Robert Whiting In search of awesome

Quantum Computing

With quantum computers come the promise of a golden age of computing where everything is solved and our wildest science fiction dreams spontaneously appear in our laps–for free.

Obviously that’s not an entirely accurate view of reality.

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Bam! First Github.io post!

I’ve got a long way to go to migrate my blog from my own Wordpress instance to Github.io, but I think it’ll be worth it. I’m already really excited about returning to Markdown without the frustration of keeping a server playing nice on the side.

Github is like a second home, and it’s time I start contributing here instead of just consuming.

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Leveraging the Internal Blog

One of the greatest communication resources we have inside any organization is the internal blog, and we’re not fully utilizing it. I’m not fully utilizing it.

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Holes in the map

After a breakfast of Honey Nut Cheerios and apple juice, the group set out from the tiny castle with Muffin the Landlord leading the way.

The tiny turbaned man led them into a forest, following a brick path that weaved back and forth around the trees. The path almost overlapped with itself several times where it almost entirely circled a large tree.

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Command and Consensus

Communicating expectations and work completed in a shared employee log is a phenomenal example of grass roots management (bottom up). Your team identified a problem with a communication root cause and acted on it by coming up with a shared communication system to reduce misunderstandings. Your team got buy in. No one said, “Here’s a new system you must do because I said so.”

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Carrots and internal motivations

This issue has been bothering me for a while, it’s about instilling motivation. I’m against both the stick and the carrot when it comes to this issue, (see Barry Schwartz “on our loss of wisdom”) and believe that intrinsic motivation is superior to both by far. I have seen too many teams fail because they were fixated on rewards, or obsessed with not being “made an example of”, instead of prioritizing the mission. But how in the world do you incept intrinsic motivation in employees, co-workers, or even superiors?

– A Serious Dan

I was recently given a book called The Four Tendencies. The premise of the book is that people are inherently motivated differently. Based on their internal and external motivational tendencies, finding out how to influence them will differ. It’s an interesting paradigm on human motivation. I’m not entirely sure I’m bought into it, but it’s worth a read.

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Wide open imposed constraints

What are some useful and detrimental constraints, self imposed or otherwise? I’m leaving this one wide open as a bit of a joke.

A Serious Dan

I hope you’ve realized, dear brother, that you’re asking 4 questions–which is against the rules, I think.

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Muffin the landlord

Danny woke up slowly. He didn’t remember falling asleep.

The bed was soft but short–his feet hung off the end. He did remember knocking on a drawbridge to a tiny castle.

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How do you identify a human leader?

I’ve found a lot of people who know are experts in their fields and have a certain level of charisma, but then when they move into a leadership position, it’s apparent that it’s not their strong suit.

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On taking and giving advantage

These cycles gain momentum like freight trains over time, and eventually they seem unstoppable. But things were good once before they went bad. And many thing which were once bad are now good. From the leadership side; what advice would you give for turning a vicious cycle virtuous, and for preventing a good thing from turning bad?

A Serious Dan

Brother, to be honest, I didn’t expect you to follow through and write me a public letter to discuss leadership principles across bartending and software. But I’m glad you did.

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Fix it or buy a new one?

Brother, one of the patterns I’ve noticed in industry is the tendency to job hop when troubles arise. This isn’t just in software. Feelings are hurt once so people move on to a new friend group. Marriages are hard, so they divorce and try to find the next The One. Staying power seems to be lacking.

The other side of it is the “stay and fix it no matter what” attidude, but that can lead to stagnation in a horrible situation. At some point it can turn into a “stay because it’s familiar” instead of injecting positive change.

What’s the tipping point between making where you are a better place vs leaving a bad situation? Are there obvious signs that it’s time to move on, or should there be a timebox on affecting change in a situation? When is it premature to move on?

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Thought Stream 20171105

It’s been too long since I wrote last. I finally got a habbit formed that I really enjoyed (writing on the bus) but destroyed it by getting a Prius. I really enjoy my ‘08 Prius, don’t get me wrong, it’s very comfy and fuel efficient. There are a few things that bother me, but the benefits definitely outweigh them. With regard to writing, it’s removed the need to take the bus, and I don’t think I could do this in audio form–

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The end

When Gaston returned to save Belle from the beast, he learned that the beast had become a man, and that the man had died. He learned that Maurice had died too, and he wept for them.

