The 150-Yard Marker

I was having a virtual lunch chat with a colleague today, and we got to talking about goals. She mentioned that she was having a bit of an existential crisis about whether she was on the right path—whether she should continue as an individual contributor engineer, switch to a different IC role, or point toward management—and asked how to know so she could set goals on the correct path.

My first thought was that one of the ways to know whether you're on the right path is to take the next step on it, and then see how the view is from there. I shared this thought with her using an analogy: When you're playing golf, your goal is to get the ball in the hole. But on a par 4 or 5—and especially on a dogleg or a hole with a hill—you often can't just aim for the hole off the tee because you can't see it. Instead, you aim for a black and white striped pole planted in the middle of the fairway: the 150-yard marker.

This is your intermediate goal, a goal you can see from where you are now, that is on the path to where you want to go. You may not hit the ball in exactly the right line to the marker, or get all the way there. You might blow past it and end up with an awkward angle to the green. Whatever you end up doing, what you're doing is aiming for that marker, not the hole. And your purpose in aiming for that marker is to get a better view of the situation.

Once you get to your ball, you might have a great approach shot to the green—one that's exactly the distance of your favorite club, with no obstructions. Often you're between clubs, or you can't hit the ball as far as you need to go. Now you have choices: Do you divide up the distance, hitting the same club the same distance twice? Do you hit your longest club, hope for the best, and then go for a short chip or pitch? Do you lay up to a distance you feel confident about, or that avoids the risk of landing in a sand trap that might take several swings to get out of?

If you've never played golf, some of this strategy might not make any sense to you, but the point is this: After that first shot, you are in a different place, with a different view, and with new choices in front of you. You have a chance to recalibrate if the tee shot didn't go according to plan. If it went perfectly, you have a shorter and more direct path if you want to go for it. (I can say from personal experience, both on the golf course and in my career, that one's second shot is not guaranteed to be good, and that it's also possible to make bogey or even par after a less-than-stellar tee shot.)

So here's to intermediate goals: the 150-yard stick that you can see from where you are now, and that will give you more information about where you want to go. From that black and white striped pole you could decide to take a risk and possibly fail, but hey, at least you'll get a chance to practice your sand shot.

Posted by Lori in work at 10:05 PM on January 19, 2021 | Permalink

Constituent Email (Because the Voice Mailbox Was Full)

What is the general topic of your message? (choose one): Homeland Security/Disaster Response

Senator Feinstein:

I would like you to support the expulsion of Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz from the US Senate.

You may recall taking this oath in 1992: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God." Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz took this oath, too. They not only did not defend the Constitution against all enemies; they also encouraged an armed insurrection against our democracy, and they flouted the Constitution on the Senate floor on Jan. 6, 2021 in objecting to the certification of electoral votes from Arizona and Pennsylvania. These actions merit expulsion.

I have voted for you in every election in which you've run where I have been a resident of California (1998, 2002, 2020). Even if I had not, I would expect you to represent my interests, the interests of Californians, our country, and our Constitution. Please do your duty as a US Senator and expel Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz.

Lori Hylan-Cho
Palo Alto, CA

Posted by Lori in politics at 7:10 PM on January 19, 2021 | Permalink

Watching the Demise of Democracy

I spent the afternoon in the office (despite the pandemic; I needed to pick up some equipment and ended up attending meetings from my desk there because I didn't have time to drive home before the next one) and then driving down to San Jose to drop off the picked-up equipment with a colleague. I also spent it watching a live stream of an attack on the Capitol with the sound on mute for long stretches so I could listen to my colleagues on WebEx.

I watched a bleeding woman being wheeled out on a stretcher, eyes open and staring at the news camera. She later died.

I watched confederate flag-waving hooligans walk between the cordons through Statuary Hall as if they were approaching a ride at Disneyland and were excited that the line was finally moving. They all carried cell phones, recording everything around them like awe-struck tourists with guns.

I watched a woman in a bicycle helmet, wearing a Trump flag like a cape, take photos of every document left behind in one of the congressional chambers by fleeing congresspeople. Evidence!

I saw a still photo of something that looked like the freak killer from season one of True Detective standing at the podium in the House of Representatives. The knit-capped man who apparently claimed the same spot before him proclaimed that Trump had won the 2020 election.

By the time I started the drive back from San Jose after dropping off the equipment with my colleague, the Senate was back in session and debating the objection to Arizona's electors. I thought I knew where the Vice President should go after he finished up at the Capitol: back to the Cabinet Room to convene a meeting and vote on the 25th Amendment.

Posted by Lori in politics at 7:44 PM on January 6, 2021 | Permalink

Good Lord, That Was Painful

My plan today was to work out, finish updating my blog's templates and CSS to make them more mobile-friendly (I started the other day), and then get some work done ahead of our official return to work tomorrow.

It turns out that while I remembered about half of the CSS I used to know, a lot has happened in the past decade that I'd had no reason to pay attention to until now. In any case, after reading a bunch of CSS references and articles and trimming and twiddling my stylesheets and MovableType templates, I think I've got something workable... but I didn't get any work done, and I haven't gotten to the Fitness+ workout I'd planned yet (tho thanks to a morning bike ride and the random dance and HIIT moves I've learned from Kim, Bakari, LaShawn, and Jamie-Ray—which I now do while waiting for the microwave or the Chemex—I'll still close all my rings before bedtime).

I did watch a whole lot of news shows today while futzing with website code, so I'm fully up on another round of impeachable offenses, the new strain of SARS-CoV-2, slow vaccine rollouts, and the state of the Senate runoff in Georgia. I also continue to be pleasantly surprised by how coherent and powerful Joe Biden's public speeches are. Keep it up, Joe!

I don't think I'll be turning comments back on... probably ever, but if you spot a weird style or dead-end blog page link (I can't do much about the external ones, sadly) and you know me in real life, do let me know. Thanks!

Posted by Lori in bloggity goodness at 8:39 PM on January 4, 2021 | Permalink

One of The Things I Left Out »