Thursday, June 15, 2017

Don't Eavesdrop

I'm not one of those "bring your lunch to work" guys. I can't just sit at my desk for nine straight hours without a break. If my day is not broken up halfway through, by the end I'm searching through my drawers for a rope that will support my weight.

Sometimes I head over to the second-nearest supermarket and buy a frugal lunch. Since there is no free wi-fi so I can watch Netflix on my phone, I usually return to the company lunchroom area to relax and consume my cheaply obtained fare while staring at my propped up cell phone.

The beauty of this is that the headphones block out all surrounding distractions, a necessity demonstrated by the rest of this story.

When I completed the episode of "Sherlock" I was watching last week I left the wrappers and containers on the table as I used the restroom to clean something I had spilled on my hands. I returned to the table to clean up my mess, I caught the conversation of the three women at a nearby table. Walking to the bathroom they were chatting about which NBA star who's team was currently in the finals would make the best boyfriend.

When I returned, however, the conversation had shifted to, and this is a completely accurate quote "You know the bible says if your boyfriend is cheating on you, you got to kill him."

Yikes! Not even, "You should kill him" or "you can kill him." You "got" to kill him. It's a moral imperative. It is now your responsibility to remove him from the world.

The response from the other ladies was even more surprising to me. "Maybe your bible says that. But my bible doesn't." What? Do people think bibles differ this much? I realize there are different translations and interpretations, but one says "you gotta kill your boyfriend" and another one says "thou shall not kill" and both of them are equally valid?

Also, who could possibly interpret the bible, one of the most misogynistic works ever written, to contain a rule where women are permitted to kill men? Kill a cheating woman? I could definitely see that, but the reverse seems very unlikely. If you are a modern woman who believes, however, I understand how you could make this gender conversion work for you. Maybe there are even modern translations that make this gender neutrality more prevalent?

Two lessons learned. Don't eavesdrop on other people's conversations, and don't date religious women.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

People Change

Last year I decided to drive to New England from here in Tennessee to visit a friend and to hand deliver a birthday gift to my brother and his daughter. He was turning 50 and she was turning 18 so I thought it would be nice to see them again. We don't get to see each other very often, maybe twice in 15 years.

I had a whole week off so I also thought it would be cool to visit Atlantic City. I love to visit Las Vegas and had never been to AC before. It's almost shocking since I grew up in the DC area and it's really a short drive from there to the Jersey shore. That seemed like light years away from me then, now it's hours closer than Tunica Mississippi which I drove to on Memorial Day weekend. I could check out AC, play some cards in the Taj Mahal before it closes, and then head up to Foxwoods. Then on to Boston and New Hampshire.

The strangest thing happened to me when I was driving through the Virginia/Washington DC area. I was driving my car on the beltway and the traffic was fast moving but intensely busy. I had previously debated riding a motorcycle for the trip but decided the car was a much better idea. The bike would have been much more challenging, which is what attracted me to the idea. But clearer heads prevailed.

As I was negotiating traffic I had multiple near misses and I was very much on edge in the driver's seat. I don't drive in heavy traffic often any more, especially since I took this job where I take a two-lane country highway at 55 MPH all the way to work every day. I distinctly remember thinking "I'm sure glad I didn't take the bike. This would be terrifying. You'd have to be a lunatic to drive a motorcycle in this area."

It was almost a half an hour later when I was nearing Baltimore that I realized I am that lunatic.

I used to live in Virginia, and I worked at a place inside the beltway. When I was twenty I bought a motorcycle, a Yamaha FZ 250. Not even a big motorcycle, a little one cylinder 250cc baby crotch rocket. I had never ridden any kind of bike before. I just went to a dealer, found one where my feet could touch the ground and bought it figuring I'd learn to ride it on the way home.

And I rode it all over the DC area. Inside, outside and on the beltway. Day and night, rain or shine. Only snow could keep me off the roads. It's not like the traffic in that area has changed either. If anything it was even more scary then because cars were such pieces of shit in the 80s. Even that bike ran on regular gas, which was getting tough to find in 1989.

It boggles my mind that it took me almost half an hour to realize that I have changed so much that not only would I not ride a motorcycle in that situation any more, but that there was a time when I did it without even a thought of how dangerous it was. I had forgotten who that person was and what he was like.

I know people sometimes say about their past "that was in a previous life" but sometimes it really feels that way.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Life

I drive a plug-in hybrid electric car, and I'm lucky that my workplace has electric charging stations where I can charge my car while I work.

One day when plugging in my car I noticed a coin sitting on the ground in front of the charger. I picked up the coin and placed it on the top of the charger. It's kind of slanted, so every day the coin slides a little way towards the front of the charger, eventually falling back onto the pavement. Occasionally I pick up the coin again and place it back atop the charger. I've been doing this for at least six months. Someday the coin will disappear. It will fall and roll farther away than I care to look, or someone will see the coin on the ground or the charger and take it for themselves. Until then, I will keep putting the coin back up on the charger.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Bill O'Reilly Is Not Going Down

Brian Williams got suspended from reading the news for six months after he lied. He exaggerated the danger he faced when he was in a threatening situation. The reason he got suspended was not because he lied, he got suspended because he admitted it.

