Good enough is perfection. Or is perfection good enough? I often pursue perfection. And I am just as often disappointed. Is there a correlation? I believe in trying hard. Sometimes, I believe in trying hard more than the thing I am trying to do. Is trying hard a pursuit of perfection? If so, it is not good enough. I have rarely achieved perfection. A few times: my daughter, a backhoe, our house’s structured wiring, my company’s structured wiring, the flat bed deck on our golf cart, and a few other things. Perfection brings multiple dimensions of joy. How do you know its perfect? That joy continues forever – the definition of perfection.
So why not pursue that euphoria with everything? Remember the movie Groundhog Day? Bill Murry so wants a relationship with Andie MacDowell. He nearly completes his perfection formula with a snowfight in the park followed by an entangled tumble in one another’s arms. But then something goes wrong. Next today, he tries to do EXACTLY the same thing. It doesn’t work again. Hmmm. Seems he was pursuing perfection. Eventually he stopped trying so hard. That did the trick. Good enough became perfection.
Perfection only happens once. It can’t be forced. Like riding an electric golf cart through a freshly bush hogged field of tall grass and brush on a moonlit Tuesday evening at 70 degrees. It only happens once.
Ever noticed that most singers with names that begin with “J” are guys? Josh, Joe, John, Joseph. Of all the ones in the little grouping here, only Johnette is a girl. I learned about Johnette many years ago, but always knew her name as “the girl from Concrete Blond.” It wasn’t until my amazing friend told me it was Johnette. My friend knew every word to every song made by any alternative band from the 1980’s to last May 31. She could quote alternative song lyrics for any situation she ever encountered.
Only one j- girl in that whole list of j-guys. I generally like girl singers better, but tonight all I heard was guys. Except for my friend who knew Johnette. I miss my friend. I bet there’s a lyric somewhere for this.
Back in the old days, change control was about predictability. Control the change and the thing is predictable. No control meant chaos. Careers were dedicated to change control. Degrees were awarded and certifications sold. To many, the term buzzed. No need to understand the underlying value of predictability when a more senior position was available. So we had change control and chaos.
Seems control is circular, then. Get more control, gain more predictability. More control, more predictable. Still more control crosses over to the extreme of chaos. No control. So, more control equals no control. Now I’m thinking more like my industry.
So let it go? Many so suggest and more passionately desire. Dare I try? Loose control? Is less predictable better? Maybe predictability is circular. Let go and chaos turns to order. Hmmm . . .
You’re a hoe. Yeah that’s right I said it. You’re a hoe. I know I’m being mean. So what if I’m mean, I’ve got to be! Being mean is the only way to survive the life of a teenage girl. I can’t help that I use that as my defense mechanism and neither can most other girls. We’re in a never-ending competition with the girls around us. So what is it that makes girls so mean to one another?
But what does mean actually mean? Well, first of all, there is a “boy mean” and a “girl mean”. But for my purpose, I’m going to define girl mean. “Girl mean” is being a manipulating, a gossiping, and a judging bitch. Girl’s fit into this necessary criteria because each girl has a voice in her head telling her to judge that girl over there wearing the weird shoes or to tell her friend a rumor she heard about this other girl. We fit into this definition no matter how “nice” we are. We’re always judging, gossiping, and influencing in one way or another.
