shadowspar: Sailor Jupiter throwing a punch; caption: "NOPE" (Sailor Jupiter: NOPE)
2016-07-07 08:32 pm
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shadowspar: Picture of Rick holding a can of blue Jolt soda (jolt!)
2016-06-30 03:42 pm
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OSB Session Takeaways: Exit Condition

Frances Hocutt's session at Open Source Bridge, "Exit Condition: when to ragequit, raise hell, or duck and cover", was pretty awesome. I got a lot out of the session itself, out of bouncing ideas off of other conf attendees, and out of just thinking through this stuff in general. My takeaways kinda blew up too much to fit into tweet-sized points, so here they are.

Support your complainers.

When something goes awry and needs to be complained about, one person often ends up being the Designated Complainer. This is the person who is willing or expected to pipe up about any given problem (voice) even though it affects many people, not only them.

If you keep doing this to one person it will burn them out.

When raising a grievance, the Designated Complainer will eat the consequences of any disfavour from above. Worse, if they pipe up and nobody else has their back, it looks as though they are the only one who is upset. This undermines the effectiveness of their complaining and puts them at even greater risk of reprisals.

A couple of suggested strategies:

  • Rotate the complaining duties amongst everyone on the team.
  • Complain in pairs—both for mutual support, and to show that more than one person is having the same problem.
  • If, for whatever reason, the Designated Complainer has to go it alone when making the initial complaint, at the very least make it clear that they are representing you as well.

Not my circus, not my monkeys.

It can seem cold, heartless, and selfish to say "fuck this" and drop a project on the floor. But when you are perpetually grappling with a task that is causing you pain, ask yourself: is doing this thing actually your job?

This often shows up as an issue that is your problem because it is causing you grief, but not your responsibility, because you are not the one with the authority to fix it:

  • If you were hired as a Software Developer, it is Not Your Job to unfuck your company's broken product strategy.
  • If you're a Community Manager, getting your CEO to unfuck their broken open source policy is similarly Not Your Job.

You can advocate for these things, or even try to fix them outright if you want to and have the spoons. In a good environment, your efforts will get traction; this kind of thing can even be a growth opportunity. But when things are not so cheerful, you can keep spinning your wheels until you've run yourself well into the ground.

Think realistically about consequences of your actions.

Back in my army days, when someone was stressing out about the possible consequences of a trivial screwup or an act of principled disobedience, they were frequently told

"What're they gonna do, stamp 'NO DESSERT' on your meal card?"

Speaking for myself, I find it easy to freak out about the Horrible Consequences of some act without evaluating what these Horrible Consequences might actually be. While you don't want to be cavalier, you also shouldn't let yourself be held hostage by fear of consequences that are exaggerated or impossible. They can't fire you if you've already quit, they can't force you to work if you're a volunteer, and they can't take away a raise they were never going to give you in the first place. Think carefully about both formal and informal consequences, but don't be hemmed in by fences that weren't even real to begin with.

Don't save the world, just make it better.

Those of us who care deeply and who see all the things that are wrong in the world are oft given over to trying to save the whole world. We feel like a utter failure unless we manage to catch every ball, right every wrong, and save every kitten.

This sort of perfection is literally impossible. It is a one-way superexpress ticket to Burnout Gully, population you.

Instead of taking it upon yourself to save the world, and kicking yourself when you don't succeed at this Sisyphean task, focus on the fact that you are making the world better than it was before. Every helpful thing that you do, no matter how small, wouldn't have happened without you and your hard work. Go you. ♥

shadowspar: Members of the band B'z, sitting down (b'z sitting)
2016-05-04 08:13 am
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So, uh. This happened at work.

The University's been facing a tough time with declining enrollment. To make the books balance for next year, they had to cut eight staff positions.

I got called into the Dreaded Uncomfortable Meeting with five other staff members yesterday afternoon, where we learned we were being laid off. They went to great lengths to say that these reductions were a strictly financial decision that had nothing to do with our individual performance.

While I'm understandably annoyed that my position is winding down, I'm not bitter about the situation. The current leadership at AlgomaU has a lot going for them, and I truly wish them well in meeting the challenges they face. The University has the potential to be a profoundly important institution for all of Canada, and a crown jewel of our local community. I hope I see them turn that vision into a reality.

