Saturday, November 29, 2014

Just a question....

Has the family of Michael Brown apologized to the owner and employees of Ferguson Market and Liquor for the strong arm robbery committed by their son just prior to his death?  Or for the damage done to the store by the rioters incited by Brown's step-father?



Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The long goodbye...

It has been two months.  Three months ago I had a wife, a daughter, a service dog for my wife and two cats.  A family.  Today I have a foster child and two cats.

I spent a month and a half trying to get used to the new normal.  The emptiness now present in our home.  The mood swings from my daughter, one minute smiling and baking for an army, then next sullen and hiding in her room.  The looks from the Banner as lays on the couch where my wife used to sit.  The cats have even gotten more clingy, although that may just be because I feed them.

One constant was still caring for Banner, my wife's service dog.  It took my wife seven years to get him.  Two service dog organizations went out of business before they could deliver a dog.  The third one was successful.  She had him for just over two years.  Two years of service, companionship, love and devotion.  Now he had no purpose.  No one to help get around.  And despite our best care and attention, he knew we were not Mom.

After a month and a half, we finally had a service, a remembrance and celebration of life.  I asked a number of friends to assist with the planning.  I was not capable.  It went well and I was pleasantly surprised at the turnout.  It was touching.  However, I found out that this was the easy part.

The morning after the service, I had to say goodbye to Banner.  The organization that provided him retains ownership of the dogs that they train to ensure that they are cared for in cases such as this.  We had several phone calls and were initially planning to keep him if allowed.  Unfortunately, the longer we had him the more I realized that without my wife, Banner was not suited to living in a small two bedroom apartment with several cats that did not like him.  So, the day after I said goodbye to my wife, I walked Banner down to the front of our building with all of his belongings, took off his leash and said "Car."  I then handed the leash to the wonderful woman who was picking him up, the woman who raised him from a puppy before he was trained.  Then I watched them drive away, taking with them the dog that gave my wife such joy, such hope for a better life where she did not have to depend on others.  It was almost as hard as the day she died.  I don't recall the walk back up to my apartment.  I do recall crying hard, as hard as the day she died.

I thought that after all of this, things would get better.  I was able to retain custody of my daughter, despite my never being able to adopt her.  Her biological father has not seen her but once in the last 12 years and realized that he was not prepared to take on her care.  I am now a foster parent, which was more than I was expecting.  The 10 year fight with the school district to get our daughter into the proper school is finally over, mainly due to my wife's tenacity and (I believe) her passing.  A loan that we were hoping to get to level our finances and undo the damage done to our finances by her illnesses came through the day before she passed away.

Then the other shoe drops.  Several, in fact.  During this trying time I apparently had Jury Duty and missed it.  I just received the notice telling me this, and found the original notice buried on my desk.  Then my manager decided that this would be an excellent time to write me up for my "excessive unscheduled time off" this year.  The illness and death of my wife, not to mention the court battles and school district battles, all done using existing time off allotments (sick, vacation and personal days) were apparently unacceptable reasons.  So now I have a lovely to-do with my HR department.

I normally look forward to the holiday season.  This year, not so much.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The new normal.

Tonight we decided to do something that my wife enjoyed.  We made popcorn, sat on the couch fending off the cats and watched some of the new season's shows.  The dog lay peacefully on his bed curled up with my wife's jacket, finally sleeping well if the running in his sleep movements were any measure.  We enjoyed the TV shows, successfully defended our snacks from the feline menace and generally forgot about the stress and loss of the last week for just a little bit.  It felt good, but I worry that one day it will be too easy to allow that memory to fade.  I hope not.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Was this trip really necessary?

Friday I am notified that we have a court hearing on Monday to discuss my step-daughter's custody.  Due to the expense we were never able to put together the funds to move forward with the formal adoption.  Apparently the social workers worked quickly on these notifications.  As things were busy, I was unable to complete the game of tag with the lawyer, so I have to hope I bring everything I need to the hearing.

Two and a half days of frantic and stressful activity later, I walk into the court building trailing a rolling file box full of every scrap of documentation I can find relating to my step-daughter and my wife's custody of her. After three hours of waiting, we spend 5 minutes in the courtroom to be told "Our condolences, no changes, come back in three weeks." Was this trip really necessary?

Sunday, September 28, 2014


How do you deal with the loss?  My wife of 10 years has passed away.

