Seagate CEO: I help people "watch porn"
You think tech execs are boring? Check out a freewheeling interview with Seagate's Bill Watkins, who might be Silicon Valley's most outspoken CEO.
By Jeffrey M. O'Brien, Fortune senior editor
November 30 2006: 3:39 PM EST
SAN FRANCISCO (Fortune) -- Sitting at the arm of a tech CEO during a corporate dinner is rarely as interesting as you might imagine. Usually, the CEO stays on message throughout the meal as a PR flak hovers, smiles, nods and prods the conversation along. Just keep the drinks coming, guys.
Not so with Bill Watkins, the mercurial, salty-mouthed Texan who runs the $15 billion hard-drive king Seagate Technology. At a San Francisco dinner on Tuesday evening, he was candid about his company's ultimate mission: "Let's face it, we're not changing the world. We're building a product that helps people buy more crap - and watch porn."
Watkins is like that renegade uncle you heard so much about as a kid - the one that your parents were always afraid would be a bad influence. An adventure racer and sports junkie, Watkins spends $1.8 million of his company's money every year on Eco Seagate, flying 200 employees to New Zealand every year to do a modified triathlon.
It's a controversial approach to team-building - popular with participants and otherwise widely criticized as a waste of money. But it's consistent with Watkins' style. He does - and says - what he thinks is right.
At San Francisco's Town Hall restaurant Tuesday night, Watkins was game to discuss just about anything. We did go off-the-record once - a wise choice by him - but all else was fair game. Here's a peek at some of the ground we covered.
Seagate (Charts): "The biggest issues in our business are security, DRM (How can we unlock the content?), form factor and power. How can we make a low-power solution? These are the problems." As for upcoming products, "We'll have a terabyte drive out by the summer. It'll probably be about $700, but you know how it works. People will be able to get it for less."
Dell (Charts): "The 90s were all about the enterprise, and that's why Dell did so well. Now, it's all about the consumer, and that's why Dell is having problems. They don't understand the consumer. They want a competitor to the iPod and what do they do? They go with Creative."
'This business is about the consumer'
Apple (Charts): "Apple figured out a long time ago that this business is about the consumer, and the world finally caught up to them. Most companies have a technology and go looking for a problem to solve. Steve Jobs looked at what was happening - people were loading music onto their computers and wanted to take it with them - and he built a product to solve that problem."
Watkins, who has an understandable Apple-envy (after all, what is an iPod but a hard-drive with a sleek-but-simple operating system and nifty packaging?) also discussed the importance of building Seagate's brand. The company plans to introduce a number of consumer-oriented storage products at the tech trade show CES - think high-capacity drives that will be plug-and-play with any computer, so you don't have to carry a laptop - and is readying an ad campaign created by Apple's agency, TBWA Chiat/Day.
Mistakes & Management: "Let me tell you a great story. I had these guys go into Scientific Atlanta (Charts) trying to sell one of our drives for their boxes. Scientific Atlanta said 'They run too hot. We don't need that capacity and it needs to be cooler.' But our guys kept pushing our new product and talking about fans to cool them, so we lost the business. They didn't understand that with cable boxes, people don't want fans, because they don't want to hear that in their bedroom. And speed doesn't matter. So, eventually, I went in and won the business back, but it taught me a lesson. I need to teach my people how to talk to the customer better - and to listen."
The Blue-Ray/HD-DVD war: "Let them fight it out. They can have it. As far as I'm concerned, it's really a battle of electronic storage versus hardware."
'Come on guys, get over it'
The media: "People worry that newspapers are going out of business. So what? It's the content that's important. No one gives a s**t about the delivery mechanism. Think about mail. You had the pony express, truck delivery, airmail, email. You don't care how it gets to you. I read more now than I ever did, but I get it off my PC. I don't need to go down to the end of the driveway and pick up the newspaper. It's the content that's most important."
Sarbanes Oxley: "CEOs who whine about Sarbanes Oxley don't belong in their jobs. Come on guys, get over it."