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The victor

The machine stopped spinning, and the notes that had covered the walls were gone. So was Maurice.

He stepped out of the machine and into a new life.

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Roux lost

Her only hope was to nurse Gaston back to health. How else could she get Belle away from her beloved and win him? She had waited years and planned and hoped, and when Adam was finally capable of love, Belle stole him away.

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Justice

All the other staff seemed to come out of a haze, and the new reality seemed to erase the horrible decade of living in constant fear of the beast. But not Mrs. Potts.

She could not stand the happiness of Prince Adam. After all he had done, that spoiled, murderous, brat had somehow found happiness.

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Finishing the machine

After the curse lifted, the wedding ended, and life had settled into a new normal, Maurice’s thoughts returned to his time.

He remembered a tour he took once of a castle dungeon–swept clean as part of an exhibit, and the only remaining portions of the castle he how inhabited.

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The known story

Scattered here are the pieces of the story of Belle and Prince Adam. If you’ve read this far, you likely know it:

Prince Adam captured Maurice, who stuck through the castle grounds to find a way to power his machine. Belle traded herself as prisoner in her father’s place, but in time fell in love with her captor.

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The form of the Church

What should the Church look like?

It’s a question that I’ve wrestled with for as long as I read the Bible–which has been a long long time. I probably started reading the Bible on my own when I was in elementary school, not long after I learned to read.

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Gaston

Gaston had always loved Belle.

His first memory of her was at a town faire. All the children crowded around the vendors who had arrived from out of town–Gaston included. At the age of 8, he already outpaced his peers in height and strength, so he stood at the front of the crowd.

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The witch

Magic came easily to little Roux. She learned under many tutors, and her patience and stubornness did her a service in her studies. She was a few years older than Prince Adam. She loved him with the same patience and stubornness that she applied to her studies.

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Chip

Mrs. Potts barely recognized the other servants. They had only been turned to furniture and cookware a day before. The brat, prince Adam, had been turned into a horrible beast with impossible conditions put onto his return transformation–someone had to fall in love with him.

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Growing up

Maurice had no time to work on his time machine. He had assumed that he was too old for a genuine relationship, let alone to become a father. He knew next to nothing about taking care of a baby, and no one in the town wanted anything to do with him. So he turned to books.

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Where did Danny go?

Danny’s computer was bored. She kept picking out pictures from the folder to show Danny, but it didn’t seem like he was there. She knew that sometimes he would go away for a while, but he usually powered her down so that time wouldn’t pass.

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Cogsworth

It was Cogsworth who found the king and queen’s bodies. The other castle servants had given up after a few days search. Most believed that they had simply run away to live a better life somewhere else, but Cogsworth knew them. They were like parents to him, and when they had a son of their own, they still spared moments here and there to greet him and see how he fared.

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Belle

Maurice recovered quickly in the care of Collette, but he didn’t stay long in the winery stables. Collette’s father was not often sober, but on one such occasion, he happened upon Maurice and Collette sitting together in the barrel room. He ran Maurice out and gave Collette a few bruises for shaming their family.

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Collette

Dr. Moreau awoke on a straw bed in the morning. The straw smell met his senses first. Next he heard the chickens outside a nearby window. He sat up and groaned–pain filled his head, and he felt the bandage wrapped around it.

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Upon arrival

The time machine was a masterpiece of curved tubes, pistons, and gauges. Every piece was necessary and beautiful. Dr. Moreau did not slack in his responsibilities to science. The room was covered in diagrams, calculations, estimations, and several scale models of the time machine.

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Dr. Moreau

Dr. Moreau erased the blackboard vigorously. His mind cascaded emotions in waves of frustration, anticipation, annoyance, eagerness, and pride. He was a professor, but unlike the white haired, dried up, coots, he was still in his prime–or nearly anyway.

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Endmur the writer

Endmur had no interest in most of his classes. Most young elves at his age relished their five year long introductory classes to the elven crafts. In his last class, he was instructed to forge a basic weapon that would be able to keep as a souvenir when the class ended.

