Sunday, June 30, 2013

lessons learned from prop 8

1. The United States of America is a constitutional republic, not a democracy. California's proposition process is direct democracy. There are many California propositions that have been overturned by courts. "Majority rule" has historically been a poor form of government. The founders of The United States of America knew this, and created a constitutional republic.

2. Most Christians have no idea what "traditional marriage" means in the context of their own religion.  Equating "traditional marriage" to "one man and one woman" is simply not historically accurate by the terms of the Christian religious texts, and only demonstrates the ignorance of the speaker. This is particularly true for the Mormon religion.

3. The influx of cash from supporters of Prop 8 from outside California (i.e., the Mormon Chruch) backfired. The passage of Prop 8 marked the start of a dramatic shift in public opinion about gay marriage. The passage of Prop 8 accelerated the social and legal shift towards gay marriage.

4. People who use slippery-slope arguments have no credibility in any debate.

5. For people who think that being gay is a choice … take a moment and open your mind, and think about the implications if you're wrong about that.  What if it is an immutable characteristic?  Because I'll tell you something … it is.  No one chooses to be gay, or straight.  But we're happy with who we are.

6. There is no "gay agenda."  But gays do have one resource religions do not: Corporate America. Gay marriage is supported by leading Fortune 500 companies. Supporting employee diversity is a big deal. Gay employees demand it, and so do their straight allies.  Not all companies are this progressive, but the better ones are, and desirable prospective employees know this.

7. The train has left the station. There is a generational shift in viewpoints at play with this issue, and those with bigoted viewpoints just need to die off.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

soft skills trainings

Attending an all-day soft skills training about managing one's energy.  My stream of consciousness thoughts:
  • "Bridging the knowing-doing gap" sounds important. Maybe I should implement that.
  • I really dislike shaking hands. Too many people don't wash their hands in the restroom. I don't want to touch them.
  • Sitting all day in a training, after working at a standing desk, feels so unhealthy.
  • The premise is faulty.  Why are our lives so stressful?  Instead of trying to increase capacity to deal with stress, how about decreasing the stress?  GTD, minimalism, elimination.  
  • Why is our life either a marathon or a sprint? Why not aim for a hike in the forest?
  • If I was a woman, I would not wear make-up.
  • Group soft skills trainings are great opportunities to calibrate bullshit detectors.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

fortune cookie

A coworker of mine made this meme, and when I saw it, I immediately identified with it.

I started off my career doing very routine tax stuff - calculations, tax returns, some minimal research. It was really quite dull.  And then I think about my job now.

Monday, June 3, 2013

phone avoidance

I have an increasing aversion to the telephone. In fact, I gave up my desk phone at work years ago. I am not anti-social. Phone calls just are not part of how I process work. For three reasons:

1. Workflow. I use email for my  workflow (here's how: Phone calls and voicemails do not fit into that effectively. They are interruptive and cannot be prioritized.

2. Record keeping. When I do participate in a phone call, I have to take notes in an email to myself. Otherwise there is little chance I will remember what was discussed once I hang-up the phone. Putting the discussion in email to begin with is more efficient for keeping a history.

3. Involving other people. Most of what I do involves other people. If someone calls me with information, it is likely that I am going to have to relay that information to someone else. And that person may have questions of the caller. Starting an email thread is much more efficient.

Of course there are exceptions to this where phone calls are appropriate and preferred: Emergencies and urgent problems, and conference calls (or video conferences, which we use extensively at Google) where a large group of people need to discuss an issue. But conference calls and video conferences are scheduled, and therefore not disruptive to workflow.

I've also found that some company communication cultures are "phone based" or "email based." Google is very much an email based culture.

I'm thinking about changing my outgoing voicemail message requesting people to send me an email instead of leaving a voicemail.