Saturday, December 28, 2013

Wolfe's Theory of 4 Workers

I've been thinking about this a lot lately.  I've been observing people and what makes them good at what they do and what makes them bad.  I think this idea is applicable in all aspects of life.  Most obviously it applies to our careers that we have to earn a living, but it also applies to every human endeavor that you take on: from recreational sports to sweeping the kitchen floor.  I've come up with a theory.  It is that there are 4 types of workers: Good Workers, Bad Workers, Mediocre Workers, and Miracle Workers.

All of us are workers of some sort.  It takes effort to survive in life.  Whether you live on a desert island, in an advanced, free civilization, a slave labor camp, or in a small farming village.  The kind of work may vary, but we all need to work in order to survive.  What's the difference between all these? Let's work our way up from the bottom:

  • Level 1: The Bad Worker doesn't do anything you tell him to.  He sucks at what he does and he refuses to try. You tell him to do something and it just flat out doesn't happen.
  • Level 2: The Mediocre Worker does what you tell him in a very literal sense.  But that's it.  Nothing more. He does what you tell him, but he can't or won't interpret WHY something must be done, and understand its significance.  
  • Level 3: The Good Worker does what you tell him and more: he can understand what he needs you to do before you tell him.  He knows what his job is, and when you do ask him for something, he understands its significance and even if your instructions were not to the letter what you needed or required some further interpretation, he gets it done without any fuss.  
  • Level 4: The Miracle Worker is on another plane entirely.  Not only can he complete what you need him to do without you telling him, he completes things before you even knew they needed to be done.  He is the first person to recognize an opportunity and seizes it before anyone else knows there was a need.  These are the inventors and the innovators and only show up once in one million people.  
Now on the surface it looks like the presence of the Bad Worker disproves my idea that life requires effort, but this is not the case.  Life always requires effort, but you have to ask, "who is expending the effort?"  It might not be the same person who is breathing at that point.  If we have a mooch on our hands, and he is making a comfortable existence, he may not be working, but you can be sure that someone is, in order for him to survive.  If you are a mooch, you are either a 6 year old, or you're acting like one!

Also, I suppose that throughout life, depending on the task at hand, a person can pass through all four of these stages.  I'm probably very mediocre at things like teaching pre-schoolers how to dance.  In that endeavor, I'd require a significant amount of guidance to maintain Level 2 and without it, I would wallow in the depths of Level 1 Bad Workerdom.  I'd like to think that in my career, however, I'm a solid level 3.  I am as of yet unable to recognize opportunities that would push me to the top. For that I need to invent the next electronic device everyone wants.

The whole point of this is that when I hear people complain about how they can't get ahead in life, no matter how hard they work, and that life is too hard, life takes too much work, life isn't fair, I find that the reason is because these people are only doing what they're told.  They only do the bare minimum in their jobs to get by, and can't possibly fathom any deeper understanding or chase any additional goals that weren't specifically set for them by someone else.  They're wallowing in Level 2 mediocrity.  

So which kind are you?  

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What happened to Roark in Mexico?

Well, first off, I went scuba diving with friends in Cozumel, relaxed at the beach with Lia and Reia, and ate some good Mexican food.  It turned out to be a fun trip.  
But it didn't start out that way.  The first two days were pretty terrible, as I spent most of it in the Cancun jail.  The only bag I did not pack especially for this trip was a bag of first aid items and basic tools for emergencies.  I usually keep it in my truck and I decided to throw it in my scuba diving bag so I would have it on the boat.  It turns out that also inside was some cheap, steel 9mm practice ammo that I had forgotten about.  
I was foolish, careless, and know better than to do this, but it is also something that could happen to almost anyone, and it turns out that the city of Cancun alone has 3 of these cases per week.  They might even fund their government on Americans running around with bullets in their luggage.
Had I sifted through the contents of that bag, I would have seen them and taken them out.  But I didn't. This is a huge problem for the Mexican customs inspection.  They told me three things: not only is having them in the country a bad thing, but importing them from outside is especially bad, and since this is a caliber reserved exclusively for the military, it makes it worse.  
I actually think this last one was bluster on their part since anyone whose been caught with ammo of any caliber goes through more or less the same thing I did.  
What did I go through?  The first several hours were waiting and answering questions.  Everyone was pretty respectful and I got no bad treatment and only one customs guy gave me dirty looks.  I never even saw a pair of handcuffs the whole time I was there.  But then it was 11pm, and time to go to my "special room." When they called it this, and by judging by the clean, well built nature of the government building I was eventually transferred to, I had probably fooled myself into thinking the place where I would sleep that night would be more like a cheap hotel than a jail cell.  But I was wrong.
The holding area had one row of six cells, each with bunk beds, a sink, and toilet.  There was no window; only an opening 15 feet up to vent the hot air, which there was a lot of.  The whole room smelled like what you would expect from a place where hundreds of men come every month to sit and sweat in the Cancun heat.  Thankfully it didn't smell like a toilet, but it did smell, and it was dirty. 
There was no mistreatment in the jail, no shivs, no shower scenes (there were no showers), so no, I didn't get raped (I was King of the Yard baby). Just a lot of waiting and sweating.  Luckily I never had a cell mate which was a plus. It was a test of mental toughness, but thanks to my skills of manipulation and a little pretending to be the naive Guero, I did a few things outside the normal procedure to make it easier, like using the nice administrative bathrooms when I could, taking hippie showers in there, and I managed to get my phone into the cell, if for nothing else than to keep track of the passing hours.
Eventually, thanks to the tireless effort of my fantastic wife, sister, brother, mother and aunts, and after two days and nights of working with the authorities, and after paying a few hundred dollars in bail and fines, and a few thousand for a lawyer (who almost certainly used that to buy the DA, a judge, the Customs guys, etc) I got out, gave Lia and Reia some big sweaty hugs and kisses, had a shower, shaved, and met everybody at our bungalow on the island.  I managed to get 5 dives in before we left and they were beautiful.  
Another thing worth mentioning is that in this whole debacle I kept Gore out of the picture as much as possible.  Some of our group I was traveling with contacted Associates in the Legal group and some of the technical leadership.  That is to be expected but I did try to keep Gore’s involvement to a minimum.  Whenever the authorities asked me who I work for, I didn’t answer, or just told them I am an engineer.  When they asked what “GMU” stood for on the backpack I was carrying, I declined to answer (It's a Gore acronym).  This was very much on purpose.  
I have a lot of thoughts on what transpired, what it all means, and what the implications are.  The biggest personal change I will make is certainly to be more careful when packing for a trip (duh).   Mostly this experience served to solidify much of what I already believe.  Any country whose justice system works on a principle of guilty until proven innocent needs, to say the very least, a little adjustment, but I would also consider gathering up all the people who work for their extremely corrupt government and launching them straight towards the Sun.  