I left her at the hospital in the evening, having had to argue with doctors about getting her heart medication re-instated and a new treatment started for her Crohn's Disease.  We had finally gotten them to stop trying to prescribe pain medications that she was allergic to, and finally gotten her nausea controlled.  Things were looking up.  My in-laws, our daughter and my wife's service dog were all there all afternoon.  My wife finally got clean sheets, a clean outfit and a sponge bath.  We washed her hair for her, which really brightened her day.  Being in the hospital sucks, but its the little things that make it better.  She was thrilled that everyone was there.

I had already taken the day from work due to the exhaustion brought by the previous 5 days and spent it all at the hospital.  In the early evening I kissed my wife and told her I would see her in the morning.  I took our daughter to get a bite to eat that was not hospital food and dropped her back off.  My wife posted her excitement on Facebook at finally getting a treatment that stood a good chance of combating the Crohn's.  She spent the evening exchanging texts with people about the treatment.  I went home, fed the cats, had something to eat and went to bed early.  All our shows were set to record and I would watch them with her when she got home.

After I got dressed in the morning, I saw that my daughter had called while I was in the shower.  I was expecting a call to tell me that she needed fresh clothing or that a doctor was being problematic and I needed to intervene.  Instead the phone was answered by a hysterical 15 year old telling me that my wife was gone.

I cannot describe the feeling at that moment.  I know I said "What?!?"  She repeated it.  I told her I would be there as fast as I could.  No thought was given about anything else.  I don't recall half of that 15 minute trip.  I recall thinking that she was wrong, that when I arrived I would be told that there was a scare but she was alive.  It was not possible.

She lay in the bed unmoving.  A tube still stuck out of her mouth.  There was no comforting movement of her breathing.  Our daughter turned and clamped onto me in a tear filled bear hug.  My question of what happened was explained, but it held no answer.  I was reduced to a quivering pile of tears for...  I don't know how long.  We asked that they remove the tube and then tried to comb her hair, but we could't.  It was hours before I could bring myself to leave, and then it was the hardest thing I have ever had to do.  I kissed her on the forehead, told her that I loved her, squeezed her hand and then cried in the hallway.

My wife's service dog simply sat by the bed, wanting to jump up and see mom, but not allowed to and not understanding why.  I still don't think he understands that mom is not coming home five days on.  We let him say goodbye when we finally left.  He climbed up on the bed, sniffed around her head, licked her face and then lay down on her legs.  But when we finally left I really don't think he quite gets it.  He sleeps on her pillow and the jacket that she first wore when she met him.  She loved that jacket and wore it all the time.

My questions as to why are still not answered.  The doctors and nurses were shocked as well.  At 4 AM she was fine, vitals were normal and she chatted with the nurse.  At 5 AM she was not breathing and had a weak pulse.  Almost 2 hours of effort to revive her failed.  My daughter was stuck in the room the whole time and was forced to sit and watch her mother pass away.  And she feels it is her fault.  I can't dissuade her from that opinion.  And now I have to pick up the pieces.

I don't know how.

Just calling and notifying everyone who needed to know was almost impossible, even with the help of our daughter, my wife's parents and a family friend who arrived as soon as she could.  So many people that my wife touched.  So many people that had to be called so that their first notification was not a Facebook post.  And now that I am trying to pick up these pieces, accomplish the tasks that she accomplished while I was at work, I don't know how she did it.

She was my life, it completely revolved around her.  I know eventually this will get easier.  I know that eventually I will be able to look at her belongings and remember her fondly without being reduced to tears.  But that time is not here.  Not yet.  It will be a long time in coming.  

Thursday, August 21, 2014


President Obama commented that the beheading of a reporter has shocked the world.  Seriously?  The thousands of people killed before that were not shocking enough?  A reporter has to be murdered for the world to be shocked?  There are days when I feel that we are in a hand-basket headed south.  There are other days when I feel like we have already made the journey...

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Yea, this is my shocked face...

I thought I would look into a story that was tearing apart the lives of two families and threatening to take a New Orleans neighborhood with it.  A 13 year old boy, likely on his way home from choir practice, accidentally ends up in a backyard, despite the locked gates, at 2 AM.  He innocently starts opening the shutters on the windows of the home and looking inside.  The homeowner, finding this a disturbing turn of events, proceeds outside to investigate and has armed himself in case of trouble.  One minute later the teenager is suffering from a head wound.  Many were up in arms over the shooting of this unarmed boy.