After five years of practice and work, Endmur disappointed his teacher by presenting him with a foot long letter opener. The capstone project on these classes proceeded with secrecy, otherwise Master Altema would have stopped Endmur’s petty project and guided him toward a dagger or short sword.

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Highcrag castle

It didn’t take them long to discover that the big red x indicated where they were on the map. Because they had no idea where they were, they just wandered roughly West for a while looking for landmarks that would help them get a bearing on their new found map.

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How to Team

I became a team lead in a software company about a year ago, and after things settled down a little, I realized that I didn’t know much about leading a team. I only had the experience from a few teams at his particular company, and I wanted to do the best I could.

So I started a How to Team group.

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The map of darkness

Candy didn’t return to the group, and after a day of searching, the group decided that she was probably in the pipes somewhere or back in the arena.

The troll–named Nobody–joined them in their search for Candy. He was convinced that she was actually made of candy, and often made the rest of the group uncomfortable when he made comments about eating or licking Candy when they found her. Perhaps it was best that she didn’t return just yet.

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Cleaning up

Candy didn’t care much for the dry world. All that dehydrated, crackling, windy stuff that kept everyone so preoccupied just didn’t hold her attention.

After the first few chapters, you probably forgot she wasn’t even human. She looked human enough, but she didn’t grow up above water. She grew up in the mountain streams of central Idaho.

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Building a kegerator

My experience with building a kegerator probably isn’t any different from any other kegerator you’ll find out there in internet land.

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Proper drainage

Sorry, I really thought that they’d get to the fighting part last time, so the title is a little missleading.

Everyone on the island looked around. Candy did not stand among them.

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Nobody's fight

When the troll stood up and bellowed his foul breath at the group, they all let go of the grate and took a step or three away from the angry, semi-camouflaged troll. Except for Benny, he kept standing there picking something out of the fur on his belly.

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The drain troll

Danny, Jenny, Benny, Jimmy, Candy, and a wave of soapy water splashed into a large cavern. The murky water only came up to their knees, but it was certainly disgusting. Greenish-brown sludge foam covered most of the surface, except where the new soapy water arrived from a hole in the cavern ceiling–through which our adventurers unceremoniously arrived.

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A word from the writer

A middle aged man in a bowler hat sauntered down a tree shaded path. The wind blew lightly through the autumn leaves, scattering a few to the still green grass. In time, he sat at a bench facing the path and, sitting with perfect posture, rested his hands on his walking cane.

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The janitor

Once Danny had the key, story arcs began to fall into place. A talking mailbox gave him directions to an old abandoned house in the foothills, and he gathered his team to road-trip once more.

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Retrieving the sword

Jenny sat in her studio appartment on the third floor well above a local eatery in the heart of Boise. Her black cat rubbed up against her leg as she took notes on her laptop–her eyes stuck fast to the book next to her on the sofa.

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The second challenge

A couple weeks went by, and the unlikely group of wizards spent most of their time at the local Library! reading up on ancient lore. They had absolutely no idea how to find the key or the door or whatever it was that they were looking for.

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Thought stream 20170520

Jabbers is one of the best ideas anyone has come up with. Ever. It’s a play place for kids and a coffee shop / deli for adults. That’s where I am now. On one side of the room parents sit and chat with snacks and coffee occasionally looking over at the other side of the room, where all the children run in circles with screams and froathy grins.

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The welcome fairy

Danny stood in the middle of a dense fog that smelled very strongly of garlic. His head spun, and he tried to avoid breathing in the evaporated dragon as much as possible. Part of him wanted to walk away, but his legs wouldn’t react to his brain.

Is this what shock feels like?

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Justice of a loving God

If God is all powerful and good then why is there evil in the world?

It’s a classic question that agnostics often use as a shield to keep themselves from digging deep into their own souls. Souls tend to be pretty dark and lonely places to explore.

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Dragon slaying

Danny thought back. It made way more sense now. Dragons don’t blow cotton candy balls of icy death, and lightning certainly doesn’t crawl along like water down a driveway. How did he do it though? Could he do it again?

