Objectively Looped In

December 3 of 31 December-ish posts

What’s your favourite subject in school, I ask a kid.

Recess, he replies.

What’s the best part of your job, I ask myself.

Working from home a few days a week, I almost write.

Except that’s not really true.

What made your job
interesting in 2022?

I’ve spent a few posts this year writing about the possibility of job change.

And I’ve been serious. Last week I marked the twelve year anniversary at my current employer, and at times like that, birthdays, anniversaries, new years, one tends to get reflective and contemplative about life, the universe and everything. It’s a double-shame for me because all those things tend to fall within roughly one month and I have a heckuva December feeling all philosophical about my life.

I try to keep the line between work and my words here pretty fuzzy because, well the thing is, I’m a public servant. We have strong codes of conduct, by which I mean documents that tell us how we should conduct ourselves in our roles inside and outside of the office, and those codes of conduct do include things like internet participation and having a public opinion particularly under the flag of our professional role. That gets tricky to navigate especially when I want to write about all the things I do in our parks and the runs and walks I take on our trails and even the various fun I have in my own backyard. Why? Because those are spaces sometimes managed or governed by bylaws and services provided by my colleagues.

For example, I have a fire pit in my backyard that I use to build adventures and that leads to me sharing stories and content here on this site.

But there are rules for how fire pits are allowed to be used properly. Minimum clearances. Fire bans get declared routinely. Good neighbour policies exist and overlap with smoke dispersal, and noise bylaws and ash disposal. If I was to declare myself such and such an employee and suggest (which I’m definitely not doing) that my job gave me some kind of authority to set an example or declare exceptions or shrug off proper processes (all of which I also am definitely not doing) I could get into a bit of hot water for implying that professional connection.

So, I keep a fuzzy line.

This guy who you are reading here is just a guy, a guy who lives and plays in this place. My expertise is personal, and I (and this is actually pretty true because all I really do is work in one of our technology teams and not any of those more hands-on services) have no special knowledge or influence on anything related to these places or spaces about which I sometimes write. And I definitely have no power over decisions or budgets or political stuff. I’m just a dwarf in the silicon mines.

That said, things do get interesting because I’m a guy who seems like he should have special knowledge, but doesn’t really. That I’m in this weird position to see behind the curtain of the show, but I’m little more than a set designer, and usually go take my seat with the rest of the audience when the show starts.

In the context of what I do, why I do it, why I continue to do it amidst the possibility of so many other options, and deep down how that is rooted in why my job can be interesting is this: I could have a different job. I could be selling or buying or moving or building or driving or talking or any of a hundred different tasks. But at the heart of what I do is that I’m creating and informing.

That is why things are so fuzzy.

I try to create and inform for fun. I build websites, I draw pictures. I write stories. I grow and cook and explore and tell more tales about all that.

And then for a job I build websites. I commission pictures. I post information. I watch as everyone else at work grows and makes and cleans and serves, and we share more information about that.

I work daily with the teams doing the interesting work of keeping this place running.

I know people who are integral to the functioning of our community.

I help a million folks who live here stay informed about all of it.

Objectively, I’m looped in. That’s a pretty sweet (and interesting) place to be even if it’s often a lot of hard, thankless work.

Reminder: Blogs are not a replacement for professional advice. Please read my note on safety and safe participation.

Nature Burger

Ahhhh… nature.

Living in the suburbs, and in particular a suburb that butts up squarely against a natural river valley preserved against development, it’s not uncommon to have the occasional run in with wildlife. I’ll often see coyotes or deer when I’m out running and extending my range into theirs.

When the reverse is true, those critters extending their range back into our habitat, things take a turn for the strange and curious.

You probably don’t know a lot about this guy yet, but Gaige is the kind of guy who upon running up against a midlife crisis here in the digital era has decided that he wants to get away from his work-a-day lifestyle and spend more time out and about in the wood.

In fact, he started a YouTube channel and has been uploading amature documentary-style videos of his wandering “adventures.”

To date, this is basically a lot of nature walks and campfire cooking tutorials.

And, I know what you’re thinking: “Gee whiz, this guy sounds a little bit like the author of this blog I’ve been reading. Are you sure they’re not connected somehow?”

To which I reply: “We all have our stories to tell, and this is one of those stories.”

Because as certainly as Gaige and his dog are just starting to meddle in some small local adventures, the moment will certainly come when he’s going to start stepping a little further… and further… and further out of his comfort zone and trying to tackle the interesting types of things that attract viewers and subscribers and …

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

For now you’ll just need to be contented knowing that as Gaige steps out into the world he’s bound to encounter a whole swath of surprises. And wildlife doing wild things are just the tip of a very big iceberg.

Downtown, Part One

Is it out of character of me to write a short post about the heart of the place I live?

See, I used to work downtown.

Used to, in that the job I currently have the privilege to do from the safety of my home was once and may again in the future be based out of one of the many high-rise buildings in the downtown core of our city.

Today it is based out of my basement.

This allows me to go for beautiful walks around my neighbourhood at lunch.

It lets me cook grilled cheese sandwiches on my barbecue grill whenever the mood strikes.

I’ll have the opportunity to work on my garden all summer.

I should be able to fit some extra runs in as the months wear ever onward.

And sitting on my deck with my dog by my side, a coffee in my hand, and a laptop computer humming on the table in front of me is a kind of work-life balance I could not have dreamed possible a couple years ago.

That said, this morning I made one of those rare trips “to the office” to sort out some administrative tasks that I cannot do remotely.

On my walk towards my tower, I snapped a photo of one of those notice boards, the kind where shows, plays, festivals, and a thousand other cultural touchstones hang posters with dates and times and locations. Or… where they used to do that.

Like the empty streets, boarded up shop windows, and mostly-vacant office towers, this felt positively apocalyptic to me.

Nothing new posted.

The old, ripped, torn, peeled off leaving behind a shredded, shattered mess, a snapshot of the time that never was to follow those months when back then, when I retreated from downtown along with a hundred thousand others.

My personal opportunity has narrowed and I’ve adapted.

I wonder how it will feel to find a way back to a rich cultural society, particularly when I see things like this.

What was the opportunity cost of my could-have-been-worse fortunes?