Archive for February 2007

One horse’s life.

He was born 17th October 1984, like all future racehorses with hopes and dreams riding on his back.    He came to race named Safari Boy, by Chamozzle out of Chantana.    He raced six times, winning the second, at Albury, in 1988.  He never did so well again, and retired to become a dressage horse, when he was renamed Chamozzled, or RJ to his friends, after the brand on his left shoulder.  He had two dressage homes, and when we came to see him had been in one place for nine years.  His owner had a baby and no time.

I knew as soon as Luke got on that we would take this horse home.  I remember their first show.  Luke said, "I don’t think I’m going to like showing" and after RJ carried him to three championships and a reserve that first day changed his mind.  They learned to jump together and we went to many dressage days, jumping days, shows, and on long trail rides in the rain.  When my horse hurt his leg I rode RJ for a while, sharing him with Luke, and he always took good care of me and tried hard.  Oddly, some of the things I remember best are the times when he wasn’t well - I always seem to end up playing nursemaid to them then.  He had azoturia once and I remember the freezing night where we walked slowly round his field for four hours until the vet rang back to say he couldn’t come.  RJ kept leaning his head upon my shoulder.

He had almost three years to the day of retirement.  We first realized he wasn’t quite right at Barastoc Horse of the Year show, and soon after he headed down to Julie’s farm, turned out in the middle of dairy country, in ten acres of lush grass with a couple of girlfriends for company.

This is another drought year, after all the other drought years, and on Saturday he could barely move, brought to this by Australian stringhalt.  He ended his life there in the paddock.  Good night old fella.  Rest in peace, it’s well deserved.

May the road rise up to meet
you,
may the wind be ever at your back.
may the sun shine warm upon your face and the rain fall softly on your fields.
and until we meet
again, May God hold you in the hollow of his hand.

The number one rule.

Warning: This post contains many occurrences of the word "arse".  ("ass" if you are American)  If you’ll be offended, you should stop reading now.

So, in my talk at kiwifoo I talked about hiring and keeping good staff.  I had a slide that read:
1.  Don’t be an arseclown.
2.  Don’t hire arseclowns.

I was really stealing from George, who said once that the best thing about OmniTI was that we didn’t employ any asshats.  I have always preferred the term arseclown myself, from first having heard it in Office Space to Roy and HG’s telephone poll on The Dream ("Is Arseclown A Real Word?  Vote Yes or No") and their then nomination of the Arseclown of the Day.

I wandered into Borders and what should I see but this: "The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving one that isn’t." by Bob Sutton.  You can even take the Am I an Asshole? quiz online via Guy Kawasaki’s blog.

P.S. Don’t worry, one of the first things in the book is a note that different cultures use different words: asshole == arsehole == arseclown. 

kiwi foo, morale, and body enhancement

Today I am at Kiwi Foo Camp, also known as Baa Camp.

It’s entertaining and educational.  I’ve met a bunch of people I have not met before - I’ve kind of gotten used to knowing lots of people at conferences that I go to.  This one has a large quotient of New Zealanders and hence I’m meeting tons of new people.

I gave a talk this afternoon called From Startup to Google:  How do I grow?  where I looked at a bunch of issues to do with growing companies: how to start, how to fund yourself, how to hire good people, and how to implement a basic software process.  One of the issues I talked about is something I feel really strongly about, and that is developing your company to have a good culture, making it a place where you and other people want to work, and where people can be passionate about what they want to do.  I have noticed that this often falls by the wayside as companies grow large, and a friend of mine commented that it seems to happen somewhere around the 100-200 employee mark.  I’m interested to know what other people think.

I’ve been to some great talks today: a free flowing discussion on user experience and another on email security, and a talk by Robert O’Brien on Atom, another on agile web dev tools, but the real humdinger of the day for me was Quinn Norton on body modification and enhancement.  The concept of a drug that allows you to control your sleep, implanted rare earth magnets that let you feel your hard drive spinning in your fingertips, or another drug that makes you tanned, thin, and increases your libido…well, who wouldn’t be interested? It’s like ShadowRun made real.