Two questions 29th birthday edition

October 11, 2020

In a previous post, I discussed a tradition that I've formed over the last few years. Here are my answers for this year.

What's your favorite memory from last year?

Short answer

Posing on Harrison boulevard with Allyanna.

Long answer

During Halloween of 2019, Allyanna and I were celebrating at her sister's house on Harrison Boulevard in Boise. It's the place to be during Halloween as it's the primary street that everyone in the area visits. On average we've counted about ~2000 visitors each year.

Well, this year Allyanna and I both dressed up as Guy Fawkes. I wouldn't rank this as a scary costume, but Allyanna and I both found that the younger crowd were thoroughly creeped out by the getup as we were both handing out candy.

halloween 2

During a break from handing out candy, Allyanna and I thought it would be fun to go up to the attic to stand at a window directly above the area where candy handouts took place. We would stand like statues in the window, sometimes only moving once detected by the crowd as they lined up to take their turn to get some treats. We had done this in previous years to great success, but we felt like we weren't quite riling up the crowd as well as we had.

So, to change things up, we decided to make our way outside. Allyanna and I took an exit through the side yard to the front where everyone was walking by. We slowly walked up to the area where the line was formed and stood amongst some of the zombie statues that were placed in the landscape.

Allyanna and I then continued with our statuesque stances. To our surprise, we began scaring people to the point where we started getting a crowd. We even had a few people that were so thoroughly tickled that they even wanted to come take photos with us, the masked marauders.

It's one of my favorite memories because it was so pure. There was no-premeditation or planning and it was playful to the point of almost being childish. It was a moment that my partner and I still cherish. I wouldn't have wanted to share a time like that with anyone else.

What's the most important thing that you learned in the last year?

Short answer

There's a difference between knowledge and wisdom.

Long answer

Last year taught me a lot about knowledge and wisdom. At one of my previous places of work, my boss told me that his favorite book was Siddhartha. He ended up giving out copies of the book with plans to have a book club meeting. Well, nine months later, that book club event never happened, although I did finish the book by myself.

Siddhartha follows the young Buddha in his journey throughout life. As Siddhartha progresses you start learning that the book learned Buddah begins to grasp the importance of experience instead of purely depending upon knowledge and learnings acquired from books and teachings. For example, Siddhartha is taught at a young age about being worldly and of the flesh. Even though he knows the importance of not letting riches rule his life, as he becomes a successful merchant, he slowly forgets these learnings. It's not until many years later after letting avarice take over, that he comes to realize the true importance of not letting worldy possessions rule the way he lives; reason being, that this time he actually experienced it, he lived his life and witnessed the impacts instead of just reading it out of a book.

What struck me so, was that I was recommended this book by someone who suffered from the very same gap that Siddhartha initially failed to recognize as he experienced life. They suffered not from avarice, but from being so well read while having so little experience in the software industry, business and life. My boss was young and brilliant, and yet he had never worked for anyone else, and it showed. Nearly every conversation that we had always referenced a book, article or class, but it wasn't from first hand experience. The true difference between knowledge and experience had never been so salient until I had discussions with him. Arguments from his purely knowledge based perspective were met with arguments from others that had hands on experience with issues that the business had faced.

I'm not here to belittle my boss, nor am I here to minimize the importance of didacticism. It's just that it was the first time that I could understand the importance of experience over sheer knowledge. Before this, I had always been wary of others in higher up positions from what seemed to be due only to the number of years of experience they had. But there I sat, on the opposite side for the first time, listening to someone who offered solutions to problems with no background in the problem space that I had also faced first hand. Problems that I had spent hours, if not days of my life thinking about in the past.

At WhiteCloud we had a joke that came up after we hired one of our penetration testing services. In the preamble to the results from the penetration testing analysis was a line that just cracked us up.

At __ we have 40 years commbined experience on this team.

To us, that meant nothing. Did they have 10 devs with 4 years of experience a piece? 40 devs with one year of experience? You get the idea. Just because you have no experience doesn't mean anything and neither does having a lot of experience. You might find someone who has no experience and thinks in new and novel approaches, while on the other hadn you might have someone who has been doing the same thing for the last decade of their career. All of this to say that it's a balance of both knowledge and wisdom, just like anything else.

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