The private equity boom: Seagate went private in 2000 - in a $2 billion buyout led by Silver Lake Partners - only to go public again in 2002, giving Watkins insight into the current privatization wave. "It's all about investors getting short-sighted. They've lost their patience. There's nothing these private equity firms do that Fidelity couldn't do. If you're Fidelity, and you own $40 million of my business, and you want a meeting to discuss how my business could be run more efficiently, I'll take the meeting. I'll listen. But that's not the way things work. When you go private, the only thing you think about is going public again."
The 2006 NCAA championship football game: A University of Texas alum, Watkins says going to school in Austin is a life sentence. He still can't get enough of his beloved Longhorns - and he was damned if he was going to miss the championship game. "I was at CES, in Vegas. I was supposed to take some meetings, but I said no. I went up to my room, ordered a pizza and watched one of the greatest college football games ever."
UT's 2003 loss in the NCAA basketball Final Four match to my alma mater, Syracuse University: "I lost so much money on that game."
'Never ask board members what they think'
The M&A boom: The Valley is no longer "about building a company and a culture. It's about making money for the top guys. If you look back to Intel (Charts) and Fairchild, they set out to build a company that would become massively large. Google (Charts) was another good example. They waited a long time. They wanted to build a big company. People don't think like that now." That includes, Watkins continues, YouTube. "YouTube is like eBay. The founders didn't know what they were doing. The consumers just took hold of it."
The HP pretexting scandal: When I ask if anyone really cared about this story outside of the media, Watkins shakes his head. "Wall Street certainly didn't. I saw it and thought, it's good to know there's a board of directors more dysfunctional than mine."
The secret to managing a board of directors: "You never ask board members what they think. You tell them what you're going to do."
November 7, 2006 | Issue 42•45
PLANO, TX--With the recent trend of wholesome snack foods reaching "truly ridiculous proportions," Frito-Lay announced Monday that it would, against its better judgment, roll out a new line of healthy fruit-and-vegetable-based chips next February.
Frito Lay R
"Here," said Frito-Lay CEO Al Carey as he disgustedly tossed a bag of the company's new Flat Earth-brand snack crisps onto the lectern during a meeting with shareholders and members of the press. "Here's some shit that's made from beets. I hope you're all happy now that you have your precious beet chips with the recommended daily serving of fruit, or vegetables, or whatever the hell a 'beet' is."
"Mmm, dehydrated bulb things," Carey added. "Sounds delicious."
Carey appeared visibly appalled as Frito-Lay employees distributed Flat Earth snack samples to the audience.
"God help us all, would you look at these flavors," said Carey, gesturing toward a display showcasing the several varieties of Flat Earth chips, including Kauliflower Krunch, Raisins 'N Chives, Cranberry Spinach Explosion, Rutabaga Yum, Tofu Snaps, Eggplant Ecstasy, Broccoloroos, and Watercress. "Look at what you've reduced us to."
Frito Lay Jump R
Frito-Lay delivery people drop off a "bunch of bullshit to some pricks somewhere."
"Weren't Sun Chips healthy enough for you, you goddamn hippie bastards?" Carey added.
Frito-Lay spokeswoman Lisa Greeley, who said that the company made a commitment in 2004 to develop a healthier line of snacks but "never thought it would actually come to this," described the Flat Earth brand as "tailor-made for the small, vocal minority of health-conscious consumers who apparently can't just be content with salads, bananas, apples, or any of the literally thousands of fruits and vegetables already widely available."
"Our new veggie snacks combine the zesty tang of parsnip, the most mouthwatering root vegetable out there, with the bold flavor of, let's say, jute?" said Greeley before reluctantly bringing a Turnips 'N Radish chip to her mouth and forcing down a full bite. "It's a brand-new taste sensation unlike anything you've ever experienced, unless you've ever eaten sisal twine."
