Archive for the ‘stories & lies’ Category

Mistakes

27 March 2018

Dear J—

Mistakes … I’ve made a few (more than my share) which sounds like the start of a bad set of lyrics in any language, I suppose. Let us join hands and learn from them: that is my reply. Why would you think anything other than that? That’s what’s important and that’s what drives us to learn from failures. Edison (who by all accounts was a petty, nasty man) said (in paraphrase) that he hadn’t failed 9,999 times before finding out how to make a lightbulb, he just had found 9,999 ways not to do it. We need to be able to learn what to do next time, that’s what is important.

Mike

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First Timers

15 March 2018

Dear J—

Tuesday morning as I was preparing myself to grind the scale off a pipe weld for the first time I had to psych myself up to make sure I didn’t run away screaming (how else would you react to something you were uniquely unqualified to do? Besides which, there were several other items I should have been doing at the time but wasn’t because I was there, twenty feet up on a scaffold with little training and less confidence.)

  • There’s no place I’d rather be than here.
  • There’s no life I’d rather have than my own.
  • There’s nothing I’d rather be doing than this.

It worked. I have a lot less confidence than for the rest of my days this week, but at least I got through the scary unknowns and that’s how I’ll handle the rest of my week. We can do this. We can help.

Mike

Drive

6 March 2018

Dear J—

Well, there is a collision of things next week: I’m supposed to drive out to Martinez at some point, and I have to participate in an internal audit, and … there are too many things, is all I’m saying. One of the things I never wanted to do was have to apologize for being too busy, or having a family, or not being able to pay enough attention to everyone and everything and now guess what?

I can’t do all of it next week. I have to say no to some things. I will figure this out. I don’t want to, or I feel like I can’t, but I can figure out how to make it work best for me and my family, and then I’ll act accordingly. It has been six weeks since I said I would get everything done and now, one week into March? It’s so easy to procrastinate, isn’t it?

Mike

Delays on Delays

23 February 2018

Dear J—

I keep thinking that this is the day I’m going to get that ___ done, with whatever you want to fill that particular blank. Instead I spend time frittering away with tangential things until it’s too late to be done with anything else.

What about highlighting the peaks of the day instead? Well, I suppose that depends on what you see as the highlights.

Mike

Smart Goals

12 February 2018

Dear J—

In corrective action space, we talk about having SMART goals – an acronym that describes them as systematic, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. At this point the work I’ve been doing in February has been under the category “none of the above” so there’s that to worry about, but no matter; we will continue to keep laboring until we’re there. Maybe I should redefine the first one as “small”: first little thing is to get the inbox cleaned up, then my desk. It’s hard to be thinking straight if there’s clutter all over, isn’t it?

Mike

Procrastination

29 January 2018

Dear J—

Look at that, not even a month and I’m already procrastinating on a bunch of stuff for work and professional development. I want to just be done already, y’know? I want to just declare that this is done and I won’t have to touch it again and that’s just that, right? I can’t, unfortunately. Maybe if I had smaller goals, or took more time to actually do work instead of procrastinate, then I’d be … naw, that’s madness, right? Smart mouth. The joy of crossing things off a list shouldn’t be underestimated, since that feeling – accomplishment – feels so alien lately. What do you do when you turn off the lights at night? Do you regret what has been done, or is there joy in everything you do and say instead?

Mike

Days Off

16 January 2018

Dear J—

Different conducting crews have their own style; the crew we had before on 102 would walk up and down the train together, chatting and recognizing passengers as we passed through, and now, there’s just the one guy – who I do recognize – but the other one, who handles the announcements, is as anonymous as any other voice on the train.

It’s also ridership survey time, as I see the contractors there at the doorway, making marks for when I get on and off the train. I suspect it will be a fairly high count this year, as the weather is mild and ridership has not suffered from the rain (what rain, right?) this year.

Once again I have failed in my quest to ride the special celebration train on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – it’s a ten-car consist hauled up from San Jose, stopping at Palo Alto and San Mateo on the way to San Francisco to participate in a march and activities. It sounds like fun to me, but I suppose it sounds like education to the kids, who have their own suspicions about it. Perhaps I can convince them to go with me to the New Year parade in February, but that’s probably a hard sell as well. These long weekends with no activity are starting to wear on me.

Mike

One Stop

11 January 2018

Dear J—

I still want … many things. I have … no allowances left. Therefore, I …

Those blanks are obvious and should be filled in, right? I also have so much to do at work and so little motivation to be making numbers march in an orderly fashion around a spreadsheet, or making works apply to various items as we have a thousand different procedures and precedents and God help us all if there’s some conflict that means you can’t exactly do what you said you would. Follow through on your promises, c’mon, it’s not hard.

Mike

New Year

2 January 2018

Dear J—

So there is some confusion here: they ran a six-car gallery set, which means the bike car becomes the third back from the locomotive, not the second. I got on the wrong car with my bike and was confused by the closed door, doubly so when the car was filled with seats in both directions, though thankfully I was able to hustle down to the right car while it was still on the platform.

There’s also a slightly different schedule, as I understand it, and of course all of this will be subject to change in the upcoming year, so let’s keep that in mind too. New Year brings new and interesting experiences, thankfully.

Mike

Simple Questions

29 December 2017

Dear J—

They are all simple questions, this last working day of the year:

  • Do I want to be here?
  • Do I have to be here?

The answer to both is no, at least for now. I’m going in mainly to retrieve my computer and a few documents, but also to figure out what else I might be able to finish before the end of the year. A profile view of the gantry crane at Hunters Point doesn’t count, I think, nor does the idea that I should somehow insert a bow view of HMS Dreadnought (which didn’t survive to 1947, c’mon) help. No, there are a few simple things to finish up and then be done with this year, be done with this 2017 and feel satisfied about it.

Unfortunately my ambition does not match my means, and so I have roughly a thousand different thoughts in my head about what I need to do (I have a master list at work, thankfully) and none of them match up, I think.

I should have taken today off, honestly.

Mike