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Do The Right Thing Morally, Spiritually & Technically

I'm Mike, and I'm determined to not let negativity stop me. I'm taking steps to stay relevant in my industry by learning Linux, Python, vim, and git, while also working on building self-confidence. From my father, a quality assurance engineer, to the Commodore tech of my childhood, to the Microsoft Web-tech I encountered later, I'm learning important lessons and continuously reinventing myself.

Reinventing Myself: Mike Levin's Journey of Overcoming Negativity and Staying Relevant

By Michael Levin

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

If you haven’t made it by now you’ll never make it, says the nattering nabobs of negativism. Is my posting here and on YouTube despite never having “blow up” actually the foolish consistency warned against as the hobgoblins of little minds? I have to ask that about myself. Should I just give up and behave like some beaten down dog?

No! The foolish consistency is, and has always been, actually listening to the voices of negativity! Pessimists are wrong! Listen instead to your own strong inner voice. Is it telling you that you are right:

If You Know You’re Right, Stick To Your Guns

If yes on all counts, then stick to your guns! Grow backbone and get up and just break your improper consistency in favor of a more effectiveness and consistency. Fear is the mind killer.

Tweak process, but don’t give up.

Correcting Course Is Okay. How To Try New Things.

If something hasn’t been working for you:

And so it’s pretty obvious the stuff I’ve been doing spot-on correct are:

I’m Mic Lovin’

Who am I? My name is Mike.
I have a Mic & like to talk.
I like to talk into the Mic.
I love to talk into the Mic.
My name is Mike, I’m Mic Lovin’
That’s how you say it. Let’s begin!

—Mike Levin, 2022

Of Chicken Lips & Mother Ships

My tales are mine.
That’s what life’s for.
Now let’s begin with Commodore:

The box of grey…
Or was that beige?
For ten years straight, was all the rage.

They hired me.
Adventure… Weeeeee!
Little did I know

The mothership
Blew up. I quip
From here, where do I go?

—Mike Levin, 2022

A Foolish Consistency is the Hobgoblin of Little Minds of QA Engineers

So I went to a Norwegian software company who go taken over by the same foolish hobgoblins of consistency, the very same little minds who ruined Commodore by sacrificing the future on the altar of yesterday. In other words, who they were (remaining compatible) inhibited their growth (breaking compatibility).

Realizing this and internalizing the message and applying it to me and my own life has been the single hardest lesson of my life. My own father was a quality assurance engineer, hahaha, albeit in textiles and not technophiles. There’s something oddly dream-crushing in the “vibe” of the field of quality assurance, at least in my opinion. Someone is set up as the arbiter of what is good and what is bad, and they bring it with a holier-than-thou attitude to areas of life in which they’re not qualified. My dad was less guilty of this than the Commodore Q/A-engineer that everyone hated but for some reason, we could never get rid of.

We are who we are both in the moment and from the past. But the mistake is to limit who we can become now and in the future based on who we were in the past. We are not so excessively colored, stained, tarnished, cast or whatever other crafty metaphor you want to use, by our pasts as we allow ourselves to believe.

Re-invent yourself!

Break compatibility with past selves.

Cast off your old Ironman suits and try on new attire for size & features.

It doesn’t even need to be armor if you’re in a new situation in life that does not call for it.

You might be surprised how much more you you can be.

You may not be (and probably are not) the you who you think you are.

This is terribly hard to see and even harder to admit once you see it. Truth is effing hard. And often, truth can be disparaging to yourself or others… by one way of seeing it. By another way of seeing it, that disparaging is really just healthy self deprecation. Don’t take yourself too seriously, and don’t let others make things more serious than they are.

Honk their noses. They’re clowns. They need their noses honked.

