Thursday, September 28, 2006

Organization Effectiveness

I got ruined a month or two ago. More specifically, my attitude toward my manager got ruined. A colleague whom I very much respect asked me what I thought of her. I was honest and said that I didn't think much about it, but that I basically liked her. He was surprised because he had heard that others in my team didn't think much of her because she is so disorganized. I started paying attention after that.

I did a system upgrade Monday night that I thought went quite well. It turns out that it generated a lot of tickets because there were a lot of broken web links. I think that the application architecture changed and then changed the way the URLs are formed. I was frustrated because we did everything right with the change control process, but several groups still got caught flat-footed. I ranted to my manager about this a little bit with the hope that she could get some things changed.

She was very sympathetic and agreeable. There is a standing meeting at 8:30 where all the technology managers gather to discuss upcoming changes, tickets, etc. My manager thought that she should bring this issue up at the 8:30 meeting. Then she said, "You get in early, right?"

"Yes," I replied, "though I'm working from home tomorrow. Why do you ask?"

"Could you send me an email tomorrow morning before the 8:30 meeting to remind me to talk about this?"

This is the person who set up the Franklin Planner training for all of us. She carries one around. However, she uses her "own system". I kind of wonder about how effective that all is.

Isn't this our nature? How many people reject core biblical truth because it is just too inconvenient to change? Who wants to be told that they need to change?

I wonder sometimes what it is about my personality that makes me embrace change when it is something I deem worthwhile. I'm pretty good about starting new Bible reading plans, for example. I let the Franklin Planner stuff change my life. I like to think that I'm open to new ways of going about my classes, etc. As my wife would point out, I tend to be quite rigid with things that seem like they're not broken though.

So maybe that's it. We need to see how broken we are before we'll change. This of course very much corresponds to the nature of true repentance. How can we ever approach a holy God and His unsearchable ways unless we first see just how broken we are?

How We See the World

I used to work for a woman who loved for us to play the "Diversity Game". Everyone got dealt a certain number of cards. They had characteristics on them like "serious", "spritiual", "funny", "attention to detail", etc. We'd trade with other people in the meeting to get cards that we thought better described us. Basically there were processes that got us down to 3 or 5 cards that we felt described us fairly well. They had various colors on them and that meant certain things. The idea was to demonstrate how diversity in a team is a good thing.

I had a support call with a salesperson about her Blackberry. She called before wiping out her device with too many bad password attempts, so that was good. She just received the device yesterday and wrote down the password wrong. Now here's the interesting part. We set the password to be the first six characters of a row on the keyboard and then tacked a number at the end. She wrote down the last letter wrong.

This was initially frustrating. But then I realized that everyone sees the world a little bit differently. Some of us are visual and good at patterns. I told a coworker about this and he said that he remembers phone numbers based on their shape on the keypad. This woman clearly does not think that way.

I think of Paul's exhortation to respect the various members of the body.

1 Corinthians 12:14-20 --

14For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

We all have a part to play. Sometimes it's easier to think that I want everyone to be like me. What an awful world that would be!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Fear of the Known

We had our third Systematic Theology class last night. This class had me a little bit scared based on the syllabus and the manner of the professor. But after 3 classes I'm starting to believe that I can get through this. I'll feel much better when I collect some books for my paper.

My class has "that guy" in it. He's probably in his late 40s or so. He likes to see each class as a chance to have a personal conversation with our professor. And our professor is such a nice guy that he doesn't cut him off. Consequently, I can't imagine how we'll end any classes early. *sigh*

I apologize to my readers for the boringness of the blog of late. We had Lily's birthday party on Saturday and it turned out well. Ohio State managed to find a way to beat Penn State. Amanda thinks she's pregnant, but we won't know for a couple of weeks. Work is work. I have a change control that starts at 5 and hoepfully I'll be home by 7. We shall see.

It's just kind of a depressing day for some reason. I think part of it may be because Amanda has been down since the party. I took a walk around the building today and enjoyed the beautiful weather. Life is fundamentally good and I would do well to remember that.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Greek Geek

I had my third Greek class last night. We're to the point now where learning this next batch of vocabulary words will put me at over 51% of the New Testament. In other words, I should recognize about half of the words in the Greek New Testament after I learn about 20 more words. That's pretty exciting.

This class has certainly become a great learning experience, and I mean that beyond just learning the basics of basic Greek. I'm learning what it's like to be a student pursuing excellence. I don't think I ever really pursued excellence as an undergrad. I wanted to do well, but that was because I wanted to get a degree so I could get a job. I had to do well enough to keep my scholarship, which meant maintaining at least a 3.2 GPA. I graduated with a 3.37 in Chem E, which certainly wasn't bad, but I sure hope to do a lot better as a grad student.

I'm learning that perfection isn't very realistic. However, it is a good goal. I only missed one thing on my quiz last night and that encourages me. I went from being in a total fog to understanding the material all in the course of a week. These things encourage me. But I also see the need to maintain my dilligence lest I fall hard.

It seems that there is a great parallel here between this and my life as a Christian. I know that holiness is never quite attainable, but I must keep up the pursuit. We're using a great book called The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges that also covers this. It really pins down what I try to express to students at Setting Captives Free. We all have our daily stumbles, but we grow in maturity as we no longer live with besetting sin. If anyone reading this wants a free copy of this book I can hook you up. I can't recommend it highly enough.