So why are girl’s so “girl mean” to each other? That’s an easy question and the answer is that we want attention. We want to be the one known as the girl with the cute outfits, the one with cool friends, and the ones that all the boys like. As said before, we’re in a competition that will go on and on forever. It will be handed down from girl to girl to girl for the rest of eternity. The bulk of it hits in middle school. Girls hit puberty and then it’s all downhill from there. If you want to get organized, it’s like a flow chart. The grades are split between 6th and 7th and 8th grade obviously, or around those. Then those grades are split into groups, or cliques. Human nature decides who the cool girls are, who the freaky or weird girls are, who are the trashy whores are, and who are the quiet innocent girls. Then comes the applying of “girl mean” in every certain group. According to Nicki Crick and Jennifer Grotpeter, two women that did a 1995 study of gender bullying, they say that girls have a unique type of aggression in them called relational aggression. Relational aggression is any behavior that is intended to harm someone by damaging or manipulating relationships with others (Crick & Grotpeter, 1995). This is unique to girls because boys are more likely to use physical aggression when they get angry. Relational aggression includes gossiping about someone, spreading rumors, teasing and taunting, intimidating, alliance bullying, cyber bullying, and exclusion. If I really wanted to, I could sit here and type out every single instance I’ve seen or experienced of each one of those things. I’ve seen the exclusion of friends because maybe they did something that just wasn’t “cool”. I’ve heard the nasty rumors, and I admit it, I gossiped to the next girl and helped the rumor get spread. I’ve seen the teasing and group bullying. Each and every girl does it, whether we like it or not. So to sum up so far, girls are “girl mean” because of this certain trait in all of us called relational aggression.
So should we work to stop it? Well if we are able to stop bullying in general, than maybe we can start cracking down to stop the mean girl syndrome. But honestly, I don’t see the Stop Bullying! trend working quite well. Most people know the movie “Mean Girls.” It stars Tina Fey and Lindsay Lohan and it’s about a group of girls in high school. There’s the Plastics who rule the school, the art freaks, their enemy, and then Cady, the girl who moved from Africa. Cady’s caught in between the two and what is right and what’s wrong. Obviously we expect them to be mean, hence the title, but these girls aren’t just mean, they’re vicious. They’re vicious to their peers, teachers, and each other. The movie makes you question whom to trust in the world of high school. It was based on a book by Rosalind Wiseman called Queen Bees and Wannabes. The book is a guide for parents to help their daughters get through high school cliques and other things. Now maybe it’s just me, but you know schools must be getting bad when somebody has to write a book to help girls survive those long years of “girl mean” girls.
I know I seem like I’m being over dramatic but I know what it’s like to talk about girls and be the one that girls talk about. It sucks. Straight up. It feels like nobody can trust anybody when you enter middle school. Someone could argue that they know somebody who does not fit into my definition of “girl mean”. They probably say that because the girl they know doesn’t bring out their girl mean towards them. We all have people we like and who we don’t and in some way or another we unleash a characteristic of “girl mean” into everyone we meet. I mean remember first impressions? That is a huge area where “girl mean” comes out. There might be some girls out there that have so much self-confidence that they don’t have to worry about being in competition. Maybe they don’t worry about the competition to be the best on the outside, but they’ve got to be in some competition to be smart, or the family favorite, or something. In my opinion there is no way that a girl is just completely and totally satisfied with everything about her. If there were a girl like that, she would be like a robot or a weird test tube baby.
People might disagree with the whole theory about relational aggression and think that something else causes the meanness. They might blame the parents for this mental and emotion pain that girls put other girls through. They might believe that the parents don’t do their job in teaching their daughter the right way to treat people. But being a girl myself, I know my parents are always hammering into my head the “golden rule: to treat others the way you want to be treated”. My parents are great and they have taught me a lot of good things and brought me up very well, but there is one thing that stayed with me and is probably still there since I entered middle school—and that is to survive. I’m on my own regarding surviving the teenage years and I’ve got to build up my defense or in other words, my “girl mean” persona. It’s girl nature. It’s my role as a teenage woman and whether I like it or not, I’m going to fulfill that role.
A girl is bullied every seven minutes (Clarke, 2007). That’s not so surprising seeing as though I witness it every day of my life. And what’s also not surprising is that 85% of the time, there is no one getting involved to stop it every seven minutes (Clarke, 2007). People just don’t know about it. Girls are just going to fill their roles as “mean girls” and that’s that. Next time you’re around or experiencing a girl-girl interaction, take a closer look and you’ll see what “girl mean” really is.
