Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Month of challenging oneself

For the past few years, my wife and I have used the month of February as a time to give up something we typically consume. Similar to lent, but 12 days shorter and no religious implications other than the acknowledgement that most religions have some ceremonial fasting (footnote: full credit for this observation goes to beautiful wife. I grew up Lutheran, lent wasn't really followed.)

One year we gave up sugar. Another it was cheese. It was surprising how at the end of the month, we consumed less of what we gave up when we resumed consumption and how during the month there were not the crazy cravings.

This year we dialed it up to 11. Vegan.
For the 3 of you who read this blog, here's the difficulty. I'm traveling for a project in the upper Midwest where every salad has meat, let alone cheese. There is limited Asian food.

Even though tomorrow is when the month starts, I started on Monday. And so far so good.

Breakfast on Monday: ful mudammas (Egyptian fava bean stew)
here's close to the recipe we use:

We've tested it before and our vegan friend approved. Stick to your ribs good.

The challenge on the road with no restaurants within 90 miles that serve good vegetarian let alone vegan was solved with the microwave, fridge and local grocery store.

dinners: microwaved some Uncle Ben's rice and mixed with black beans. Served on a tortilla with spinach and hot salsa
Tomorrow: Chick peas and spinach served with diced jalapenos and hummus on flat bread

lunch: flat bread/tortilla wraps with vegetables. Sliced cucumber, bell pepper and sliced mushrooms with hummus and mustard.

breakfast: instant oatmeal made with the in-room coffee pot

Nothing fancy or gourmet, but tasty and filling.

Midwestern mischief

Apparently I've entered a time space vortex and landed in the late 1990s.
I'm in a northern Midwestern state that is either ahead of the flannel revival or never realized that it went away. Somehow I'm wearing the hat of a junior level consultant where the strict rules of projects and travel are enforced. The customer is a generally friendly lot. The project team is a bit different though. I've spent 12 hours in meetings in the past 2 days and 8 hours documenting the meeting notes.

The kicker, I emailed the notes over a few minutes past the deadline (yes, deadline) and 4 (four!) minutes later I received an email that mentioned that the notes looked good (10 pages) *BUT* they needed to be in the official template. I will *not* put the new cover sheet on my TPS report this week.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

coding standards

I received an email from the consulting partner company who is the lead on the project referenced in the post from yesterday (1/24/2012) regarding coding standards...

Attention to all [company name redacted] developers, [software company redacted] technicals, and [software company redacted] functionals writing or specifying code:


Your performance and evaluation will be based, in part, on how well you follow the standards and how your code performs.

If, during a code review, your code does not follow these guidelines, you will be required to modify your code on your own time after [company name redacted]'s normal business hours.

Following these standards is a condition of employment at [company name redacted]

...(blah, blah, blah)...

Thank you,

Human Resources Department
[company name redacted]

Where to begin? Maybe from the signature signed from the HR department discussing coding standards requirements. I haven't found much use for HR departments in general, and I usually find them rather inert, but to hold coding standards accountable as a condition of employment? Really?

I think my favorite part is where coding standards will be your responsibility outside of "normal business hours." This begs the question of what are the "normal business hours?" When I was a young consultant, that meant from 8a.m. until 11p.m. or later Monday through Friday and 8a.m. to 6 or 7p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. (Even now I have "office hours" between 8a.m. and 5 or 6p.m. but am online and busy starting about 6a.m. and ending whenever I can safely go offline without leaving someone waiting on a response.) I'll give them that coding standards are important, yet one of the first items cut in a project timeline is documentation, followed by testing. Nice way to make sure the coding is done correctly without having to pay for it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

worker and parasite

So I'm becoming the go-to guy to fix major technical fuck-ups at work. I am getting randomly assigned new projects to help our development team. This week I ended up getting assigned 82 hours of work.

One new project that has already run into trouble is now requiring me to be on site as soon as possible to help fix the situation. Usually this would not be a problem, but apparently the project is structured with 100% travel with a Sunday overnight. And all travel is booked through the parent company travel agent.

I was on the road 100% for seven years. I slowly was able to get to an "every 3rd or 4th week" remote schedule before I was finally able to find employment where travel was not required. During that time, I lost almost every Sunday to travel due to airline schedules and time zones. For part of that time I was single, so the only time lost was mine. Once I was involved in a relationship and married, that time lost was now ours. I will not lose that time again.

Ten years ago the high speed internet was not as widespread and on site was generally required. Now the only reason to travel is to "build the relationship" as my colleague states. There's the rub, I'm the technical "fix it" guy. Regardless of the relationships built with the customers I'm trapped in the technical track.

Apparently the project I've been asked to come in and save is a situation where we've had a resource replaced for whatever reason and I've been called to come in and "right the ship." The primary consulting company's policy is 100% on site. The project is one state away and the travel requirements are Sunday overnights.

I am standing my ground. I will not donate any more weekend time to the corporate machine.