Olivia’s Balls

Olivia, the Worlds Cutest DogHow often have I felt that I had to create Z, but before doing that I had to build Y. And of course before doing either, I really needed to find out how X affected either. This evil has many forms: feature creep, analysis paralysis, and so forth. I know it’s crap when other people do this, but every single time it comes up for me, I’m absolutely certain that this time it really is Important And Necessary to do all this other stuff first before the task at hand.

I’m as dumb as my dog.

That is, I’m every bit as steadfastly earnest in my insistence that it really does all have to be done, and I’m just as wrong.

Olivia is, by all accounts the world’s coolest and cutest English Cocker Spaniel. I’m confident about this because the title used to be held by our previous English Cocker Spaniel, Oliver.

It was hot this week. My daughter selected a few dozen of the balls that Olivia had carefully secreted under and within the couches, chairs, and china cabinet. My daughter then threw them into the pool, all at once. Olivia jumped in and got the first ball. She nestled it in her ample lips, looked with her Cocker’s eyes at the edge of the pool, and then swam with the first ball earnestly to the second. On reaching the second, she carefully spit out the first — leaving it where she could find it, right there in the pool — and took the second one in her mouth. A sound plan. She swam with the second to the third, and with consideration offered the second ball to that spot in the water before depriving that space of the third ball. Then she went to the fourth ball…

I think Olivia has shown me the single most common and important danger in all creative enterprises.

About Stearns

Howard Stearns works at High Fidelity, Inc., creating the metaverse. Mr. Stearns has a quarter century experience in systems engineering, applications consulting, and management of advanced software technologies. He was the technical lead of University of Wisconsin's Croquet project, an ambitious project convened by computing pioneer Alan Kay to transform collaboration through 3D graphics and real-time, persistent shared spaces. The CAD integration products Mr. Stearns created for expert system pioneer ICAD set the market standard through IPO and acquisition by Oracle. The embedded systems he wrote helped transform the industrial diamond market. In the early 2000s, Mr. Stearns was named Technology Strategist for Curl, the only startup founded by WWW pioneer Tim Berners-Lee. An expert on programming languages and operating systems, Mr. Stearns created the Eclipse commercial Common Lisp programming implementation. Mr. Stearns has two degrees from M.I.T., and has directed family businesses in early childhood education and publishing.

One Comment

  1. Actually, you give the dog too much credit: I taught Olivia everything she knows. Which partially explains my long silences around these parts lately.

    On the other hand, I’m glad you didn’t put up a post called “Sundman’s Balls”.

    On a side note that I really should turn into a real post, speaking of important life lessons, at a fire a few months ago the Captain assigned me & a fellow member of the company to go into the building after the fire appear to be out and use the gas sniffer to make sure it was safe to breathe the air.

    We use a two-tag protocol: there are two name tags on your gear; when you get to a scene & get your gear on, you take off one tag & put it on the tag board on the truck. That way, the captain can take a quick look and be reminded who of his company is on the scene; and also, if things go really all to shit and you get lost, then there is a record that you were there. So that’s what the first tag is for. Then, if you go into the hot zone, you give the second tag to the safety/accountability officer. So if the building collapses or something, they know who’s inside.

    At this particular fire the accountability officer happened to be my captain, so as I was putting on my air mask & preparing to go into the building, he took a tag off my coat & put it on his clipboard. Alas, there were still *two* tags on my coat because I had forgotten to “tag into the truck” when I had gotten my gear on half an hour earlier. That was an embarrassing rookie mistake. Only, I’m not supposed to be a rookie.

    Captain looks up at me, grabbing both tags and says, “Sheesh. I taught you everything I know, and you still don’t know a fucking thing.”

    Which is a great Yogi Berra line, only it came come Ken Maciel, so when this line does go viral, maybe his name will be associated with it here in the Overmind.

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