That said, I'm taking this as an opportunity to springboard on to greater things. =)

Because of our family situation, I very strongly prefer to stay local (Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, Canada), but at this point I'm open to substantial travel -- say, 25%, possibly even 40% or more depending on how it's spread out? So if there are any cool places out there who could use a *nix nerd in Software Development, QA, or Systems Administration, right now I'm all ears. ^_^
shadowspar: A pixellated adventurer grooving in time to music (necrodancer: cadence)
2016-04-26 12:38 am

Kero Lantern Chronicles

So...our ski club hosts a lantern ski two evenings a year, so people can putter along enjoying the trails and the twilight. They used to use oldschool kerosene lanterns, but the club got rid of them a few years back. It sounds like they were getting dirty and rusty, and nobody was quite sure how to make them less so.

Unfortunately, the candle lanterns that replaced them don't work very well. They don't provide any substantial illumination, and in the winter, the candles burn out quickly -- they don't retain enough heat to melt their own wax well, and burn down the middle instead of across their entire width.

I went looking for a better solution, and was surprised to find that new kerosene lanterns are actually still a thing sold in North America. Like, ones for real use, as opposed to collectables or antiques that are just supposed to sit on a shelf and look nice. So I ordered one.
Read more... )
shadowspar: Sailor Jupiter throwing a punch; caption: "NOPE" (Sailor Jupiter: NOPE)
2015-11-17 11:30 pm
shadowspar: Cap badge of the Royal Canadian Artillery: A cannon with motto: Ubique / Quo Fas Et Gloria Ducunt (RCA cap badge)
2015-11-11 11:21 am
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11 Nov

The thing that always gets me most on Remembrance Day: those stonefaced old bastards, who you swear never had a fucking feeling their entire lives, weeping inconsolably.
shadowspar: Cap badge of the Royal Canadian Artillery: A cannon with motto: Ubique / Quo Fas Et Gloria Ducunt (RCA cap badge)
2015-10-29 11:33 pm
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PSA: Remembrance Day Poppies => USA

Friends in the USA: if you would like some Remembrance Poppies for 11 Nov (Remembrance/Veterans Day), tell me how many you'd like and your mailing address if I don't have it already. I'll make sure they get to you. ^_^

Remembrance Day Poppies on a cenotaph

(Comments screened for your convenience; I'll unscreen any that don't contain addresses.)

shadowspar: Members of the band B'z, sitting down (b'z sitting)
2015-10-01 06:24 pm

The forums over at offer some fascinating sociological observations.

(~500 words) )
shadowspar: Stamp image: paper airplane with caption "Par Avion" (par avion)
2015-09-18 11:24 pm
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TiL: Canadian Postal Trivia Edition

Things I've learned: even though we've been "All up" -- everything gets sent by air mail -- for longer than I've been alive, Canada's International Letter-post Items Regulations still mandate that all letters and postcards posted in Canada for delivery outside Canada bear the words AIR MAIL and PAR AVION. (Handwritten in bold capital letters in blue or black, or by affixing an Airmail etiquette, to be specific.)
shadowspar: Pic of rolling pin and dough w/ caption "That's how I roll" (that's how I roll)
2015-05-12 10:20 pm

Well, hell! Chocolate zucchini cake of the few recipes that we use all the time that hadn't been on this blog is this one for chocolate zucchini cake. I originally found it here, and would just link people to it...except that that whole damn site is now dead of linkrot. So....

Recipe... )
shadowspar: A cross-country skier skiing into a stadium (xcski)
2014-12-17 10:48 pm
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Wax clinic!

Start-of-season wax clinic at Soo Finnish Nordic tonight! Was really looking forward to this, 'cuz my skis haven't really had a proper waxing since I got them -- just whatever the store put on them, plus a daily touch-up with express wax.

So, my major learning for the evening: it turns out, applying proper wax to skis does indeed make them more slippery, and therefore faster! However, it also makes you more clumsy...! Going to have to check the package to see if this side effect is listed on there. Will be in touch with the wax manufacturer if not. ;)
shadowspar: Members of the band B'z, surrounded by fey fire (b'z fire)
2014-11-21 10:49 pm

Power pop goodness :D

Aaaa, this blast from the past rolled around on my partner's spotify tonight. So much power pop goodness...I have ~feels~ about this song. ^_^;

Also notable: apparently Weezer did a cover of this song for the movie Cars 2. It's pretty good! They didn't stray very far from the original. =)

shadowspar: An angry anime swordswoman, looking as though about to smash something (sabre - angry face)
2014-10-27 12:34 am
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Actually, it's about ridiculous gg image macros

Ever feel so strongly about the non-existence of a given image macro that the world just seemed out of balance until you went and made it yourself?

