The erosion of definition

At work we’re preparing for an upcoming customer review of our project. It ought to be a fairly standard thing, but after a program reorganization this year and last year, we lost a solid century of systems engineering experience to attrition and were organized under managers with a solid zero seconds of systems engineering experience. So: not ideal, but not impossible. There is opportunity in change.

Anyway, suffice it to say that it didn’t work out like that. Selah.

One thing that came up in a dry run for the review presentation is that some of the values we were using to explain our status on the project (basically just what percentage of our work was completed) no longer made much sense. Over the course of the summer, they started to drift a little—which is understandable if your leaders don’t know what the systems engineering status numbers mean. And that’s just in the general sense—every program’s definition of what done means is insane in its own way. With experience you learn to just deal with that, and try to stay on the top side of your board as the waves hit.

As the review approached, panic set in and the definition of done for required task statuses started to drift week to week, day to day, faster than the team’s ability to digest the changes. The culmination was a series of review slides with new terms,
numbers that didn’t add up. General confusion. Human sacrifice. Dogs and cats living together. Mass hysteria. I still don’t understand how we’re going to straighten it out.

Back up a step. Last year I started working on a side project to help the main project. I knew, from experience, that as the final review approached, there wouldn’t be time to constantly calculate status, never mind do the harder, more abstract work of deciding what status means. That has to be worked out before you start the calculation. So I ended up writing a few thousand lines of code that could query our databases and tell us where we were, from the top level of doneness to the doneness of each individual thing we needed to do. It was the first real software project I had executed in my life—maybe my second or third favorite professional accomplishment.

First was arguing with teammates about definitions of done. And I mean arguing in a positive way—presenting my case about how things should be defined, and being right about some things and wrong about others, each convincing the other until a steady state was reached. I don’t like to be told I’m wrong—hate it—but it’s a satisfying feeling to relax and open up to the possibility and then believe it when it’s true. And with code to lock in the definitions, the definition can be enforced. I can’t believe that’s not obvious. But some people prefer to run the calculation by hand (“by hand”, well, by Excel, but not necessarily the same way every time).

But the downside of working in a stodgy industry is that code is magic at best, totally made up at worst. The new regime hated the idea of code. There was a separate division that handled tools. We can’t waste our time with that. Real quote: I thought your code was just making up numbers.

It’s all a little bit of drama, but the point is this: you should lay out definitions in an algorithmic form and get the team to buy off on them. If the customer doesn’t buy off on them and want their own definitions—that’s fine, it’s just an interface to your own definitions. And, for the love of whatever you find holy, automate the things that don’t need an interpersonal relationship. Make your own tools to do it, because you learn the nuances of the problem by making tools—definitions that appeared simple on the face can be recognized as their complicated selves when you have to work through all of the conditions. Besides, it’s more fun to create than to consume.

Now reading: The Paris Review Interviews, Volume 1

It’s not the first time I’ve checked out this volume of The Paris Review Interviews. I doubt it will be the last. I think I’ll buy my own copy so I don’t wear out the library’s.

The interviews are fine literature on their own. They’re mixed and edited and laid back down in an interview Q&A format to create a good story. It’s how I imagine that I’d like to do interviews—although I don’t know if that feeling came before or after being exposed to these. I think Cal Fussman does a fine thing with interviews in Esquire also: “What I’ve Learned“. I suspect the average person would want to have an interview to be more like a transcript—sometimes I also want that, when I want the information as it was stated, like traceable bits of data for reference—but there are other truths in the material that can be only be found through refinement, like metal from an ore.

Anyway, I suspect I’ll be posting some lines from the interviews here as I encounter them. They’re too good to keep to myself.

From end of the introduction by Philip Gourevitch:

There is hardly a more enjoyable way to spend one’s time, when not writing, than in the company of so much sheer intelligence demanding the best of itself.


From “Dorothy Parker, The Art of Fiction No. 13” (Summer 1956):

As for me, I’d like to have money. And I’d like to be a good writer. These two can come together, and I hope they will, but if that’s too adorable, I’d rather have money. I hate almost all rich people, but I think I’d be darling at it.

There’s a hell of a distance between wisecracking and wit. Wit has truth in it; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words.

Database is not understanding, but a view of understanding

Following up on Human is not database, database is not human

Regarding the horrible non-intersection of databases and people at work, there are two main examples that I see every day: (1) requirements database; (2) status data.