Clarke, Mandy-Jane. “Bullying Amongst Girls: Bullying Amongst Girls.” Stop Bullies – Bully Resource Site Dedicated to Child Bullying, Bullycide, Teen Harassment Through to Bullies in the Workplace. 2007. Web. Feb. 2010. <http://stop-bullies.com/bullying-children/Bullying-Amongst-Girls-Reveals-Some-Startling-Girl-Bullying-Statistics.html>.
Crick, Nicki, and Jennifer Grotpeter. “Child Development: Relational Aggression, Gender, & Social-Psychological Adjustment.” JSTOR. June 1995. Web. Feb. 2010. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/1131945>.
We celebrate ends. Holidays, completions, funerals, fiscal years, careers. Its end of our year. We will celebrate a few things. Christmas is at the end of the year. So are many of my professional deadlines (though there are just as many every day). Its good to get to the end for the celebration. So often, I find myself trying to finish, to complete, to end. I want enjoy beginning and the middle. A lot depends on the middle . . . building walls, driving trucks, shopping for machines, landscape changes, learning bodies of knowledge. I like those middles. Wins without finishes, points without competition, purity of doing, no end in site. This year, I celebrate ends. Ends with no middles. Next year, I celebrate middles.
How long should it take to finish something? Is completion based on difficulty? Skills? Time spent? Time enjoyed? Perhaps all. Time enjoyed certainly trumps the rest. Time enjoyed is fun. Otherwise its work. I’ve been working on a project for nearly two and one-half months. In the fall, in the mid-atlantic where it rains on weekends. There are lots of other projects to work on during the fall. Mowing the fields. Bush-hogging the paradise trees and other woody weeds. Grinding up lawn leaves while actually finish mowing the grass one last time. Building shelves for the garage. Winterizing the house. Planning my new man-loft. Driving around looking at buildings. Planning my machine shed. Watching football (no – nevermind).
Wall building takes a long time. It needs a foundation – easy. It needs to be level – harder. It needs materials – expensive. It needs special tools – expensive and of little use on anything else. It needs to be fit together – nearly and essentially impossible. It needs to be pretty – easy, kind of automatic when using natural materials. The last one is the reason I keep working on it. Because when its done, it will be a small monument to easy, hard, expensive, and nearly impossible work.
15 minutes – that’s all most of us get. But my boss has had hours, if not more. He is a good and difficult guy. He was hard to like, but once liked, I can’t stop. He’s famous.
He retired the other day. I was able to speak about my experiences with him. Here’s my talk. It gave me about six minutes of fame. Thanks John.
John, I have to apologize.
As you know, IT has some trouble delivering exactly the level of IT service we should, based on known standards set in the airline magazines and IBM TV commercials. I always thought I was an OK IT guy. But over the last eight years and as hard as I tried, I just couldn’t make it work the way the TV ads promised.
In any event, I could always rely on John to tell me what was going on. He was usually the first to volunteer his opinion or observations about what we could do better. In his signature way, he would patiently and supportively identify the general problem along with enough information for me to go back with our team and figure out the problem. I’d like to say that we could usually solve the problem, but there were a lot of times that we couldn’t.
Recently, while doing a review of all our computer stuff, we came across some equipment that was obviously misconfigured. Recognizing this gear may have something to do with the issues plaguing John over the years, we decided we’d take a closer look.
Here’s what we found:
1. Blackberry Defunctionalizer 2850. This thing blocks phone calls and emails on the Blackberry using a pseudo-random algorithm based on how big the fonts are on the Blackberry. Works on meeting notices as well. John’s was set to miss calls and emails as well as fail on all the address lookups. We also figured out the Defunctionalizer is the only thing keeping us from doing NetMeeting on the Blackberry.
2. Account Regenerator – After logging in normally to a system, this software determines if you have been there before. If not, it creates a new account in the background with a password that you can’t change (apparently a SOX rule). Next time you go to that site, you have to put in the right ID and password. You only get one chance. If you get it wrong, it reboots your computer, without saving the email and powerpoint documents you’ve been working on for hours.
