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December 16, 1999
a year ago
two years ago

Resolution and Celebration

My boss, today, called my letter a SCUD missile. That amused me greatly. It made for an exciting day. I got quite a lot of email, mostly from everyone in the development group all saying that I'd said that they wanted to say. I also got a response that actually went along with the taste and feel of the original decision. I called them on that as well, and eventually got them to make for a public forum, where everyone could actually hear what had gone on and what went into the original decision. Originally, the guy only invited two of us, which only fed the whole feeling of everyone being left out. The good thing was he listened to me and did the right thing.

Actually, given my past experience of these types of situations, what was a really, truly great sign was that we were resolving this a day after the declaration was made instead of some weird muddle of indecision and potato throwing for a few weeks before someone ends up with it and can't get rid of it. It was good, from my point of view, that they sought resolution and communication and really opening it up for world view in a single day. That spoke very well of everyone and everything that makes things tick here, and I was very impressed with that aspect of things.

There were some who went to the meeting hoping for change in the near term, and I was somewhat sorry for that. It was pretty obvious what was going on, but there also seemed to be the potential for better process, because there was no defense of what had happened. In many ways, I was glad that it all came out. One thing that they did change was the basis of most of the jokes I'd heard, so I was content with that much of a win. The best thing was that it was all done before the party.

What really surprised me, however, was that during the day I received a bottle of champagne from www.wine.com, which, when I opened it was actually from one of our third-party vendors, whom I had defended at DAC. Jennifer was actually the one who did most of the work for them, and it turned out she got a bottle as well. It was fairly astonishing, on the tail of the other conflict. Bob also received one of the bottles, and it is likely that everyone in the group got one and only ours showed up early. It was, however, nice to get something really nice by surprise. The review of the champagne indicated that it was a nice Brut, bone-dry and crisp and capable of being cellered for a few years.

The entire group headed out around 5, in order to make it to the restaurant before 5:30, which was the time of our reservation. Of course, not everyone made it on time. Both Bob and I brought our champagne bottles to have with our celebration, but it turns out that the restaurant's liquor license didn't allow them to serve it to us. That wasn't too much of a surprise, though it was somewhat disappointing.

Instead, they had a beautiful Chardonnay and a very crisp Pinot Noir. The Chardonnay was fruity and warm with an incredible buttery after-taste that lingered, rich and sweet, on the palate long after the mouthful was gone. I actually had a quarter of a glass of the Chardonnay with some very well-prepared appetizers. They had goose liver pate, smoked salmon cakes, wild greens in a raspberry vinaigrette, mussels in a butter sauce, and lox arranged prettily with croutons. The servings were of the proper size, i.e. not big enough for a truck driver, but large enough that we could pass them around and everyone could have a taste of the things they were curious enough to try.

The wine flowed freely, and since we were a group of about 20, we got fairly loud. In fact, a young couple was seated near our table and before they even had their appetizers they asked to move to another table. I don't think many people at our table actually noticed, but the few that did got folks to be a little more quiet.

The appetizers indicated that the restaurant might actually be pretty good, so I ordered what I really wanted instead of changing my order to be something that they probably could do well. They had a lamb loin, seared and served with root vegetables, and since I really enjoy lamb I ordered that. Also, since it was Colorado lamb, and therefore likely to be fresh and local, I ordered it rare to really taste the meat, rather than the preparation. It came at the correct temperature and with the correct doneness, and the ruby-centered slices were fanned beautifully over garlic mashed potatoes and a tender, sweet julianne of zucchini, yellow squash, and onions. The loin itself, however, had a single streak of tendon down the center. That made it somewhat hard to eat. I almost which they had used a different cut of meat, as the preparation seen wasted on something centrally flawed. The taste, however, was very good.

With desserts came single-malt scotch. Everyone toasted Mario, and congratulated him on his Ph.D.. He just finished and passed the defense of his thesis. Graduation ceremonies won't be until June, but that just gives us another reason to celebrate.

Sometimes I believe it is essential to a team to have time that isn't at work. Periods of time that we can actually learn who we are as human beings outside of work, and see how real character comes out to play. Essentially, I guess we are actually the same people, but with plenty of wine and Scotch, really good food, and an atmosphere for relaxation we become something different than the efficient and businesslike workers of the company. The table is surrounded by stories of lives, the important things like family, fun, and some of the incidence that shaped the way we think. Like Mario's past in Columbia, Bob stories about his childhood and Vietnam, and Cary's stories about his kids. There really is a lot to this group, and I think that with the pressure of what needs to get done and the ability to communicate among us all to get where we want to go, we really are becoming a team.

One of the things that has helped us a great deal has been Steve and his ability to manage the forces outside our real control. He's been a really great buffer for the past year and is really helped us figure out how to get our jobs done within the framework of how the company works.

So it was really fun to see everyone relax and just have fun. Since most of the wives had arrived in their own cars, and the more peripheral engineers left around 10 p.m., the core engineering team was left after that. Steve bought everyone who still wanted another Scotch another drink, and we just sat and talked quietly until the restaurant closed. That was really cool.

I drove home, still tired from the cold, but better off for the company. John was his mellow, cheerful self, and that was very good too. I think we have ended up in a situation that is very good not only for our finances, but, really, for our creative capabilities and our engineering. Quite a lot more can be accomplished with a good group, and I think we have lucked into one. That really seems to be something to be thankful for.

Brought to you by Dragon System's Point & Speak.

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