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Wealth inequality the new Harlem Shake?

This has been going around the internet for a while and there are three major flaws with this video.

The first is that it assumes that there is an "ideal" income distribution, and even more; we know what it is.  It repeatedly states that there is a certain amount of wealth that the various classes "should have." What gives anyone the right to make this claim?  It is immoral to claim that any individual is making the "wrong" amount of money and that it is someone else's job to rectify that situation.

The second is the repeated claim that the poor in America are "suffering." Even the, shall we say, least wealthy Americans still own gadgets like TV's, PC's cell phones, and game consoles.  But don't take my word for it, ask the Census Bureau.

The third one is that common mistake that so many people make in assuming that how much money you make should be directly related to how hard you work.  This is wrong.  How much money you make should be related to what you actually produce. Sure, there are some who make 380 times more than the average middle class employee, and no, they don't work 380 times harder.  But (most of the time) they simply produce more with the time that they do work, and it's probably 380 times more valuable than the guy who fills out the TPS reports.

This third one is why you hear every once in a while that a CEO makes so much money that if he walks down the street and sees a $100 bill lying on the sidewalk, it makes no sense for him to pick it up, because he earns more money per second that it takes him to do that.  This is absurd, but here's why: CEO's don't get money simply by existing.  They don't "earn money" every second they are alive, simply because they are the CEO.  They aren't hourly.  They get paid money to do certain, very specific, value added things.  Steve Jobs and Bill Gates didn't have a cash machine continually ticking up and up every second like the National Debt Clock does.  They earn money for inventing.  For ideas.  For achievement.  Breathing isn't an achievement that earns you wealth.  The production of valuable things and ideas does.

One other minor detail: the scare quotes around "Dreaded" when describing socialism.  Yes, it's dreaded, dude.  It has ruined millions of lives throughout history.  History:  It's a real thing.  You should learn it.

I have to give title credit to a Yahoo article which, other than that title, is actually kind of mediocre.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

I Didn't Buy an Android To Look at Your Crappy Mobile Page

Yes, thank you XKCD.  I've been meaning to write this rant for some time now but you encapsulated my feelings in nerdy webcomic form perfectly, just as you always do.

And if you hover over the image on the XKCD page for a second, you get this:
""If I click 'no', I've probably given up on everything, so don't bother taking me to the page I was trying to go to. Just drop me on the homepage. Thanks."

Yeah.  Thanks indeed, webmaster-with-a-soul-filled-with-hate.  I appreciate that.

What the heck is up with this?  Why do web page designers insist on updating, managing, and maintaining not one, but two webpages, one of which is completely useless? Why do some even go to further depths of stupidity and not only maintain two websites, but a crappy mobile app that they offer for download every time you visit that is equally useless, if not more?   I'm looking at you,  Get a clue.  Or should I say  Bleh.

Another heinous offender is LinkedIn.  Not being able to settle some frivolous disagreement with your buddies about who starred in what movie using IMDB is one thing, but LinkedIn is actually something that has a practical purpose, yet I CANNOT GO THERE USING MY TABLET!  Why?  Because when I do, I get their crappy mobile site, and even when I click on "Use Desktop Site" and try to surf anywhere else other than the homepage, it takes me where?  Right back to the crappy mobile site.  It cannot be disabled.

I have a tablet with a huge screen.  I don't need your stupid, non-functional mobile site.

Please.  The humanity.  It's got to stop.