Thursday, April 30, 2020

De And Re-Atomization

I would be less than honest than to say that the whole situation of the last two months has made me very conscious of the fact that I have less and less use for people and socialization in my life.

I am not quite sure when the realization occurred - perhaps it is has only been more recently, with the potentially incoming event of some level or form of "reopening" and the opportunity to go places that have been forbidden for the last six weeks.  But now that the possibility exists that things may be open, I do not find least bit of need to go there and start doing things - or more importantly, seeing people.

Work is the biggest test case - after all, that is where most of us spend most of our time.  And a great deal of "work" involves the being around and co-ordinating of tasks with other individuals which itself involves a certain level of socialization.  Which I find I am not missing very much and (quite probably) makes me a more productive employee overall.

What I am finding is this idea of "enforced socialization" - the socialization that occurs when I am out in the world which, if I needed to do something like go to work or go to a store or go out to a restaurant - is a thing that I do not miss at all.

I like socialization - when it is people that I actually want to socialize with, my friends or family or my shared interest folks (like Iai or Highland Games or Rabbit Volunteers).  In that context, it provides entertainment, camaraderie, and a sense of belonging.  But this is always my choice of these people, not the enforced choice of others that are in a space I am in.

I think the great push to "get out" is driven as much from a need to get back to work or a need to get out than the inherent desire to be back out in the population, to be around other people.  For some people, most likely the extroverts among us, sure.  For the others, it is only a byproduct of the greater desire and need to be "out".

What are the implications of this for the world going forward?  There will be a segment of the population that continues on just as they did before with going out and being out among everybody.  But there will be another segment - growing, I suspect - of individuals that have found that they can do a great deal of what they did previously in person over the InterWeb and remotely without having to be out in a larger population.

This also has implications for group activities (really - given all that we have been through, who can honestly say that a concert, movie, or sporting event with thousands of people is really a good idea?) and charitable works (unless you are committed to the cause, why risk it?).  Even religious organizations are going to have to walk through - whenever the all clear is given - about why, since they have spent the last X amount of weeks worshiping remotely, there is a clear and present need to be gathering all together again?  Have not we been "all together" before this period of time?

We have spent a great deal of time atomizing society over the last few months.  I suspect we will see a greater movement for maintaining aspects of that atomization and greater resistance by some to become as socially re-atomized as they were before.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Off to Counseling

So, just for the public record, I am going to a counseling session tomorrow.

I have been to counseling before so I am well aware of the benefits (and risks, of course.  Nothing is 100%).  This is the outcome of a discussion with The Ravishing Mrs. TB the last Sunday.

It might strike you as odd for someone who seems to like to write as much as I do, but I am not the best one on one conversationalist.  Talking is, well, hard (To quote Walk The Moon's album of the same name).  And I have to do more of it than I would like, given my job.  So when I am home, I am less talkative than probably I would be otherwise.  Not helpful in a marriage, in case you are keeping track.

Additionally, I have found that this whole job change has shattered my confidence a great deal more than I would have anticipated.  True, I find myself in this awkward zone of still doing a job I no longer officially have and being responsible in a way that I should not be.  But even more fundamentally, it has shaken my confidence about being able to do this line of work at all - the term "fundamental flaws and failures" from my review just keeps ringing through my head.  As I told The Ravishing Mrs. TB, there is nothing like that to really stick in your head to the point that you have no self confidence in your ability to do anything.

The other thing - in general - is that I am just out of sorts.  About a lot of things, I suppose - although the job situation does not help.  About being in an industry for 20 odd years that was never really the thing you wanted to do, but the thing you had to do - and now it turns out you may not do it all that well.  The fact that I am living in an urban environment, precisely the least happy place for me.  Maybe a dash of being in my mid-50's and, frankly, not seeing a lot of hope for the world in general (being stuck inside in an urban environment does not help this either).

Anyway, The Ravishing Mrs. TB suggested maybe I think about going.  So today (when you are reading this), I will go.

All is well at least on the counselor front - it is someone I have known for years (and trust) through our church, so no concerns there.  And I have done this often enough that I know how it works.

Not sure that anything significant will come out of it.  But I do feel like I need a level of deeper insight into what is causing me to feel this way.  Because it feels like I am constantly on pause.  Which is a terrible way to feel in life.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Spring Garden 2020

So this weekend the Spring Garden went in.

No pictures - at the moment it is all just a bed of broken down wood litter - but I (for me) went as far as I could this year in planting with the space I had.

