Saturday, February 25, 2017

A little perspective would be nice.

I have been posts in my Facebook feed about the treatment of an Australian children's author by the TSA in  LAX.  She was accused of having an incorrect visa for her trip.  Shockingly, the TSA officials were wrong.  However, she was still held in a TSA holding room and grilled by overzealous agents for two hours.  They apparently thought that this 70 year old author was up to some nefarious plan instead of treating it like the minor paperwork it should have been.  And again, they (the TSA) were in the wrong.

So what might rub me wrong about people showing righteous indignation over this in my Facebook feed?  As Bobcat Goldthwait once said, "Learn to hate correctly".  You see, all of these people are all blaming our new president and his immigration directives.  You know, the same ones that were issued by his predecessor and by his presidential opponent's husband while that man was in office.  To quote Uncle Al, an "Inconvenient Truth".  (disclaimer:  Trump was not my candidate.  Nor was Clinton.  I disliked the both for office.  The election happened and we have to live with the outcome)

Unfortunately, this is not really where the blame should lie.  You see, the TSA has been a giant ball of suck and fail since it's inception, and blaming him for the continuing failures of that organization is like blaming Ronald McDonald when you get a bad cheeseburger.  Researching this will show many occasions where TSA agents went about an overzealous and incorrect detention and questioning, not to mention the invasive and embarrassing searches.

So, if you want to bitch about it, go ahead.  Just make sure you are blaming the correct people.

Friday, February 24, 2017


After my last post, things changed.  Literally the following day I got a call telling me I had a new job.  No interview, just welcome to the company.  Same pay as my previous job.  22 mile commute.  Actually in the exact type of company that I was looking for.  Smaller, medical industry, part of a team.  The technology was right in my wheelhouse and they needed to start working on upgrading the environment.  They were also just expanding into officially supporting Apple products in the environment.  Sweet.  

The timing was excellent.  I managed to keep afloat, pay rent and utilities and survive.  Things looked good.  I was low man on the totem pole, and I was still a contractor with no health insurance, but otherwise good.  

About three months in the commute started to really grind.  Mass transit would cost more than driving, so drive it was.  I had to leave an hour and a half driving time for the morning commute.  The evening averaged two hours.  Still, it was a job, things at work were looking good, I enjoyed my co-workers and was learning new skills.  I got a very nice email from the CIO complementing my work, my attitude and the opinion of me by others at the company 

Then I got sideswiped by my co-worker on one of my cases.  

Due to the nature of the environment, and the total lack of documentation, I asked for help on something and he put me off for a day.  That turned into a week and it came due for completion.  I got it done, with his help, at the last minute.  I accepted that I let it slide and that it was my fault that we had to rush. I vowed to not let that happen again.  

A month later, I got another case for something that we had no documentation for.  I dislike randomly changing settings on servers and applications without knowing what those changes will do, so I again requested assistance.  The due date was two weeks out, so the answer was "Yes, we'll work on it Thursday."  Ok.  Thursday, rolls around and He delays to Friday.  Then Monday.  Then Wednesday.  Then Thursday.  Thursday I get no reply and he is out of the office all day.  Friday morning I send yet another email with the reminder that this is due on Monday.  I get an email at 3pm asking if it was completed.  

At this point I am annoyed and reply faster than I should have, sharply reminding him that we were supposed to work on it together and that he had delayed.  His reply was that it was my fault for not making sure that he had made time in his day to address the issue.  I was dumbfounded.  I did not reply.  Words escaped me.  Shortly after he called and was very apologetic, working with me to complete the task just after 5:30.  Still, once is an accident, twice is coincidence.  I was not interested in the third time.  

Before I left I packed all of my personal tools, equipment and personal effects and put them in my car.  I then backed up all of my data.  I had been very thorough in my case notes, including his emails requesting delay, but I felt as a contractor that my job could be undone by this person without my knowledge.  So I played it safe.  

Things went quiet for a while.  Money was still tight, but I was saving money and was just about to bring everything current.  I was playing the game of keeping on bill a month behind, and I was just about to bring everything current.  Then my car got vandalized.  Twice in the same week.  Two tires and a new passenger window later I am down over $500.  I am steamed at this point.  

Coincidentally as I am waiting on a tow, I get a phone call from my in-laws to tell me about the house they just bought.  The still plan to live in their motor home, but they now have a home base.  I was not in a good mood and spent several minutes raving about my hatred of the bay area.  At that point they asked, "Would you be willing to move if we paid for it?"  

Leave California and everything I know?  I asked if I could have time to talk to my daughter.  Her answer was "YES!" before I even finished the question.  The following Wednesday I gave notice.  Two weeks later I was unemployed and furiously packing and getting rid of stuff.  I was unsuccessful on both cases despite some very generous help from friends.  I gave my truck away to some friends who needed it.  We ended up having to pay for the moving company to pack stuff and I still ended up abandoning stuff.  I can still hear to ghost of my wife screaming at me for that.  I wrote off the deposit on the apartment, since we rolled out 45 minutes after the moving truck.  

