Goodbye Esther.

For over eleven years I’ve worked for a little Cuban lady. She was a very good boss. It was like working for your favorite aunt.

Her management style combined a mother-hen concern for her subordinates with a guard-dog-like vigilance in protecting them from the intrusions of upper management and their micro-managing ways. In stature she is diminuitive, but her colleagues and sometimes adversaries respected her acumen and fierceness. She was, like Carol Keeton-Rylander (to use a local Texas political reference), “One. Tough. Gramma.”

And now she’s retiring. We’ll miss her dearly. So I’m sad. And when I’m sad I write.

I’m sad because it seems like the end of a lot of good things. We, due to our efforts, brought an end to a piece of NASA history — the Mission Operations Computer at Mission Control. It is the end of what one of our managers called one of the largest software successes in large software project history. We are moving to another set of offices next week. Another desk, another cubicle. Another boss. ‘Cause our old boss is leaving.

But it’s more than just that. There was this feeling that you were doing just the right project and you were surrounded by the only group of people in the world with the combination of skills, experience, and history to do it right. It was that good feeling of being on a great team. We clicked. We flowed. It was great having a job that you looked forward to coming to and co-workers you looked forward to seeing every day.

So we’ve had the speeches, the awards, the banquet, the going away party. And next is the curtain.

We are in the coda at the end of a great symphony. And the next opus has not yet been written.

What comes next might be good too, who knows? But right now I have this feeling that it will never be like it used to be.

That’s a universal truth — it will never be like it used to be. Change is inevitable. Sigh.

I can think of no other melancholy platitudes about change so I’ll stop there.

It's not about me…

At least for a few weeks.

I have to go off and do some intensive work on a project I am launching elsewhere on the web. I will need to concentrate my online energies for a while, and so I’m afraid that my posting here on Overflow will be less than regular. I’m not saying I won’t come here — I may need a break and just want to post my usual blather — but I won’t be dependable.

What’s the project? Glad you asked!

I am working with a couple of other futurists and the Waitt Family Foundation (You know, Ted Waitt, the founder of Gateway Computers? The guy who talks with the cow on all those commercials?) on an online community to help connect those people who work to build and plan communities in the offline world.

We want to connect people with information and futures thinking about the practice of community building. We want to connect those forward thinking people with each other so they can collaborate and do awesome stuff. We ultimately want to serve underserved and marginalized communities around the country. We want to be like a Slashdot for progressives, activists, and community developers. And I am to be the editor/moderator/caretaker of the place.

So that’s where I’ll be blogging for the next few weeks. The real work will be in bootstrapping an online community, working to build up a membership from nothing. Right now I’m blogging to an empty room, and I need to take some time to try to fill it somewhat.

Of course, you can always come visit. Bring friends. You can even pitch in to help. It’s a free membership.

The cool thing about this project is that it dovetails well with my own life mission — bringing people together into community with one another. That’s also what I love most about the Internet — the way it connects people.

It’s a project that hits me straight in the heart, so I’m going to pour my heart into it.

Not saying “Goodbye,” but more like “Via Con Dios” for a few weeks.

Some more info:

::Building Tomorrow’s Communities

Building Tomorrow’s Communities (BTC) is an online community for people who work to build communites in the offline world. It’s a place where community-minded futurists and forward-thinking leaders work together.Where people, information, and resources create the future of communities. Where community developers can share, learn, and dream.

BTC provides a number of resources to help community builders stay on the cutting edge of the field of community building and create their preferred futures:

– Daily news highlights and pointers to useful resources and information available elsewhere on the web.
– A searchable database of annotated weblinks on a variety of areas of concern to community builders.
– Interactive features such as a discussion forum that facilitate dialogue between community members.

BTC is run by the staff of the Waitt Family Foundation with the help of consulting futurists and a dedicated moderator and editor – a team focused on building a place of value on the web.

::The Waitt Family Foundation

The Waitt Foundation believes that stable and empowered families are the building blocks of a safe, open and prosperous world, and that the material and spiritual needs of these families can best be served through their communities. The Foundation takes a broad and long-term view of the family that includes all of its global and cultural diversity, and examines challenges and opportunities facing families from a perspective that considers the past, the present and the future.

The Foundation envisions a world in which every child and family has the opportunity to choose their own futures and succeed in fulfilling their dreams.

