Today, after returning from lunch, there was a man (presumably) in a bald eagle costume and an Uncle Sam hat carrying Obama signs and trying to get honks from people passing by. There are nearly always 4 lanes of traffic going in both directions at the intersection outside my building (pretty busy), and thus, his campaign for honks (and thus, again, Obama), was, needless to say, very successful. So much so that I was very tempted to get in my car and run him over.
I’ve been doing lots of reading lately about crafting a development environment in which you can excel. My job depends a lot on being very flexible and agile. Stuff comes at you hard and fast, and it’s up to you to solve problems that can be solved quickly as quickly as possible, and to prioritize correctly the rest of the tasks that might take a bit longer. Typically, I have intermittent projects where I need to concentrate hard through the duration of the project, because new thoughts and techniques are having to be developed (versus a copy-and-paste with mods or something of that nature). So, you can imagine my frustration at having incessant honking about every 5 seconds, with people leaning their heads out the window and shouting praises of the candidate of their choosing. Between the phone ringing, co-workers talking, people asking me questions, friends on IM, clients on email (pulled every 5 minutes), it’s a wonder that I can get even 90 seconds of clear thinking together.
Joel on Software (a very popular blog about the facets of software development) wrote a memorable post in the past about how important it is for companies and developers to work together to find space and time for devs to reach that critical state of concentration, where true innovation and productivity are at their apex. Some advocate a closed office (where the door is closed), others advocate headphones, cutting off visual stimulation, etc. I personally find that outside stimulations are about as equally distracting as the internal thought process, where indirect thinking takes place.
This concept is difficult for a lot of people to understand, because the exterior behavior is essentially the same as a typical action, but there are a wealth of other things going on in the background. For me, personally, I have such an insatiable need for information, that for me to begin to enter my concentrative state, I have to engage that information addiction for at least a while, at regular intervals, or face a near impossibility of productivity, due to my background brain constantly wondering about new happenings, etc. So, to the regular boss/co-worker, who finds me reading Digg/Slashdot/random techsite, they would think that I am slacking to avoid work or some other reason. And while this behavior is ideally not neccessary, and indeed frowned upon in a lot of circles, it is in truth necessary for me to function.
So, back to the issue at hand…the eagle. I likened the situation in a remark to my co-worker about how it felt like the situation in “Harrison Bergeron”, where smart persons are handicapped by loud, distracting noises at regular intervals to make them equal with average persons. I am not so much making a statement about my personal feelings about my relative intellect, as much as grimly marking my observance of what those characters in that dystopian universe might feel like. They can’t concentrate on their own lives because of their distractive implants or general stupidity, and I can’t get any thoughts put together because every 6 seconds there is a loud series of honks. If this is what Obama is bringing to Indiana, and to my workplace, then I say, to heck with politics and his campaign.
In all fairness, I lamented greatly last week at the expense of the Clinton campaign due to another productivity-killing incident. I was directly in front of the entrance to the Marriott hotel in downtown South Bend when state police set up roadblocks directly in front of the traffic that I was a part of. All of the sudden, the morning commute came a screeching halt, less than 200 yards from my destination. I was perturbed to say the least, and felt that sentiment increasing all the more as time trudged on, marking 15-20 minutes solid of waiting to be released from that line. I couldn’t understand why the Clinton camp had to get with police to block off the street for so long, especially considering that traffic was still flowing very near the spot where she would be departing the hotel, from a perpendicular direction.
After about 20 minutes, I noticed a gap behind me, as some of the cars directly behind me had managed to move into other lanes and the like. I abruptly turned my car around and made my way down the wrong way on a one-way street for about 100 feet before turning on a green light onto a road running perpendicular to the previous entrapment. I made 3 right hand turns around the city, hoping to get to my building, which had sadly been just one light away. I got stuck in traffic again as Hilary’s camp actually departed and the police moved the roadblocks to the intersection that I was waiting at. This time, my building was less than 100 yards away. I re-enacted the scene from Office Space in my car, where the cursing doesn’t make sense, but the anger is totally a reality.
Finally, nearly 40 minutes later, I pulled into the parking lot of my building. 40 minutes later than I had wanted to be, and 40 minutes less time to complete my work that day. I saw good riddance to both of them. I know that not everyone is directly responsible for the actions of their constituents, but they must be forced to take responsibility for ruining nearly 7 good hours of my life so far. Is Indiana and its people really worth the price of these distractions? Instead of even listening to their BS about fixing the economy or lowering gas prices, I’m sitting in my car, idling, wasting economic opportunity and productive time.
Tommorow will bring about the end to this needless conflict, and though it’s a bit exciting for Indiana to have a role in the election for the first time in a very long time, I for one am ready for it to all be over.