Random Thoughts

Want real reform? This is how.

Police are not the problem. The people making the laws are the problem. They choose where your money goes. For decades money has been channeled for political gain. Step over a dollar to pick up a dime.

I was a 911 operator for years. I heard call after call after call that never should have gone to the police. OF COURSE the police have had to weaponize and militarize – they have to protect themselves. OF COURSE they have had to hire more and more officers – they have to spend more time doing things that have ZERO to do with enforcing laws. Important things—things that have to be done by SOMEbody. Why does a sheriff’s deputy have to serve papers for civil court? Why does a police officer have to arrest that homeless man or take that drug addict to the hospital yet again, knowing that person has no real way out of their situation. Why does it take 3-4 hours a day to file paperwork on non-crime items like traffic accidents (AND, if they miss crossing a T, actual criminals walk… if they can afford a lawyer?).

If it doesn’t involve enforcing a criminal (not civil) law, why are we making our police do it?

What would happen in hospitals if we fired all the nurses and told the doctors to do all of the work themselves? Nurses are certainly not lesser jobs. They’re clearly needed. All of the important things they do keep the machine running and everybody knows it. But what if some politician said, we don’t need nurses. Doctors can do all the monitoring of their patients, and all the paperwork. They can respond every time that little button gets pushed. How easy would it be for the doctor to specialize? How could he focus on the most serious cases? Well, just hire more doctors, right? Instead of having the top 40% of each medical class become doctors, let the top 80% in. What harm could possibly come from that? So what if they didn’t do as well on their training? So what if that guy is a jerk to patients? We need more bodies! Let’s make our entry criteria even easier so we can take the top 90%.

This is how we get so many “bad apples” folks. And I don’t mean “bad people” – I mean there are people who were hired to do a job who were not suited for it or qualified for it who are in over their heads. I was a good 911 operator… for a while. Thank God I was self-aware enough to realize I didn’t like the person I was becoming. I simply wasn’t cut out for that line of work. I’m pretty smart and educated and capable – but there are some jobs I just shouldn’t do. I should not be a singer. I should/could not be a nurse (God Bless all y’all). But if I had to feed my family, and all the desk jobs were gone, but the hospital was hiring a thousand singing nurses and all I had to do was show up to the interview wearing pants… well, I think we can all imagine how THAT would be.

This is a lot longer than I set out to post. I think it’s important though. I get why people freak out about it. It’s hard to really understand because it’s a long game, not a short game. Politicians need quick wins so they’ll get re-elected next time, so they’ll always choose the option that will make them look good today – let tomorrow figure itself out.

You want real change? Defund the politicians. Better yet, defund the political parties. We’re at war with each other and most of us don’t know why. I don’t like abortion and I don’t like capital punishment, but I’m asked to choose between them. Having only two strong parties turns every single issue into black or white. Only the “far left” and the “far right” really believe in every single issue their party sides on—especially since so many are contradictions.

Changing the political landscape is a long game. Money will still be given hand over fist to the parties at a National level with the current regimes (and I mean BOTH of them). Change happens locally. Why does it freaking matter if a coroner is a Democrat or a Republican? Like any other doctor, I would like someone neutral doing autopsies, thank you! Why do we have parties listed on school board elections and for the local sheriff? We have ALLOWED this narrowness into our communities. We don’t listen to the candidates without their party labels—the labels that come with stereotypes and expectations.

Do you know what I want from a sheriff or a judge or a coroner? Impartiality. I want them to make decisions based on context and facts, not on maintaining an image that aligns with a party. I want a school board and local government who makes decisions that make sense for MY community, not basing it on needs for some big city 600 miles away.

You want real reform? Start with your local elections. Find out who the candidates are – don’t just flip a lever to red or blue. Get rid of the party structure locally and you’ll see change at the state and national levels in the future.

Travel, Travel Series

Europe – Eurostar High Speed Train

Eurostar High Speed Train

Trains. One thing we (and most travelers) love about Europe is the trains. We actually considered doing the entire trip by train, but we only had 3 weeks of vacation total, so we did fly around some. I had always wanted to take the Eurostar high speed train through the Chunnel (because why not?), so we opted for a detour on our way to Italy. Where better to celebrate our wedding anniversary than Paris?

