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Showing posts from 2014

The Sacred Outcome

It's the end of the year, which means that, at work, we've already spent the last month or two talking about what we want to do next year.  We have big plans: bringing on a batch of jumbo clients, moving into a new building, advancing our products, and making our organization faster and more nimble than it's ever been (we're going to have to, if we want to bring on all those clients).  As we've talked about all of these big ideas, we've also talked about what might keep us from achieving those goals.  Over and over, we come to the same conclusion: we can't keep doing what we've done before, or we won't make it.  My company's been in business for over 25 years, and our software division has been around for 6 years.  In technology time, that's like 30 years when you look at how much has changed, and how some decisions we made 5 years ago look like the crazed ramblings of a drunken lunatic when we look at them now.  More than once, I've hea…

Ahead of My Time

I was just going for the joke.

In Hollywood.bomb (now available on Amazon), I have a character named Stu.  He's the new guy: a little odd, but who isn't in the software world?  He rides a recumbent bike to work, doesn't own a cell phone, and grows most of his own food.  It isn't until the guys get to know him better that they learn that there's a purpose behind these choices.  He's a Neo-Luddite, someone who resists the steady advance of technology.  In his case, he's chosen to only use technologies invented before 1920 as a way to simplify his life.  The fact that he makes his living as a computer programmer is only one of the many complexities hiding under the quiet surface of Stu.  The fact that it provides many opportunities for entertaining dialogue as his colleagues quiz him on which technologies he will and won't use is why I love this little character quirk.

The joke?  Be patient, little ones, we're getting to it.

In Chapter 9, Stu is confro…

The end of an odyssey (and the start of a new adventure)

For the past 10 years, I've been working on a little side project that has come to be known in our house as "The Book."  I've committed regular "writing nights" (Tuesdays, if you're curious) to it to force myself to complete chapters even when I wasn't feeling particularly creative or funny.  I've washed dishes until my hands cracked to give me something to do while my mind wandered and tried to find its way around obstacles in the story.  Then, after several years of nights and weekends, breaks and restarts, I finished the last chapter, only to realize that now I had to go back and edit it.  I printed out a copy and put it away, because I couldn't bear to look at it anymore.

Then, after taking a year or so to work up the courage to dive back in, I started the editing process.  That, too, took a couple of years, as my children grew up and my job became more demanding.  I had to update the technology references.  I looked for places where the…

"A Passionate Drama for the Ages"

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Passion: it's a good thing.  I, for example, am passionate about caring for my family, about living out my faith, and about building great software products (that last one's even on my resume, so it has to be true).  I also really enjoy biking, hiking, writing, reading, and, sometimes, just sitting in the dark by myself, but I wouldn't say that I'm passionate about those things.

Passion is food and light, fuel and fire.  It sustains us, it drives us, it consumes us.  It's the difference between "YEAH!" and "meh...."  If you're passionate enough about something, we're told, then you can do anything, be anything, achieve anything.  It's like a one-way ticket to the stars, with an unlimited supply of rocket fuel.

In my years (OK, decades) working with startups, I've heard the same phrase in almost every company pitch: "We're passionate about waste management/online book sales/mobile crowdsourced snipe hunting, so there'…

Hollywood.bomb, Chapter 25

Chapter 25
"I still can’t believe that worked!" Jack roared, startling a couple of MIT students a few tables away.  They glared at him, but he showed his teeth and they quickly returned to their discussion of the relative impacts of Archimedes, Shakespeare, and Sergey Brin on Western civilization.  "When I saw you run into that building, I was sure I was going to have to find another favorite project manager."  He took another long pull of his coffee-colored stout ale.  "In case you were wondering, I would have chosen Miller."

"Thanks, Jack.  It’s good to know I would have been missed," Stephen replied sardonically.  He sipped gently at his own beer, an amber with just a hint of blackberry.  He hadn’t been drinking much lately, since it got in the way of his training.  In the two months since “The Waxed Cheese Event,” as they had taken to calling it, he had started running seriously again.  He knew he’d be watching the Boston Marathon on televis…

Hollywood.bomb, Chapter 24

Chapter 24

This time, Stephen jogged away from Richard’s office, deeper into the CouldBU maze.  If he was running more quickly than before, he told himself that it was because he felt a sense of urgency to bring this crisis to a close, not because he was running away from… anything.  Every sense was alert now, every nerve frayed.  The sight of Mary had shaken him far more than the news reports painting Stu as a mushroom-crazed eco-terrorist, but he had to stay focused.

He rounded a corner just in time to see a flash of green and brown fabric disappearing at the end of the next hallway.  He leapt back and peered around the edge of the wall, but no one else appeared.  Proceeding more cautiously now, he crept past several closed and locked doors, gently trying each handle as he passed.  If someone was in one of those rooms, there was nothing he could do about it, so he chose not to worry about the possibility of leaving another person behind to sneak up on him.  His only path lay forward…

Hollywood.bomb, Chapter 23

Chapter 23
The first dark, rich sip of coffee sharpened Stephen’s senses even as it heightened his sense of urgency.  He pulled his phone out of his pocket and called his voicemail again.  This time, the new message was from Frank.
"Uh, Stephen, I don’t know where the hell you are, but you should be here as soon as physically possible.  It’s not entirely clear what’s going on, but no one can find Stu and Richard has ordered everyone to stay in their offices until further notice.  A VP who actually has windows in her office said that a bunch of police cars are outside, but no one has come in yet to tell us what the big fuss is about.  I can’t think of anything that I might have done lately to set off a manhunt, but this much blue fuzz all over the building is making me tense.  That, and Richard’s incessant screaming.  Get your ass over here, will you?  Or at least call and let us know where you are."  In the background, Stephen heard a keening sound that steadily grew in volu…