This is the final letter for my part of Jason Becker’s Letters project. Be sure to follow the rest of the project this year at Jason’s blog. Thank you very much to Jason for allowing me to take part in this. Week one. Week two. Week three. Week four.
Yes, it’s definitely hard to do anything outside during winter. To be fair, though, winter here in the southern half of the state isn’t all that bad. Two or three big snows a winter, most days around forty degrees. (I recall winter being more severe in my childhood but those kinds of memories aren’t always reliable.) The thing that really keeps me inside is the lack of light. My job has the traditional 8-5 working hours so by the time I’m done with work, I’m tired and it’s dark and I have a hard time doing anything except sitting on the couch.
As for the garden, this will actually be the first year we will attempt to grow any significant amount of food. The past few years have been focused on native plants and plants that attract pollinators. Orange butterfly weed is, of course, the star of the show; it’s a favorite among people here who grow native pollinator plants. My favorite, though, is hairy woodmint (blephilia hirsuta). It’s not the prettiest plant—when it blooms the flowers are tiny. The flowers, though, grow in a pagoda-shaped cluster, the leaves are beautifully minty, and the bees just love them.
It’s not often that I talk to someone who knows what GASB is! It’s like finding someone who understands your secret language. There is a lot of crossover between IT and accounting now, isn’t there? Especially when you get either to a certain scale (and can’t use QuickBooks) or in a specialized field. I work at a university foundation so our organization hasn’t been able to use much off-the-shelf software. For example, we’re (yet again) building our own endowment management software because none of the readily available software does what we need—and we don’t want to manage a large endowment on spreadsheets!
In fact, this new accounting standard implementation (which is a separate issue from building a new endowment management system) is going to require us to acquire some lease management software for the future. So many systems to maintain. It feels like it never ends.
I’m glad you’re enjoying volleyball so much! I imagine it would be good for a person in a variety of ways. Like most people, the only time I ever see volleyball is during the Olympics. I can see how its systems could be described as elegant like dancing. Even to someone who knows very little about the game, the coordination is clearly visible.
And it’s impressive how much variety your city’s rec league has. I live in a small town and we have nothing remotely like that. Your leagues are clearly an advantage of urban density.
I think we may have different definitions of “all that bad”– I don’t want to spend much time outside in forty degrees. We do agree on lack of light. My time in Mexico City this winter was not marked mostly by far milder temperatures, but instead was notable because of the far later sunset moving southward.
I love natural gardens. I really hope we can move away from rows and rows of Kentucky bluegrass. I think it’s kind of incredible how some mix of capitalism, conformity, and culture has taught us that the natural and native is ugly meant to be tamed at best and eradicated at worst. The project you’re undertaking reminds me of this excellent recent win in Maryland for native lawns.
I’m surprised there’s no market for purpose-built endowment software. The market, by definition, has resources, and it’s the kind of problem software can be great at. You’re giving me business ideas. Working with financial accounting is quite complicated for software engineering though. The standards and practices and (somewhat) common data structures from a distance can lull the engineering mind to believing that you can simply follow basic standards and principles and arrive at a universal solution. In reality, accounting data has fractal complexity, with each organization being able to adopt and adapt from one common shape into something completely unique. Every person I work with has found a different way to reflect their unique organizational structure, needs, and practices. It’s almost shocking how much customization and flexibility is required, and anyone who digs in can easily see why ERPs are huge, slowly changing, and incredibly costly to change involving heavy customization and training.
I am a true ambivert– I treasure and require solitude. I am very comfortable alone; I also love being alone in public. I like to sit at a bar reading a book. I like sitting in a coffeeshop to get my work done. And I do get a lot of energy from interacting with the right kind of crowd and love taking a stage to talk about something I’m passionate about. I say all this to emphasize what is so great about having a recreational league structure in Baltimore and why cities are so important to me. The best part about returning to playing a sport is that while I’m playing, I can truly shut my brain off to everything else. It’s impossible to stress about work or family or anything– there’s just what’s happening in the now. I am fully engaged in the moment, and in some ways, largely in my own head. And yet, what’s great about recreational sports and teams is I’m also with people building relationships. I get social interactions and familiarity and camaraderie from working together toward a goal free from obligation and true stress. I think it’s incredibly healthy for anybody, but especially for my particular blend of social wants and needs. It’s a form of community, which I feel is harder and harder to locate these days.
I’m looking forward to seeing spring garden pictures this year.