Friday, July 23 2021

old pallets, fear of criticism, and rodneys rifle

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Dear Journal,

Does anyone need some free pallets? We've got a couple of big, juicy wooden pallets sitting in our driveway. I would come and get them quickly - these things are already creating a buzz on my neighborhood Facebook page. Any minute now, I suspect a van or a truck is going to swerve into my driveway and swiftly steal them away.

What would you do with old wooden pallets? That's a good question. Um, lots of things. I bet you could hang them on the walls of your house. You could decorate them with an old anchor from it, and turn it into a powerful nautical collage. Maybe you could display coffee mugs on them or cover it with a bunch of dried out leaves you collected from your childhood street. I'm getting so excited thinking about all the crafty possibilities, it's almost giving me second thoughts about this generous offer. But alas! The pallets must go.


Please come get these pallets.

This Friday journal entry is sponsored by the free pallets at the end of our driveway. To my Facebook neighborhood page, please stop talking about them and just come get the damn things already.

And speaking of Friday, I hope you're having a good one. This will be our first "nothing" weekend in a while, and personally I'm really looking forward to plunging into the lazy summer idleness. I'll have spiders to stare at, code to push around, and lots of YouTube videos to catch up on. It's been a week, and I hope you too have something at the end of it to look forward to.

Sip. It's been a busy and fulfilling week. My team continues to follow through with the configuration crisis I spoke about, and we're rolling out some important updates that will probably disrupt other teams. Anticipating the fiasco, I threw a lot of focus into writing a little slack post to succinctly describe the change, the motivation, and some suggested fixes if they get burned by the things we've moved around.

I had a lot of fun drafting it up. Sometimes at work my slack posts turn into these playful miniature blog posts. I tied the announcement to a movie quote and sprinkled in plenty of light hearted jokes and overly cinematic descriptions. When it comes to banal work writing, I live by the philosophy reward the people who read boring things.

Vicente and I carried on the conversation privately in slack, and we got to talk about writing. He shared with me a blog post he wrote about Zendesk's full mesh private network implementation he called Medusa, later published by Amazon. "I can convey technical information pretty well, but I love your interesting style and I would love to write like that."

The rest of us at the company stand in awe of Medusa. The project earned him a patent and a speaking tour at Amazon's conference. His complementary words were humbling, so I felt the need to level the field. I shared with Vicente about my fear of criticism. I've tried to write blog posts for work, but the editing and peer review process has always discouraged me to the point of abandoning my drafts. "My heart used to race when my teacher would mark up my paper with a red pen, and I think I carry some of that fear with me today," I shared.

This fear probably sheds some light on why I have so much fun writing informal announcements, runbooks, and manuals. They don't invite criticism the same way a blog post does. There's more room for fun.

While I was hammering away at my keyboard upstairs, Marissa, Rodney, and the puppies were having some kind of super hero mask photo shoot - that's at least my best summary just looking at the photos.


Ziggy looks annoyed, but Minnie looks oddly comfortable. The iron mask rests comfortably on her nose and around her ears. The eye-holes even line up perfectly. She seemed reluctant to take it off. Every kid deserves their own super-hero role model, so maybe Minnie thinks of herself as ironman - bold, inventive, and bullet proof.


After the super hero mask party, Rodney accompanied Marissa to Target. Adding to his phrases that will embarrass him someday, Marissa taught him to say "let's make it rain".

And they did "make it rain". They returned from Target with a trunk full of new toys. There was a robot snake, a robot spider, a new lego set, and a Ryan's World brand sniper rifle. Rodney had to use both arms and legs to pull back the spring. He brought the rifle to his shoulder and peered through the scope. He squeezed the trigger, shooting a speedy rubber tipped tart squarely at my ass cheek. Rodney cackled.

Rodney had so many new toys, Marissa had to reorganize his room. The two got into a confrontation about the shiny plastic briefcase that came with the rifle.

"There's not enough room in here for it dude," said Marissa. "You're not going to keep it in there. You can keep the rifle in the bin."

"But mom, this is where the gun goes," whined Rodney.

Marissa stared at the case and contemplated. "OK," she said. "If you can put the rifle back in the case in the time it takes me to finish your room, you can keep the case."

Hunched on his bedroom floor wearing nothing but his paw patrol underwear, Rodney went to work. He took apart each latch and component of the gun, fixing the tiny parts snuggly into the foam grooves in the suitcase. He was meticulous and precise - razor sharp focus, like a real life Forrest Gump cleaning an M16 in basic training.


This is my Ryan's World Dart Tag Ranger Build'n'Blast Rifle kit, there are many like it but this is mine.

Thanks for stopping by today. Have a great weekend, everyone.