Personal Yardstick

I was talking to a friend today about a job offer and he decided he would try to sum me up. He said he figured I was (and I’m paraphrasing) very competent, but that others probably thought more of my skills than I did and that self-promotion wasn’t my strongest area. Basically that I’m really good at what I do and not so good and promoting myself, but have impressed people with my abilities. I thought that was a pretty fair estimation considering he hasn’t known me for very long. I’ve always called it being “quietly competent” and openly acknowledge promotion and sales not being my favorite areas (funny considering web sites and that type of thing are primarily promotional tools).

In the course of the conversation, I said that I was never worried about my confidence or competence, just that I always figured there were a bunch of people that were much better than me. But that the last couple of weeks have started to disabuse me of that idea. Not to toot my own horn too much, but I guess I am pretty good at what I do (not to mention the other skills like some business knowledge, communication skills, care for people, etc. that I bring to the plate).

But that got me thinking a bit on the drive home and I think I finally nailed it on the head. I’ve lived a fairly isolated life career-wise. I’ve only had to have a couple of jobs and have worked for myself for many years. So I haven’t worked in the hustle and bustle of the IT world. The few people that I have worked with that knew the same areas that I did were very good and so I had very high opinions of them. Not to knock myself but that was my yardstick to compare myself to. And since working with those people I have sort of imagined my yardstick to be someone much better than me.

But recently I’ve been helping with some programming code that others have written and realized what I am capable of compared to some real life people that are making good money doing what I do. And one of my friends that used to be “so superior to me” (and I do still think he’s an excellent programmer and count him among my best friends) started to occasionally ask me questions.

So after thinking about it a bit in the car, I came up with what’s so weird about the whole new situation I’ve found myself in lately with job offers and seeing myself in relation to the field that I’m a part of. This whole time I’ve been using others (real or hypothetical) to measure myself by. And once I passed those up, I started to look at things like salary, but that is really a bad measure because I do what I like, I help a lot of people, I get to work from home and play with my wife and baby girl when I want to, etc. etc. etc.

So the weirdness of it is that I’m out of yardsticks. I can look at what other people do and I can learn from that. But I can only measure my success by things like “did I accomplish what I set out to do”. Making more money will be nice as time goes on. Having a nicer house or a farm would be great, but as my friend said today, “it’s just stuff”. So I guess it’s like the runner who finally catches up to everyone and then just has to run for whatever reason he’s running for. There’s no more people that he has to catch up to.

Does that mean I’m the best ever? No. I’ve plenty more to learn. And there are many mountains to climb. And there are plenty of other areas in life where I still have a ways to go before I’m done comparing myself with others. But career-wise, it’s nice to know that I’m competent. I’ve always known that, but now it’s just “I’m competent”. Not “I’m as good as”. I can get the job done and that’s all I need to compare myself with.

So my thanks to those who set the bar high for me to shoot after, my thanks to those who think so highly of my abilities and my thanks to those who I have been able to and will be able to help for being there for me to be able to learn from while helping.


Wednesday night Chris informed me that I was going rafting on Friday. I had been waffling on whether I should go and she just pushed me over the edge. So off I went Thursday evening with some friends to meet up with some other friends and camp in Maupin before we went out on the river.

It’s been probably a decade or more since I’ve been camping, so it was neat to get everything out again and go (since I used to go camping regularly). And now that I’m feeling better, it was quite enjoyable to stay up until past midnight playing “Mafia” and joking around.

Then, thanks to a bird that embodies the reason shotguns were created, we woke up early and got some breakfast and killed some time before heading off to meet up with even more people before being bussed to the drop off. In total 24 of us ended up going out on the river for about 5 hours.

I had a great time, even when I was thrown off the boat while fighting off an “invader” from one of the other boats. And since this is a trip that is done a couple times each year, I’m looking forward to next year when I can go again.

Writing Again

Ok, it’s been a while since I have posted on this blog (or any blog for that matter). It’s funny how when things were really busy I could get to blogging, but when things slowed down a bit, I just couldn’t do it. Who knows?

But here I am again. I have finished watching all three seasons of Roswell (handling my addiction as Chris likes to call it). There are some shows and movies which are just fun to watch. I think it’s just that you get to sort of take a vacation into the author’s universe (the same is true of books). I thoroughly enjoy doing this, but being an author myself, when I really get into a well-written piece, I start wanting to write again.

I’ve been out of the writing game for quite some time, but I think I’m going to pick it up again. I’m going to be posting some of my writing here as a way to keep track of it and put it out there for you guys to enjoy. I must warn you though that I’m not necessarily the most linear author. I tend to write the pieces that I’m most interested in at the time and then tie them together afterwards. So it may just look like a bunch of scenes and sketches, but at least I’ll be writing again and at some point, I’ll put up a finished product.

Parks–International and Universal

I took Daphne to our local park this morning to play. She has just discovered swinging and has learned how to go up and down the slides on her own (so she doesn’t wear her poor old dad out carrying her from the bottom to the top a million times!)

While we were there another dad stopped in with his daughter, who was about seven. She was playing and I chatted with him for a second until they had to leave. He pointed out that it didn’t matter about the age of the kids–they all liked the park. And judging from his accent and what he was saying to his daughter, he was French. I hadn’t thought about it before, but it’s true. Pretty much all kids like to go to the park and play with other kids, and I’m sure that love of playing extends to all countries, races and cultures.


I little while I was having some fun looking at words and what they really mean or how they got named what they did. For example, “pancake” is just a pancake until you actually think about it, and then it really is a little cake that is made in a pan. This is especially true of a bunch of food words like “pot roast”, but there are other ones also (and various alterations based on cultural differences). One other one I heard on the BBC was “power hose” (“power wash” in US English). I thought that was funny, because it really is power washing. And then there’s all sorts of technical words like “e-mail”–who thinks of it as “electronic mail” anymore. It’s just “email”, it doesn’t even have to have the hyphen anymore!

Anyway, just a funny observation of the way words come to be and then how the fundamental roots get lost as we become accustomed to the words.

Indiana Jones again

I’m a big Indiana Jones fan. In fact my wife bought me the dvds years ago as a birthday present. But since we have a very active one year old, we haven’t really been able to go to the movies much over the past several months. But I wanted to see Indiana Jones on the big screen.

I kept trying to go “before” other things but it never worked out. I was going to go see it the night before we went to NY. I was going to see it the afternoon before my wife went to visit her sister (even made it to the theater, but they started their summer schedule the next day and so were still closed).

I mentioned going tonight because I figured it was going to be leaving the theaters and I would have missed it (it turns out I was wrong and it will still be there next week). I wasn’t really that serious, but Chris wanted to make sure I got to see it in the theaters (what a wife I have). So she took me to the theater and dropped me off while she took Daphne to some kind of seminar nearby. She had to kill some time in Mac, but it seemed to work out well.

Anyway, even though I went by myself like a nerd, it was totally worth it. I know the critics are saying it’s bad, but it’s pure Indiana Jones. Right down to the fake sound effects for each punch. It was great. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. And the other part I was impressed with was the story and the writing. A lot of research had to go into that story and into the design of the sets to make them work. Even if it’s not “historically accurate” or “realistic”, I was definitely impressed. And being an author myself, it made me really want to get started on writing again.

So, to sum up, I heartily recommend spending the time and money to go see it if you haven’t already.