9 months later and we have a different story.  The grand jury was divided and did not vote to indict.  The prosecutor reviewed the case and chose not to prosecute.  Why?  Well, it seems that since his tragic injury, he has recovered enough to commit burglary, attempted burglary, and has now been charged in a previous burglary and assault that involved the theft of a firearm.  He was not charged in the last one at the time due to his injuries and being in a coma.  The DA's office was in fact surprised that the teen was out and about based on the description of his condition given by the family.

Unfortunately, I am sure that the various statistics will list this as both a gun violence incident and a child shooting incident, but still lack a column for justified self defense.  No word yet on how this will affect the teenager's choir practice...

Monday, June 2, 2014

A magical experience...

My family was recently given free tickets and transportation for a whale watching excursion out of the lovely city of Monterrey.  My wife has wanted to do this for years.  We were a little concerned about her service dog and how he would react to the boat.  We got a life preserver for him (very sleek and form fitting, much like his raincoat) and hoped for the best.  On the day of the event we got up early, had a light breakfast and were almost ready when our ride arrived.  So running just a little late, and with a full travel mug of coffee for the trip in my coat pocket, we set off.

The trip down was uneventful, although using the navigation on our driver's iPhone with a shattered screen was entertaining.  It may seem to be a dying breed, but my Blackberry screen had no such issues and I felt was much easier to navigate.  Once we arrived we walked down the pier, taking in the morning bustle of delivery trucks dropping off the morning bread and other supplies to the various restaurants.  The morning catch was coming in to the adjacent pier.  There are two different whale watching business at the end of the pier, one that is entirely commercial (and has a very big boat) and one that is owned by a naturalist (and has smaller re-purposed boats).  We went to the latter, got our tickets and waited to board.  We were happy to see the crowd for our company was evenly split between the two boats and neither was crowded.  The other company's boat was packed.

Soon we were off.  It was a magical trip.  Just off the pier we saw otters.  Then some sea loins relaxing in the harbor and on the harbor breakwater.  On the way out we encountered a group of Risso's Dolphins, quite lovely.  After that it was out to the deeper water, where there we whales breaching, surfacing to breath and create lovely spray with their blow holes and give the occasional tail slap.  One hung out just 30 yards from our boat, giving everyone a great opportunity to take pictures and savor the experience.  After a few hours, we headed back in, seeing different whales and some sea lions before reaching the harbor.  All in all, quite the magical experience.

Well, unless you were affected negatively by the rolling sea in the bay.  In that case, you spent the first half hour feeling ok.  After the slow exit from the harbor and the short trip out of the relatively calm area around the harbor, you will start to feel a little...  unsettled...  You will concentrate on the horizon and the landmass behind the boat, until the captain stops to show some wildlife and slowly circles the boat in place, throwing the up and down motion of the water you were coping with into a side to side motion, as well as a mix of the two.  After that, you will spend roughly three hours hanging on the back rail of the boat, revisiting your breakfast and wondering how you could carry on so long when you had a small breakfast.  We were instructed at the dock that if you felt sick, please use the back of the boat, which was done by the unfortunate soul affected.  However, that meant that you were also in the area of the exhaust stacks, which high as they were still threw a goodly amount of fumes into the rear area of the boat.  Additionally, if you did not have the distance required, instead of just feeding the fish you also decorated the back end of the boat.  Small respites taken at a bench due to the exhaustion in the arms and legs are interrupted by a need to once again debate the possibility that at some point your stomach will come out on the next heave and all of this unpleasantness will end.  Most people on the boat have wandered into the galley area or to the front of the boat, giving him time to ponder his decision to make this trip and to have breakfast before it.  So after three hours of misery, the boat pulls back into the harbor and he collapses, exhausted and a mess.  That miserable passenger was me, and I have to apologize to everyone else now, because I was not capable of doing so at the time.  The service dog seemed to do ok.

My wife and daughter tell me that it was a wonderful and magical trip that they would love to do again.  I told them to fuck off and have a nice time.

Friday, May 2, 2014

A flawed plan at best...