According to Frito-Lay's website, the new snacks contain one-third of the fat, one-half of the calories, and one-1,000th of the irresistible flavor of Frito-Lay's classic line of potato and corn chips. The presence of trans-fats and saturated oils is avoided by employing a cooking process "strikingly similar to the method used to create particle board." Serving suggestions that will be printed on the packaging include "definitely not adding any salt or seasoning, because then you might die"; dipping the chips in "delicious plain yogurt, lettuce paste, or other ground-up Flat Earth products"; and enhancing the flavor by replacing the chip in your hand with a Hot'n Spicy BBQ chip.
In January, Frito-Lay will launch a Flat Earth marketing campaign based on the slogan, "Bet You Can't Eat Even One." Surprisingly, however, the company is also in talks with distributors to ensure that Flat Earth snacks are installed in every school vending machine in the country.
"Oh, they're definitely going in the vending machines," Carey said. "Everyone's going to share in this misery, not just a handful of Naderites with spastic colons or loser kids with no taste buds whose parents want them to grow up to be boring milquetoasts afraid to have any fun. And don't think we haven't forgotten you either, office workers on snack breaks and anyone who wants to serve a big bowl of disappointment at a cocktail party."
"If this is what you want, America, fine," Carey continued. "But if you don't like them, then you can suck my fucking dick, because this is it--no more veggie crisps after this. None. You hear me? None."
"You're all gonna die eventually, anyway," Carey added. "Might as well be eating Cool Ranch Doritos with cheese dip when you go."
Frito-Lay is now considering discontinuing its traditional snack line and focusing entirely on chickpeas and sprouts, since, according to Carey, Americans "are so scared of getting fat, and are clearly no longer interested in good-tasting food."
"You all disgust me," said Carey, who then kicked over the Flat Earth display and stormed out of the room.
© Copyright 2006, Onion, Inc. All rights reserved.
The Onion is not intended for readers under 18 years of age.
October 24, 2006
Out of Our Gourds
By JAMES E. McWILLIAMS
San Marcos, Tex.
THIS time of the year, the windows of America are beginning to be dotted with carefully carved jack-o'-lanterns, but in a week or so, the streets will be splotched with pumpkin guts. Orange gourds will fly from car windows, fall from apartment balconies, career like cannon fire from the arms of pranksters craving the odd satisfaction of that dull thud.
There are, to be sure, more productive ways to deploy a Halloween pumpkin. Post-holiday, composting is a noble option. A pumpkin grower in Wisconsin once turned a 500-pound Atlantic Giant into a boat.
But what we almost certainly won't do is eat it. First cultivated more than 10,000 years ago in Mexico, cucurbitaceae were mainstays of the Native American diet. If for no other reason than its status as one of America's oldest cultivated crops, an honest pumpkin deserves our reverence.
The current batches that will soon litter the pavement, however, are for the most part irreverent fabrications, cheap replicas inflated for the carving knife. Food in name only, they're a culinary trick without the treat. For those of us who value America's culinary past, smashing a generic pumpkin is more of a moral obligation than an act of vandalism.
During the colonial era, the pumpkin was just one squash among dozens, a vine-ripening vegetable unmarked by a distinctive color, size or shape. Native Americans grew it to be boiled, roasted and baked. They routinely prepared pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin porridge, pumpkin stew and even pumpkin jerky.
Europeans readily incorporated the pumpkin into their own diet. Peter Kalm, a Swede visiting colonial America, wrote approvingly about "pumpkins of several kinds, oblong, round, flat or compressed, crook-necked, small, etc." He noted in his journal -- on, coincidentally, Oct. 31, 1749 -- how Europeans living in America cut them through the middle, take out the seeds, put the halves together again, and roast them in an oven, adding that "some butter is put in while they are warm."
Sounds tasty. But one would be ill advised to follow Kalm's recipe with the pumpkins now grown on commercial farms. The most popular pumpkins today are grown to be porch décor rather than pie filling. They dominate the industry because of their durability, uniform size (about 15 pounds), orange color, wart-less texture and oval shape. Chances are good that the specimen you're displaying goes by the name of Trick or Treat, Magic Lantern, or Jumpin' Jack. Chances are equally good that its flesh is bitter and stringy.