Beyond the tomato and jalapeno plant I put in during late march, I planted two kinds of peppers, four kinds of onions, three or four kinds of beans two kinds of Sorghum, black eyed peas, two kinds of okra, and corn (along with tomatoes, my quixotic quest to get something to grow).  I am hoping the soil has warmed up enough have everything make a go of it as this is (I think) two weeks before I planted last year.

As usual, I have my fairly low aspirations/hope of actually getting a whole lot of out of my garden.  I am trying a couple of different techniques - my bed is essentially 100% of used rabbit litter and (since it is not likely we are going much of anywhere this year) more than my usual management of the water.

The reality is that I have now planted everything I do not have converted over to yard or patio.  Anything else will have to come by tearing something else out.

Maybe I will wait until I demonstrate I can grow corn first...

Monday, April 27, 2020

A BD Reflection by TB

Birthdays are a funny thing. 

When you are young, they are something you endlessly celebrate.  At some point, you roll out of that celebration into the "important" ones:  21, 30, 40.  After 40, most folks stop tracking exception for the decades (50, 60, etc.) and (at least in the U.S.) the most important one, the birthday you can apply for your retirement.

Although I do not formally "celebrate" birthdays like I used to (here, it is going out to a dinner of your choice and some kind of dessert), I do find that they make for useful points of contemplation about life to date and life going forward - this one perhaps more so than most, given all that is going on in the world.

My life, in general, has turned out to date nothing like I intended.  I had never given much thought growing up to what my life would look like and so sometimes it feels as if I the script for my life was written by a fairly confused author with a complete inability to generate a coherent plot:

 "He can go to school for political science, but have no idea what he is going to do after school - no, wait! I can have him go back to school to get an advanced degree in a subject and let him think he will work internationally.  Then I will confuse the reader by having him go back to retail, then let him teach and be part of a musical duo - which he will love - and then have everything go away when he decides to enter the Biopharmaceutical industry.  Yeah!  And then, I will have him apply to the ministry and get rejected and suggest he back to school for a Ph.D. in Ancient History, which everyone knows is a dead end career so he will never do it.  I will have him move around in job and in home, then tease out that he can start a business in real estate - then have that fail and have him have to go back to Biopharmaceuticals.  Irony!  Pathos!  This is Pulitzer level stuff.

Next, I will have him get rejected again for a role in church leadership (for no reason - raises the emotional impact) then have him lose his job and end up moving halfway across the country.  He will have that job, then switch to another one where he first succeeds and then gets pulled off the career path.

Just add in a marriage, children, and a variety of hobbies and interests - man, this is great stuff!  My editor is going to love this!"

Editor when he sees the manuscript:  "What was he on when he wrote this?"

Probably not that dramatic, but you get the point.

The one thing that, I suppose, troubles me to this point is that there truly is no singularity of them or purpose to my life, no overall encompassing plot that I can see, no unifying idea.  Just a series of events that have carried me hither and yon and left me, today, with the feeling that I am at some kind of crossroads that I cannot see nor define but am slowly being edged towards bringing to resolution.

What lies ahead?  I have given up trying to predict anything at this point:  two months ago I could have told you how the rest of the year would have gone, today I cannot tell you what next month holds.  Which is really what life is like, I suppose.

So I will sit here tonight, blow out my candle on my Vanilla cupcake (Vanilla really is the best of flavors), and perhaps simply just reflect on what the future might be like, even if I cannot predict what it will be like.

Happy Birthday to me.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

A Few (More) Words From...Benjamin Franklin

“When you incline to have new clothes, look first well over the old ones, and see if you cannot shift with them another year, either by scouring, mending, or even patching if necessary. Remember, a patch on your coat, and money in your pocket, is better and more creditable, than a writ on your back, and no money to take it off.”

(Hat Tip:  Survival Blog)

Friday, April 24, 2020

Snark And Social Distancing

Is it wrong that I am starting to enter the snark zone around all of this social distancing?

I am becoming convinced that if this is true now, why should it not be true after all of this "ends"?  Realistically, what changes - other than perhaps we do not have the active plague count that we currently have going on?  The reality is that most people's behavior will not change much - social non-distancing will become the norm again, people touching everything - all the things that we are decrying now, will be back in force in the (hopefully) near future.

The other thing I am probably pre-resenting (is that even a term?) is the inevitable call to "get out there and fight back for the economy".  I am not debating that the economy needs fighting for - Good Heavens, I of all people.  What I debating is that somehow the command that I go "spend" and "be out" because it is "the right thing to do".