At some point in the near future, I’m going to write an article about how we manage to do all this travel on a budget. My husband calls me the “extreme couponer of travel.” This particular expense, however, is definitely not one of those examples. Also, since he’s probably reading this, I’ll warn him to stop reading right now, because I never told him how much this little jaunt actually cost us.

Business Class Car

Knowing we have such a wish list for future trips and that we’d likely only do it once, we decided to splurge on Business Premiere for $365. Per person. So, at more than $700, let me just say that it is the most expensive breakfast I’ve ever had. Honestly, other than the food, the business class car was, well, kinda meh.

Like business class flying, there are some perks. However, we never used the exclusive business class lounge (the trip takes less than 3 hours). Nor did we take advantage of the taxi booking service (which we totally should have, but that’s another story).

The “fancy” seats?

Shame on me for not doing better research. I’m fairly certain we could have gone with Standard Premiere ($152-$183 pp), which also boasts “spacious seats.” The only other advantage the Premiere class has is flexibility, but I’m pretty sure that even if I had to pay a a change journey fee, it wouldn’t be nearly difference in cost between Standard and Business. Of course, next time I’ll probably just go Standard ($76-$136 pp) and spend that extra nearly $300 pp on something else!

I know, I know… I said I didn’t think we’d ever go again; however, now I say we’re quite likely to take train. While not the pinnacle of luxury, wow boy, is it ever convenient! You can get to both St. Pancras and Gare du Nord stations easily (we take taxis because I pack way too much luggage to mess with subway systems), it’s less than three hours between London and Paris, and the ride is so wonderfully smooth, even at nearly 300 kilometers per hour (186 mph). And if you’re afraid of the Chunnel, don’t worry. Even then the train goes 160 kph/100mph and the Chunnel is only 31 miles long. You’re out of it before you really realize it and back to enjoying the beautiful countryside.

$300 Breakfast

Next article in this series… Paris!

Travel, Travel Series

Europe – London

Charming Southampton

Once we said good-bye to the lovely Queen Mary 2, we set off on the first leg of our European adventure by train from Southampton to London. We had wrestled for quite some time about just hiring a car and visiting some of the wonderful bookstores in Wales; however, we knew The British Museum alone would eat an entire day.

Artists’ Colourmen – London

Having been to London, I tried to let this leg be all about what my husband, Wayne wanted to see. Plus, I always have so much fun visiting places through other people’s eyes! One thing we did all across Europe was visit every interesting-looking art store we happened upon. We found a gem right up the street from The British Museum. I picked up some new sketch pens that I carried around for the next two weeks without using even once. ::shrugs::

I think I have 200 pictures from inside The British Museum that I’m happy to bore anyone with if they ask, but since the Rosetta Stone gets asked about most, here it is – not nearly as large as one might picture. Plus? Doctor Who money!

In addition to museums, we did a lot of your typical touristy stuff, like paying way too much for lunch at Harrod’s, riding the tube (Mind the Gap!), and enjoying traveling by both double-decker bus and by taxi.

If you’ve never been to London, don’t even bother with an Uber. Taxi cab drivers in London are the best in the world. They know absolutely everything and are the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. And don’t you just want to say you’ve ridden in a hackney carriage? #BiggerOnTheInside However, weather permitting, walking London rocks.

Now I’m told the weather can be dreary in England, but I’ve never experienced that, having enjoyed lovely weather each visit. I think we had some clouds and sprinkles one day out of four; however, even on a cloudy day, the gardens around London are beautiful. One of the benefits of being your own travel agent is really getting to make the trip your own, so I purposefully booked a hotel right around the corner from Kensington Palace so I could see those gardens every day.