As a systems engineer, I manage our “what is this machine supposed to do anyway” specifications in a requirements database. Back in the day, this would have strictly been a document, with topics organized by numbered headers (referred to as paragraph numbers). Over time these paragraphs were atomized into sentences and pushed into a database, each sentence getting a requirementID number. You can roughly guess someone’s age at work based on how much they insist on referring to paragraph numbers.
There’s a part of me that used to think of this an anachronism—get with the program, old guys—because I was brought up in the industry strictly using the requirements database.

I don’t think like that anymore. Something was lost in the conversion—not necessarily information about the system itself (we can build the same thing in either format), but an understanding of how the various parts cohered into a whole. Systems engineers get caught up in requirementIDs and verificationIDs and it doesn’t mean much to the people who do the work. The design engineers humor us because they have to—it’s the systems engineering accounting of doneness that the customer uses to determine whether the design is done. (For good or ill.) But ask the systems engineer what the requirements mean, or how they interact, or any of the technical details how how to prove that the design does what the requirements want, and too often you receive a stare that looks like one of those deep sea fish roused from its habitat by nosy human in a submarine.

Anyway: there is a better way to bridge that gap, to transform the light-reading descriptive information to the technical model information to the design status information. There are different views of the same data, if you want there to be. To do so requires more interpersonal work than technical work, really. But it’s so much easier to disregard the people and give them simply what your database architecture was designed to hold. That’s wrongheaded and I’m going to fix it.

Regarding status data… put briefly, there has to be a better, more humane way to communicate to management about the status of [insert here] that is neither too rigid for the status giver (no more forms, no more spreadsheets, no more databases, PLEASE), nor too loose for the status maintainer (the poor person who has to design the system for keeping the information) nor too incomprehensible for the status user (who will torment us all with eroding definitions of what they want when they don’t understand what they’ve got). It all gets held in a database (an Excel spreadsheet mostly), but never gets translated well from that format. It feels—and is— rigid. Yet the definitions and implementations are sloppy, which is ironic, something rigid should be easy to define because by definition it’s not very malleable.

Human is not database, database is not human

Seth Godin published an article recently that touched on something I’ve been thinking. And it gave me a phrase to steal to describe it. Machine Unreadable.

Databases are useful. I use them every day. I’m taking a class to learn how to use them well, to do more sophisticated things with them. But they’re not for all things.

At work, an important point that is often forgotten is that people are involved in the work. Information gets jammed into a database whether it belongs there or not, and that information, even though it might be complete and correct, can become incomprehensible—incomprehensible to a reader, to a user, to a maintainer.

How often at work do we load up a spreadsheet with a database output, fuss with the colors and borders a bit, and then send it off to an unwitting person to fill the rest in? Too often. And the table doesn’t mean anything to the person that receives it. It barely means anything to us who own the data. But the Word of the Database is Law, especially to the managers who summarize it for the Holy Powerpoint. It is spoken of authoritatively in hushed tones. It is mysterious and awesome. It is bogus.

I wish we spent more time thinking about what the data means—especially to the people we share it with. I think it’s a mark of distinction when a person asks, “Why are we doing this?” when we send data in an esoteric format that is destined to be ignored or misunderstood. (Which one is worse?) If we want to solve problems, we—the data and database owners—ought to feel more responsible for being understood. At the very least, it’s the humane thing to do.

I could riff on this for a while. It’s something that gives me fits at work. The idea, if not the implementation, seems so simple and obvious: translation. If not everyone can or wants to use the central information in the same format then it’s silly to do that. Like language translation, some might be formulaic, some might be art. Whatever the case, spare a thought for the humans involved.

Follow up: Database is not understanding, but a view of understanding

Resurrecting another alumni club

Last year it was the St. Louis Illini Club, the local University of Illinois alumni group. (More action on the Facebook page, actually. Nevermind that UI is the alma mater of Andreesen, Levchin, Ozzie, the university decided on some garbage software for the alumni clubs.) A group of about eight of us took a moribund club and flipped it.

This year, it’s the International Space University USA alumni club. After a few years of disrepair, it’s time to put that one back together as well. I ran it with some friends back in 2009-2010, but it has since drifted into inactivity. No one was running it, so… why not me?


Why #1: Why do these things fall apart?

Why #2: Why do I like putting them back together again?