A new furor is starting over "Castle Doctrine" in the US due to the recent death of a foreign exchange student at the hands of a homeowner.  I have seen what I consider scant coverage of the event, with coverage from NY based media, the BBC and Fox.  Interestingly, Fox is the only one to show a picture of the young man inside the homeowner's garage at midnight.  I would like to point out first that if the young man was not taking the opportunity to go through someone else's garage at midnight, he would still be alive.  While the father of the victim can complain all he wants, he should have taught his son that going through other people's houses at midnight without their permission is not acceptable behavior.

That being said, the homeowner appears to have set a trap for burglars, having been victimized twice already.  Now if the plan was to get the crime on tape, make a citizens arrest and have a shotgun handy just in case things went sideways, there would be no problem.  However it appears that the homeowner was overheard by others well beforehand planning to set the trap and shoot him a burglar.  That would be illegal, in the premeditated murder section of the book I believe, and is generally frowned upon.  If this proves to be true, then the homeowner and his wife actually should both do jail time.

But, unfortunately for the Democrat loudly denouncing Castle Doctrine, this has nothing to do with that particular item, which I am sure the defendant's lawyer will point out before court.  Much like the much maligned Stand Your Ground had nothing to do with Zimmerman, this was premeditated murder and had nothing to do with Castle Doctrine.  It was just a poorly thought out plan by frustrated homeowners and a young man that had terrible consequences.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Tolerance... You keep using that word...

I do not think it means what you think it means...

I was searching the intarwebs for a nice Norman Rockwell item to use for my background today.  It simply amazes me the output that this man had during his lifetime.  Both quality and quantity is amazing for one man.

During that search I ran across two disparate threads to follow that led me to very different places.  One led me to a blog by a gay woman who enjoys competition poker.  The other led me to the Wikipedia page on Adolf Eichmann.  Far sides of the coin by any estimation.  However, after reading the entry that led me to the first and looking at a picture on the second, it amazed me that I could draw the same conclusion from reading both pages.

On the first, the writer was having a conundrum about an item posted on a friend's Facebook feed.  The friend in question is very devoted to her religious beliefs and posted a meme saying basically that while they do not agree with or condone her lifestyle, they will not let that get in the way of their friendship, but that the other side should recognize the same right to belief and lifestyle that they are demanding from those of the various religious groups.  And really, it is part of that whole First Amendment thing.  You may not agree with it, as they may not agree with yours, but both of you have the right to have and follow your beliefs and opinions.  However, this special snowflake failed to see the underlying message, and decided to write a long answer to the meme, doing exactly what she claimed the other side was doing to her side.  She demanded tolerance of her lifestyle, while showing intolerance of the other person's beliefs.

So how does this relate to the second thread?  The one about the unrepentant Nazi who assisted in the slaughter of millions of people?  While I was reading that page and not really finding anything new about the man or his deeds, I saw a picture.  It was a simple picture, but one that hit me more than any argument that I have read on either side of the gay marriage issue.

File:Bundesarchiv Bild 183-74237-004, KZ Auschwitz-Birkenau, alte Frau und Kinder.jpg

The picture is of an elderly woman walking with three small children, the oldest child appearing to be no older than five, the youngest a toddler.  They have little but the clothing on them.  The caption tells me that they are Hungarian Jews in the Auschwitz concentration camp, walking towards the gas chambers in the early summer of 1944.  None of them would see another dawn.

It struck me that those claiming hurt in today's world, claiming to be the subject of horrible intolerance due to their sexual preference (or religion on all fronts in this country), really don't have a grasp on what intolerance is, nor do they suffer as have those that fought for civil rights before them.  While I applaud their efforts for the recognition of same sex marriage and all the tax implications that come along with it, they seem bent on senseless fights, like forcing a bakery to sell them a wedding cake.  While the blogger did acknowledge that lack of struggle on her part compared to that of Dr. King or Harvey Milk, I fear that those on her side really don't understand the gravity of the words they use to describe their struggle.  Think of those in the picture above.  Until you have walked in their shoes, you don't really have major problems with tolerance or the lack of it.

Friday, March 21, 2014

So many options, lets use 'em all!

