Artifacts of a Product Manager
Photography Was a Passion of Mine Long Before I Became a Product Manager
After just a single elective photography course in college, I became hooked. The class format was simple enough — first, we received our assignment with some basic instruction from the professor, next we took to the streets with our overpriced film to capture our shots, and we then selected our top 3 to 5 film negatives (remember those?) that we wanted to develop onto photo paper.
That magic occurred in the darkroom — a barely lit cave directly adjacent to our more formal classroom. It was filled with dangerous chemicals, *early 2000’s emo rock, and intensely frustrating iteration — all to create something a little more tangible. My head was spinning. I loved it.
Once we completed the development process, it was time for our instructor to kindly deconstruct exactly how and why our photos sucked, but “don’t worry” she explained — if we enjoyed photography and kept working at it, we were almost guaranteed to get better.
She was an expert photographer, and I proved her correct
My footing was sure before the ground shook.
After graduation, I worked at 2 technology startups that could not have been more different from one another. The first spun off from an established R&D firm and made it easier to search for audio online (speech to text). The second was an online personals website that made it easier to hook up. Although both were very different (with equally quirky cultures that I enjoyed) both provided a great primer on the day to day hands on work required to market and sell products and services to a group of people who can benefit from its use.
After 5 years; I built up enough experience and knowledge to become semi-dangerous. My footing was on solid ground — and my future path was becoming a little clearer as I understood more clearly what I wanted to do, and what I didn’t want to do. I was in full stride and gainfully employed. I wore a Halloween costume to work for the first time ever. I was going on international business trips (yes, international)
And then the economic crisis of 2008 occurred and people were frightened. The people who ran companies were also frightened — and many (including my own) responded the best way they knew how. Layoffs.
I created digital shipping tools after I was an office boy.
A few years later, I graduated from a corporate-sponsored MBA program and dove head first into my first official role as a Product Manager with FedEx. My excitement and curiosity were matched with challenge and ambiguity — but more importantly, with the praise and kudos from my team and management on the victories and progress made along the way.
After a few years I came up for air to reflect — experts were asking me for my opinion, no two days were the same, and I was helping people in my own humble way — making online shipping easier and more efficient, in particular — for those silently head down in the largest and ugliest cube around — getting all the most essential and despised tasks/chores of the day — like preparing labels for shipments. You may have heard of them as they have many different titles:
- administrative assistant
- regular assistant
- personal assistant
- executive assistance
- <insert your own> assistant
- person sitting next to the person in charge
- office boy
And trust me, after providing that service (even for a single year at one of those startups) my appreciation for these task managers grew. All from our shared experience, holding down the cube.
To be continued…
They had pictures on TV again, from up there in space. What are they looking for up there - that isn't already down here?
“The world’s trash and mutts – the whole lot of them, in ships every day by the dozen.” – Matilde H. Journal Entry (est. 1880) recording of an overheard comment during passage to an American port (NYC). German Immigrant – 16 at the time of passage. Traveled alone.
Or, personal labels I am comfortable with – by Matilde H. (1883)
My sense of beauty is Italia,
simple yet bold.
pragmatism of Deutschland
thoughtful and structured
attitude towards others of France
laissez-faire but curious
passion of Scotland
misunderstood yet strong
presence of England
conservative and reserved
pace of España
relaxed with meaning
purpose of Ireland
complicated and symbolic
surroundings are Kongeriket Norge
filled with peaceful tranquility
I do not love them,
Nor hate them.
I am with them.
All of these precious gifts from you
they consume me
and often at times like these
oh how they can confuse me
“why am I acting my way
through Christmas again”?
I know we do not have much
in the way of material things
which sort of makes
- it sting a little more.
Did these gifts
ever hold a real sparkle in your eye?
You heaped them on me
and I always knew
this was your display to me
of love –
everybody could see.
I never learned to wrap a gift
decorative bags became an indispensable friend.
Perhaps I am lazy,
or have never found the perfect packaging
for my one and only true gift
A 20-pound ball of empathy –
he is one of our marvelous creatures.
Has anything ever held a mirror up to your humanity
like an animal that loves or
an animal that fears?
we have served each other’s purpose.
They are bred in our reflection
mutts at the core, wanting to be truly known,
begging for nourishment –
*Chase — otherwise known as booter, booter-butt, chicken butt, or boo boo
A Restless Lullaby
The Anhedonia’s – “Who has their finger all over my excited switch”
He sits on his folded legs, 3 feet from the large stand bubble that practically dwarfs his little body. The large expanse of a room consumes them both.
He is excited. The MTV is on and he knows his odds are about 1 in 4 that the new Tina Turner video will be coming on shortly. He has deliberated – and there will be no touching of the actual tv this time or getting too up close, this time he wants a pan of every single glass tube end. Maybe he could record it in his head better that way.
And then it happens just as he knew it would.
Tina is over for another brief visit. But she is even more mesmerizing than before and those vibes begin quickly — with a high intensity that will quickly subside, but stay long enough to leave a slightly deeper impression that eventually will need to be filled.