Or, of course, there is the third option, which is simply go out but continue to wear PPE everywhere.  Wipe everything down before you use it.  Be the "mask and gloves" person that everyone else eyes with concern (or at least, eyed with concern) in the public place.  Which probably will be the most unpopular option, both because of the fact that it "lacks confidence" in the new order and makes people feel uncomfortable.

It is the moment that you realize that they maybe have convinced you - but really convinced you, logically, that things like that never make sense anymore.  If something is really true, then it is always really true.  The likelihood of communicable diseases does not go away with the absence of Covid-19, it just becomes not as newsworthy.

Build the economy.  Save jobs.  But do it remotely, or with proper PPE.

The reality of what people are wreaking has not even entered theirs minds fully.

Thursday, April 23, 2020


The longer and longer A Kind of Hammerfall goes, the more and more distant I find myself from my (soon to be) former employees.

I suppose, on the one hand, it is a fairly natural reaction - after all, in a short time (one to two months) they will no longer by "my" employees but report to someone else.  So they need to at some point not see me in that "in charge" mode.

On the other hand, I am reaching a certain level of detachment that I have not achieved in all the years I have managed people.

I am finding - in small ways - to have the courage to remind people - in a kind manner, of course - that their actions and behaviors are not leading them to the places they want to go and are not accomplishing the things they want to accomplish.  I am more willing, in certain cases, to let people continue down a path that will lead to a form of action - because I have told them and they will simply not listen.  Before, I would have just not mentioned it at all or found a way to make things work.

There is also a great deal of equanimity in my feelings about having reports and making decisions, a sort of serene calm that comes (I guess) with accepting the fact that all of this is really happening and allowing it to simply happen.  I speak less and less at meetings now, make less and less direct decisions and leave more of them to the employees (they will, after all, have to do this in the not so distant future).  In a way it has been like departing from any job:  by the last day, leave yourself in a position where there is nothing to do because you have transitioned everything off to someone else.

It does make me wonder a bit about my new position, of course:  I will have spent so long reducing my interaction and my decision making that it will feel foreign - and perhaps a bit uncomfortable - to  have to do it again.  And maybe that is okay - on the whole, I do not mind making them but I do not enjoy it.

But for now I will just continue to watch and perhaps slightly intervene as I can. 

Day is passing and the evening is upon us.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Staying Home

I have been pondering that day - seemingly long far off now - when we are allowed to "return" to normal life.

To be able to go out whenever, wherever you want. To be able to go into any store, not just the "essential" ones.  To be able to go to entertainment venues and religious centers and bowling alleys and bars.

It will be expected, of course.  Have to do your economic patriotic duty, of course. "Get Out And Spend!  Save Your Friends and Neighbors!  Spend Money To Support Your Government" will be the new rallying cry of the post-Covid world.

What will I do?  Where will I go?

Surprisingly, not really anywhere at all.

Here is the unusual and funny thing I am discovering the longer I stay here at home:  I really neither want nor need to go anywhere else.

Oh, there are a few places.  The Rabbit Shelter of course.  And Iai class - because even though train over the InterWeb, there is nothing like training in person.

But really (upon consideration), that is about it. 

I do not really feel the need to go to any stores (between having most of what I want and being able to order the rest, why would I?).  Nor to any entertainment centers.  And not, really, even to church (the proverbial cat is out of the bag:  You can worship on-line).

The Ravishing Mrs TB is working on planning a trip - somewhere - when this is all over.  Italy is right out at the current time, so we are looking at other options.  Internal US options.  Which is great.  But I surely do not feel the real need to go that far away any more, or travel far and wide.  And my desire to get on a plane is rapidly disappearing for all time.

Here is the odd thing (at least for me):  This enforced stay at home order has revealed what I suppose I have always knows, that I would really just rather stay at home.  I am just as happy here as I would be almost anywhere else (discounting The Ranch, of course - but were I there, the output would be the same).

I will not be driving the Recovery.  I will not be out spending money.  I will not be frantically trying to get out as much as possible for as long as possible.

Quite the opposite. I will be looking for more ways to stay and enjoy the home.

Home for me represents all that is good and right with the world.  Going out - at all - really represents the opposite.  And why would I want that?

Monday, April 20, 2020

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Collapse..

Perusing the opinions of individuals over the last month or so since The Plague started, I have come to realize that the world is probably more doomed than I thought it was.

As I wandering the InterWeb this weekend, I came across an article called It's Time to Build by an author, Marc Andreessen, whom I was not previously not familiar with.  His point, in a nutshell, is that the current economic challenges demonstrates the world economic system's unwillingness or inability to build - to build resilient systems, to build economic buffers, to build things that could build things.