My company is working on a push to get various social media type communication tools as well as video conferencing solutions in place.  Now, we are famous within the silicon valley for two things: Using technology for a decade past its prime and using technology so new that its bleeding edge and usually not ready for prime time.  One of the items that has dogged us for years is the ability to have a live video stream of the quarterly company meeting to all of the offices outside of the silicon valley.  Usually this is a failure because they don't want to spend any money while still producing a Hollywood production.  On several occasions I have improvised for a small meeting, usually using WebEx, and someone mentioned this to executives.  So suddenly they are wanting to use the WebEx platform to steam the video of the meeting, not realizing that it has limits to the picture it will show.  The VP wore a brown outfit for the big meeting and really just looked like a brown turd moving back and forth across the video.  The best part was that I recorded the meeting for later playback in the other time zones.  The VP looked at the playback and made that observation of a dancing turd over my shoulder.  I said nothing.

So now I have spent the last two weeks spinning my wheels testing a new video streaming solution for this project.  In order to see if this will work, we are running a test meeting.  So right now I have a speaker standing in front of a camera run by a professional production company.  The camera is running back to to their bank of equipment, which is then feeding a point to point video meeting solution that we have installed as well as a laptop feeding the new video streaming solution.  The audio is going out over the Point to point system and through a conference call bridge.  We are also tying a WebEx into the presentation to make sure that those who just want to see the PowerPoint presentation can follow along with it.  We are also having to make changes to the firewall across the whole infrastructure to allow this solution to work.  Oh, yea, we also had to implement a virtual server, which did not work at all at first.  All in all, I am looking at a production team of 12 in the room, plus at least 6 in outlying offices running the systems in those offices, and this is just for the test.   We will have twice as many production team and twice the equipment for the actual big meeting.  So many points of failure its ridiculous.  After it is complete, we will still have the production company process the recording to put up on our intranet for playback in other time zones.  And somehow, this seems to be the best solution...

Monday, March 17, 2014

I'm just trying to help...

I have recently become more frustrated with my company's helpdesk.  Despite the promise of a new day with them being brought in house and staffed by actual employees, the expected improvement has not been entirely successful.  One of the big frustrations is in their ticket writing skills.  You see, when receiving the trouble tickets from the helpdesk in the past, my group has had to deal with poor spelling, absent punctuation, a poor grasp of the English language and one phrase that popped up repeatedly: "Google did not find the answer."  We also apparently fell down on "doing the needful", tho we're still looking for that in our procedures.

Our new helpdesk promised to erase these issues, and in some cases I see that they have.  However, I can't say that the solution is better.  Now I get tickets with no troubleshooting information at all.  Some have contact info, but that is even a stretch and often incorrect.  What is better is when I reach the end user and find that they were on the phone with the technician for 1 to 2 hours and a variety of changes were made but not documented.  In an effort to improve the situation, I exchanged emails with people above me and above the helpdesk, communicating the issue and requesting a better job in providing the troubleshooting already done.  When asked for an example of a properly documented ticket, I provided one that I created specifically for a user that bypassed the helpdesk and came straight to me.

Number:  42172
Status:  Completed
Entered By:  Irishdoh
Customer:  Tom Smith
Description:  Computer not authenticating to the domain.

Initial Troubleshooting:
The machine has long ago fallen off the domain.  I will endeavor to work feverously through the afternoon to correct this unfortunate mishap.  I will further toil to educate the user on the proper methods and procedures to ensure that this unfortunate situation does not occur upon the morrow or thereafter.

I have found the following issues to be detrimental to the proper operation of this computer:
1.  The computer is not running our image.
2.  The computer does not have our standard Administrator password.
3.  The computer does not have our standard backup IT login.
4.  The computer name is too long and will not properly authenticate to our network.
5.  Lunch is not sitting well with me and this is making me a bit cranky.

I am working to correct these issues.  However, number 5 will likely not fixed until after I go home.

Closing notes:
The following steps have been taken to rectify the unfortunate situation that was created with the improper use of the laptop:
1.  I disabled all forms of communication to the laptop including semaphore and smoke signal.
2.  I logged in using Tom's cached credentials and corrected the administrator password to our company standard.
3. I have added the it login and set the account to use Administrator privileges.
4.  I removed the computer from the "domain" and put in into the "schmuck" work group.
5.  I logged into the computer as the local Administrator and corrected the name to allow proper joining of our impressively secure domain.
6.  I restarted and logged back in as the administrator to enable the Network Interface Card and test the semaphore communication.  Smoke signal is still disabled.
7.  I added the computer to the impressively secure domain.
8.  I restarted yet again, as this is Windows (Land of a Thousand Reboots!), and logged in as Tom.
9.  I checked that everything but smoke signals were working properly and then impressed upon the user the grave and stern language that I would use if he again decided to impair his computer in this way.
10.  Success!  Drinks are on the house!  Huzzah!

