Sometimes you are being Frodo and Sam

Context

Yesterday my friend and colleague Husayn had to write Yoda on the whiteboard in the office and he spelled it with a J, like in Joda. He is from Cameroon. As a group of engineers, we realized Husayn has never seen any of the Star Wars movies.

Screen Shot 2017-04-13 at 19.15.52Screen Shot 2017–04–13 at 19.15.52

Later this led to a conversation about the book and the story of Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien, the other nerd classic and I asked whether he’s read any of those books. He hasn’t, despite being a voracious consumer of books.

I tried to relate how The Hero’s Journey relates to Frodo (and to us) by pointing out how our current situation on the path to The Release of Software into PROD looks exactly like the scene in The Lord of the Rings where Frodo and Sam are getting into the whole Spider thing in the middle section of the story.

This is what Wikipedia has to say about the book. I’m pasting/editing it here, because I believe it to be material.

The Lord of the Rings

From Wikipedia., the free encyclopedia

This article is about the novel.

The title of the novel refers to the story’s main antagonist, the Dark Lord Sauron, who had in an earlier age created the One Ring to rule the other Rings of Power as the ultimate weapon in his campaign to conquer and rule all of Middle-earth. From quiet beginnings in the Shire, a hobbit land not unlike the English countryside, the story ranges across Middle-earth, following the course of the War of the Ring through the eyes of its characters, not only the hobbits Frodo Baggins, Samwise “Sam” Gamgee, Meriadoc “Merry” Brandybuck and Peregrin “Pippin” Took, but also the hobbits’ chief allies and travelling companions: the Men Aragorn son of Arathorn, a Ranger of the North, and Boromir, a Captain of Gondor; Gimli son of Glóin, a Dwarf warrior; Legolas Greenleaf, an Elven prince; and Gandalf, a Wizard.

The Lord of the Rings has [since] been reprinted numerous times and translated into 38 languages.

Tolkien’s work has been the subject of extensive analysis of its themes and origins. Although a major work in itself, the story was only the last movement of a larger epic Tolkien had worked on since 1917, in a process he described as mythopoeia. Influences on this earlier work, and on the story of The Lord of the Rings, include philology, mythology, religion and the author’s distaste for the effects of industrialization, as well as earlier fantasy works and Tolkien’s experiences in World War I. These inspirations and themes have often been denied by Tolkien himself. The Lord of the Rings in its turn is considered to have had a great effect on modern fantasy; the impact of Tolkien’s works is such that the use of the words “Tolkienian” and “Tolkienesque” have been recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary.

The enduring popularity of The Lord of the Rings has led to numerous references in popular culture, the founding of many societies by fans of Tolkien’s works, and the publication of many books about Tolkien and his works. The Lord of the Rings has inspired, and continues to inspire, artwork, music, films and television, video games, and subsequent literature. Award-winning adaptations of The Lord of the Rings have been made for radio, theatre, and film. In 2003, it was named Britain’s best-loved novel of all time in the BBC’s The Big Read.

The Difficult Middle Section

8. THE ORDEAL. Near the middle of the story, the hero enters a central space in the Special World and confronts death or faces his or her greatest fear. Out of the moment of death comes a new life.

(Read the rest here.)

Sometimes where you are is in the middle. Where things are difficult, the challenges are many and you’re suffering through the process of discovering new strength in yourself.

Frodo and Sam capture Gollum, who had been following them from Moria. They force him to guide them to Mordor. They find that the Black Gate of Mordor is too well guarded, so instead they travel to a secret way Gollum knows. On the way, they encounter Faramir, who, unlike his brother Boromir, resists the temptation to seize the Ring. He provides Frodo and Sam with food. Gollum — who is torn between his loyalty to Frodo and his desire for the Ring — betrays Frodo by leading him to the great spider Shelob in the tunnels of Cirith Ungol. Frodo falls when pierced by Shelob’s sting. But with the help of Galadriel’s gifts, Sam fights off the spider. Believing Frodo to be dead, Sam takes the Ring in the hope of finishing the quest alone. Orcs find Frodo, and from their words Sam becomes aware that Frodo is yet alive. The Orcs take Frodo’s body, and Sam chases after them, entering Mordor alone.

Sometimes you are being Frodo and Sam.

The Lord Of The Rings Book CoverThe Lord Of The Rings Book Cover

Zoona

We’re hiring for a Core Platform Engineer. We’re going to touch a Billion people with financial services (FinTech) and we need help. 🙂

poem by tagor

I know that the day will come
when my sight of this earth shall be lost
and life will take its leave in silence
drawing the last curtain over my eyes.

Yet stars will watch at night
and morning rise as before
and hours heave like sea waves
casting off pleasures and pains.

When I think of this end of my moments
the barriers of the moments breaks
and I see by the light of death
your world with its careless treasures.

Rare is its lowliest treasures
rare is its meanest of lives.
Things that I longed for in vain
and things that I got, let them pass.

Let me but truly posses the things that I spurned and overlooked.

In which I realize I'm getting older - 2017.

My calendar has an entry in it. One that I’d forgotten about because I entered it almost 10 months ago. Day of Enlightenment. Ugh. What hubris!

Let’s take stock. Let’s me navel-gaze.

Enough. There’s work to do.

For the benefit of all beings.

Civ VI - evil religious strategy

Here’s the main thrust of the idea:

  • In the game I’m playing, the civs that have high religion don’t have great armies or good science. They are very high on religion though so there’s lots of missionaries and apostles running around. Lightning and thunder, that sort of thing.
  • I have a relatively minor religion arranged around a strategy of collecting money and production from the faithful.
  • I activated the inquisition, which allows you to eliminate all religions except one from a city. (Protip - don’t let your inquisitors get confused about which religion they’re supposed to be members of…)
  • Go to the enemy civ’s Holy sites, conquer those cities using the regular army.
  • Send in the inquisitors to eradicate all faiths that are not mine. Inquisitors are cheap, but you only need one. Have an apostle ready to convert the lost sheep back to the one true faith.
  • Then make peace and return the conquered cities.

The opposition faiths are now inoculated.

In this game, I’m aiming for a science victory, but the religions are being irksome so I’m just trying to delay the faith game enough to actually reach the science victory condition.

The value of values

(Not the Rich Hickey talk, which is excellent, and can be found here.)

I saw this next bit on Seneca Systems’ recruitment site:

Why Have Values?

Out of timber so crooked as that from which man is made, nothing entirely straight can be built. — Immanuel Kant

We recognize that it is more difficult to adhere to values than to simply not have them at all. We also understand that values are aspirational and, as Kant speaks to above, we are inherently flawed creatures [emphasis mine].

I call bullshit! We are not “inherently flawed creatures”. We are beautiful beyond measure. Since we’re dueling with quotes, let me riposté with this one:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. – Marianne Williamson Author, Lecturer

So why have values then?

I actually rather like the values that Seneca Systems chose:

  • Empathy
  • Transparency
  • Right over Easy
  • Don’t always be Right
  • Optimize for People

Values provide shared higher aspirations. We say what we believe in so we can all acknowledge that in each other. Even obvious things have to be communicated clearly.