3. We found that John’s machine was running the SMDP protocol instead of SMTP, the normal email protocol. SMDP means Simple Message Desynchronization Protocol. It causes email both sent and received to be deleted or filed in your PST without you ever seeing it. The protocol works with some other expensive servers and uses a complicated algorithm based on position in the company, typing speed, and how often CAPLOCKs are used. This is the only reason why messages and meetings that Teresa sets up seem to work (she types fast), while most of John’s messages and meeting notices are lost.
4. John’s computer had a piece of malware software that implemented the rarely used II function, the “Ignore Input” function. It causes the system to ignore keyboard and mouse buttons, after pressing the same button more than once. Could you imagine having that on your computer? Everyone knows that the more you press buttons, the faster the computer responds. Sorry John.
5. MS Office Indiscriminator 2003 – its an appliance that randomly changes the location of the standard menu items in excel, powerpoint and word. It also disables the save button. The latest version varies its influence based on your user ID. Apparently, John was set to HIGH. Just like his “Windows Start/Stop Delay” setting.
John, I apologize that it took your retirement to get us to dig deep enough to find the root cause of issues you’ve faced for years. You were right all along. I’m confident, having done a quick review, no other individual has the same set of failures, though it appears there may be one or two others that have experienced at least one of these failures. I expect more may crop up as the organization evolves.
Dave, in all seriousness, if it happens, I ask you for the same level of patience and support John has given us over the years. We’ve learned a lot.
In 1996, few people had web sites, much less knew what they were. For most, a web site was a corner in the garage where bugs got stuck. My brother and I thought we needed web sites so we could make the fonts blink and use rainbow colored lines. I can’t remember what his first site did, but I can remember mine.
I’m in the IT business. So I thought I would make a site that pointed out how great my brand of IT is. It was called ControlZ and was located on my ISP’s web server. I started the tag line to be something about all the good things IT can do for you. It read, “ControlZ Does All.” I was trying to impress on the one or two visitors I expected that we could do anything. That’s what I say when I can’t really think of what I can do. As that latter thought went through my mind, I decided I needed to point out how limited I am. How I elaborate on the obvious and how I really don’t contribute to the body of knowledge, but how I simply elaborate on its existance.
That became the theme of the site. Put pictures of things about me and my family, what we do, the cars we drive, where we live, and photos of stuff. It kind of became a mindless content, meaningless to the casual observer. But for me, it gave me a virtual scrapbook of events, stitched together in green and white.
The site has been through three major revisions. The first site was a grey site with a Menu Map, just to prove it could be done. The next site used the same background (it was a tasteful grey background), but had sort of a hierachical layout. It took on its current form in 2001, October to be exact.
Today, the site has been in place, as is, with its green boarder and alternating picture/text format for eight years. It moved from my ISP host to a real host with my real domain names. Since then, we’ve seen the advent of myspace, facebook, text messaging (in earnest), twitter, podcasts, and blogs. Come to think of it, my site contained the essense of a blog, but without the ease or the ability for people to respond or comment.
So now, dear loyalists of Outcrop Acres, you have a place to comment and I have another place to ramble. Apparently, a blog is really a one.five way communication channel. One=I get to start all the ramble topics and .five=you get to respond to those topics, ramble or not. So have at it. Help me use my quota of disk space. Please, though restrict your ramblings to the obvious.
I have one kid. She’s the first and the last. She was the first kid to get a driver’s license and she’ll be my last. She was the first to graduate and the last. She was the first to go to college and the last. That one is a tough one. She’s the first kid to leave the house, but also the last. Its kind of bittersweet. All those things that we found so special about her upbringing we will only experience once. All those things a bit more difficult will also be less common. She’s eighteen now. She is my first baby and my last. She’s the first one I loved and the last.
Nothing beats one thing that does many things, especially when it does more than one of those things well. There are lots of things out there that are compromises and do little well. But not the dump truck. With its short, flat, dump bed, it can carry pallets and loose stuff and still turn sharp! If I had a regular dump body, I couldn’t get stuff off with the pallet forks. Nor could I swing the backhoe bucket over it so well. It is fantastic. See more at the Dump Truck Page.