In contrast, pumpkins grown in the 19th and early 20th centuries -- the hybridized descendants of those cultivated by Native Americans -- were soft, rich and buttery. They came in numerous colors, shapes and sizes and were destined for the roasting pan.
The Tennessee Sweet Potato pumpkin looked more like a pear than a modern pumpkin and, as its name implies, was baked and eaten like the sweet potato. The Winter Luxury Pie pumpkin, first introduced in 1893, became so popular for pies that it posed a fresh challenge to the canned stuff. These pumpkin varieties, and scores of others, were once the most flavorful vegetables in the American diet.
Fortunately, the edible pumpkin is not completely lost. While akin to endangered species, heirloom seeds are only a few mouse clicks and a credit card number away. By growing heirloom pumpkins, you can have your jack-o'-lantern and eat it too. More immediately, you can search out heirloom pumpkins at some farmers' markets.
Of course, advocating a shift in any holiday tradition seems like a futile exercise in a nation that (perhaps because we're so young) takes its traditions rather seriously. But it's not as if there's much of a Halloween tradition to violate. Halloween is relatively new to America. The Irish brought the holiday to the United States in the 1840's (and used turnips as jack-o-lanterns). But Halloween didn't become profitable enough for commercial growers to produce decorative pumpkins until the suburbanized 1950's.
Edible pumpkins were driven near extinction in the early 1970's when a farmer named Jack Howden started to mass produce a firm, deep orange, rotund pumpkin endowed with thick vines to create a fat handle to hold while carving. The $5 billion a year industry that developed around Howden's inedible creation is, historically speaking, still in its infancy.
And thus the "tradition" is ripe for improvement. Next year, let's do something not so different. Let's replace a fake pumpkin with a real one. The face you carve into it might be more distorted, and it might cost a bit more, but there will finally be a credible reason not to smash the thing at the end of the evening. And most important, as Peter Kalm observed back in 1749, we could once again split it open, roast it, add butter and remind ourselves that some traditions -- like cultivating vegetables to eat -- should never be destroyed.
James E. McWilliams, a history professor at Texas State University at San Marcos, is the author of "A Revolution in Eating: How the Quest for Food Shaped America."
Accomplishment the first -- I have my very own pet freak. Some of you trolls may be thinking "Big fucking deal. I lost count after the first 50 or so." I'm not a troll. I've been on the dot for years without collecting a single one, even while participating in the Twirlip discussions back in the day. I guess I've finally hit the bigtime, and I did it without even trying.
Accomplishment the second -- I was recently elected officer in my WoW guild. I think it was my smoothness on the Ventrilo interview:
Officer: Why do you want to become an officer in our guild?
Me: Ultimately, I intend to rule all of Azeroth with and iron fist, and I have to start somewhere.
I can die now. My life is complete.
Most analysts in both parties now believe that Democrats have better-than-even odds of winning at least the House. But if they don't, rather than dissect the mechanical failures that cost them a few thousand votes here or there, Democrats might be forced to admit, at long last, that there is a structural flaw in their theory of party-building. Even a near miss, at a time of such overwhelming opportunity, would suggest that a national party may not, in fact, be able to win over the long term by fixating on a select group of industrial states while condemning entire regions of the country to what amounts to one-party rule. Which would mean that Howard Dean is right to replant his party's flag in the towns and counties along America's less-traveled highways, even if his plan isn't perfect, and even if he isn't the best messenger to carry it out. As another flawed visionary, the filmmaker Woody Allen, once put it, 80 percent of success is just showing up.
It looks like he's sick of business-as-usual within the party machines. He's trying to wrest control of the party from the Washington insiders. Even if he doesn't succeed, he's scaring the hell out of the establishment, and they need it. Maybe he'll make the Democratic party worth a damn. That would be nice, especially since the Republicans are running full speed away from being worth a damn, and the Democrats in power seem hellbent on following.
