This I Believe

This isn’t for the NPR show. This is just a list of life things I believe in, in no particular order and as they come to me. Some political, some social, whatever. You may not agree, but that’s fine.

  1. When you obviously cannot be elite in something, you should push yourself to still be the best you can. True for sports, work, family….everything. You may not become the best Dad in the world or whatever, but you can be pretty darned great.

  2. Being a jack-of-all-trades is just as academically challenging as being an expert in one specialized field.

  3. GMO produce is not only just as good as organic, it is better. It’s better for the environment because it requires less pesticide. (Even natural pesticide isn’t necessarily “good”.) It produces more on less land, which is better in terms of deforestation and global warming. There is more yield, which is better for our population. I see absolutely no downsides.

  4. Old-fashioned schooling is better than things like Montessori. That’s not to say that experimentation in teaching technique is bad, but that I still think kids work better within a structured environment. School isn’t supposed to be fun. It IS work. It doesn’t have to be miserable, but 6-year-olds can’t decide what to do on their own or guide themselves.

  5. Everyone should be fully aware of how much computers cost a business. Too many people think they are somehow “free” just because they don’t come out of their own budgets. When they do need to buy some technical service, they are blown away at the cost. This is dumb, because they know damn well how much it costs to buy computers at home, and they should be aware that it’s at least as much in the office. Much more, typically, because companies can’t go around pirating all their software.

  6. In the same thread, people should be aware of the costs of everything. Insurance isn’t free just because your employer pays their part. Those 4th of July fireworks blown up by your city cost money, even though you watch them “for free”. I’m not implying that we should pay for it all individually, but we should at least realize the cost is there.

  7. Don’t think women should get abortions? If you are a woman, don’t get one. If you are a man, keep “it” in your pants and stop acting like the abortion choice is yours.

  8. Global warming is real and man made. This isn’t conjecture or “belief”….this is scientific. So is #3.

  9. Even if you think global warming is a hoax, why would you not work toward cleaner energy anyway? We should absolutely be working toward renewable energy.

  10. If you live where there are no jobs, you need to move. The US is a big place, there are plenty of opportunities out there.

  11. If you can automate your job and choose not to, then you are doing a disservice to your company and to yourself. Your company’s benefit is obvious, even though you might eliminate jobs. Your benefit, though, is that you will be the last one let go and you can take your skills elsewhere easily.

  12. The 401k system sucks. It’s a handout that allows businesses to get out of long-term thinking. When business is on the hook for pension programs, they have to make sure the pension fund is going to be there for a long long time. With 401k plans, people are responsible for their own and the business can just worry about more short-term goals, as there is no requirement to be loyal to the employees. And it’s all paid for with tax incentives to the employees, not to the business!

  13. The only benefit of 401k to employees is that you no longer have reason to be loyal to your employer. Don’t like how you’re treated? Leave and take your money with you. This is really nice, but it’s still government-funded.

  14. In general, tax breaks are the same as government handouts. Want to have a new big corporate office downtown? You can get it for free from the city. That’s not right.

  15. Being on welfare is no way to live and no one stays on it to live some good awesome lazy life.

  16. Unless you have an RV or a boat or something like that, a big truck is the biggest waste of money in the world. You can get a sweet kick ass European coupe for the same money, and drive it much faster and have way more fun.

  17. Those Smart cars aren’t that smart to me. You can get similar gas mileage from a VW Jetta or a Honda Civic, and you won’t get blown off the highway when passed by a semi.

  18. Offices are terrible places to work. Some try to be fun and make it pretty or add things like pool tables, but they are basically prisons.

  19. Free refills on $2 cups of coffee should be a God-given right.

  20. Every McDonald’s has an old man club that meets every morning. I don’t know the age requirement, but I’d like to be in one of those clubs someday.

  21. All screws should have a Phillips head.

  22. Think a $1500 bicycle is too expensive? How does it compare over a lifetime to a boat, a project car, woodworking tools, golf clubs, gym memberships, ski lift tickets, or fly fishing equipment? All hobbies cost money, and cycling falls very much toward the low end. I mean, it’s not knitting, but if you’re going to do anything outdoors, you’re going to pay.

  23. Running is the best exercise. With the right clothes, you can do it year round. The community of runners is awesome. It is always challenging and never gets easier. It burns calories faster than anything. You can do it anywhere. I can’t think of a downside, though the nagging injuries suck.

  24. Running injuries are usually due to poor form or overuse. Keep your form decent and don’t overdo it.

  25. Overdoing it is easy. If you try marathons and find yourself having injuries, maybe you should run shorter distances. Usain Bolt works his ass off and only runs 200m. More mileage != more fitness.