The dragon dug through the ice at the center of the blast radius. He seemed to be looking for something and getting more panicked by the minute.

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Glowing sword

Benny led the retreat by large margin, followed by Candy (who could run surprisingly fast), then Danny and Jimmy, but Danny glanced back.

Standing in the open field next to the clock tower, Jenny defied the dragon. She faced the dragon with a ready stance, and in that moment, Danny knew that he had to do the same. He skidded to a stop, turned around, and began his sprint back toward the cloaked woman standing in a field.

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A dragon

After an uncomfortable amount of time, the silence broke with the pop of Candy’s gum. It seemed like a whole weekend had gone by in another world, because one had, and it was a pretty awesome weekend.

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Meeting Barzilaih

Candy lay on Danny’s bed chewing bubble gum and pouring her energies into her phone–likely Facebook, but potentially Instagram or SnapChat. Yes, I can put current social trends directly into the story because I have little to no concern for saving this story from outdated references. This is practically writer suicide, watch me care.

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Barzilaih's lair

“You’re computer is super old. As soon as you get a real job, you should replace it.” Jimmy pointed a finger at the laptop, “It’s struggling to get Minecraft open! Barzilaih’s going to beat the challenges, become High Wizard, and die of old age before this thing starts.”

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Loading minecraft

Back in Boise, the whole group crowded around Danny’s desk. Loading with the familiar Mojang red-on-white logo, the laptop purred with excitement.

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Change in plans

“I’m going up against a minecraft character?” Danny though he’d heard the limit of rediculousness before, but this topped the bears, mice, and amazon-delivered sword.

“Don’t be absurd,” the little girl sighed and a patronizing look covered her face, “you’re going up against the one who controls the character. His gamertag was chosen, but the selection process makes allowences for aliases. Just makes it harder to find him.”

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Meeting with Destiny

After a lengthy discussion about how to find Barzilaih, they settled back on the original plan of searching out Destiny. You may have forgotten all about Destiny. She already played an important role in this story. She sent the sword to Candy to give to Danny. Other than the mice and Barzilaih, she’s the only character we haven’t really covered who might actually have some answers.

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Gathering the team

The next day Danny and Jimmy gathered supplies, drew up plans, and recoverd from that horrible hike up the mountain the day before. Beorn claimed that he was too busy running the kingdom of the bears to join Danny in his quest, but that one of his right hand bears had volunteered to aid Danny as a part of his team, and more importantly, represent the kingdom of bears to the potential High Wizard despite the extreme unlikelyhood.

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High wizard registration

Danny sat dumbfounded for a little while, then said, “Let me see if I understand what’s happening. You’re telling me that I’m a contender for the role of High Wizard. I’m the team captain for the Northern Kingdom team, and the mice and bears are trying to help me by kidnapping me to help me win then gain my favor? Sounds really messed up. And who is Barzilaih?”

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Thought Stream 20170413

Writing Danny Rocket is really fun, but I’m going to burn out if I start writing for a specific audience. I’m excited that people are starting to read & share it, but I don’t want to lose sight of why I started writing that particular story. The structure of the story is such that I can do whatever I want with the world and characters at any time–and only to be written for fun. It is my anti-writers block mechanism. If I’m not careful, it will become my only writing mechanism.

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Feasting with bears

After the introductions, Beorn invited Danny and Jimmy to eat with him while they discussed important matters. They all sat at a large table with at least ten other bears and filled their plates with all kinds of berries and nuts.

Beorn listened to the tale of how Danny received the sword and the journey he had all the way to the table where they sat.

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Now about the mice

Now, I realize that the interactions with the mice turned out to be very short lived, and pending some bright flash of creativity to tie them back into the story and allow some major monologues, their backstory won’t ever be told in earnest. So we’ll take a small break from our “hero” and focus on the tiny, powerful, robed mice.

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Bear dwellings

After the bears gathered their wounded, buried their dead, and cursed the mice, they all set off through the mountains again.

Danny and Jimmy walked or rode, though considerably less bound than before, and when they arrived at a small cave entrance at the edge of the snow line, they were so exhausted that they immediately collapsed into guest room beds.