If I had any advice to give on travel in London, I would suggest:

  1. Four days is not nearly long enough for London. Next time we go for more than an airport layover, we’re taking two weeks, at least, with one whole week in London.
  2. Do a river cruise, for sure. You see things from a perspective hard to obtain otherwise.
  3. Take a taxi cab. Seriously.
  4. Get out of London. The United Kingdom in its entirety will take your breath away.
  5. T2 in London has tea that is NOT AVAILABLE in the United States. If I knew then, what I know now, I would have shipped myself a CASE of the Scots Breakfast tea.
  6. If you can time it right, see a play at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.
Cruising, Travel, Travel Series

Europe – Queen Mary 2 Transatlantic Voyage

In 2019, Wayne and I took a trip to Europe with our dear friends, Tess and Donald. Because I have a love of all things Art Deco and because, well, it’s a freaking OCEAN LINER, we decided to take the Queen Mary 2 across. Because we desperately needed some downtime from work and life, we completely unplugged the entire voyage. And, since I wasn’t carrying around my phone, we don’t have a ton of pictures. One morning, Wayne got up crazy early to get some pictures of the ship, so it looks like we were the only people on the ship! But OMZ the Art Deco! :::swoons:::

Some notable differences between a Cunard ocean liner and other cruises:

Tess and Donald
  1. The service – While we didn’t actually have the place to ourselves, QM2 does not feel crowded like a cruise ship.
  2. The decor and general upkeep – Art Deco gorgeous! I may have to redecorate my entire house now. #inspired
  3. Activities – Some of what we did: watercolor painting lessons, fencing lessons, participated in a fashion show, had proper afternoon tea, enjoyed a book club, indulged in the Godiva lounge, sampled port flights, went ballroom dancing (well, watching really – everyone was so good!)
  4. PLUS: The spa, the pool, and (yes, it really has one) the planetarium.
  5. A whole new meaning to “formal night” – There are parts of the ship (basically all but one deck) you’re not allowed to enter on formal nights if you don’t have the proper attire. They’re not joking.
  6. Entertainment – With the exception of one (omg they were really really bad) singing duo, the entertainment was great. I don’t recall other cruises having guest lectures.
  7. Alcohol – or lack thereof. One of the things I hate most about a Carnival cruise? Drunk people. Not on QM2. While most do enjoy a snifter of brandy or a martini after dinner, getting drunk would simply be gauche.
  8. The Roaring 20s:

Would we have changed anything? Not much.

  1. We went from NYC to Southampton on the first week of our trip. We all agree if (when) we go again, we would take the Southampton to NYC direction after visiting Europe, instead. Going from west to east, you lose an hour each day. Plus, Wayne and I were spent two weeks in Europe after the week-long voyage. We could have used the rest on the way home! And going east to west, we’d have one hour added each day; thus, we would have skipped the jet leg completely.
  2. Spend more girl time!! Tess and I were overly (unnecessarily) concerned about our husbands getting bored and didn’t get to spend that much time just the two of us. The first thing we wanted to do when we got back was plan our next girlfriends’ cruise (no offense, boys)!
  3. Select the second seating – We had the first seating, and with the formal nights, I had to be in the salon by around 3 PM to be ready for dinner. That really cuts into the day.

If you’re considering a transatlantic, and you’re not going all out for a Royal or Grand Duplex Queens Grills suite, I recommend a standard balcony room at the Britannia level. We were on the fence about Britannia club or Princess Grills, but the food is all the same and the service at all levels is white glove.

It was about 40 degrees freezing, no one else up on deck. The photographer laid down on her stomach IN A DRESS to get this shot.

Random Thoughts

What’s next?

I’m back!! W00t! My husband, Wayne and I are both back on social media after a crazy long hiatus. Truthfully, we have endured the most difficult couple of years in our entire lives. I’ve been silent for various reasons, but I think we’ve processed enough to be able to share and, hopefully, use our experiences to help others. I’ll get into all that eventually.

Living Proof Live 2015

But first, something positive. No period of time is all bad, just like none is all good, so I have a lot of various tidbits and interesting things I’m looking forward to blogging about. Today I’m super excited about two different Beth Moore events coming up this fall. If you have never heard of Beth, I highly recommend looking into her work. Her bible studies have made a tremendous impact on my life over the years. I don’t have a clue how just yet, but I am certain Beth will have some kind of influence in shaping my path on a project or event or “thing” I’m feeling led to do. That still small voice says the time is near and I’m excited to find out what it is!