He goes on to give a number of different examples of where we should learn from this and start "building" - but pegs the primary problem as we have allowed our inertia to not want these things done to overpower our desire to get things done.  We have created the situation where the almost immediate response now is that we should not build these things rather than build them - oh, every one and every agency will agree in principle that it needs to be done, but there are always a huge number of reasons we cannot.

Walking through the reaction to this article, there are three types of people:

1) Those that fundamentally agree with the article and can give examples of what should happen, or how they have tried this and succeeded or failed to some degree.

2)  Those who only have glee in the current collapse of the system demonstrating that "they were right", but with little or no input or suggestions on who to rectify the issue (and, of course, working mightily to insult anyone that does).

3)  Those who see the collapse as an indicator that we already built too much and the only solution is to empower governments to have even more authority to "do things" and build things "better" (ignoring, of course, the very really fact that in general governments are often the least effective mechanism in accomplishing anything).

If you review the above, you will note that only one group is really interested in improving the situation.  The second is interested in mocking others and feeling smug in the fact that that they were right.  The third is looking at this to expand the scope of government over a great many things.

Now I am not a builder in the traditional sense of the word, nor are most of the readers of my blog.  We build things in other ways, be they a lifestyle of homesteading, practices of frugality, or individual hand made projects.  But we (I lump myself in here with some pretty accomplished people) are ultimately interested in building something, rather than nothing; of creating value and resolving issues rather than taking joy when others fail; in increasing our individuality and self-reliance rather than relying of any government or organization to do things for us.

Maybe we were always in the minority.  But it seems (now more than ever) that we are in the minority of the minority now.

The only small scrap of hope I retain (other than The Great Living Hope, of course) is that the output of this situation may demonstrate to people - perhaps for the first time - that the mockers never really help and that governments ultimately can only destroy or at best maintain.  They cannot build.

That, it seems, still remains for the builders.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

The Plague And Economic Aftermath

My big worry about The Plague is not the death toll.  My worry is the economic aftermath.

Yes yes, I know.  The primary concern is keeping people alive.  And I get that.  But there seems to be (overall) a singular lack of interest by the public at large about what happens after.

As of 09 April, 17 million individuals were unemployed - and that number has gone up since then.  Businesses - larger and larger ones - are furloughing employees.  More and more of them.  And simply put, there is no real plan to get things going again.

This is what worries me.   Because the unspoken assumption seems to be that the economy will just flip back on like a light switch.

It does not work like that, of course.

At best, it will take months, as individuals start to rebuild their savings and their lives.  For many, there will be no immediate rebuilding as their jobs will have disappeared.  And as so many of those that are currently unemployed or furloughed are considered "non-essential" (thanks, local governments for deciding how important people's jobs are) companies are going to look long and hard about bringing people back on.

Supply chains are slowly dying out and will take time and effort to rebuild (if they can be rebuilt - if anyone has not noticed, Amazon is dominating even more the entire market.  Supply chains are shifting towards those that are still doing business).  And even if industries get restarted, it will take time to get pieces and parts flowing to the places they are used.

The people that are screaming loudest about the continuing shutdown - for some indeterminate period that they cannot define other than "until it is safe" - will be the same individuals who, after the country "re-opens", will be screaming that economy is not coming on line fast enough for them.  That their situations are not improving enough.  That the goods and services they want are not available, or are too expensive.  Of how they cannot find jobs in their former industry, or perhaps a job at all.

Will we make it?  Probably.  There is a surprising amount of initiative when you have to do something.  But it will be a great deal longer, harder, and more painful than any of them can imagine right now.

Stopping an economy is incredibly easy.  Restarting an economy is incredibly difficult.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Interview of the Replacement

Today in the midst of reviewing my work calendar for the rest of the week, I suddenly realized that I am going to be interviewing who I assume will be my replacement this coming Friday.

Realizing the fact was a sort of shock:  I had accepted the interview last week but had somehow gotten the impression it was for another position.  I was wrong:  different name, my current title.

For some reason this makes me rather depressed and emotional.

I knew this day was coming, of course.  In two weeks it will be two months since the news of my job change was broken to me.  I have openly been working on my transition plan.

And yet....

And yet, the sudden reality of the thing saddens me.  It is almost like I have been working in this bubble for the last two months where such a thing does not exist, a sort of dream or memory - and then it is brought to crushing, vibrant life.  