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Saving the laptop

The stone golems swatted at the bears, which put the flight from the bears earlier that day into a little perspective. He looked from golem to golem trying to pick out the tiny mouse on each shoulder.

As he scanned across the mice, one locked eyes with him.

Barzilaih, the deep voice spoke in his head.

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Thought stream 20170407

I have a lot of thoughts about the upgrades I get to add to my pokemon trainer character in my weekly Pokemon tabletop RPG. He is an ambitious, psychic, overconfident child, and he doesn’t mind bending the rules or finding the loopholes to win. Soon he will have to face off agains his “research partners” in league tournaments, so most of his tricks won’t work. Also, he only has two pokemon with any significant level. Everything else gets transfered to the PC for sale or trade later.

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Rocks and mice

“Mice!” the bear roared, skidding to a stop before the humanoid rock heap.

Danny hit the ground hard when the bear he rode reared up to block the towering rock golem that had constructed itself in front of them. Desperately he sought to fill his lungs with air again, then he looked for the pack-bear that had his sword (and laptop). Last he saw it, it was behind and to the–there.

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King of the bears

Still in shock, Danny sat on the bear as it lumbered through the sagebrush up and away from Boise. The once bright red blood that had covered most of his torso and head had turned to a dark, sticky substance.

He scanned the surrounding sagebrush for the Jimmy. His arms were tied behind his back as well, but concentration filled his eyes over fear as he studied his bear and the sagebrush.

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City simulation

I’ve always been facinated by population simulation. Which, I recognize, is an odd thing for anyone to plant their interests. Here are some examples that I find facinating:

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Bear epidemic

“Do you think they’re gone?” Jimmy asked as he paced the parking garage stairwell landing.

Danny stood by the door, watching out the reinforced window down at the street below. “Depends on if they were just running through or wanted to move in.”

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Ghost blog

I’ve put off applying updates to my ghost blog for a long time now. Way too long. Not that I put many things here anyway. Hopefully that will change soon. Anyway.

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Versioned endpoints again

tl;dr

We’re breaking downstream resources because of changing apis.

Aside from perfect communication and foresight, the best way to solve this is with versioned apis.

Of the options, I think the accept header is best option.

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Thought stream 20170328

I faced a couple frustrating and complicated problems at work yesterday that left me feeling less than competant. Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to start working on my home coding project early enough in the evening to get a good two hours in–enough time to make significant leaps. OAuth should work in a couple days, and the base functionality for the tracker app will be done.

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On transportation

Tesla apparently passed Ford recently in value as a company, and rightly so. Tesla makes all-electric vehicles and continually makes strides in the automated vehicle field. The people killed in car “accidents” every year is staggering. Especially when we consider how easily we as a society could save those lives.

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Thought stream 20170322

Most people I meet have one or two things that they’re realy excited about. At the very least, they pick one or two things and run with them for most of their lives. Stories pepper history of individuals who pick one single cause and stake their whole lives on mastering that skill, solving that problem, or achieving that goal.

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The sidekick

When Danny finally got home, the dog greeted him by lifting her head and huffing once, then on recognizing him laid her head back down with a dumb smile and one and a half tail wags. Danny walked over and scratched behind the dog’s ears.

The dog is not the sidekick.

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The waiting room

Danny sat in a waiting room.

Ah, buckets, I forgot where I was.

He glanced upwards and muttered under his breath, “Wow, worst sentence written by any author ever.”

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The sword

Danny stared at the sword. The black blade shimmered and seemed to move ever so slightly in one direction–like clouds. The entire sword appeared to be made of a dark wood inlaid with thin swirls of gold, silver, and several metals he didn’t recognize: a metallic blue, a stony red, and a semi translucent green. The four colors mesmerized him as he traced their swirling current from hilt to tip. Finally, he set the sword back in the amazon box atop the picnic table.

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An introduction

Danny Rocket grew up in Santa Barbara, California and moved to Boise, Idaho when he finished middle school. But that was years ago.

He sat in one of the comfy chairs of a Starbucks just a few miles from home with a mocha. One week after graduating high school and he still didn’t have a college picked out, let alone a career. It wasn’t that he was an indecisive kid, he just had so many grandiose ideas about how he was going to change the world, that he never settled on a way to actually accomplish any of them.