By ROBERT HARRIS
Published: September 30, 2006
IN the autumn of 68 B.C. the world's only military superpower was dealt a profound psychological blow by a daring terrorist attack on its very heart. Rome's port at Ostia was set on fire, the consular war fleet destroyed, and two prominent senators, together with their bodyguards and staff, kidnapped.
The incident, dramatic though it was, has not attracted much attention from modern historians. But history is mutable. An event that was merely a footnote five years ago has now, in our post-9/11 world, assumed a fresh and ominous significance. For in the panicky aftermath of the attack, the Roman people made decisions that set them on the path to the destruction of their Constitution, their democracy and their liberty. One cannot help wondering if history is repeating itself.
Consider the parallels. The perpetrators of this spectacular assault were not in the pay of any foreign power: no nation would have dared to attack Rome so provocatively. They were, rather, the disaffected of the earth: "The ruined men of all nations," in the words of the great 19th-century German historian Theodor Mommsen, "a piratical state with a peculiar esprit de corps."
Like Al Qaeda, these pirates were loosely organized, but able to spread a disproportionate amount of fear among citizens who had believed themselves immune from attack. To quote Mommsen again: "The Latin husbandman, the traveler on the Appian highway, the genteel bathing visitor at the terrestrial paradise of Baiae were no longer secure of their property or their life for a single moment."
What was to be done? Over the preceding centuries, the Constitution of ancient Rome had developed an intricate series of checks and balances intended to prevent the concentration of power in the hands of a single individual. The consulship, elected annually, was jointly held by two men. Military commands were of limited duration and subject to regular renewal. Ordinary citizens were accustomed to a remarkable degree of liberty: the cry of "Civis Romanus sum" -- "I am a Roman citizen" -- was a guarantee of safety throughout the world.
But such was the panic that ensued after Ostia that the people were willing to compromise these rights. The greatest soldier in Rome, the 38-year-old Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (better known to posterity as Pompey the Great) arranged for a lieutenant of his, the tribune Aulus Gabinius, to rise in the Roman Forum and propose an astonishing new law.
"Pompey was to be given not only the supreme naval command but what amounted in fact to an absolute authority and uncontrolled power over everyone," the Greek historian Plutarch wrote. "There were not many places in the Roman world that were not included within these limits."
Pompey eventually received almost the entire contents of the Roman Treasury -- 144 million sesterces -- to pay for his "war on terror," which included building a fleet of 500 ships and raising an army of 120,000 infantry and 5,000 cavalry. Such an accumulation of power was unprecedented, and there was literally a riot in the Senate when the bill was debated.
Nevertheless, at a tumultuous mass meeting in the center of Rome, Pompey's opponents were cowed into submission, the Lex Gabinia passed (illegally), and he was given his power. In the end, once he put to sea, it took less than three months to sweep the pirates from the entire Mediterranean. Even allowing for Pompey's genius as a military strategist, the suspicion arises that if the pirates could be defeated so swiftly, they could hardly have been such a grievous threat in the first place.
But it was too late to raise such questions. By the oldest trick in the political book -- the whipping up of a panic, in which any dissenting voice could be dismissed as "soft" or even "traitorous" -- powers had been ceded by the people that would never be returned. Pompey stayed in the Middle East for six years, establishing puppet regimes throughout the region, and turning himself into the richest man in the empire.
Those of us who are not Americans can only look on in wonder at the similar ease with which the ancient rights and liberties of the individual are being surrendered in the United States in the wake of 9/11. The vote by the Senate on Thursday to suspend the right of habeas corpus for terrorism detainees, denying them their right to challenge their detention in court; the careful wording about torture, which forbids only the inducement of "serious" physical and mental suffering to obtain information; the admissibility of evidence obtained in the United States without a search warrant; the licensing of the president to declare a legal resident of the United States an enemy combatant -- all this represents an historic shift in the balance of power between the citizen and the executive.