Yeah, uh, me neither. ^_^;;

Well, actually, images are under the cut )
shadowspar: Members of the band B'z, sitting down (b'z sitting)
2014-10-13 01:51 am
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I do actually try to keep these in mind...

...when dealing with difficult people on the Internets.

Read more... )
shadowspar: An angry anime swordswoman, looking as though about to smash something (sabre - angry face)
2014-10-12 11:10 pm
shadowspar: An angry anime swordswoman, looking as though about to smash something (sabre - angry face)
2014-10-11 04:20 am

Chaff and flares; flares and chaff

Serious trigger warning for violent misogyny, harassment, abuse, and threats.

Seriously, TW for GamerGate and all the things associated therewith. )
shadowspar: A incorporeal undead creature floating in midair, with sharp claws and an evil grin (Wesnoth: Shadow)
2014-10-06 10:05 am

On "ironic racism"

Pro Tip™: if someone walks like a racist, talks like a racist, acts like a racist, they are, for all practical intents & purposes, a racist. You really do not need to know if they feel like a racist deep down in their heart of hearts to figure out what to do about them. This isn't rocket surgery, y'all. For a group of folks who coined the term "duck typing", we should be all over this.

To put it another geekly way: if someone does or says something racist, then follows it up with "I was just trolling, yo! I'm not really racist!" then one right response is "I voluntarily fail my Will save! I am thoroughly convinced that you are a shitbag racist, and henceforth will treat you like one! :D"

(Note: expanding on my twitter mini-screed here.)

shadowspar: A incorporeal undead creature floating in midair, with sharp claws and an evil grin (Wesnoth: Shadow)
2014-08-29 08:22 pm

Make. better. games.

I don't understand the rational basis behind people's opposition to Anita Sarkeesian's work, if indeed there is any.

I grant that I haven't plumbed the depths of Reddit, 4chan, and sundry gaming forums looking for reasoned argument, because those places are fucking gross. But what I have found seems to be naught more than a paranoid chorus of "she's out to get our games!"

Some self-identified "gamers" seem to think that Sarkeesian's saying "Stop making games". She's not. She's saying "Games can be better than this. Make better games."

The myriad cries of "censorship!" and "political correctness!" suggest the perceived danger is that games will change as a result of Sarkeesian's critique—that the amount of abuse and misogyny will decrease, and that the number of female characters with agency and development will increase. This makes the rallying cry of "she's out to get our games!" sound more like "she's out to emasculate our games!"

I have news for you, gamer dudes. If gratuitous misogyny and violence is how you define masculinity, then you've got a big fucking problem.

shadowspar: Members of the band B'z, sitting down (b'z sitting)
2014-06-06 05:49 pm

Max Ignorable Racism: the threshold that doesn't exist

You would think that some things are just so racist that, on encountering them, everyone—even white folks, almost to a one—would say "holy FUCK that is some racist-ass shit, what the FUCK are you even thinking?" A sort of Maximum Ignorable Racism Threshold, if you will.

Apparently you'd be wrong, because you can be the most vilified racist shitbag in recent memory and still have people going to bat for you in the mainstream media: arguing that happened to you was wrong, telling people they should "calm down" over your racist remarks.

If this supposed threshold did exist, these racist-ass shirts would never have seen the light of day. Like, seriously, just think how many people have to have been party to that production, with none of them raising sufficient hue and cry to put a stop to it.

I sorely doubt that this is much of a revelation to anyone who's not carrying around a gigantor sack of white privilege. Chalk that up to yet another example of how privilege works to hide the realities of the rest of the world from people possessed of it.

shadowspar: Picture of ouendan (\o/)
2014-05-31 11:13 pm
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New Basia :D

New-to-me music: Basia Bulat, one of my favouritist musicians evar, released a new CD last fall, and I finally just picked it up yesterday. Here's the title track, "Tall Tall Shadow":

muzak vids... )