So this fall, the first bit of awesomeness is Lifeway Women Live – a conference happening in Greenville, SC in August. While I’m looking forward to hearing Beth Moore, one of my other favorite and most influential writers, Priscilla Shirer, will also be there — as will Jen Wilkin, Jackie Hill Perry, Kelly Minter, and Jennifer Rothschild.

The second :::squee!!::: is a Living Proof Live New England Adventure. What a great new way to see Boston, Portland, and Bar Harbor, plus I’ll be seeing Saint John, New Brunswick (Bay of Fundy) and Halifax, Nova Scotia for the first time. And while Royal Caribbean is probably my least favorite cruise line (one of these days I’m going to get around to writing that post comparing various cruise lines), my time on the boat will be extraordinary, if not life changing.

Girlfriends’ NYC Trip – Erika, Grace, Donna, and Morgan

Sharing in both of these adventures is my sister-in-Christ, Grace, one of my dearest friends. We have been traveling together for more than 10 years now and we ALWAYS have a good time. This is going to be amazing!!

Agile, software development

Today’s Presentation: Navigating the Slippery Slope of Emergent Design #Agile #SoftwareDevelopment #DevNexus

IMG_1190 2We had a great day here in Atlanta for the DevNexus Conference. Venkat Subramaniam kicked off the morning with a funny and thoughtful keynote and I have learned so much in all of the presentations I’ve attended.

The organizers outdid themselves on speaker gifts this year – my favorite being the awesome personalized jersey.

The turnout for my 4:00 PM slot impressed me – by 4:00 at a conference like this, my brain is usually beyond full. I appreciated their interest and attentiveness! If the free building block toy giveaways helped at all, W00t!

Several people asked me if I would make the slide deck available. You can view the entire presentation below. If you want a downloadable version, just send me a private message and I’ll make sure you get it.

Travel

Maps Are Cool

Modern-Slate-World-Map-Canvas-36x24_540xSince we will be on vacation for our anniversary, we ordered our gift early – a little something to have fun with building up to the trip. I am extremely pleased with the quality of the product and the customer service we got from Conquest Maps.

The sleek, modern look of the map is accentuated by edging that gives the feel like it’s leather-bound. It has canvas stretched over cork on a wooden frame, which makes the map sturdy, without being overly cumbersome to hang (it weighs only around 12 pounds).

If you are hoping to flag every city or state you visit, this is probably not the map you need. Even at the larger 36″ x 24″ the map area detail itself is really more suitable for tracking countries. They do carry a nice United States map for folks interested in tracking states visited.

IMG_1158We found personalization easy enough; however, the wide-open design form field might overwhelm someone without a design background. Once ordered, we had proofs from the company within a day, along with some recommendations, and updates of the changes within another day.

In addition to email updates along the way, we received text messages when our map was shipped, when it was out for delivery, and when it had been delivered. The map came well-packaged and arrived completely damage-free.

IMG_1159The map comes with two different colored blue pins. While pretty, we opted to also purchase three different metallic colored pins that complement the modern look of the map. This will allow us to mark our individual travel before we met and our travel together since. We may pick up one more metallic color to use in planning and marking our future trips. We’ll likely start thinking of where to go on the next big trip during our upcoming vacation.

IMG_1156

Agile, software development

DevNexus 2019

As I sit here putting the finishing touches on my presentation for DevNexus 2019, I realize just how excited I am about this year’s conference. I used to say DevNexus was a great “smaller, regional conference,” but it has grown and improved so much over the years that it has become one of my favorite conferences to attend. Every time I go I come back energized — full of new ideas and gained knowledge.

I went a new direction with my presentation this year. I’ve have been introducing people to Agile Development for sooooo looooong… This time, I assume everyone already has the basics down, allowing myself to dig a lot deeper, and to get more technical. One of the things I love most is helping people solve real word problems!

Navigating the Slippery Slope of Emergent Design confronts a common problem I see on a number of maturing Agile teams. With many companies lacking a Software Architect role, teams find themselves forced to make important decisions mid-sprint, often from a naturally-occurring miopic viewpoint, with sometimes disastrous consequences later on in the project.

How can this be avoided? I would LOVE to talk to you all about it! If you’re attending the conference, I invite you to come chat with me at 4:00 PM on Thursday, March 6 in room 105.