An intelligent, skeptical American would no doubt scoff at the thought that what has happened since 9/11 could presage the destruction of a centuries-old constitution; but then, I suppose, an intelligent, skeptical Roman in 68 B.C. might well have done the same.
In truth, however, the Lex Gabinia was the beginning of the end of the Roman republic. It set a precedent. Less than a decade later, Julius Caesar -- the only man, according to Plutarch, who spoke out in favor of Pompey's special command during the Senate debate -- was awarded similar, extended military sovereignty in Gaul. Previously, the state, through the Senate, largely had direction of its armed forces; now the armed forces began to assume direction of the state.
It also brought a flood of money into an electoral system that had been designed for a simpler, non-imperial era. Caesar, like Pompey, with all the resources of Gaul at his disposal, became immensely wealthy, and used his treasure to fund his own political faction. Henceforth, the result of elections was determined largely by which candidate had the most money to bribe the electorate. In 49 B.C., the system collapsed completely, Caesar crossed the Rubicon -- and the rest, as they say, is ancient history.
It may be that the Roman republic was doomed in any case. But the disproportionate reaction to the raid on Ostia unquestionably hastened the process, weakening the restraints on military adventurism and corrupting the political process. It was to be more than 1,800 years before anything remotely comparable to Rome's democracy -- imperfect though it was -- rose again.
The Lex Gabinia was a classic illustration of the law of unintended consequences: it fatally subverted the institution it was supposed to protect. Let us hope that vote in the United States Senate does not have the same result.
Robert Harris is the author, most recently, of "Imperium: A Novel of Ancient Rome."
Remember the days when "getting Slashdotted" was every sysadmin's worst nightmare? Referrals from the "News for Nerds" website would send so much traffic to websites that many crashed. But for those that survived the flood, it was the online equivalent of a papal benediction. Today, the buzz has moved elsewhere. Slashdot's editor-driven story selection model is being supplanted by user-generated systems such as Digg. According to recent Alexa data, Digg already has more daily reach and generates more page views than Slashdot. Malda knows his subject, and he's a good editor, but in the end, he's just no match for the power of the multitudes.
It's not big news; I just thought a lot of you would enjoy it, and would avoid the front page and miss it.
A crusty old Sergeant Major found himself at a gala event hosted by a local Liberal arts college. There was no shortage of extremely young, idealistic ladies in attendance, one of whom approached the Sergeant Major for conversation.
She said, "Excuse me, Sergeant Major, but you seem to be a very serious man. Is something bothering you ?" "Negative, Ma'am," The Sergeant Major said, "Just serious by nature." "The young lady looked at his awards and decorations and said, "It looks like you have seen a lot of action."
The Sergeant Major's short reply was, "Yes, ma'am, a lot of action."
The young lady, tiring of trying to start up a conversation, said, "You know, You should lighten up a little. Relax and enjoy yourself."
The Sergeant Major just stared at her in his serious manner.
Finally the young lady said, "You know, I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but when is the last time you had sex?" The Sergeant Major looked at her and replied, "1955."
She said, "Well, There you are. You really need to chill out and quit taking everything so seriously! I mean, No sex since 1955! She took his hand and led him to a private room where she proceeded to "relax" him several times.
Afterwards, and panting for breath, she leaned against his bare chest and said, "Wow, you sure didn't forget much since 1955!"
The Sergeant Major, glancing at his watch, said in his matter-of-fact voice, "I hope not, it's only 2130 now."
a lesson for you
My wonderful girlfriend and I had been dating for over a year, and so we decided to get married. There was only one little thing bothering me. It was her beautiful younger sister.
My prospective sister-in-law was twenty-two, wore very tight miniskirts, and generally was bra less. One day "little" sister called and asked me to come over to check the wedding invitations. She was alone when I arrived, and she whispered to me that she had feelings and desires for me that she couldn't overcome.
