Tag Archives: programming


Taking the initiative isn’t difficult for me. When problems rear their heads, I’m always eager to jump in and start solving them. At work, this has led to me taking on some fairly tough programming projects and they’re the kind of things that get you noticed. They get you a seat at the table in the boardroom when major initiatives are being discussed.

I was able to take advantage of that privilege for a long time. For many years, I had a place in the boardroom. But as the company has evolved into a more structured and corporate entity, it has also evolved more doorways. Portals to hop through, documents to sign, time accounted for, and technology management has grown skeptical of initiatives that aren’t driven by the sales group.

It leaves me frustrated – I have ideas, I want to drive initiatives, but instead, I throw them out in meetings and watch them flounder on the table, gasping for air. I wind up being the mouth-piece for innovation or improvement or even research when it’s my superiors who should be doing this work. Alas, it isn’t so, and I return to my desk with an empty piece of paper instead of excited notes about something new to research and develop. The mundane project-tracking task-list has replaced the passionately scribbled words and hastily drawn diagrams outlining new ideas.

While the change has frustrated me, I can admit that there are some advantages – it keeps wasteful work at bay, and makes my use of time more specific, ensuring that whatever I do is directly actionable. Sometimes, projects drag on a bit too long, research doesn’t work out to prove a hypothesis and time (and resources) gets wasted. (I’d argue that time spent closing a dead-end isn’t wasted, as it keeps that possibility from popping up again, but that’s neither here nor there.)

With my projects at home, I have a similar problem as I outlined earlier. Too many pots on too many stoves, because ideas are cheap and execution is fucking hard. It’s not just a question of picking and choosing, it’s a question of applying that initiative in impactful, actionable ways. I might scoff at task-lists, but I’m never more productive than when I’m working off of a task-list.

In fact, I find most task-list applications (because I’ve used at least a half-dozen by now, and have settled on Google’s Keep) to be woefully inadequate and have often played around with the idea of writing my own task-list program that ties into e-mail, calenders, build hierarchies, inter-dependencies… but there’s that ugly specter of available bandwidth, and do I really want to buy a new kitchen right now?

What the point, today? Well, the point is, I’m happy that I haven’t given up on my initiatives. I still toss them out, sometimes even lobbing huge, quivering Tunas on the table that splatter everyone with briny water and flop about, demanding attention. If the poor thing winds up unloved, ignored and dead – well, at least I’ll have Tuna for lunch.

Graduate School

I took some time off from work yesterday to attend a graduate seminar at the City University downtown, to kind of see what was going on, what was offered, and talk a bit to the various schools. There are a dozen or so City University schools spread throughout the boroughs, and each of them had something different to offer, the nuances of which are lost in virtual research. It’s one thing to read about schools and their programs and another to hear about it directly from the admissions people working the various desks.

Having reached ripe middle age, and stagnating a bit in my career, I feel the need to further my education in order to further my career, particularly with two kids who will demand a small fortune in gold doubloons to pursue their own education. Well, perhaps there is a selfish streak in me to, I don’t know, pursue my own ambition a bit, but I think I’ll let myself slide on that count, if it’s all the same to you. The question, however, is to study what exactly, and what the end-goal of any study might be.

Of course, the romantic in me wants to throw caution to the wind and enroll into a creative writing MFA program, and daydream away the worries in a wouldn’t-it-be-nice sequence straight from a black-and-white film about how all you need is a spot of derring-do to risk it all for a swing across the planks  of doubt onto the banister of triumph. Alas, the realist in me frowns, taps his sensible ball-point pen onto a chart of budgets, retirement planning, school costs, and the income of writers and I find the billowing swashbuckling costume melting away to reveal an off-white shirt constricting my turgid form.

So, it comes down to career expectations – Computer Science or something called a Masters in Data Analytics. The former is actually of interest to me, and it would let me add on more academic/science based work to my career, even if as an adjunct or something. I don’t hold out too much hope at this point to actually move into hardcore engineering as I’ve missed out on too much work, but who can say. The other path though, is directly related to what I’ve been doing with my work the last 10 years and would be a very big boost into pushing me forward in my current path.

I wish I knew more serious computer science type people in my life, to be able to talk to them and see what exactly they’re doing at a higher level of education and what they’ve been able to get out of this work, as it’s something of a mystery to me. And I don’t really know if I’m actually the kind of person who’d enjoy research for a very long time in some esoteric corner by myself – I’m more of a project person, I like to attack specific problems directly and solve them.

One path leads me to an expanded world and opens up far more possibilities, and the other keeps me in familiar grounds but elevates my view to let me see further. Assuming I can actually get accepted into any of these programs, in the first place. I haven’t seen the inside of a class room in over 10 years.

I imagine quite a bit of hemming and hawing will commence, presently – I’ll spare you the gory details.