Wednesday, July 11th, 2018...10:27

Father’s Day, Perf and PII

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For Father’s Day this year my daughter presented me with a sheet of paper containing a variety of “my dad…” statements e.g.

  • My dad’s favorite color is:__________
  • My dad always says:__________

My thoughts drifted to The Newlywed Game as I wondered how many of the questions I would have answered with the same exact answer she had given. She definitely got my favorite color. The more open ended questions all had “correct” answers e.g.

  • My dad’s job is: to work to make money for our house
  • My dad and I like to: eat ice cream sundaes

Then I began to wonder if I would have been able to answer the questions about her with the same accuracy. I’m fairly certain I know her favorite color; I’m pretty sure I know her favorite food (when not qualified with “healthy”).

For better or worse, I next started to think of it from a performance review angle. Over the last 12 years I’ve worked at companies that have fairly rigorous performance review cycles and every now and then I’m surprised by what my peers and/or manager think I do well, could improve, as well as what things they felt were worth mentioning in general and what they omitted. For example, I may have spent a lot of time providing what I thought were insightful comments in design documents, taking great care to word them so as not to provoke knee jerk defensive reactions, only to have none of my co-workers mention it. Meanwhile they might mention they appreciated how open I was to being interrupted at my desk to answer random questions and that they wished I didn’t jump on production issues so they had more chances to learn how to handle them.

So while it’s certainly true my daughter loves to eat ice cream sundaes and I’d be hard pressed to say no if one were offered to me, I wonder what other things she thinks we both like to do together. What if she thought about it for a while and nothing else came up?

There were two topics that came up multiple times, pizza and juggling. I suppose it’s not the end of the world if those are the most prominent things that come to her mind when she thinks of me since they’re both things I enjoy as activities with her. However, they’re not the top two characteristics that (I think) define me; so I’ve been feeling pressure to alter the time I spend with her so she has a chance to discover other things that are more important to me than pizza and juggling (though perhaps I should spend some time learning how to juggle pizzas).

Looking at the links I’ve chosen to display on this blog, there are 3 related to hiking. My daughter has been very resistant to going hiking, she still often refuses to walk when we walk the dog (instead riding in a stroller). On my birthday she threw such a fit regarding going for a short hike, partially because it was just what I wanted to do that we aborted. It would have been her first actual hike. We have been trying to work through this need to defy and control for some time now as she did the same thing for Mother’s Day and also my wife’s birthday. For Father’s Day we tried again and she agreed to go hiking and actually enjoyed it. Perhaps over time it will supplant pizza or juggling when she thinks of me.

The last unwonted association I’ll make between Father’s Day and my job revolves around personally identifiable information or PII. It’s a topic that comes up often at work…I shudder to think how much effort was put into companies regarding General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and over time I’ve become less and less open about things I post. As a kid BBSes and AOL were my first introduction to the ability to connect with arbitrary people all over the world (other than a few random digit dialing pranks via a landline telephone). Shortly after I discovered HTML followed by animated GIFs then JavaScript, setting up presences on and GeoCities. One of the pages I had on AOL was called Ask The Singularity. No one in their right mind should fill out that form, even though inspecting the source it’s clear none of the data was transmitted out of the client’s browser. Yet, 20+ years ago plenty of people probably did. In fact that page won a Worst of the Web award on 1997-08-13 for whatever that’s worth…

In this post, I did not include my favorite color because it’s possible that has been used as security question on one or more websites I might have an account with. I haven’t included my daughter’s name (though I have revealed my child’s current gender). I must really be getting old because I yearn for the time when there both seemed to be less to fear about being open online and I was less concerned about the potential damage.

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