Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I have a Twitter account, which apparently a LOT of people swear by as the "next big thing." I approached it with a more jaundiced eye. Anybody can check it out at, but don't expect any more insights than I would put out here - at least not yet.

One wag I read about said "it's a great chat utility." Oh, really? I guess so, but it's a chat session that unless you mark your account private, and KEEP IT private, anybody can it check out. Forever. Those suckers just don't have an erase button.

So, Twitter is a brick wall that you can spray-paint your musings for anyone to see - except unlike that brick wall, there's a permanent pointer going right back to you. One poster, apparently a grad student, posted this message for all to see:
Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work.
Now, as an email sent to your friends, this message is quite innocuous. However, as a Twitter post, well, it was more than a little careless. Cisco employees, who like to do Twitter searches on the word "Cisco" to see what's going down, weren't so amused. The Twitterer got a reply:
Who is the hiring manager. I'm sure they would love to know that you will hate the work. We here at Cisco are versed in the web.
Ouch. Apparently the offer was rescinded. The Twitterer tried to do some damage control by backpedaling on her website, but the damage was done.

I don't do a lot of posting to my own blog - it comes in fits and starts, but I'm not blessed with a lot of spare time. But I love to write and like to put my thoughts on the Internet. I'm a consultant, and I do a lot of traveling. It's not hard for people to go through my website, my blog, and my Flickr account to see where I've been. But I generally don't talk about my clients, out of respect for them. You saw my post about Des Moines yesterday; it was a generally upbeat piece. I don't want to trash the places where I work, unless I have a really good reason. (Dayton, Ohio might be the lone exception.) But it is amazing how people can get offended by the smallest slight.

The only real fear right now is that I also like to talk about politics. I make no secret that I lean conservative, and in the age of Obama that may be a dangerous thing. It's been hard to find work in this economy. And while the clients I work for tend to share my political leanings, that doesn't mean they can sit back and let me go on a right-wing rant. Banks can be a potential client, and if I happen to land a project with a bank that has received "stimulus" money from the Obama Administration, there might be some understandable reluctance from my client to let me go on a tear about stimulus packages. Do I bite the hand that feeds the hand that feeds me? It's a tough call all around.

Well, I'm not working for a stimulus package recipient, but it is sad that one has to think of these things in a free society.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tonight I’m at Java Joe’s, a coffee bar located in downtown Des Moines, where my current assignment is. This is Irish Music Tuesday, and several musicians are playing Irish reels and other selections.

Today at lunchtime I got my shoes shined. As I sat down, I asked him how he was doing, and he said, “Well, I have to tell you. I’m doing great for a man of 95.” I was amazed – first because I wouldn’t think he was older than 75 or so, and second that he was still working at his age. But he did a great job on my shoes. He started shining shoes at the age of 18, and charged 10 cents back then (he charged me $7.00 today). I remarked that you couldn’t buy anything for 10 cents anymore, and together we listed things that used to: candy bars, phone calls. He had lived in Des Moines since 1938, and done nothing but shine shoes all these years.

This is my second visit to Des Moines – but my first visit was in the early nineties, when I was visiting Meredith Corporation. I really didn’t recognize the town. You can walk all over downtown without ever getting hot, cold or wet, because there are a series of skywalks that move through most of the buildings downtown. It’s three blocks to my client, and all covered by skywalks.

It's not Florida, but it's certainly pleasant enough.