The second one is easier. It’s fun. It’s fun to organize people. It’s fun to connect people. It’s fun to fix things up. There’s some utility—get to meet people, create opportunity—but I’m not even that interested in using the opportunity for myself. That’s all. And for me it fills in something I don’t get at work—getting to lead and organize and strategize and execute. Without it, I’d go crazy.

The first one is easy and hard to understand. Easy: people get busy. Kids, work, etc. It happens. Hard to understand: responsibility is responsibility. If you stand up for something, you should finish the deal. I’m 100% on that either. But the point stands: when you’re being counted on, you must close.

There’s one more reason I like putting together organizations even more than creating a new one. It’s the… archaeological element to it. Find an organization that is interesting, functionally dead but some of the physical (or digital) ruins are still there. Dig through the pieces, try to understand what the people who came before you were thinking, what they were feeling, what they were hoping to accomplish when the invested their time and energy in the organization. Find and save the traditions. Create new ones. Draw a line from where they were to where you are and on into the future. Creating and recreating.

But again, mostly, it’s just fun to do the work.


ESPN: Yasiel Puig’s journey from demotion to World Series

Yasiel Puig is the kind of guy you can only like if he’s on your team. If he’s on the other team—no way, forget about it. But he plays for the Dodgers, so: go get ’em.

When he got sent down to AAA in 2016, I thought the probability of him coming back to play in the major leagues was low, at least as a major player. He already seemed unfocused. Falling off the top is hard. (I assume.) It must be hard on the mind to perform with the best, and then have it slip, and slip, and slip, watching the peak fall away as you try to arrest the fall. I didn’t expect him back.

So: good for him for putting it back together.

When I am king, part 1: engineers will make coffee


The engineers of the world will be lined up in stocks.

And we will run the almost-empty coffee pot from the common kitchen under their nose. We will let them breathe from the sticky black coffee/tar that lines the bottom of the pot.

And we will ask them: did you make a new pot of coffee today?

We already know that the answer is no. Unicorns, the perpetual motion machine, Santa Claus, and engineers who make coffee when the pot is empty—none of them exist.

We will get to the bottom of this.

We will give them The Fear.

When I am king.

Hygiene factors in action

I finished reading Work and the Nature of Man by Frederick Herzberg two weeks ago. Since then, the universe has decided to give some lessons in how it works in order to bring the point home.

In short, Herzberg’s two points are: (a) hygiene factors are the baseline things at work that can cause dissatisfaction if missing, but not increase satisfaction much if they are present (job security, salary, work conditions, etc.); (b) motivation factors are the things that cause satisfaction, but not increase dissatisfaction much if they are missing (responsibility, meaningful work, etc.). The idea is that you can’t look at work from a single angle to understand job satisfaction. Rough idea.

So at work, they eliminated the numbered parking spaces (unless you’re an executive). I haven’t been at the company long enough to get one. The minimum service time for that is at least ten years, maybe fifteen, and the people that have been working there thirty years have a decent spot closer to the door.

Had a spot.

Maybe there’s a good reason for it. The mass email we got explained things like safety and cost and some other reasons I don’t remember. Widely derided. Especially by the people who lost their spots, who think that the hand in the middle of their back is pushing them just a little harder now to leave so that the company doesn’t have to pay their higher salaries anymore. It was a nice benefit, even if I didn’t get it, even though I get to park closer now. Right or wrong—it’s the feeling that lingers.

Here are some notes I pulled from the book:

How comfortable it is to be able to earn a living today on yesterday’s knowledge, but how often this leads to obsolescence. [Chapter 5: Psychological Growth]

It is in the exposure to the unfamiliar that we look for evidence of psychological growth. Is it not legitimate to ask, after a job assignment, whether an employee has learned anything–has he in this case added to what he knows? For success does not necessarily accompany psychological growth, while very often failure gives rise to considerable growth. To be sure, all tasks do not provide much in the way of the unfamiliar, particularly because jobs today are so very much overstructured. [Chapter 5: Psychological Growth]

Of course, attention to hygiene needs is important, for without it any organization will reap the consequences of unhappy personnel. The error lies in assuming that prevention will unleash positive feelings the the returns of increased creativity, productivity, lowered absenteeism and turnover, and all the other indices of manpower efficiency. [Chapter 9: What Do We Do?]