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Thought stream 20170221

So many thoughts, and none of them seem important.

Time optimization. It’s 6:14, and I’m waiting for the bus. If I crafted my mornings better, I could reduce pre-bus slack. I wish there was a way to drive in and bus home. After driving in for a few days, I’ve remembered the freedom I get from driving in, but maybe that’s just because I have a good set of audiobooks. Once I exhause Boise Public, I’ll be bored again, and I can’t write things while I drive. Why isn’t there any good dictation app out there yet?

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Thought stream 20170214

This morning, I listened to a Tim Ferriss podcast with Mr. Money Mustache, and it may have been my most paused episode due to writing down things to read or do. Apparently, I have a similarly skewed brain as Tim, MMM, and Elon Musk when it comes to the frustration of knowing that the world is busted and needs some fixing in a lot of areas.

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Covered in Desitin

One evening my wife and I were talking in the kitchen after dinner. After a few minutes of uninterrupted conversation, we knew something was wrong. Where is the two year old?

Any time he’s quiet for more than a few minutes, he’s either taking a nap or doing something in secret–never a good sign.

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A good hobby

A good hobby draws me closer to God or closer to people.

It benefits my own character or sharpens my skill.

It builds contentment and satisfaction instead of demanding more.

It leaves me calm and either tired or energetic, not lethargic or frustrated.

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A little better

Every day, do something to move your character one step toward the place you want to be when you grow up.

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Corner Desk

My office was swallowed by a baby room, so I moved my computer to share the office with my wife.

She was sick of her little desk, and I didn’t really like my big desk–that trade was obvious. But I still need some semblance of a desk. At work, I use a standing desk because it helps me with better posture, so why not build one for the new office?

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Logging Philosophy

I’ve compiled my logging philosophy into a single place so that I can reference it for later. Here is what I’ve found so far…

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Padawan Michael Wookie

My 2 year old walked into my office, sat on a chair and grinned up at me. “A Stawas stowie.”

“A Star Wars story?”

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A Walk in the Woods

“Does anyone remember me?” The fawn repeated. Nearly the same surprised and confused expression painted the faces of all but one of the children gathered in front of him. Half the children stared at the goat-humanoid head, the other half stared at his hooved feet. His lack of clothing was the least of the many oddities.

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Comment Driven Development

As most software methodologies grow from some developer’s organizational habit. If the habit helped enough to impact anything significantly, it turns into a method for others to emulate.

Comment driven development is an extremely simple process for breaking apart complex problems into modular (hopefully pure) functions.

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Exploring the Grounds

Erin woke up at 6:23 and looked over the railing on her top bunk to see if any of her roommates were awake yet. They had stayed up well past lights-out the night before getting to know each other.

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The Winery

Richard looked up from his book and listened. Silence stretched except for the sound of the crackling fire. He stood up, traded the large wood-bound tome for a .45, and walked to back porch. The sweet smells of a blooming garden filled his nose.

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Mr Hackle Grumsclaw

Breakfast: 7:00-8:00 Dorm dining room

Orientation: 8:15-9:45 Orientation, Mr. Andrew Collins

Magical Retention: 10:00-11:45 Library, Mr. Hackle Grumsclaw

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Ms Joy's Classroom

Erin eagerly slid into her desk chair and pulled out her notebook. She loved Ms Joy’s class. Ever since she was transferred to this small school, she felt loved and welcomed by Ms Joy. The classroom seemed to echo the care and attention that its teacher embodied: a low chalkboard with colorful chalks, lamps provided a softer alternative to the harsh florescent that had been turned off, potted plants and stuffed animals lined the shelves.

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Dad's Study

Jack couldn’t sleep that night. Like many nights before, he felt restless as he lay on the bottom bunk. With his feet resting on the cross-beams, he considered waking his older brother so he wouldn’t be alone in his boredom.

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Being a Hero

I had the opportunity to be a hero Saturday.

By mid afternoon the patio of the winery was full of people, and we even had a party of 7 on the berm sipping Chardonnay. I was clearing tables, pouring refills, and engaging in light conversation between tables before walking back into the tasting room to find the other two servers in conversation.

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