  26. If you’re sick, go to the doctor. If you’re not sick, go to the doctor anyway for your annual checkup and blood work. Without previous years data, you cannot tell if the values are going awry.

  27. Go to a dermatologist annually to check for spots. People die from what they thought was just a new freckle.

  28. Brush twice a day, floss at least once a day, and get dental cleanings every 6 months. No excuses.

  29. Smile and say hi to all kids, even if their parents think you are creepy.

  30. Say hi to all dogs, too, and if they approach, reach down and pet them.

  31. Try to sit down for meals with your family daily. Any meal of the day will work, but dinner is probably the best.

  32. Talk about stuff at the table, don’t just sit there in silence.

  33. This one is really hard for me, but remember that your house is your kids’ house, too. If it’s okay for you to run around your house in your underwear, it’s okay for them to fart and burp.

  34. IT people are all trained the same way from similar sources. The government or big business don’t have any more special people than small IT shops do. We all get the same magazines and go to the same conferences.

  35. Don’t pay IT consultancies big bucks for their expertise if you can spend way less to develop the expertise internally. Once a consulting company has a grip on your systems, it is hard to get rid of them. Remember #34, because you are paying people for something your own people could probably do, given training time and a little longer project timeline.

  36. Every IT person, whether programmer or infrastructure person or helpdesk or whatever, needs to have a couple days of SQL training. Nothing is more useful.

  37. Don’t buy packaged products to perform “orchestration”. These are just fancy job schedulers that try to eliminate the need for scripting. In reality, they are limited and you will end up writing scripts to run as part of the orchestration jobs. This eliminates the point of the system. Just use a cheap or open source job system, such as Jenkins or TeamCity, and do the scripts the real way.

  38. If you do Windows, learn PowerShell. Start today, not tomorrow.

  39. I don’t understand why we have separate men’s and women’s restrooms. Restaurants could save building and cleaning costs by having only one unisex restroom.

  40. To make #39 really work, stall doors need to go all the way down and be lockable. No one needs a peek.

  41. I justify the price of a restaurant based upon the price of a comparable meal at Outback. People pour into that place and don’t think twice, but damn that’s $25 for a mediocre steak dinner! You can eat pretty high-end stuff for that price.

  42. While it’s not the best, I believe most Americans compare chili to the chili you get at Wendy’s. Is that great? Of course not, but it’s totally edible. If someone’s is worse, then you won’t like it, but if it’s better, you might go back for seconds.

  43. Similarly, all fried chicken is compared to KFC. And if you don’t like KFC, you are lying. It’s perfectly good fried chicken, though there are several I like better.

  44. Those poofy plastic shower scrub things are a much better way to get clean than a washcloth. They make better suds and scrub well. I just don’t know how long you should use one before replacing it.

  45. Instant replay completely sucks the life out of NFL games. I’m not concerned if a call is missed here and there…it’s a sport not life or death.

  46. A receiver should be credited with a catch for getting 1 foot inbounds, just like in college football. The 2-foot rule is the main reason instant replay exists, so fix the rule and you can immediately dump most replays.

  47. Baseball games are the best sporting events to attend. The field is nice, the atmosphere is laid back, and it’s just an awesome way to spend a few hours. The game can almost be secondary to just being there.

  48. Tennis players don’t get the respect they deserve in the US. We look at football and basketball players as being the best athletes, and they certainly are elite, but they don’t play 3 hour matches by themselves on hard courts in summer heat. Tennis players also manage to return 140mph serves. I liken tennis matches to slugfests. Amazing they can walk after a match.

  49. For me, the best way to learn basic statistics is through baseball stats. “Baseball is played by the dextrous for the poindextrous.” - Ted Hallock or whoever he took it from

  50. Church isn’t supposed to be “fun” and there’s no reason for you to get anything out of a sermon. You go to worship and praise, not to get filled with some blessing.

  51. That doesn’t mean church should be miserable. I just don’t think megachurches with free coffee and jungle gyms for the kids and light shows and rock bands really are doing things the right way. It’s not supposed to be about you…making your comfortable, impressed, have fun, high on caffeine, or anything else. It’s about God.

  52. I vote Democratic not because of the party itself….I don’t care about that. I just believe my beliefs fall far more in line with the Democratic platform.

  53. I think there are too many single-issue voters out there.

  54. Two issues that have absolutely nothing to do with my, or most people’s, life are gun control and abortion rights. I think the parties use these two specific issues to drive people to them, and they really have nothing to do with what they should be working on. I don’t have a gun and I don’t live in a neighborhood where I think I need one to survive. I don’t hunt, either. I can’t have an abortion. Decisions either way on those issues wouldn’t change a thing about how I live.

