Failure Testing

Posted on February 29, 2012
Filed Under Mundane | Comments Off on Failure Testing

I work in Marketing. This is how we categorize facts in Marketing:

  1. Stuff I made up.
  2. Stuff someone else made up.

I can explain this to you in greater detail if you like. It sounds like a very ignorant view of the world but it is much more cynical than it is ignorant. Even those “crunchy” facts from engineers get heavily interpreted before anyone does anything with them, so in the end it comes to the same thing anyway.

I went to a trade show a couple of weeks ago. My boss and I were told, or asked, or gently nudged (I don’t really know which) to summarize the trade show. Time for facts. You haven’t forgot the definition yet, have you?

I made some stuff up. That is, I gave my opinion on what I saw. I didn’t use numbers to prove any of it. I really did just write my opinion of what I saw. I was not equipped to do anything else. I haven’t been to trade shows before, and even though I asked I wasn’t given any guidelines on the right things to do or tasks to be completed. So I had nothing orderly and countified to factify.

My opinions seemed limited to me; in particular to have very little to say about how my company did at the trade show. This is because I spent little time at our booth and would have very little sense of what success meant for us. I haven’t been to a trade show before. So I sent my summary of the trade show to lots of other people so that they could tell the rest of the story.

In return I got a meeting with my boss and the manager of another department, where we were told that everything I wrote would ruin the company and cause us all to die of anthrax poisoning. I was advised to rewrite everything so that it reflected the goals and message we were working to project into the market.

This made very little sense to me so I doggedly didn’t agree to do it. I tried not to be too blunt about this because I know that it would be bad to sound completely opposed to feedback, but in thinking about it to myself I couldn’t even get to the end of the reasons why this would be a bad idea. Obviously telling yourself you were a wonderful success when you were not would be a bad idea; but the biggest issue was more fundamental than that: I have no idea whether we did well or not! It would be absurd for me to write a summary talking about our success when I am completely innocent of any such notions.

But I was stridently advised that I would have no friends left in the whole company if my invidious criticism of everything were published. Now I completely confess that I set out to talk about things we have not accomplished; for me the whole exercise was attempting to peer over the horizon at what comes next. Forecasting is basically what my job comes down to as a Marketing Analyst. But I did not consider that in fantasizing about tomorrow I was condemning yesterday. I didn’t think of it as criticism.

There are many threads involved here and I am not attempting to cover all of them. The point I wish to draw out here is that, notwithstanding I clearly feel the risks were exaggerated, before the meeting I was not even aware that there were risks. I certainly intend to rewrite the report more carefully in order to mitigate those risks as best as I now perceive them.

I am frequently amazed when testing turns out to have been quite necessary to ensure quality. I generally subsist on a presumption that I did things right, once I’ve done them.


Posted on February 24, 2012
Filed Under Journeyman Chronicles, Theological | Comments Off on Damnation

Among other reasons why I am not worthy of the heavenlies, there is this.

If you don’t hear from me again on this typographically-obscene website for several months, it is because I am looking for purgatory.


Masquerading as People

Posted on February 22, 2012
Filed Under Journeyman Chronicles, Today | 4 Comments

My¬† boss’s boss, David, pulled me in the office today. “Spend some money,” he said. “Buy some clothes.”

I had caught signals before that he wished I were a spiffy dresser, but I thought I had compensated enough. Evidently not. When I related this advice to my family, the menfolk were outraged. One brother hoped I flipped him the bird and quit my job. My father suggested that he would have told him to find some other country bumpkin to sycophantically comply with his fashion obsession.

Neither of those reactions even crossed my mind. To them the suggestion was a moral offense, somewhere just past lying on the way toward prostitution. Such niceties could only matter to worthless sorts of people. I am not sure whether they have not noticed that the female (minority) population right here in town notices and appreciates attire, or if that simply serves to reinforce the degraded nature of such concerns. I easily understand that such things do not matter to my nearest male relations, but I struggle to grasp why it is so offensive that it would matter to anyone else. Who cares if it matters?

My own biggest concern is that I learn to care myself. It is one thing to wear clothes to satisfy people around you; it is something else to look down on other people because of the clothes they wear. I don’t know how well I can maintain that distinction.

All the Colors of the Rainbow

Posted on February 18, 2012
Filed Under Theological | Comments Off on All the Colors of the Rainbow

The sensitive cynics in my readership should by no means follow the link to this video about shame and vulnerability. They will hate it. It flows with the stream I am currently swimming in, however, which includes The Great Divorce from C. S. Lewis and Breathing Underwater from Richard Rohr. Still in progress is The Community Life of God from Milt Rodriguez. In various ways all of these works admonish us to be less self-centered, or, positively, more communal. They all include the theme that self-defense is self-destruction (emotionally). And thus far I agree.

The problem for me is that all are also burdened with something out of balance. To summarize I would say that all believe in a frustrated God, who wishes we were all happy but is powerless to make it so. Christ’s revelation of the gospel through his death and resurrection is regarded, at best, as a mystery understood by only a few in the thousands of years since. We are supposed to to need a better understanding of the secret to a happy life if we will see with new eyes what everyone else missed. (The video mentioned first will not even condescend to endorse religion; but in the end the difference matters little.)

My hope is Christ. I have no other. Three out of four of the authors would agree heartily with that statement, but we invest different meaning into it. If God needs me to cooperate, I am lost. Any progress I am making in goodness is only a growing comfort with my own reflection – and indeed it is self-acceptance and self-love that runs current among these works. Even though love for others is raised to the utmost importance, it is still with the goal of becoming happy.

Since I am discussing four different authors at one time it is very difficult to be specific and fair in my criticism. In the end that’s not my point anyway. I am not really interested in cataloging their faults, but only in voicing the disquiet I feel as I hear their heart-warming message. It is as the warm reassurances of a mistress, so kind, so understanding, so totally loving; and yet I am pledged to another love, harder and truer and deeper.

There is much truth in how these various people describe human dysfunction. I do not accuse them of being deliberately misleading. But I do not believe that they can deliver on their promises, either; and that is what is so terrible to consider. Chasing rainbows is considered by some a noble pursuit; by others, a fool’s errand. I remember why the rainbow was made; and it is both before and after the rainbow that we must remember. The rainbow itself is not the goal.

keep looking »