So, me, my daughter, two cats, our laptops/tablets/phones, my guns and a week of clothing left on a 1900 mile journey to southeast Texas.  I have been here for two and a half months.  I have a house to live in.  I am still looking for work, but I have hope.  I am sure there are unpleasant people here, but I have not met them yet.  It has been nothing short of nice.  I now have hope for the future.  Also, the BBQ is great.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The end of the rope...

Its coming up fast...

I have just about reached the end of mine.  I am completely out of money.  Savings, gone.  Credit maxed with no hope of paying it.  401k cashed out and gone.  In-laws have helped as much as they can.  Interviews have been fruitless, although one wanted to hire me but could not afford the Robert Half fees to take me on.  Most of my applications go unanswered.  I just found out how badly my sister has raided my mother's estate.  There will be no relief from that angle.  If anyone knows an internet millionaire who has money to help the imminently homeless, please send them my way.  Better yet, if anyone knows Elon Musk, see if he can get me into one of the open desktop support openings at Tesla in the bay area.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

How refreshing

I never thought that I would agree with them.  I have long disagreed with many of the racially based protest groups/organizations.  I have not normally had issue with the basis for their message, but usually with how they go about pushing that message.  Usually we get caricatures of the issues in the form of either front men like Al Sharpton or criminals like Wesley Cook (murderer of Daniel Faulkner) who actually committed the crime and were justly convicted.  There are many cases of unjust prosecution and oppression that have actual innocent people involved, like George Allen Jr.  However, we tend to see the fiasco version, like the Michael Brown case (committed strong-arm robbery, assaulted the officer and attempted to get his gun, forensically proven to be the aggressor and not to be raising his hands to surrender).  

Then we have Chicago.  Historically known for corrupt politicians, corrupt police and corrupt judicial officials.  Enough books, documentaries, movies, television and radio shows (it goes back quite a while) have been produced to fill a library on the subject.  Thus I can't say I was surprised to see the list of failures in the State's Attorney office by Anita Alvarez.  The list of failures and (really) offenses is long and would make a great HBO series.  This woman makes the characters on Sons of Anarchy look fairly pedestrian by comparison.  But the fact that she made so many bad moves, so often and usually in spite of evidence at hand is simply amazing.  It was as if she was channeling William Hale Thompson.

So it is interesting to see that the Black Lives Matter group managed to get her voted out of office not by allying or even supporting her opponent, but simply by asking people to not vote for Alvarez.  No promises that her successor would make things all better, no plans to right wrongs.  Just a plan to get a corrupt official out of office.  Likely, this will be their game plan for further elections, possibly even the upcoming presidential election.  It will be interesting to see if they do, because they will have a choice between the giant clown and the dishonest former co-worker of the corrupt Chicago mayor.

Decisions, decisions...

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Sometimes it just doesn't pay...

To chew through the leather straps...

JK Rowling has published several new entries on the Pottermore website expanding the Harry Potter universe.  For those of you who don't know, this is a series of books (and movies, and theme parks, etc...) about a fictional world where magic is real and a great many groups of people are represented in the magical world differently than they would be in a true life story.  Because its a work of fiction.  This is important to remember, because some people seem to fail to grasp these small details.

It seems that a number of Native American writers have gotten their shorts in a bind because JKR dared to write them as other than they exist in real life.  In work of fiction.  She failed to research every last detail of the history of the Native Americans and present them in a historically accurate (and apparently properly sensitive) way in her works of fiction about a world where magic is real.  Did I mention that this is a work of fiction?

Now, I will happily be the first to say that the Native American people got screwed the moment the Europeans set foot in North America.  They lost everything.  I will not deny that they had it rough, and allowing them to open casinos on their land is just a drop in the bucket towards making reparations.

That being said, please give me a break.  I am quite sure that you have bigger things to deal with, for example, disproportionately high rates of poverty, infant mortality, unemployment, and low high school completion rates.  If this is your idea of striking out for your people against those that would oppress them, then I am not surprised that the above mentioned problems continue to linger.  You see, those problems exist, as opposed to the alternate representation of your people in a work of fiction about a world where magic exists.  

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Dear Republican Party

Its bad enough that your nomination election process has been turned into a clown show of epic proportions.  You have a fairly sound system for the process, as opposed to the Democrats "Super Delegate" method of gaming their own system. Please do not start working on ways to tell your own party members that their votes don't count.  Yes, you have the biggest clown show in election history taking the party by storm.  How about figuring out why people are voting for him as opposed to trying to rig the convention to block him?  Maybe try showing some leadership as opposed to his showmanship?

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Oh, the Oscars were on?

I was asked by a friend today what I thought of the Oscar awards.  They were surprised when I replied that I thought the Sharks played well and stuck to their game to get the win.  Apparently I have committed a social faux pas.

You see, I watched the awards shows when I was much younger and had the illusion that they meant something.  Later I realized that they are really a way for the industry to pat themselves on the back.  It also allowed an insulated group to profess their often vapid political statements on camera.  I also realized long ago that basing your political beliefs based on your favorite actor's statements is like using a match to check for the location of a gas leak.

So, watching these people parade around in six figure outfits so that they can receive six figure gift bags and possibly a statue for the mantle is not really interesting to me.  And add in the ridiculous whinging over the nominees was just a joke.  I did the same thing this year that I have done for the last several decades, which was something else.