Bill O'Reilly will not get suspended. He was never in a combat zone, he was amid unrest. Yes it's dangerous, but it ain't war. He dressed up his hand a little bit in his books and in some interviews. Everyone likes to make jokes that it's Fox News and lies are their schtick, but that's not why O'Reilly won't get suspended. Bill won't get suspended because he will never admit he lied.

This is just how the world works. It sucks, but it's true.

Here's an example. One day at work I made a mistake. While trying to fix a problem, I changed a setting on the device that lets people who are outside the company network log in, and it prevented them from being able to do that. After the first phone call where someone couldn't log in I realized what happened and I changed the setting back, and users were able to log in again. I quickly sent out an email telling people what had happened and that the issue was resolved. People were unable to log in to some applications for about five minutes. Less than 10 people were affected.

The next day I got called into my boss' office and was required to sign a document that said I knew I had made a change that I was not supposed to make and that if I continued to make mistakes like that I would be terminated. A bit harsh, but it was true I had made a change I should not have made during production time.

Less than a week later a peer of mine, let's call him Bob (because that's his name) made a mistake. I was going to call it a similar mistake, but that's not true. Bob's mistake was much more catastrophic. Bob made a change to the network that knocked off all users, (we're talking thousands) and prevented them from working for 20-30 minutes. Even the phones went down. Bob and I have the same boss.

At first we didn't know that Bob was responsible for the downtime. We were just concerned with getting all the users back online and getting the company functioning again. The following day we did a post-mortem and Bob denied everything. He literally claimed he was not in the building when the problem occurred, he was outside smoking a cigarette. After checking logs and investigating the issue we were unable to find the cause of the downtime.

The next day one of my more suspicious coworkers had the brilliant idea of looking in the backup logs. Turns out not only had Bob made the changes that caused the downtime, the next day he had methodically erased his presence in the log files that recorded the changes. He waited too long however and the files had been backed up without his knowledge.

We presented our findings at the next datacenter meeting, and Bob still denied everything.  The consensus decision among leadership was that it happened several days ago, it was a "he-said, she-said" situation and another major downtime had happened between then and now, so nobody really cares.

The problem just went away. Enough time had passed that nobody really cared anymore. At the time the passion was high, heads will roll, etc. But less than a week later, all that fire was extinguished. Bob never even got a slap on the wrist. It's sad, yes.

But that's really how the world works. I'm fairly certain if my boss had waited a week to think about my mistake he would have blown it off completely. Especially considering all the things that happened in that week. It didn't even come up in my end of year review. It was completely forgotten by then.

So what's the lesson to be learned from this? If you want to get away with something your only chance is to stall and lie and cover up as much as possible? Well, yes. That's probably true. If a major news story happens in the near future, nobody will remember or care about any controversy that concerns Bill O'Reilly. Remember Gary Condit? On September 10th 2001 he and Chandra Levy were the biggest news story around.

But to me the lesson is, would you rather be like Brian Williams or Bill O'Reilly? I don't know you or how you feel about Fox News and Mr. O'Reilly, but that's an easy decision for me. I can find another job.

P.S. The problem I was trying to fix when I made my mistake? Yeah, it's still a problem. I ain't touching that shit.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Scottish Independence

This is how the "Scottish Independence" story happened in America:

There's this HUGE story and nobody is paying any attention to it! Scottish people are voting on whether they want to gain their independence from the United Kingdom!

This is unprecedented in history! This could change the way lives of everyone in the UK, Scotland, Britain and all of Europe! There's oil involved, currency involved, economies involved, it's a really big deal!

Oh, they voted no?

Never mind.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

More on Bullies, Skinny White Ones

I just saw a "Public Service Announcement" called "Cigarettes are Bullies." What kind of bullshit is that?

First of all, I hate the way the world is devaluing the word "bully." Bullies are about terror, not annoyance. Having to pause the movie to go outside to smoke is not terrifying.

Second of all, the theory is bullshit. The only thing that makes smoking annoying is the bulllshit rules people have made. First you make rules that say "No Smoking Indoors," then you say its inconvenient that you have to go outside. First you raise taxes to make them cost a fortune, then you say you have to "fork it over." Then you use the taxes to make the deceptive commercial!

Look, I don't smoke and I don't think people should smoke, but I think people should be free to do what they want, ESPECIALLY when it's perfectly legal! If you have to do a PSA, just stick with the facts, not hyperbole.

Smoking is bad for you and may cause you to get some bad diseases. And it's addictive so it may be difficult for you to quit once you've started. That's about it. There are worse things for you, and if you enjoy smoking and think it's worth the risk, knock yourself out.

Please save the bullshit. You supposedly can't buy cigarettes unless you are an adult, why not treat smokers like adults?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Whiskey



I have been meaning to post more photos on this blog, but that means I have also been meaning to take more photos.

I once wished for the day when I would carry a camera with me everywhere I went. Now between cell phones, tablets and laptop computers, I carry several. Yet I don't use them like I should. I will try to do better. I can think of several things today I wish I had photographed.

Here's a picture I took with my tablet that I like a fair bit. I need to be less of a snob about what camera I use. I have seen shots a lot better than my best that were taken from a disposable camera.

Enjoy!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Interesting New Development

I just found out two of my coworkers turned in their notice yesterday. It should be noted that only eight employees are working at the datacenter, and two of them are managers who don't work on actual systems. With three of us leaving, this cuts the staff of actual workers in half. One of the people who put in his notice was the person I was supposed to train to work on my system.