But, in addition to the compounding of the problems of industry that result from an inadequate definition of employee needs, there is the additional damage of sloughing off too much of man’s creativity. Initially this reduction in creativity is looked upon as the controlled used of man’s Abraham nature, because management fears that the need to be creative would run roughshod over the rational administration of the company. Typically, the creative man has been restricted and channeled to serve narrow and specific purposes of the company. This restriction and channeling may then lead to bureaucratic goals that are not designed to provide for the most efficient use of creativity but rather are actuated by fear of it. No institution can long remain dominant or successful if it overdetermines the control of man’s creativity and his achievement nature. I can quote, perhaps, no better authority than a man who certainly should have learned this lesson well. He is András Hegedüs, the former Prime Minister of Hungary during the Stalin era. In a recent study entitled Optimization and Humanization on the Modernization of Management Systems, Hegedüs concludes that “if optimization comes into the foreground, humanistic motives will be pushed into the background and, as a result, bureaucracy will become preponderant and finally the interests of optimization itself will be damaged.”[Chapter 9: What Do We Do?]


Pride in work, in successful accomplishment, in maximizing one’s talent, is becoming gauche or, tragically, it is becoming a victim of progress. We cry for the nurturing of human talent and find that we have no place for most of it; human talent on the job has become as much a surplus commodity as wheat. And where are our personnel managers? Their problem is hygiene, not the creative function of maximizing human resources.

The Protestant ethic is being replaced by an avoidance ethic in our world of work, and those in charge of personnel utilization have almost totally directed their efforts to maintenance procedures. This is seen at the very outset of employment, in the practice of college recruitment on the campus: each company sets up its own enticing tent, and selection is transformed into public relations, the luring of candidates, and what has become in fact the incredible situation in which the candidate interviews the interviewer.

Job-attitude data suggests that after the glow of the first year on the job, job satisfaction plummets to its lowest level in the work life of individuals. From a lifetime of diverse learning, successive accomplishments through the various academic stages and periodic reinforcement of efforts, the entrant to our modern companies finds a situation in which work does not provide an expanding psychological existence but, in fact, the opposite occurs, and successive amputations of his self-conceptions, aspirations, learning and talent are the consequences of earning a living. As the needs and values of our industrial enterprises have become the template for so many aspects of our lives, the universities are preparing many young people by performing the amputations early. The university graduates enter already primed for work only as a means of hygienic improvement, or, for those who are still capable of enjoying the exercise of their human talents, as a means of affording satisfaction off the job. If the number of management-development programs designed to re-educate managers is a valid sign, the educational system has done its job only too well.[Chapter 9: What Do We Do?]

Another teaching objective of the division of motivation would be to alter the basis of loyalty to the company from that embedded, in a sense, in hygiene to that of a more mature loyalty based on self-fulfillment. The quotation from professors Yadov and Zdravomyslov is most pertinent here. They felt that the Soviet workers who found little challenge in their jobs could not be motivated by appeals to their loyalty to the social value of their work. If the Russians can admit to such a conclusion, perhaps the leaders of our free-enterprise organizations can glimpse this truth once they honestly view their industrial relations.[Chapter 9: What Do We Do?]

(Ref: “A case study of attitude to labor”, Problems of Philosophy)

A discredited direction to job enlargement has been the addition of meaningless snippets of various activities to a job. This approach serves more to aggravate the condition than to ameliorate it. Two are three meaningless activities do not add up to a meaningful one.[Chapter 9: What Do We Do?]

I might add that many of the barriers to the fuller utilization of manpower that are “justified” by economic reasons are, in reality, devices of fearful and inadequate managers who are not prepared to meet the challenge of managing adults. [Chapter 9: What Do We Do?]

This is the entire appendix, which explains the factors

Appendix: First-Level Factors

As has been indicated, we define a first-level factor as an objective element of the situation in which the respondent finds a source for his good or bad feelings about the job, In this section we attempt to describe the criteria for each of our categories, so that the reader can understand what we mean when we refer to them in the discussion of our findings. These factors are listed not in the order of their importance but of their appearance in our coding scheme.

1. Recognition. The major criterion for this category was some act of recognition of the person speaking to us. The source could be almost anyone: a supervisor, another individual in management, management as an impersonal force, a client, a peer, a professional colleague or the general public. Some act of notice, praise or blame was involved. We felt that this category should include what we call “negative recognition,” that is, acts of criticism or blame. In our subcategories we differentiated be- tween situations in which rewards were given along with the acts of recognition and those in which there were no concrete re- wards. Note that we had many sequences in which the central event was a certain act, such as a promotion or a wage increase, which was not itself accompanied by verbal recognition but which was perceived by the respondent as a source of feelings of recognition. These sequences were coded under “recognition second level.”