To that end, the Foundation seeks to:

Empower Communities – Enhance the capacity of communities to promote positive social change supportive of families.
Leverage Partnerships – Partner with projects that show promise and are widely applicable.
Communicate Ideas – Help in the dissemination of new ideas to communities and families that will help them plan in the present for a better future.

And when it rains…

It pours. I came home yesterday fresh from my fishing expedition at CD Warehouse and found four CD’s waiting for me. I quit the Columbia House record club last August and, through a variety of snafu’s, I didn’t get my final four selections until yesterday. I’d forgotten they we coming.

The biggest surprise was my CD “Music for the Movies of Clint Eastwood” which I got because I am a fan of Ennio Morricone and he composed most of the music from Eastwood’s “Spaghetti Westerns.” I was disappointed on that account, because there was only one Morricone track, the theme from “The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly.” Just one. Bleh.

Turns out that, except for a few that were included because they are the ones most naturally associated with Clint Eastwood movies, most of the music was composed by Eastwood himself. Go figure.

You know, I don’t usually associate the ideas “music” and “Clint Eastwood” that often. And when I do, I think of him singing “They Call the Wind Mariah” in “Paint Your Wagon” or maybe his direction of Forrest Whittaker playing Charlie Parker in the brilliant bummer of a movie called Bird. I never figured this guy for a composer. But it’s all there, and it’s pretty good. There’s even an original orchestral piece, featuring sax solos from Joshua Redman, called “Clint Eastwood: An American Filmmaker Suite.” Think Aaron Copland pasted to Duke Ellington with a John Williams Glue-stick.

S’kinda bizzarre. But in a good way, I guess.

Last catch in these waters

Yesterday was the last day CD Warehouse was in business. All CDs were twenty-five cents. It was pretty picked-over. I couldn’t resist casting my net once more into the Dead Sea of Bargain Bin Land. So after I tossed off the trash fish, here was what was wriggling in my net that I’m happy with:

Fu-schnickens– Nervours Breakdown : These guys rap with a wordplay style that’ll give Eminem a run for his money. And they’re damn sight more pleasant too.
Geggy Tah– Sacred Cow : I can find no words, just smiles.
Toure Kunda : Afropop worldbeat. Makes me wanna go to the beach.
Mocean Worker– Aural and Healthy: Fun party 4/4 beats, some breakbeat and lounge. Booty-shakin’!
“Giant Steps”– Various: 1993 Blue Note Acid Jazz compilation with Us3, SooneMC, Guru, and the Beastie Boys. No clue why these folks are on the same album, but they flow.
Microphone Theology– Various: Street Corner Gospel Hip-Hop Rap. Real raw, urban stuff you’ll not hear on Christian Radio in anyone’s lifetime.
This is Strictly Rhythm– Various: Almost tossed this back as it is a barely passable 90’s House Mix, except for the one track by Phuture. I’ll rip that one to MP3 and toss the carcass.

But hey, not bad for $4.83.

Already There

“You have always been one with the Buddha, so do not pretend you can ATTAIN to this oneness by various practices.” — Huang Po

“I have swept away your transgressions like a cloud, and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you.” — Isaiah 44:22

Sometimes the way to achieve my spiritual goals is to allow myself to realize I’m already there. I must simply get out of my own way. Easier said than done, though.

Pablo Neruda Rocks

‘Don’t Go Far Off’

Don’t go far off, not even for a day, because —
because — I don’t know how to say it: a day is long
and I will be waiting for you, as in an empty station
when the trains are parked off somewhere else, asleep.

Don’t leave me, even for an hour, because
then the little drops of anguish will all run together,
the smoke that roams looking for a home will drift
into me, choking my lost heart.

Oh, may your silhouette never dissolve on the beach;
may your eyelids never flutter into the empty distance.
Don’t leave me for a second, my dearest,

because in that moment you’ll have gone so far
I’ll wander mazily over all the earth, asking,
Will you come back? Will you leave me here, dying?

— Pablo Neruda

If you’re going to be sniveling and needy, at least do it in style, right? Pablo totally rocks.

An encouraging word

“Our peace of mind increases in spite of suffering; we become braver and more enterprising; we understand more clearly the difference between what is everlasting and what is not; we learn how to distinguish between what is our duty and what is not. Our pride melts away and we become humble. Our worldly attachments diminish and, likewise, the evil within us diminishes from day to day.”

-Mahatma Gandhi

Gosh, I hope so. But I have a hard time believing this can happen without some awareness, some effort. But I want to believe.