To be fair, my enthusiasm has slowly been trickling out over that time, a slow leak in my career that is almost at the point of activating the "low tire" light.  It has been difficult - far more than I had imagined - to enthusiastically continue to build systems and start initiatives knowing in the back of your mind that these are just as likely to be discontinued by the incoming person as they are to be sustained.  Beyond that, hovering just in the wings, is the inevitable turn of events where major parts of what you spent the last four years of your life putting together are torn down and either reconstructed or simply destroyed.

And you being around to see and hear it all.  

It is that moment that one grapples with the fact that one's usefulness - at least in this capacity - may really be at an end.  That having reached what was arguably the pinnacle of your career, you have tipped over the side and are increasing your downward speed.

I will sit through interview, of course.  I will be pleasant.  I am not really sure what I will ask, and may just spend the bulk of the interview as a resource - after all, the best way to come to understand someone is to listen to the questions they ask.  I will listen, and be part of the focus group, and perhaps after listening to others opinions give the one that seems to be the one expected of me.

At one point in this process someone asked me why I am staying through this.  There are a number of reasons, of course, with family and current situation being two of them.  But the one I told them is that I am doing this because our culture has very few examples of people who can gracefully be replaced.  

I just did not expect it to be this jarring.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The Normalcy Bias

I find myself struggling with the inherent tendency to return to a sense of normality.

The "Normalcy Bias" - the bias to assume that everything will go back to the way things were before the crisis (any crisis) is one of the great tendencies of the human mind.  You can see it from something as simple as being gone for a minor illness for a month to individuals returning from the war to find that they and the world has changed, no matter how much they try to fit things back into the old mold.

The outcome of all of this is still in doubt.  What is apparent is no matter what happens, things will not be quite "as before".  We will probably end up discussing any number of things as "Before Covid-19", as we now discuss things like walking up to airport gates as "Before 9/11".

I cannot deny that it will happen.  What I am struggling to fight in my own mind is my own tendency towards normalcy.  I cannot go back to "normal", no matter how things happen.

We have learned a few things:

- The economy is much more dependent on consumer spending than anyone cares to believe.
- The government can effectively shut down any segment of the economy that it wants at this point.
-  Many jobs that go into a shutdown do not come out of a shutdown.
- You do not determine if your job is essential or not.  The government does that for you.
- Ultimately, you are responsible for your circumstances.  The government will do a little, but not a lot.

I need to take these lessons -and any others that come out of this event - and drill them into my head and act on them.  Because if (God willing) we come out of this, it will happen again.  And it will be worse.

Beat the rush.  Beat down the Normalcy Bias.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Lawn Building: An Experiment

My friend Leigh over at Five Acres And A Dream had a lovely time lapse perspective of what they have done to build up their pasture over the years.

I do not have a pasture, but I have a front lawn and a spot in back in need of assistance:

Fortunately, I also have Leigh's recommendation for a book:

Which I highly recommend (as she did).  It is a well written book to the non-scientist (that would be me) on the function of soil and how to improve.  I would say potential ground breaking (pardon the pun) if adapted.

So I need to build up the soil.  The best and easiest thing I can think of is clover.  Fortunately, my friends at SowTrue Seed are still shipping.  I ordered one lbs of Crimson Clover and 0.5 lbs of White Clover.

Caster in hand, I mixed them up and spread them out:

Here are a couple of shots of the seed spread:

I am not sure that it will take, of course.  But I am looking forward to seeing what happens

Monday, April 13, 2020

Easter 2020: A Retrospective

Yesterday was the first time since sometime in college - so perhaps 30 years ago - that I have not been in church on Easter Sunday. 

No fancy clothes, no well thought out Easter Dinner with family and friends, no choir extravaganza, no gaily bedecked church sanctuary.  Just the sound of the aquarium pump bubbling away, the wind blowing through the trees outside, the occasional sound of the rabbits eating hay.

In other words, a very unremarkable Easter.  Which, if you think about it, makes it a great deal like the first Easter.

We forget that I think, lost 2000 years in the past of (understandable) pomp and celebration of the great High Day of Christianity.  Our Easter is now filled with light and song and joy and excitement.

But on that first Easter Day, it was undoubtedly a day like any other.

To the disciples and the women that found the tomb empty, of course, it was different:  confusion, joy, uncertainty, disbelief but wanting to believe.  But to all of those living at the time - even those who would eventually become His followers - there was nothing to signify this day was different from any other.

The High Priest arose from his Sabbath rest to begin his assigned tasks.  The Roman Governor undoubtedly had a day full of meeting and letters and decisions.  The masses that three days earlier had shouted "Crucify Him!" went back to their lives, perhaps the eclipse of Good Friday lingering on their minds but probably now more concerned about the celebration of the Passover.

