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Separating politics from the person Mon, Nov 26, 2018
Regarding the recent midterm elections, a friend posted on Facebook something to the effect of "Whether you vote red or blue, I'll still be your friend because I'm an adult" accompanied by a bunch of comments in agreement.  I guess it's sort of refreshing to hear a somewhat positive thing about politics since there's usually so much negativity. 

But here's the problem: It's really hard to separate politics from the person, because political affiliation says a lot about a person's beliefs and motivations.  I guess it might be different if there were more political parties, or at least if political parties held fewer official platforms.  But when you cast a vote for a candidate, you get everything that candidate's political party stands for, whether you want it or not.  And that's important because whether you intended to or not, you're signaling your values with your vote.  You might vote for a candidate because of their foreign policy goals, but you end up getting all their party's anti-gay marriage stuff thrown in too.  And maybe you don't mind because it doesn't affect you.  But rest assured it affects someone, perhaps a friend of a friend on Facebook.  So you might continue to go about your day on election day, being an adult and being friendly, while your gay friends have to worry about whether they'll still be allowed to have a family plan for health insurance or whether they'll have visitation rights in the hospital. 

So while some people might feel like they can be friends with people regardless of who they vote for, I have a problem separating politics from the person. #politics

The problem with social media Wed, Nov 07, 2018
Crazy people have always existed.  Lots of people have crackpot theories and racist views.  Some of them would even form a club (Flat Earth Society, the KKK) to join together with other people who shared their terrible opinions. 

The success of social media is that it connects people.  Friends from childhood, relatives of relatives, and even people who live on opposite sides of the world but share the same interests. 

The problem with social media is that it connects people.  Connection is good, but certain ideas that used to be relegated to hushed conversations in dark basements are now championed and amplified by social media's ability to bring people together and give them a voice.  It's not really social media's fault.  It's the users, i.e. us.  Social media just made it easier. #technology

Political salesman Mon, Nov 05, 2018
A few days after the birth of my child, when our house was still dim and quiet as we figured out how to address the needs of a newborn, a stranger knocked on our front door to talk about the upcoming election.  He was a young guy, probably in his 20s, handing out information about the candidate he supported.  No big deal; he was nice about it, and voting is important.  He mentioned the current politician in office and how he's had some corruption allegations waged against him.  I vaguely remembered hearing about it but didn't know much other than that.  I thanked the guy for the information and was about to close the door. 

Then he said, "As you know, the Communist Chinese are trying to hack our elections, and any vote for a democratic candidate will ruin our country."  He continued to say some words, but I literally put my hand in his face and said, "Let me stop you right there." 

It's hard to stress the difference between the calmness of my home and the invasiveness of this stranger.  But it was abrupt and unwelcome enough for me to interrupt a person (which I don't normally do) and tell him to leave my property.  I wouldn't say this interaction informed my voting decision, but it definitely didn't help. #politics

Paternity leave fiasco Thu, Nov 01, 2018
So I had a child recently.  In the months leading up to the due date, I informed my boss and coworkers that I'd be taking several weeks off for paternity leave.  Obviously I didn't know the exact date it would start, but most people are reasonable and can accommodate uncertainty like that.  When the date rolled around, I emailed my boss and a few coworkers to let them know. 

A few days later, I took a brief trip to my office to pick up my laptop in the hopes I could keep up with a few minor things while I was out.  As I entered the door to my building, one of my coworkers spotted me and said, "Ah, just the person I wanted to see."  I happily informed him the baby had arrived, so my paternity leave started and I was just stopping in the office real quick.  He said a brief congratulations, and followed it up in the same breath with "the project manager was hoping for a status update on that thing you were working on."  My smile turned into a half-smile as I reminded him of the words I had just spoken, i.e. I'm on paternity leave.  His face started to show a little distress as he reiterated that a person had requested information regarding a task I had been working on. 

A little background on my job without going into too much detail:  I work in research and development.  Schedules routinely slip.  The atmosphere is largely relaxed, and work gets accomplished when it gets accomplished.  Most people aren't in a rush.  It's probably less than ideal in terms of productivity, but it is what it is.  That said, the work I do in general is fairly unimportant, and this task in particular was a side project I agreed to do as a favor.  Actually it was a favor to this coworker who hasn't kept up with modern technology and is unable to do things as quickly or efficiently as me.  I'm not mad about it; it's really not a problem for me to write some code to automate some tasks.  That's why I agreed to do it.  But as a favor, it held fairly low priority for me.  That, coupled with the fact that the originator of the task wasn't very forthcoming with instructions or specifics, signaled to me that it was of somewhat low importance. 

Anyway, I got to my computer at my desk and sent out the birth announcement to some coworkers.  I got several sincere congratulations, which I appreciated.  But my boss sent a reply that basically said, "Congrats, also what's the status on that task?  The guy was asking about it." 

The vindictive, passive aggressive part of me thought, "If you expected the task to be delayed a few weeks, you can tack a few more weeks onto the end of that."  But instead I sent an email to all involved that detailed the status of the task before I left, and an expected resumption of the task upon my return from paternity leave.  About a week later, I got another email from my coworker who said they wanted me to finish the task while I was out and that my boss "was traveling for one of YOUR programs" (actual quote) and so he was unable to do it himself. 

This pissed me off for a few reasons, not the least of which because my 50-year-old coworker sends emails like a teenage girl.  One reason is that I think birth and maternity leave and paternity leave and sick leave and vacation time and really any personal thing should be respected by employers and coworkers, especially for employees who are solidly reliable workers, and especially for first-time parents.  And especially when the work is unimportant. 

But the other, bigger, reason this pissed me off was because these two people, grown adults with children of their own, should've known better than to intrude on my time like that, and they should've had the balls to stand up for me and tell the project manager that I was on paternity leave and would complete the task when I returned.  If that answer was insufficient, they should've found somebody else to do the work.  End of story.  There's really no need to pester a person about a meaningless task during a vulnerable time in their lives, and grown adults should really be able to stand up for their peers.  I really don't think it's asking too much to request that a coworker literally just tell the truth to a manager.  It doesn't look bad on them, and if somebody thinks it looks bad on me, I don't give a flying fuck.  I'm too good of a worker to get fired (see the aforementioned about automation and efficiency). 

In the end, I ignored that last email and just didn't do anything about it, completely out of spite.  And when I finally got back to the office, it turned out they found somebody else to do the work. #business