Wednesday, May 30, 2012

3540 Good enough

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Fear does not prevent death. It prevents life.


A while ago I wrote about "good enough", and how Jay would get trapped in tweaking projects looking for perfection.   Lifehacker recently posted a simple solution to the problem, a way to avoid the trap. 

Before you even start the project, simply first define what constitutes "finished", what Lifehacker describes as the "definition of done". (The term comes from a software development strategy called Scrum, but it can be applied to almost any situation.  See What Can Software Developers Teach us About Crushing the ‘Perfection Bug’?.)

You make a list of all the criteria the project must meet to be considered done.  The criteria should be measurable.  When it meets those criteria, it's done.  Period.  You can stop tweaking.

In software development, you are handed a list of requirements and specifications.  If compactness, elegance, and performance are part of the requirements, they should be listed.  To landscape your front garden, decide up front what effect you want to accomplish.   Planning a party?  Define what you want to happen.  Note that the list is not simply a shopping list.  It's effects you MUST accomplish, and it should be a minimum list.

Perfectionists will continue to add specifications, expanding the list as the project proceeds.  You can't do that.  Spend enough time on the definition of "done" up front, and then resist the urge to add to it.  When it's done, it's done.  Good enough is good enough.

Jay's problem was an emotional and psychological fear of never being good enough.  I blame his father for that.  J Senior demanded nothing less than absolute perfection, and perfection was defined as "the way *I* would have done it".  If the child Jay didn't do things perfectly, his father pointed out all the flaws, and took over the project himself.  He had the attitude that if it wasn't exactly the way he himself would have done it, exactly the decisions he would have made, then it was "stupid", and he used that exact word.  I heard him say "That's stupid" to Jay a dozen times before I told him that if he ever again implied that my husband was stupid, I'd feed him a list of all the stupid things he says and does, "starting with your haircut and what you feed your dog!  It's no damn wonder she has a heart problem!"  He never did it again, but I could see him biting his tongue as he glanced at me.

If it meets "done" criteria, and if the criteria are good, then it is done and good enough.

Monday, May 28, 2012

3539 Stress

Monday, May 28, 2012

"Knowing how to think empowers you far beyond those who know only what to think."
--  Neil deGrasse Tyson --


Clarifying  the previous post - the guy has not had reassignment surgery.  He's just wearing women's clothes now, and "being" a woman.  He is 100% male physically, and it all works.  He never felt that he was actually female.  It's just that in addition to all the maleness, functional testes and penis and attraction to women, he also has ovaries.  Just stray accidental ovaries floating around in there, nothing else.  (It could be worse - there are people with entire stunted twins inside them.)  Anyway, the estrogen from the ovaries causes some feminizing effects.  Since discovering the existence of the ovaries, he has decided he's "actually" a woman.

Huh?  "Actually?"  I know a guy who has four thumbs, twelve fingers.  Is he "actually" alien? 

If he had the ovaries removed, he'd be the husband and father, the MAN, he thought he was, and was quite happy being, before he discovered the ovaries.  I think he's incredibly stupid, and he's getting very bad medical and psychological advice.


This month has disappeared so quickly.  Poof. That saddens me.  It seems that the older you get, the faster time passes.  I don't know whether it's because you get so much less done, or that over your shoulder you see a shadow catching up.  On the other hand, I don't want to get as much done as I used to.  It's time to slow down and watch the butterflies.

I've been thinking about stress, and the effect it has on health.  There's a lot more stress here than at the country house.  Not like there's stuff poking at me, it's just an atmosphere.  Days are a lot less relaxed.  It's like things are going on all the time.  There's no pause, no pause in time.  The air is dirtier.  There's an undercoat of noise.  It feels like there's more demand on me, even though no person is demanding.  And I feel like bits and pieces of my body are giving up.

The Man has been experiencing  a lot of stress, and it shows.  Nothing I can do about that, except not to add more.

Jasper doesn't seem to be more stressed.  I'm gone two or three days a week, but although that would badly distress a dog, I don't think a cat is stressed by that.  Oh, it's obvious he missed me, but that's not the same as stress.

Dogs are pack animals.  Their humans are their pack.  The most damaging thing you can do to a lone dog is to ostracize them from the pack, either tied outside, shut out of the room, or confined to a cage.  They need a pack, and they need to be with the pack, no matter what their status within the pack. 

Cats are just the opposite.  Most domestic cats come from lone-hunter stock.  They seem to like being alone, and if they don't have a lot of other stimulus, they will chose the company of one other animal or human.  (If they do have a lot of stimulus, humans become mere can openers.)  Usually a cat in a family will chose ONE of the humans to be his or her special human.  Cats don't jockey for status.  They assume their status is high, because there is no pack.  There are articles on what stresses a cat, but the articles address sudden changes, like how to handle moves, new people or pets, or schedule changes.  What about constant low level stress?

At the country house, Jasper saw birds and squirrels on the deck.  Here, he also sees other cats in the yard and on the patio, and at first it scared him so badly he pulled the curtains down.  Is that a temporary freakout, or a constant source of stress?  Can that be why whenever he is downstairs, he stays close to me?  He was more independent in the country.

I wonder if anyone has done a study on the comparative health of dogs secure within their pack (human or canine family) and dogs who are constantly stressed by being shut away from the pack.  I wonder if there have been any studies on the comparative health of cats who are the only pet, and those who don't get "alone time". (I'm thinking of those retirement homes for cats, that are supposed to be such wonderful places, but I wonder if it's actually stressing to cats who had until "retirement" always had alone-time when they wanted it.  Domestic cats are not herd animals.)