Now on a more practical, day-to-day living note, I need to get on top of my Systematic Theology stuff for class this Sunday. And I need to get ready for Lily's party on Saturday too. Much to do, and work just keeps getting in the way.

Monday, September 18, 2006

It's Not my Fault!

I just read this article on a local news site. This very much speaks to how the world views the problems that we have in life.

Speaking of problems, I think I need to have the sun hold still in the sky some of these days. My Systematic Theology class is starting to scare me. Hopefully I can stay on top of Greek.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Going Faster

We've hit the nice time of the year for weather in Raleigh. It was around 60 degrees this morning as I went out to run, which is almost ideal. I prefer it in the low 50s, but after the oppressive heat and humidity of July and August I'm glad for what I can get.

I did my normal greenway run today, which normally takes me about 27:30 if I go at a comfortable pace. I call the run 3.3 miles, so this puts me around 8:20/mile. I'm happy with that pace as a rule, but it's always fun to run faster. Ever since New Jersey I've been going faster and faster on my normal runs. I think that my speed work on the boardwalk helped.

Today I finally broke the 8 minute mile barrier. I realize that I'm not going to represent the US in the Olympics or anything, but it felt good to break this barrier after 3 years of running. Will I ever break 7 minutes? Not sure. I just know that I'm happy for what's happening right now as it's very encouraging. What's particularly encouraging is that I didn't feel like I was pushing to my limit.

Greek went well last night. My head is spinning less. Now I just need to spend the time learning my vocabulary and the articles. I think this will not be such a tough language once I know the "codes". I did some research and found a Greek New Testament that I might ask for my birthday or Christmas. If nothing else it would be cool to have it to read. I just don't want it to be something I use to show off...

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A Spinning Head

I had a tough realization last night. I did well in making time for daily Greek review Friday - Monday. But what I forgot was to spend some time reading the chapters for today's lecture. I did that last night and today at lunch. Now my head is spinning with cases for nouns. Nominative, accusative (I think that's right), genitive, dative...what is all this stuff? There are these charts called "paradigms" that we can memorize to make parsing an translation easier. I'm glad that I have a professor who will hopefully make all this clear tonight. I just wish that I had started this earlier in the week so that I could listen to the lectures on the CD.

Life just seems so full right now. But it's all with good stuff, so I can't be too uptight about it. I found myself at a Gamestop yesterday and I seriously considered buying a used copy of Star Wars Battlefront II. It looks like a lot of fun, but I just don't know when I'd play it since I think it would be "too scary" for Lily. She probably doesn't need to see that much violence at 3 years old.

If you read this I would appreciate prayers for perseverance. Oh, and prayers that I'll understand what declension is all about too.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Feeling the Joy

How much joy do you feel every day? I know that I don't have nearly as much as I should. I highly recommend this blog entry for a great treatment of what it means to be redeemed.

Sometimes I think maybe I get too much exposure to praise and worship music. Some of it I really like. Most I think is OK. Some I have a hard time listening to. But I think that, as with anything, we can grow somewhat calloused to old experiences. And this is one of the dangers of always being busy. It's easy to learn and not live.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Frenzy

We survived the weekend frenzy. We had Jack & Melanie staying with us Saturday and Sunday nights. We had Nat's birthday gala on Sunday night. And I got a draft of my paper written yesterday. We got through it all, but I still feel a sense of disquiet. I think that having my first class tonight will help.

Last week I had an email conversation about my service at our church. I tried to point something out about how I perceive this guy, but apparently I didn't communicate it very well. What I got from the response is that I need to toughen up and that I have much to learn about people and small groups. I'm trying to take this with humility and see what it is that he has to say. I don't disagree with him, but it's never fun to contemplate the areas where we need to change. I've made some progress with people skills, but I probably need a lot more progress before I start serving in full-time ministry.

I still have this sort of "buzzing" feeling. It's like I'm not quite settled. I think that I need more peace and confidence about what I'm doing and how I'm doing it. If I'm not doing these things right I need to see that and change it. I also am starting to think that I may need to do less with Setting Captives Free, but I hate to do that. I love my involvement there and hate to cut anything out. Perhaps I need to be less active with my small group since that may not be my most effective place.

I am excited to have lunch plans with a friend from church. It turns out that he works in technology at a rival local bank. It will be fun to swap some war stories about the craziness that goes with the banking industry. His wife was the one that Amanda helped out a couple of weeks ago. Hopefully we can become friends with them. We've been a little bit lazy about making connections with other couples because of our own schedules and because we have family in the area. Frankly, we don't spend a lot of time with Amanda's family anymore. We used to see a lot of Nat before she and Eric became more serious. They will live 5 minutes away, but we likely won't see much of them.

As I write this I think about how I could use more whitespace in my day. My days have very little slack in them. I try to get some things done at work that I can't otherwise get done during the normal day. If I couldn't do email from work I would have some major problems. What concerns me is that we are so busy serving that we don't make many solid connections. I'm going to talk to Amanda about this. That is if we can slow down enough to talk when we both have energy...