The Centurion at the Cross, perhaps, still reeled from all that he had seen and heard.  But he was only one man.

Happy Easter.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Happy Easter 2020

Mark 16:1–8; Luke 24:1–10; John 20:1–8Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene Matt. 27:56, 61and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for Mark 16:5; Luke 24:4; John 20:12an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. Dan. 7:9; 10:6; Mark 9:3; John 20:12; Acts 1:10His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like Rev. 1:17dead men.
But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, Hos. 6:2; Ps. 16:10; 49:15; Matt. 12:40; 16:21; 17:23; 20:19as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed Matt. 26:32; 28:10, 16; Mark 16:7He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.”
So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word. 
And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Mark 16:9; John 20:14Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell Ps. 22:22; John 20:17; Rom. 8:29; (Heb. 2:11)My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.”
- Matthew 28:  1-10, NKJV

Saturday, April 11, 2020

A Sort of Hammerfall IV

My continuing job transition saga:

A Sort of Hammerfall

A Sort of Hammerfall: Update I

A Sort of Hammerfall:  Update II

A Sort of Hammerfall:  Update III

It has been almost three weeks since I gave an update. 

1)  Things have not drastically changed in terms of my work relationship: I am still responsible for all the things I "used" to be responsible. 

2)  The one difference is that I have been asked for - and have now provided - a transition plan.  Well, really two parts of a transition plan.  The first is a 16 page document which lists every responsibility I have with timelines, actions, and comments.  The second is a spreadsheet for the simple recording of dates of transfer.

The one thing this has shown me is that this position is responsible for a lot.  I wish my successor all the luck in the world.

3)  I have asking where I can to get a sense of "when" the transition is going happen (e.g.when is my replacement actually showing up).  Apparently there is one (and only one) candidate currently being interviewed; my suspicion is that this will be the candidate of choice as I am willing to bet good money it was "suggested".  My guess is that they will be hired by the end of April and my transition will be done by the end of May (interestingly enough, when I thought it would be done and ideally before our two vacation to Italy, which of course is not likely to happen now).  I had hoped there would be an interval between my successor taking over and me being present to allow them to establish themselves fully.  That now seems unlikely to occur.

4)  Everyone has been very respectful of the process.  No-one has mentioned the fact that I am not going to be doing this job in the not too distant future.  I am grateful for that kindness.

5)  To that end, this process reminded me a lot of what I imagine a terminal disease must be like.  Making plans and doing work for a day that you will not see (in my case I will see the benefits of it, just not in this current role).  Everyone knowing about it as "the elephant in the room" but no-one making any comments about it.  Activities going on beneath the surface that actively involve what you do but not involving you.  Me telling my direct reports how they should be ready to present and handle things "after I am gone".

The old saw about "Take your hand out of a bucket of water and look at the hole that remains and that is how irreplaceable you are at a job (there is not hole, of course  - the water fills it right back up)" has never seemed more accurate or true.

Thursday, April 09, 2020

A Pleasant Sort of Equilibrium

One of the interesting discoveries two months into The Plague, is precisely the amount of human contact I need to make me happy.

I am pretty much seeing my immediate family 24/7 and will do so for however long this lasts - at least until 30 April (Thank you, your humble host called it).  Strangely enough, this has not been as grating on my people meter as I had anticipated.

There are a number of other activities that I participate in - church, church fellowship, Iai, the Rabbit Shelter.  I miss Iai a great deal, although (to be fair) we are training via online and while this is not a substitute for class, at least I am able to see everyone.  The Rabbit Shelter I am able to continue to go to once a week (essential business and all).  Church?  Surprisingly, I do not miss the people all that much - we have a service online so that is ongoing, but I am not altogether sad that I do not have to endure 400 + people in a room.

For the other part - work, gym, general population - I do not miss not seeing people at all.

This is fascinating to me. This is almost my ideal world in terms of personal contact.  Add in me not being located in the suburbs, and it would be ideal.

One thing of note is that I do not come home at the end of the day exhausted from personal contact. I am in a much better state of mind throughout the whole evening.

This, on the whole, has been an interesting and useful view into what really works for my personality.  I hope that I can capitalize on it.

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

The Plague: Update IV

- Unleaded Fuel, if you can believe it, is $1.39 a gallon.  I stopped and got some - yes, a whole $0.80, but I want to be able to brag some day that "I got fuel back in Ought 20 at $1.39 a gallon!"  It has been dropping about a dime a week.