One might ask, since we had a separate category for inter- personal relations, where we coded recognition and where we coded interpersonal relations. The defining characteristic was the emphasis on the act of recognition or on the characteristics of interaction. When the story included statements characterizing the nature of the interaction between the respondent and the supervisor, peer or subordinate, we coded the sequence as a story involving interpersonal relations. When the emphasis was merely on the act of recognition, this was not done.

2. Achievement. Our definition of achievement included also its opposite, failure, and the absence of achievement. Stories involving a specifically mentioned success were put into this category, and these included the following: successful completion of a job, solutions to problems, vindication and seeing the results of one’s work.

3. Possibility of growth. The inclusion of a possibility as an objective factor in the situation may sound paradoxical, but there were some sequences in which the respondent told us of changes in his situation involving objective evidences that the possibilities for his growth were increased or decreased. An illustration of this is a change in status that officially included a likelihood that the respondent would be able to rise in a company, or the converse. For example, if a man moves from a craftsman’s position to that of a draftsman, the new status opens up a previously closed door; he may eventually rise to the position of design engineer or perhaps even of project engineer. When the respondent told us that this had been clearly presented to him as part of his change, then possibility of growth was certainly considered as a first-level factor. Similarly, when an individual was told that his lack of formal education made it impossible for him ever to advance in the company, “negative” possibility for growth was coded.

Possibility of growth, however, has another connotation. It includes not only the likelihood that the individual would be able to move onward and upward within his organization but also a situation in which he is able to advance in his own skills and in his profession. Thus, included in this category were stories in which a new element in the situation made it possible for the respondent to learn new skills or to acquire a new professional outlook.

4. Advancement. This category was used only when there was an actual change in the person’s status or position in the company. In situations in which an individual transferred from one part of the company to another, with no change in status but with increased opportunities for responsible work, the change was considered an increased responsibility (for which we have a category) but not formally an advancement.

5. Salary. This category included all sequences of events in which compensation plays a role. Surprisingly enough, virtually all of these sequences involve wage or salary increases, or the unfulfilled expectation of salary increases.

6—8. Interpersonal relations. One might expect that interpersonal relations would pervade almost all of the sequences. They do play a role, necessarily, in situations involving recognition or changes in status within the company or company and management policies; however, we restricted our coding of interpersonal relations to those stories in which there was actual verbalization about the characteristics of the interaction between the person speaking and another individual. We set this up in terms of three major categories:

Interpersonal relations—superior

Interpersonal relations—subordinate

Interpersonal relations—peers.

Within each of these categories we used a series of subcategories, to describe various kinds of situations involving interaction between the person speaking and others. These subcategories would have enabled us to differentiate between the characteristics of interpersonal relationships that are purely social and those that are “sociotechnical,” as defined by J. A. C. Brown. A sociotechnical story involves interpersonal relationships that arise when people interact in the performance of their jobs. A purely social story might relate interactions that take place during working hours and on the premises of work but are independent of the activities of the job. A coffee-break friendship or a water- cooler feud are examples. As it turned out, we had virtually no stories of the purely social kind. Whether this result was due in some way to the set produced by our interviewing instructions, whether this is a characteristic of the level of people to whom we spoke, or whether in fact the nature of extra-job interpersonal relationships in the plant does not play so great a role as has been assumed, it is not at present possible to determine.

9. Supervision-technical. Although it is difficult to divorce the characteristics of interpersonal relationships with one’s super- visor from one’s behavior in carrying out his job, it seemed to us that it was not an impossible task. We were able, with a high degree of reliability among independent coders, to identify those sequences of events that revolved around the characteristics of interpersonal relationships and those, classified under the cate- gory of supervision-technical, in which the competence or incompetence, the fairness or unfairness, of the supervisor were the critical characteristics. Statements about the supervisor’s willingness or unwillingness to delegate responsibility, or his willingness or unwillingness to teach, would be classified under this category. A supervisor who is perpetually nagging or critical and a super- visor who keeps things running smoothly and efficiently might both be reported as factors in a sequence of events that led to exceptional feelings about the job.