  55. Bike share is the future of city transportation. Even if it only pulls 1% of the cars off the streets, that’s a lot of parking spaces.

  56. Trailer Park Boys is funny stuff, even if it’s crude and probably not appropriate for anyone to watch.

  57. Hillary Clinton sucks, but Donald Trump is truly awful. You may think the other way around, but I don’t know anyone who thinks more of either candidate.

  58. No one likes calling technical support, even the technical support representatives.

  59. Every engineer is better at his or her job than his predecessor. Just ask one.

  60. Don’t be afraid of change, especially when you are looking for a better way to do things. Proving that the way you do things now is the best provides 0 value.

  61. Don’t throw up roadblocks for new ideas because of money. If the new way is that much better, money will appear like magic to cover it.

  62. Share your skills and don’t make yourself irreplaceable. It might work for your job security for a while, but when you’re 50 and doing the same job you’ve always done while everyone else has been promoted, you will be kicking yourself.

  63. Raise your hand for new and challenging work, even if it doesn’t really interest you. If you end up liking it, then great! If not, you can find something else to do.

  64. All jobs are temporary. Do your best to make them the best, but don’t fret if you have to look elsewhere.

  65. Avoid printing at all costs. It’s expensive and a waste of paper.

  66. Socialize at work at least as often and as much as the smokers do.

  67. Try doing arithmetic the way your kids are being taught. Maybe the reason it’s “different” now is because the old way is actually harder.

  68. Go to college and major in math. Yes, it will be hard. By the end of the semester, the first 2 months of a math class should be second nature and you only really need to focus on the last month’s material for the final exam. Your friends in the science classes will be jealous of you. You also won’t be reading all hours of the day or trying to bullshit your way through without doing the reading.

  69. Speaking of math, take statistics and try to enjoy it. Use what you know to look at box scores from baseball games or from political polls. Figure out probabilities with dice or cards so you can know how badly casino games are rigged. It is kinda fun, really.

  70. Politicians and TV talking heads LOVE slippery slope arguments. Sadly, not only do people fall for them, people eat them up. “If ‘so and so’ becomes President, you won’t have rights anymore!!!” Bull.

  71. Update your software regularly. Most companies do Agile programming or something similar, where they release updates quite frequently to address issues or add features. If you don’t keep up, don’t complain about some feature you wish was there….it might already be if you just update.

  72. Regular software updates are a pain in the ass to do. Even if you only have 10 computers, you need to figure out how to update them all. It takes time and effort….don’t let management or your software vendor forget that.

  73. Give feedback to your software vendor. Twitter works great for this.

  74. Give GOOD FEEDBACK, too. Programmers are people and want to know they are doing good work, just as you do.

  75. One time early in my career, I was on a support desk. I got cookies from a customer because I helped her out with something. The whole team enjoyed them and you can be sure that if their name came up in the queue again, we all jumped on it to help. That $20 box of cookies really upped their support from us. In other words, thank people for helping you.

  76. Nerds really enjoy free food. Pizza, brownies, etc. Whatever they can eat at their desks.

  77. There are too many companies at IT shows hiring models to push their products. This is demeaning and is part of the reason so few women work in tech. I like seeing them, too, and am likely to visit your booth, but it really isn’t right and shouldn’t be allowed.

  78. Nerds are clueless. Don’t let their high level of skill with certain things fool you….they dress like they do because they don’t understand things. There was a guy at the MS Ignite show a couple years ago who had on shorts, a short sleeved button down shirt, suspenders, long white socks, and black shoes. He’s likely a very well paid and respected guy within his company. Looked like a dufus. I wouldn’t hire him for anything. I’m certainly no model of fashion in my shorts, t-shirts, and socks with my Keens, but come on man!

  79. Just be “regular”. I don’t understand men who dress according to a stereotype. Whether it’s gay, white, black, redneck, heavy metal guy, or whatever…..why can’t people just put on a pair of jeans or khakis, a t-shirt, and some shoes? Don’t give people reason to continue stereotyping you! You should never play to the stereotype, no matter what you are or what that stereotype is. I’m from eastern Kentucky, but I don’t have a corncob pipe and bib overalls. Never have. Nor should I.

  80. It’s eastern Kentucky, not “East Kentucky”. (If you’ve never been there, you’ve never seen that.) Eastern is not capitalized, except when part of a name like Eastern Kentucky University or at the beginning of a sentence. Kentucky is not like West Virginia; there is no West Kentucky, so there is no East Kentucky. There is just eastern Kentucky. Get it right.