- Mileage last week was 15.2.  I estimate it will be that or less this week.

-  All the girls are now doing on-line school, which seems to be the way of things this year.  The Younger Two can do Pass/Fail, but the Older has to take grades (apparently, it is Italian law.  Go figure).

-  The Ravishing Mrs. TB went grocery shopping again.  Still significant holes in canned goods and backing supplies (we got one of the last three bags of flour).  We are starting to exchange money and supplies with neighbors - small things at this point, but it will go on I am sure.

- I had my garage door opener replaced after waiting three years.  The gentleman was Johnny on the spot but preferred to take a credit card due to the risk of contamination.

- Everyone is still in good spirits.  School is helping; I dread to think of what happens when it is out.

-  I have started my list of items to do.  Turns out all my drawers and small spaces are going to get cleaned as a result of this.

-  This marks the two week date since I started working directly from home.  It is working out rather well; I suspect that I am going to make a strong argument to work from home when everything is "back to normal".

- All is well, friends.  We are weathering the storm well.

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Spring Is Coming

The cold rain and wind
will not deny the Return
borne on feathered wings.

Monday, April 06, 2020

"Doing A Job" versus Learning

This Saturday I had an epiphany of sorts.

I sat down and made a list this weekend of all the activities that I can currently do from home with the following restrictions:

- They were things I already have in hand to do (e.g., I do not have to start out from scratch with purchases).

- They require minimal inputs (for example, gardening requires seeds, cheese making requires cheese, etc.).

My current list has a total 37 different things on it that I can do - right now - with the provided conditions above.  (Yes, I know it is a lot.  Turns out I have a great many things I can spend my time with here at home).

As I looked over this list, I suddenly realized that I - for the first time in a long time - felt like I had the time to begin to concentrate on some of these items.  Which led me to a big realization about the coming "after" of the Plague:

The World will belong the to the learning and the innovative.

I have gotten into the habit of having "a job".  Yes, there is a level of training that I have to do, a sense that I need to "get better" at what I do - but in a very passive sense.  But the most important thing was that I had to do "my job".

But now I am in a position where having "my job" is a very different thing - and very likely to change within the short term, and perhaps even more in the long term.  And suddenly, learning has become something which (again) is important for my own life and success.

Now, apply my position to the world right now.

My prediction (which, like everyone else's, not worth the cup of coffee I am drinking right now as I write this), is that by the time we are done, thousands of businesses and millions of jobs will have burned up and are never coming back again.  For millions of people, there will no more be "having a job".  That said, there will still be a market for things.  The question is how people pivot to address those markets.

The key is being a learner.  We are all going to have to learn new skills, remember old skills, and find new ways to apply them.

Yes, it is scary.  Scary for me, as I do not know what outcome of my position will be any more than millions of others.  But at the same time, what an opportunity to change my way of thinking.  To change from just "doing my job" to being a learner.  Every Day.

I cannot predict the future.  I can only prepare for it.

Saturday, April 04, 2020


Hi Friends!  So in looking at my post check numbers recently, I realized that these have climbed by about 50%.  Given the fact that a great number of people now have additional time on their hands, I am guessing that this may be a real thing.

So Welcome!

My name is Toirdhealbheach Beucail (also known as TB - it is Gaelic, so it is fancy). I live in an undisclosed location (well, undisclosed if you do not know weather patterns and climate) in the United States.  I am married to the Ravishing Mrs. TB and have three daughters:  Nighean Gheal, Nighean Bhean, and Nighean Dhonn (in order of birth).   I currently work in Quality Assurance in the Biopharmaceutical Industry but am in the process of transferring to Project Management (A Sort of Hammerfall).

Our lives are currently enriched by The Mighty Poppy:

And two rabbits:  I-Bun

And Joy.

What do we talk about here?  Mostly this has come to be an on-line journal:  A little gardening, a little self sufficiency, a series of thoughts about God and Life and The World Around Us.  I occasionally post pictures of places I have been (Japan, Iceland, my home base of The Ranch, and Montana).  I also post on my hobbies:  Iaijutsu (Japanese Sword Art from 1590), Cheese Making, Gardening, and  Highland Athletics. I also do a fiction series periodically on a sort of end times called The Collapse.

In other words, you never quite know what you are going to get.

A few rules:

1)  We just do not do profanity here.  At all.  Will get you banned at the outset.
2)  I like to discuss things, and am willing to post comments that are in disagreement with my own.  That said, see point 1).
3)  I am not always as good as responding to comments as I should be.
4)  Practice Kindness when on the site.  Really.