Who I Was, Excessively Tied to Commodore

So you have my childhood story. Philly suburbs, tossed into Commodore in Westchester, PA due to some unlikely connections with friends whose fathers were engineers at Commodore and the related MOS semiconductor facility in Norristown, PA. I had “an in”. And this was enhanced by my going to Drexel University where they required all incoming students (CompSci majors or not) to buy a computer… and a Macintosh, at that! The timing was such with my going to school there that the new “Educational Marketing” department at Commodore was looking to recruit and nurture “on-campus consultants” to give out literature and answer questions regarding Commodore computers. I was the president of the Philadelphia Amiga Users’ group (plural possessive&151;always plural possessive) at the time, and so Howard Diamond, the man who gave me my first copy of The Art of War, sought me out at a local Commodore trade-show.

And so I went to work for Commodore. And so I became involved in marketing, which seemed only natural given my predilection and natural abilities in art. There’s a lot of art in marketing, right? Seems like a good fit.

But then Commodore went away. And there I was stuck holding a lot of shitty inapplicable Commodore skills and nowhere to go…

In The Company of Other Rats Jumping Off A Sinking Ship

…except for all the other boats the rats were jumping to from that sinking ship, as the draconian sysadmin who was to be my hateful mentor used to love saying. You learn many of your most important and deep meaningful lessons from some of the most hateful and despicable people you will ever meet in your life. It’s one of life’s great ironies that life itself sometimes only moves forward due to the actions of people who would have fried you in butter if they could have.

The sysadmin of the company I went to work for after Commodore (after a 1-year detour of running my recently deceased father’s check-cashing store where I had the misfortune of having to shoot a robber) was one such person. I learned a lot from this person who would spec out and order equipment for me then keep it for himself, take sound cards and other parts out of my and other employee PCs during the night because he “needed them for testing” and endless other cases of subtle punitive actions against people he disliked.

Just Because You’re Paranoid Doesn’t Mean They’re Not Out To Get You

Watch out for subtle punitive actions against you by people who dislike you. They dislike you because they recognize qualities in you that they wish they themselves had. They are of course jealous of you and think it’s unfair you can live your life that way and make it work for you, when their attempts at similar have come up empty. That’s because subtlety and nuance count, and they can’t get all those finer points down. They’re stuck on surface detail.

And so, fast-forward to my move to New York City. I had to get out of that friggn’ poisonous environment of that once-Norwegian but now firmly suburban (Pennsylvania) company. I contractually earned a percentage of company gross (not net!) there, and it was sooooo hard to give up. I only gave it up to become a vice president at the same public relations company that launched Amazon.com to success. Can you believe that? Yup, I had stars in my eyes and skills under my belt, as imminently obsolete as they were soon to become.

The Safe Harbor of Microsoft Was Not Actually So Safe

Huh? Yeah, by this time I got off all the Commodore tech that was no more and moved onto all the Microsoft Web-tech. Microsoft is safe harbor, right? Fool me once, I won’t get fooled again, right? Well I was fooled again. Well, I was fooled again because Microsoft Active Server Pages (.asp files) were deprecated, along with all their supporting tech in favor of Microsoft’s .NET stuff, which was all copied from Java which was horribly jerry-rigged for the Web with a whole bunch of framework nonsense you had to religiously buy into in order to get back even rudimentary capabilities you had under the old .asp system. I’m talking about stuff they called code-behind, postback and viewstate (just for starters). It was not for the feint of heart, nor for the non-professional programmer. And it basically required you to use VisualStudio.NET, something else entirely than the VSCode that almost shares its name and role in Microsoft forced-tool-usage today.

Mike Levin, SEO in NYC… No More. Or Again?

This takes me up to the move to NYC when branded myself Mike Levin, SEO in NYC. This is where the next chapter begins. I wind it up here because I hardly think I could talk about it without all the negativity that I’m trying to put behind me, suffice to say that I have to man-up now for the child that I had during this time-period.

They are 11 years old now and really starting to think. With that ability to think comes the freedom for me to act… to act correctly morally, spiritually and technically. I have not been able to do that until recently for lack of energy following the divorce and rigors of a new marriage and the pandemic.

But I’m gradually marshalling my energies and the next chapter is beginning. The next chapter has begun.