She told me that she wanted to make love to me just once before I got married and committed my life to her sister.
Well, I was in total shock, and couldn't say a word. She said, "I'm going upstairs to my bedroom, and if you want one last wild fling, just come up and get me." I was stunned and frozen in shock as I watched her go up the stairs.
When she reached the top she pulled off her panties and threw them down the stairs at me. I stood there for a moment, then turned and made a beeline straight to the front door.
I opened the door, and headed straight towards my car.
Lo and behold, my entire future family was standing outside, all clapping!
With tears in his eyes, my future father-in-law hugged me and said, we are very happy that you have passed our little test.....we couldn't ask for a better man for our daughter. Welcome to the family."
And the moral of this story is:
Always keep your condoms in your car........
I recently picked a new primary care doctor. After two visits and exhaustive lab tests, he said I was doing "fairly well" for my age.
A little concerned about that comment, I couldn't resist asking him, "Do you think I'll live to be 80?"
He asked, "Do you smoke tobacco, or drink beer or wine?"
"Oh no," I replied. "I'm not doing drugs, either."
Then he asked, "Do you eat rib-eye steaks and barbecued ribs?"
I said, "No, my former doctor said that all red meat is very unhealthy!"
"Do you spend a lot of time in the sun, like playing golf, sailing, hiking, or bicycling?"
"No, I don't," I said.
He asked, "Do you gamble, drive fast cars, or have a lot of sex?"
"No," I said. "I don't do any of those things."
He looked at me and said, "Then, why do you give a shit?"
I need to work on some more bad habits.
The mind-boggling assininity of real soap operas has crept into my parody, and I can't stand to go on with it.
Another related thing that came up and pissed me off. When I was hired, she was concerned about hiring me for the position that was available because it didn't have the senior title that many of my coworkers had, and I easily had the resume for a senior position. She said that after a couple of years, she could probably justify promoting me to senior. Sounded good. I was just happy to get a job before I lost my house. Last year at my performance review I asked if I was still on track for that promotion and she assured me that I was, but that it would take another year or so to justify it. During this meeting we talked about the possibility of promotion again, and now it seems that I need to perform at Superior for a few years in order to get it. I'm pretty sure I was just Very Good last year, and she said in this meeting that while she's not satisfied with my performance, I'm Good to Very Good now. I guess next year it will take five years of Godlike to justify it. Not to mention the fact that, WTF?, I'm in trouble for having merely Good to Very Good performance. She called a special meeting to discuss the problem.
Maybe this is the key. Maybe instead of just doing my job, I need to be a drama queen and get all pissy whenever someone does something, or fails to do something, that inconveniences me or makes me feel that it should have been done some other way. Maybe if I do that, she'll feel like I'm putting in a Superior performance. Maybe I should just remember that it's a government job and that while no matter what I do, I'm not going to be rewarded, I *do* have a job for life, and I won't have to worry about being able to buy groceries (at least not until near the end of the month) and just shut the fuck up.
It's not that I can't take criticism. It's just that I'd like to have some fucking chance of understanding it when I get it. If I get some semi-coherent criticism, I'll let you know if I can take it. Maybe I can't, but so far there's no danger of finding out.
*click* *click* There's no place like academia. There's no place like academia...
Anyway, *whine* *whine* *bitch* *bitch*, poor me.
On the positive side, I bowled pretty well today, and we won both games. I was about 10 points above average in the first game and about 30 points above in the second. He was a little below his average in both games, and our opponents were both below theirs.
I'm going to get another beer and go kill some stuff.
Nicci and I are no longer dating. We broke up amicably during the holidays. We're still good friends; we're just not right for each other, and neither of us really wants or needs a relationship right now. She's moved out and is gradually moving all of her stuff to the new place. I'm going back to the plan I had last spring after blue died of spending some quality time alone, enjoying my personal space.