  81. The Japanese culture is totally foreign to me. Not just like not American, but totally different. I don’t understand the popularity of Hello Kitty, the crazy lights and signs in Tokyo, the video games, the focus on honor, the truly packed cities, game shows where people get hurt, or even things like sushi (which I enjoy.) I mean, Japan is an bunch of islands on the other side of the world, but it seems just so different. Maybe I should go there and see it for real. I think my view is skewed to what I have seen on TV.

  82. The library is great and I wish I’d realized how much it got used years ago. I have a ton of books I’ve bought over time and really they were all available for free. (Kinda free, see #6.)

  83. Cooking is fun and everyone should know how to cook a meal.

  84. Burning bridges may not be the best career move, but I bet it would be fun. Save that for the last job.

  85. Jobs aren’t done until the tools are put away.

  86. Pizza isn’t supposed to be “gourmet”. It’s supposed to be sauce, cheese, and a couple basic toppings. Feta and spinach don’t work.

  87. Pick your tools and stick with them. Keep abreast of other tools available, in case they become better or cheaper than yours. When that happens, switch as soon as possible.

  88. The idea of going to a single supplier for your systems so you can “get better deals” is total bunk. You are much better off to do just the opposite. Buy from multiple vendors and make them play together. Then for every RFP, you can be more certain that you’re getting the best price possible. That whole “competition thing” works.

  89. Unless you are a really big company dealing with a very small company, you aren’t getting any discounts for volume purchases.

  90. BEFORE all else fails, read the effing manual. People are paid well to make the manuals right.

  91. When you pull alongside a semi in your car, know that the driver of that rig has more training and probably way more hours of driving under his belt than you do. Most of the time, they are way better drivers than you, so you should trust that they aren’t going to hit you.

  92. Being a politician is a real job, and anyone who says they do nothing is refusing to see the work they do to keep this town/city/county/state/country running.

  93. Remember earplugs for rock concerts.

  94. Any sunscreen SPF is better than no sunscreen, regardless of the chemicals that make up the sunscreen.

  95. Bored and need something to do all the time? Buy a house.

  96. It would be a good idea to extend high school by one year and force everyone to take basic life classes. Basic mechanics, cooking, woodworking, etc. I didn’t take those classes, as they weren’t part of “college prep”, so I had to learn on my own or just pay someone else to do them.

  97. I won’t get all Mike Rowe on this point, but he is right that trades are perfectly legitimate jobs that require real training and brains to perform.

  98. America needs more technical people if we want to keep any kind of manufacturing here at all. Factory jobs pay well, provide a very good work environment, and are always highly technical. I was raised thinking that the jobs in factories all sucked, but having worked in multiple ones, they were very good.

  99. Those large McMansions with the boats, RVs, pools, and Harleys around them are not filled with doctors and lawyers. They are filled with middle class factory workers and skilled tradespeople. Do not be tempted to believe otherwise.

  100. Fruit in order of preference, top down: pineapple, grapefruit, and bananas.

  101. Vegetables in order of preference, top down: asparagus, Brussels sprouts, beans of any kind, and sweet potatoes.

  102. The “All Lives Matter” or “Blue Lives Matter” people are awful. They are somehow offended by stickers saying “Black Lives Matter” because they think that implies that their own lives do not matter. THAT IS NOT THE POINT. The point of “Black Lives Matter” is to protest black people getting shot by police without the same benefit of doubt as white people getting arrested. If the “Black Lives Matter” signs said “Black Lives Matter, Too”, would that cause these other stickers to not exist? Maybe. Regardless, feeling offended over a group of people saying that they matter is a sign of your own insecurity or inner racist, not a problem with what they are saying.

  103. Similarly, I’ve hard people say things like “When will we have a Straight Pride parade?” No one is stopping you from having such a parade…just set it up. Gay Pride festivals are not about you and are not set up specifically to attack you. They are simply fun gatherings of people of like mind, straight, gay, or whatever. (Maybe NASCAR or hard rock concerts are just touring straight pride parades…)

  104. Except during job interviews and first dates, you don’t have to impress anyone. Go to church in shorts and a t-shirt. Wear sneakers all the time if they make your feet feel good. If you want to wear a cowboy hat, have at it. Go to the gym in your spandex pants and with messy hair. Don’t dress yourself so you can fit in with any specific crowd. If you think others care, you are probably thinking too highly of yourself. If they do care, screw ‘em.

I think that’s enough.

Written on July 6, 2016