can. Except at this convention. I
talked to way more people than usual, far in excess of what is normal for me to
do. I talked to just about every indie developer there. This is no joke, I went
to every table and saw every game in the digital section. I even played most of
them. Best of all I got to play this cooperative survival board game (After the

with this nice fellow:

the game creator. Go check out his site and buy the game when it
is available it is awesome. I also played an in development real time
restaurant management game. Each player played a role (I was busboy aka plate
and glass washer) and helped work customers through an assembly like system.
There were many sand timers and much yelling. I can see it being a great party
game as it is real quick to learn, but pretty stressful to actually play well.
Those two board games stood out the most. In regards to the digital section
there were a lot of familiar games, either from past festivals or ones new to
the festival that I had heard about prior. Some ones that stood out:

  • Anchorage Adrift:
    a cooperative space ship game, similar to Artemis, players are tasked with running a
    particular role on a space ship. A little rough technically and usability wise,
    but showed great promise.
  • Soda Drinker Pro and Vivian Clark:
    the first game is a first person soda drinking game which is hilarious. The
    second game is hidden within Soda Drinker and is weird and strange and has to
    be played. It is akin to dreaming or hallucinating. You play a rain drop that
    changes to whatever it touches. Also the developer is a
    real funny upbeat guy
    so that is cool too.

  • Adrift
    : a real polished looking arcade space shooter and tower defense
    hybrid. It is slick, fun, and a good coop experience. Why it still is not
    greenlight yet is curious.
  • Talon: a fast quake style
    spaceship multiplayer shooter. It reminded me of playing Unreal Tournament or
    other arena shooters.

Best part of all though was I got to throw my business card in one of those
raffle bowls. The phone number is wrong on it though so hopefully they just
send an email.

Football Musings

A Few Words on the Greatest American Sport

Our long dark offseason has ended with the playing of of the Hall of Fame
game tonight. With that starts another season of the greatest American game,
football. Not that game with the round ball, the game with the egg shaped one.
I love football and many people think that is an aberration of my character. I
want to explain why I love this sport so much. So its time for my favorite
organizational structure, the numbered list.

1. I love the violence.

I am not going to pretend that football is not a violent game. Last year you
could literally hear the screams of a player tearing up his legs on live tv. Some of the most
entertaining plays in the sport involve the big crushing tackle from behind,
the power of players running over one another. This in fact could easily be the
downfall of the sport as it probably leads to long term
. Despite that, it is supremely entertaining to watch huge burly men
run into each other all day long. It is nothing refined, just pure, base,
animalistic love of violence.

2. This is a team sport.

All the other major sports in the US (baseball, hockey, basket ball) are
team sports too, but football makes full use of the team. Each play has 11
players try and work in unison to accomplish one goal. I do not mean to
diminish the team play of other sports, but no other game has so many players
working together at one moment. Football is a game the celebrates the
accomplishment of a team first and a star player second. Sure we all hear of
famous individual football players, but the actual impact these players have is
the least amongst professional sports. Tom Brady may be the best QB ever, but
if his receivers cannot catch or if his offensive line cannot give him enough
time, the team will lose every game. Plenty of other sports focus too much on
the individual or allow them to have too much of an impact. Basketball in
particular is notorious for this. A real good player can make or break your
team. Not so in football, it is all about the team working together.

3. This is a game of strategy.

When you have so many players on the field at once it can be a challenge to
get everyone working in concert, but that is the best part of football.
Watching 11 people (the offense) work in unison to accomplish a common goal is
amazing. Even better you can watch 11 other people (the defense) try as team to
mess that up. And this happens ever play. Plenty of other sports play lip
service to the idea of their game having strategy, but their game is so fluid
that it is hard to actually setup a play. To pick on soccer for a second, you
can see the players try and setup, as a team, favorable situations, but
everything is just moving so fast no one can really do anything but try and win
their individual battles. Football stops, resets, and lets each team make a
play. This allows a huge variety in plays a team can run, formations a team can
field, feints, and fake outs they can make. More diversity than all these other
sports means more options which means more strategy can be brought to the

4. Each play has many layers.

When you watch a play in football, on the surface, the actual facts of the
play are very straightforward. Someone throws a pass and it gets dropped,
someone tries to run the ball and gains a yard or two. The actual enjoyment in
these not so showy plays is in in the details. Here is a
dense example of that
. The thing to know is because football is such a team
game, tiny individual actions by each player combine to make big plays, or
small failures. In the example of a dropped pass, you can see the receiver
dropped it, but it really was not his fault because the QB had to throw it
early, he had to throw early because his offensive line was not able to give
him enough time to find better people to throw to, specifically it was the
fault of one player who could not block his assignment. All this detail happens
each play and happens to every player. It is that detail that makes both the
replay so satisfying to dissect and the actual play so complicated to

