Being out at the office matters

About two weeks ago I received an email from a college student close to graduation. He met an Isilon recruiter at a job fair and found my blog after some Googling online1. This portion of his email (anonymous but reprinted with his permission) really hit home:

[Y]our openness regarding your sexual orientation (especially in the company) really made me want to work at [Isilon]. I have done several internships before in various tech companies and I was never comfortable disclosing my sexual orientation to my co-workers because I was not comfortable in those environments. After reading your posts, I realize that there is indeed a place where I can be my true self – both the geeky (or nerdy) side and disclosing who I really am.

I want to make a few observations about this:

  1. Most importantly: embracing diversity makes good business sense. EMC Isilon not only talks the talk (by things like supporting marriage equality here in Washington) but their employees walk the walk (as evidenced by me feeling comfortable being out at the office). Supporting diversity attracts talent, and EMC Isilon deserves kudos across the board for doing so.
  2. Being out in the workplace matters. Someone who is looking for a job wants to minimize any distractions that an employer may consciously2 or unconsciously use to rule out that candidate. Employees who are out at the office help create an environment where gay interviewees are comfortable being themselves. Interestingly this requires being out at the office and then letting the wider world know that you are. Not everyone has to blab about it on a blog like me however – information like this passes readily through social circles by word-of-mouth too.
  3. People read my blog! Or at least one person read my blog and found it useful.

I exchanged a few emails with him. He proceeded to interview with a team in Isilon (not my team and I wasn’t involved in any way — I wasn’t even in the office the day of his interview), was offered a job, and accepted it. I look forward to meeting him when he starts.

I couldn’t be more proud of EMC Isilon for creating an environment where employees focus on creating innovative solutions to hard problems and don’t have to waste time on the pronoun game.

1 Holy search engines batman – my blog is currently getting front-page billing if you Google isilon interview!

2 In 29 states, it’s still perfectly legal to be fired or not hired because you’re gay. Thankfully Washington isn’t one of them.

Casey’s 2012 Mix CD

Sean and Steven’s Fifth Annual Holiday CD Exchange Party was tonight in Denver, and I was unable to attend in person. Like last year they’ve graciously allowed me to participate via proxy which I really appreciate.

It’s an interesting experience for me to sit down and make a mix CD — something I consider a lost art form in today’s a la cart world. I always start with what songs moved me over the past year. Many of which come from one or two sources: new songs I’ve heard or songs that I’ve associated with friends (both new and old). This year was no different. I started out heavily influenced by a very small set of new artists I discovered. But because no one wants to hear a mix CD of just Beth Orton and Pink Martini, I had to diversify the selection a bit.

Over the course of three weeks I threw songs I liked or that spoke to me into a playlist, and then whittled down the several dozen songs to enough for a CD. It was only when I had the final list that I realized they were all about relationships, friendships, and love. So I arranged them into a sort of ballad. Not that this is necessarily my story of 2012, but it’s a story.

  1. Incredible Machine – Sugarland
  2. Anywhere – Beth Orton
  3. Central Reservation – Beth Orton
  4. Clementine – Pink Martini
  5. Never Meant to Love You – Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons
  6. Dream A Little Dream Of Me – The Mamas & The Papas
  7. Let’s Never Stop Falling In Love – Pink Martini
  8. Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen
  9. The Truth About Love – P!nk
  10. Hang With Me – Robyn
  11. Blow Me (One Last Kiss) – P!nk
  12. Walk of Shame – P!nk
  13. Singing In the Rain / Umbrella – Glee Cast
  14. It Happens – Sugarland
  15. Somebody That I Used To Know – Walk Off the Earth
  16. Bolero – Steve Sharples

Every song on the list has a meaning to me, although not necessarily what it may appear at face value. Many songs were added because they remind me of an important person in my year — and you know who you are. To those few people: thank you for being a part of my year. I can’t imagine my 2012, and my life, without you.

Navel gazing

Despite my cold, it’s obvious I’m feeling better than I have been in the past few days because I’m getting all existential over here. Last night at a dinner party I found out that an ex-coworker was having a pseudo-midlife crisis and struggling with the question “what makes me happy”. And today it hit me that I’m not certain I could answer that with any modicum of confidence either.

I love my job, by in large it makes me happy — likely because it allows me to be my OCD self in an arena where that’s accepted. And for the past 12 years I’ve leaned on my job for keeping me happy. But this suffers several deficiencies. One is that I’d like to share what makes me happy with someone special and doing so with my kind of job is nearly impossible. The number of gay men who would revel with me in my excitement about improving the speed of cluster creation by ~20% is equal to the cardinality of the digits in base 2.

The second, and in some ways more important, is that some day in the future I will retire, and I need something to make me happy after that point. I see my father who lived his job, mostly happily I believe, and see him wondering what to do when he retires — if we ever really get him retired at all.

You can see I’m muddling “hobbies” with “things that make you happy” in this context and I think that’s mostly fair.

You’ll have to excuse me over the next month or so if I get all navel-gazy.