Work is still there. I'm glad it's Friday. We upgraded the OS on nearly all the machines in the department during our winter holiday, and I upgraded the cluster software and completely reconfigured the clusters. Actually, I set up the cluster change in advance, so that the person who was actually getting paid to work during the holiday (as opposed to all the rest of us who were logging in from home to work for free) could just rename two directories before restarting all the machines after the OS upgrade and it would pretty much happen on its own. Of course, we had several people bitching that they couldn't get cluster jobs to run, either because they ignored the half-dozen warnings we sent out or somehow thought they didn't apply to them.
I'm in the doghouse at work, too. Apparently I'm doing such a poor job of supporting the clusters that my boss thought I was depressed and blowing off my job. She had a vague feeling that I just wasn't doing a good job, which isn't much of a problem; she has these completely baseless hunches sometimes, but she doesn't take them too seriously because she knows she can be kind of flaky. This time, though, she received complaints from some users to back up her hunch. Then to seal the deal, some of my coworkers have complained that I'm not doing a good job. I guess I suck. She didn't have anything specific for me, but I'm supposed to go back through all the email for the last month or two and figure out what I'm not doing right. We'll have another meeting in two weeks to discuss my progress.
In completely unrelated *cough* work news, comparing the cluster stats from now and from when I started, we have about 10 times the number of users, more than 25 times the computing load, offer more services, and have a custom job priority system in place, all of this, in part, because I've talked to users to find out what they needed and helped them to bring more of their jobs onto the cluster, while I'm slacking, of course.
Austin is still great. We're in a pretty bad drought, but it's hard to complain about 75F and sunny in January, at least until the city burns down. South By Southwest is approaching again. I have no idea if I'll go, and if I do, whether or not I'll do anything other than the free shows. I'm not sure I'll have the time off or the money for it, and blue killing herself in my house while I was at a show last year has tainted the festival for me a bit.
I still haven't gone back to school, despite the fact that I can take one free class each semester and get time off to do it. It's very tardly behaviour (why the hell do I always type that word with the British spelling?).
My high-level WarCrack (Alliance) characters are a little stagnant. Well, my 60 rogue is stagnant like New Jersey landfill tire water; the 58 paladin much less so, but he only plays with Nicci's hunter, which is a little harder to coordinate now that we're not cohabitating. They're to the point that nearly every quest they have is in a high-level instance, so they need a good group to do them, but there's hardly ever anyone else from the guild online long enough to do anything. It's a very small guild and not terribly active. Unfortunately, I don't know anyone on Garona who's not in my guild. I guess I'll have to start questing with random strangers if I ever want to go anywhere interesting -- blech!, or switch to playing the little Tauren druid I have, who was invited to join The Knights Who Say "Moo". They always have people on, and the ones I've dealt with so far have been nice and not too serious. I still love the game, but at the moment, I'm a little tired of grinding by myself (hehe), if you know what I mean.
That's a long gorram post. I think I'll shut up for another nine months now.
Word of the Day for Tuesday January 10, 2006
dubiety \doo-BY-uh-tee; dyoo-\, noun:
1. The condition or quality of being doubtful or skeptical.
2. A matter of doubt
Kennedy and O'Connor may think that Title 3 has been violated, but O'Connor and the chief justice are not convinced that the Supreme Court was meant to litigate challenges under that federal statute, and their dubiety here is shared by Justices Scalia and Souter.
--Hadley Arkes, "A Morning at the Court," National Review, December 2, 2000
Despite a lack of forensic evidence, dubiety among the police themselves and inaccuracies in Raymond's confession, he was finally found guilty.
--Maggie Barry, "I've been a screen for the person who killed Pamela," The Mirror, August 10, 2002
Here, the historical evidence would seem to be tricky but free from all dubieties.
--Paul Taylor, "A mechanical science lesson," Independent, November 21, 2001
I want every inconsistency, every dubiety, every ambiguity left in.
--David Maclean, quoted in David Hencke, "Tories plot hunt bill dirty tricks," The Guardian, January 17, 2001