5. True league parity.

Every team in the NFL has a chance of winning the Super Bowl. This is
because the league works real hard through salary caps, drafting rules, and
trade agreements to ensure each team has a level financial field and an equal
opportunity to acquire and hold on to talent. This ensures that team that were
bad one year have a good shot at coming back the next year. A perfect example
would be the Chiefs who went from 2-14 in 2012 to 11-5 in 2013. Plenty of other
leagues are not so successful in this endeavors and it ensures teams wallow in
mediocrity for years. Not so with the NFL which means more exciting close
fought games and respect for a fan that sticks with a team in good and bad

So here is to another exciting season and to watching the New England
Patriots win the Super Bowl again.


The Office Walk

It has been a year since I
started the full time cube life and have discovered a peculiar mostly silent
communication system in play at my office. Often I find myself having to walk
around the building to talk to someone, get something, stuff my face with
snacks, etc. On these jaunts I may occasion to pass or see other employees. I
am not sure what happens at other places of work, but here we observe the
following rules based on the distance between coworkers when they first see
each other.

1. If the distance is greater than 30 feet a small chest level wave will be
given. This is done by raising up your hand so that it is parallel with your
chest and making a slight wave. One or two ‘wave’ rotations is all that is
necessary. Your elbow should form an angle grater than or equal to 90 degrees.
Any more and you have committed too much to the wave.

2. If the distance is less than 30 feet, but greater than 10 feet short
quick small talk may be exchanged (less than two sentences) or the
aforementioned hand wave may be done. The small talk must follow these
conversation topics:

  • Weather
  • Weekend plans
  • “Good” -day, -night, -morning, etc

3. If the distance is greater than one foot and less than or equal to 10
feet a small head nod will be observed. The coworker will nod either up 15
degrees or down 15 degrees once. The other coworker will reciprocate this head
nod. This may or may not be accompanied by each coworker saying the other
coworker’s name.

4. Distances equal to or less than one foot should be avoided. if this rare
event does occur a short office appropriate exclamation must be used. These
include, but are not limited to:

  • “Oops”
  • “Sorry”
  • “Oh”

I have found carefully adhering to these rules ensures safe interoffice
travel and adequate daily office socialization.


White Collar Guilt

Have you ever felt guilty for doing the work you do? Not guilty because what
you are doing is illegal, but guilty because you have it easier than others. At
the risk of bragging I have. The
2012 American
Community Survey
estimates the median earnings for male full-time,
year-round workers in Massachusetts to be
. I make a non trivial amount more than that, and that is my
starting salary.

Why does that make me guilty? Because there are people who work far harder
who make far less. Lets look quickly at a couple examples:

  1. Construction worker: $34,490.
  2. Landscaper:
  3. Teacher:$40,462.
  4. Police Officer:$52,810.
  5. Firefighter:$42,878.

My job is not 1/10th as hard as these jobs. No way am I cut out to get up
early and go build houses or plant trees. I sweat walking up stairs, I would
die trying to make it through a day. How could I even begin to start teaching
kids, I can barely stand kids. Police officer, lets not joke now I can barely
sound commanding to people I know let alone strangers. And firefighter, look at
that job name they FIGHT FIRE. I cried the last time I burnt my hand making

Now this is admittedly a small sample set. You can see I excluded people who
work hard and make a lot of money like Doctors. The point is there are people
who work hard who do not get rewarded. Meanwhile they are people like me who
sit in a cool climate controlled environment, work at a leisurely pace, and get
rewarded disproportionately. I do not mean to imply that money is the perfect
metric by which to judge the relative worth of a job, but I will say that money
is social power. The power to choose where you live, how much you work, the
quality of food you eat, etc. There is a tipping point for sure, where each
extra dollar delivers less social power than before, but I am not sure the
average salaries of my examples have passed that. MIT’s living wage calculator
estimates for one adult the cost of living to be $26,316 if you live in Boston,
MA. Granted the cost of living will be higher in a big city, but it is a decent
reference point. So for everyone except a landscaper you would be good to go.
What about having a family? If you are married and have two kids MIT estimates
$43,683 per year. Doable with one parent not working in some cases based on my
example salaries. Probably pretty comfortable if both are working. So these are
livable salaries, but are they fair for the work?

That is what makes me feel guilty.