In front of him, she is shaking and strutting, he is hypnotized by this “dance”? The hair. The voice. Those legs. Is this expression!? How you can be?
Where do you learn this?
Certainly not at school.
Not even at the local skating rink. That’s why he never skates much – too busy watching.
Like right now – but today she has a message for him as well. He knows to pay attention because she keeps on repeating it – and it forces him to open his ears a little more.
What’s that Tina? That question you are asking – “Whats love got to do with it”?
Has a better question ever been asked? What does love have to do with it? With any of it at all? Another question he can add to the running list.
At that moment, he discovered his first expert. His first “expression” expert. He will meet many more experts in the years to come – all of them having valuable lessons to teach.
However, first – he must tackle the complicated world of gender roles as exhibited in the American domesticated house pet – cats and dogs in particular.
We Came to Rest
and my monster followed closely behind,
out here in the December air;
Is this it?
Did the night air just speak to me?
The fullness of her light is dancing as the wisps of vapor energy float by –
a gradient drop of the pressure in the air.
Unfreeze my heart,
Have we located the
final resting place?
Something feels closer.
I feel it more so every day.
A Small Glitch Appears In Utero
A nuchal cord was wrapped around my neck 3 times when I was a fetus inside of my mother’s uterus. After discovering this on the sonogram during a final pre-labor exam, the doctor decided to enact emergency labor, as he was concerned the cord might restrict the flow of oxygen to my tiny brain – perhaps rendering me with some sort of lasting brain damage.
Although it may sound ominous from the first pass, this type of incident is not all that uncommon during pregnancies and depending on the severity of the knot, is usually fairly benign – in fact, some studies claim it occurs in about 1/3rd of births in any given year in the U.S.
And like my own delivery, most occur without incident, as the baby is removed, and the cord simply cut. As you can imagine, the ordeal caused some unneeded stress for my mother.
She reflects on it with a mildness today, but I can imagine this must have shot her nerves – unless she has completely changed since then. Doubtful.
Similar to myself, she is prone to worry – a chronic over-thinker. However, the focus of our anxiety tends to be different; hers on close loved ones and mine tend to be a bit more selfish in nature.
Looking back, I wonder if this incident had any effect on shaping her view of me as her youngest child. Did it make her more protective or more prone to worry about me? I remember her doing plenty of both growing up – incessantly at times.
Did this first glitch set off a domino effect of others – or was my fate sealed even before then?
Aerial View of The Abandoned Quarry with Graffiti – Quincy, MA
The Quincy Quarries produced granite for over a century and was the site of the Granite Railway—often credited as being the first railroad in the United States.
The last active quarry closed in 1963. After their abandonment, the open quarries filled with rainwater and groundwater. The flooded quarries soon became a popular spot for cliff jumping.
However, many people were injured—sometimes fatally—while diving into the quarries from great heights. This led the police and the city of Quincy to grapple with what to do with this abandoned space.
In 1985, Boston’s Metropolitan District Commission purchased 22 acres, including Granite Railway Quarry, as the Quincy Quarries Reservation. A solution to the public safety problem was found with the massive Big Dig highway project in Boston. Dirt from the new highway tunnels was trucked in to fill the main quarries. This created new sections of rock to climbers, and the site was subsequently improved to encourage public use of the reservation.
The reservation is connected to the trail system of the Blue Hills Reservation.
#graffitiart #landscape #outdoors #winter #environment #weather #nature #daylight #scenic #calamity #graffiti #darkhistory #dystopian #rockclimbing #historicalnewengland #aerialphotography #naturereservation #bluehillsreservation #contrastingcolors #urbandecay #urbanphotography #bostonphotography #newenglanphotography
Do you know this little boy? While standing in the line to have a picture taken with Santa, this little boy’s mom asked me to take his picture. But, I don’t know her! I forgot I had the picture until coming across it yesterday.
I believe he is new here and very shy. It seems like every time I see him, he is wearing that colorful sweater!
If you don’t know him, could you kindly give it to the office secretary? If I give it to Caitlyn (sp?) to hold, I’m afraid it will end up in Russia!
Thank You –
I have zero recollection of any of this little Santa Clause setup, but I can tell you one thing.
I do recall that my mother “ghosted” that ugly yellow sweater from my laundry a few months after this photo was taken.
This was a practice wherein my mother would sneakily discard (steal) certain items of clothing because I would continually wear them, sometimes day after day.
One day it would be – wa-la! Joe has two brand new (more earth-toney) sweaters – magically hanging in the closet – or a new blue pair of tennis shorts to replace the purple that I originally favored – or whatever other articles of clothing needed replacing.
Since I craved predictability as a child, incidents like this might botheredme for a bit, but I eventually got over it and realized that yes – sometimes things need to be discarded instead of over-used, for the sake of public appearances.
One of those “pride” things I had no interest in, or time for since I just wanted to be comfortable and left alone to think about something.
I Wish I Had My Mask On
An old common and tired refrain.
There are things right in front of us
that I simply
(let’s see how much of the natural sunlight I can suck out of this photo….)
I Was Really Bad at Photography Before I Became Any Good
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