10. Responsibility. Factors relating to responsibility and authority are covered in this category, which includes those sequences of events in which the person speaking reported that he derived satisfaction from being given responsibility for his own work or for the work of others or from being given new responsibility. It also includes stories in which there was a loss of satisfaction or a negative attitude toward the job stemming from a lack of responsibility. However, in cases in which the story revolved around a wide gap between a person’s authority and the authority he needed to carry out his job responsibilities, the factor identified was “company policy and administration.” The rationale for this was that such a discrepancy between authority and job responsibilities would be considered evidence of poor management.

11. Company policy and administration. This category describes those components of a sequence of events in which some over-all aspect of the company was a factor. We identified two kinds of over-all company policy and administration characteristics. One involved the adequacy or inadequacy of company organization and management. Thus, a situation can exist in which a man has lines of communication crossing in such a way that he does not really know for whom he is working, in which he has inadequate authority for satisfactory completion of his task or in which a company policy is not carried out because of inadequate organization of the work. The second kind of over-all characteristic of the company involved not inadequacy but the harmfulness or the beneficial effects of the company’s policies. These are primarily personnel policies. When viewed negatively, these policies are not described as ineffective, but rather as “malevolent.”

12. Working conditions. This category was used for stories in which the physical conditions of work, the amount of work or the facilities available for doing the work were mentioned in the sequence of events. Adequacy or inadequacy of ventilation, lighting, tools, space and other such environmental characteristics would be included.

13. Work itself. This category was used when the respondent mentioned the actual doing of the job or the tasks of the job as a source of good or bad feelings about it. Thus, jobs can be routine or varied, creative or stultifying, overly easy or overly difficult. The duties of a position can include an opportunity to carry through an entire operation or they can be restricted to one minute aspect of it.

14. Factors in personal life. As previously indicated, we did not accept sequences in which a factor in the personal life of an individual having nothing to do with his job was responsible for a period of good or bad feelings, even if these feelings affected the job. We did accept situations in which some aspect of the job affected the individual’s personal life in such a way as to make the effect a factor in the respondent’s feelings about his job. For example, if the company demanded that a man move to a new location in a community in which his family was unhappy, this was accepted as a valid sequence of events and was coded under the “personal life” category. Similarly, family needs for salary and Other family problems stemming from the job situation were acceptable.

15. Status. It would have been easy to slip into the trap of inferring status consideration from other factors. For example, it might be considered that any advancement would involve a change in status and ought to be thus coded. This was not done. “Status” was coded only when the respondent actually mentioned some sign or appurtenance of status as a factor in his feelings about the job. Thus, a person who spoke of having a secretary in his new position, of being allowed to drive a company car or of being unable to use a company eating facility gave us a story coded under this category.

16. Job security. Here again we were not dealing with feelings of security, since these were coded as second-level factors, but with objective signs of the presence or absence of job security. Thus, we included such considerations as tenure and company stability or instability, which reflected in some objective way on a person’s job security.

Jud Jud out of the blue

There are songs in your life that exist not just as an audio memory, but a spatial memory. Music so arresting that it’s not just the notes you remember, but the place where you heard it, the people you were with, the layout of the room or car or wherever you were at the time.

There are a few that come to mind immediately. “Waving My Dick in the Wind” by Ween—in an Oldsmobile with Tom and Dayvo, heading east on I-74, en route to Chicago, 1999. “Golden Age” by Beck, heading north out of Mojave, May 2005. “Karate” by Tenacious D after being pulled over for speeding in Yellowstone (but being released because the temporary construction speed limit sign had blown over).

(Side note: damn near everything is a spatial memory for me. I don’t know how it works for you, but so many memories in my brain are geotagged and full of x,y,z orientation. I did not ask for this.)

David Anthony posted this on Vice earlier this week: “The Story of Jud Jud, the World’s Only A Capella, Straight-Edge Hardcore Band“. And the music (“music”) welled up from a neuron that had long been left for dead.








Jud Jud. At Seb and Leia’s. Pre-kid(s?), post-dog. It’s all right there.

And hearing it again seven or eight years later brings back the same reaction: a half minute of curiosity (unique and original, no?), followed by the fifteen-minutes-into-a-shaggy-dog-story feeling of I’ve-just-been-suckered-into-a-joke-now-haven’t-I?, followed by a kind of weird respect for anyone that could take on a project like that earnestly.

You’re going to hate it.