That said, Hail and Well Met!

Thursday, April 02, 2020

Requiem For A Brother In Law

We were notified Tuesday night that my brother-in-law passed away.

As of this writing, we do not fully know the cause of death - given the world that we currently live in, the fear (of course) is The Current Plague.  From what was related, it seems most likely that it was a heart attack - but unfortunately, he was running a low grade fever that day.  We will know the test results tomorrow. 

She literally found him just as he was passing.

The image of all of this, of course, is made much worse by the fact of the Plague we are now in.  Literally at one point, everyone was out on the front driveway, six feet apart from each other, waiting for the funeral home to arrive to pick up the body.  My sister in law is effectively in quarantine with her second son in the house.  At the current time, no-one can come by, not even my mother-in-law (who lives in the same town) because of the potential unknown risk.

Such is the world we now live in.

My brother-in-law was someone that I had known 12 years but only had as a brother in law for 8 months.  He was an incredible handyman and one of the most kind and welcoming people I have ever met.  He is one of the sorts of folks of which it could be said there were not strangers for him, just friends that he had not met.

He had struggles with drugs long before we met him but had come out on the other side thanks to Narcotics Anonymous (NA), which was a huge part of his and my sister-in-law's life (in fact, where they met and started dating).  Judging from his friends that I did met and numerous attestations on The Book of Face,  he impacted the lives of countless others through his sponsorship, his mentorship, and his guidance.

The one comment I made to my sister-in-law when I talked to her was his forgiving nature.  He had terrible problems around the relationship with his children - on their part, not his, to the point that they had completely stopped talking to him and had refused to come the wedding last August.  In all of this, I never heard him once say a bitter or negative thing about this whole situation.  He was sad - incredibly sad - at the outcome, but not at all bitter.

Now, of course, that relationship can never be repaired.

Death is a reality that the sudden arrival of The Current Plague did nothing to change - for thousands of people, every day, death was a reality that was poignantly apparent although somehow ignored by the world in which we live.  Occasionally we recognized when a celebrity or famous person passed away, but the reality of the fact that we all are to die was carefully secreted away by us, consciously or unconsciously, to avoid a subject perhaps too painful to consider.

I leave you with four thoughts today:

1)  We - none of us - know how much time we have.  We do not know the day of our outgoing, always assuming that it will years and years from where we now.  To be this way is to be fly on the wall, mistaking the shadow that is coming over you to be a cloud rather than the fly swatter to end your life.

2)  With this in mind, how are we spending our time?  Perhaps more relevantly, how am I spending my time?  I reflect back to last August, where somehow having to take an extra day off work to be there a day earlier for their wedding was a burden to my life.  The work is now gone and really does not matter; the day earlier that I was there now has all the importance in the world.

3) Are we spending our time rightly?  It seems a little silly to ask this question now given the state of the world, but I think the question is worth asking all the more.  We have identified millions of people as "non-essential" to the marginally effective working of society.  To these people, 40 hours of their week (or more) were tied up in what they did for a living.  Now for many, this has been stripped away.

But I count even myself in this category.  Is what I have done with my time the best thing that could have been done?  The most important thing? 

4)  My sister-in-law also said that she was grateful in that she knew that she had a great relationship and that for so many, they could together for years and years without having that same level of involvement and commitment.  It is true, of course - we probably all know couples that have been together for an eternity but without any real relationship - maybe they had it at one time, but it has been cast out over the years.  Are we - really, am I - doing what I can to have better relationships all around?  Or am I just satisfied with the minimum?

The death of loved one is inevitably a time to stop, pause, and take stock.  Would that now - when Death is forever in the news - be a time where we all take a good hard reflection of where we are in our lives and what we really need to be about.

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

A Paycheck

Today I received my paycheck, as expected, in my bank account.

It had never occurred to me how profound an act this was.

I am not like hundreds of thousands (it will probably end up being millions) that looked at the end of the month and found nothing new in their bank account.  It was there, as it has been for 3.5 years previous.

To be clear, I do actually work for my income.  So in that sense, it was "expected" rather than a gift.  But still, given all the current circumstances, I had not realized (until today) what a profound event that was.

It allows our family to pay my bills without concern. It graces our family with the ability to support others, be it as charities or as small businesses.  It allows me to continue to buy the things that please me.  It allows me to prepare for the day (who knows?) when I, too, will not receive a paycheck.

It was just a revelation to me on this day.  Saddened I had not considered it before.