I later in the day received a note from my director thanking me for my input and politely requesting that I keep my suggestions to myself in the future.  I recall a hole and my ability to jump into it were mentioned in the conversation.  The next ticket assigned to me had no notes...

Monday, March 3, 2014

You should question those elected...

Most people complain about their elected representatives when they do not act according to what the constituent wanted.  However, they also fail most times to put this complaint in writing and send it to said elected official.  While I have seen elected officials participate in meet and greet events, generally unless you are donating money to a campaign fund you will get lip service at best.  I am sure that there are exceptions to that observation, but I bet it is correct about most elected officials at the state and federal level.  So when you see an elected official actually expending effort to get that feedback from his constituency, it is always interesting to see who complains.

This brings us to the lovely area of Kent in the UK.  A local MP has decided to poll his constituents regarding the oft mentioned "UK in/out EU Referendum" as to their views on the subject.  Using only money donated for this purpose and volunteers to assist, he is asking his constituency (about 450K people) if they would vote yea or nay on staying in the EU.  Simple enough, not legally binding, but would yield data on the subject not currently to be had.  This is not a random poll at a supermarket or train station, this is a question sent to every household in the constituency.

What is amusing is the response by the various politicians.  One party complains about the "publicity stunt" while the other compliments him because they feel that it will only bolster their argument and eventually, their cause.  Either way, they fail to see the point.  The point is that the politician is actually asking the people what they think about a fairly important subject.  It is something that should be done more often, especially in our new digitally connected world.

Friday, February 28, 2014

But... but... She's a Kennedy...

It appears that another Kennedy family member has gotten away with what would generally have put anyone else behind bars.  Kerry Kennedy accidentally took an Ambien instead of her thyroid medication and later got in her Lexus and drove erratically before sideswiping a truck.  Now for the rest of us, the law would really have been in the "your actions, your responsibility" area and we would have been slapped with the fine and likely jail time.  But, although it wasn't about pulling the family name into the picture, we apparently had to hear mention of her father's murder while she was on the stand.  As that happened 46 years ago and the defendant is in her fifties, I would say that despite the "not seeking advantage because of the family name" claim goes right out the window.  There was absolutely no reason to bring it up other than to remind the jury about where the defendant comes from.  Then again, I expect nothing less that this for driving infractions involving family members of the Frogman of the Chappaquiddick.

I have beachfront property in Arizona to sell you...

All kinds of people have gotten really excited about Bitcoins and the "revolutionary" changes it can make to modern financial transactions.  Also excited were the criminal element, which apparently took no time at all to not only analyze how to make profit off the new currency, but also how to separate truckloads of it (well, virtual truckloads...) from the rightful owners.

I have always hated how modern monetary systems work.  I don't like the fact that if the government wants more money, they can basically print it.  When the US first printed money, it was so worthless at one point that it was pasted to walls to cover cracks.  Its not nearly that bad now, at least not in most countries, but it does happen from time to time.  I recall reading an article about Argentina (if I recall correctly, it was 25 years ago) where its currency was so worthless the lowest denomination bill could only buy foodstuffs by weight on a pound for pound basis.  That is the kind of instability I fear, and that was in a currency backed by a government.

Now we have Bitcoin, a currency backed by no-one, generated by a computer program and without any protection for those that use it.  One of the largest Bitcoin exchanges was cracked by criminals and is now filing for bankruptcy.  Located in Japan, the government there is playing the "not my issue" game.  The best they can recommend is the Consumer Affairs Agency, which is a product safety agency and likely not really able to help.  The government of Japan does not consider the currency a real currency, thus will not spend any time or money assisting those affected by the collapse.  Nor should they.  The flip side is that they will also likely not be pursuing the thieves, so they will generally get away.  The level of autonomy in the transactions are why the Silk Road website used Bitcoins.  While I am all about privacy, I really can't jump on the Bitcoin bandwagon.  And I can't feel sorry for those that have lost money in this venture.

Monday, February 24, 2014

A tale of two women...

Its a tale of two cities as well, and the staggering differences between.

Deisy Garcia and her two daughters lived in NYC.  In the joyous melting pot that is NYC, she had no firearms.  The NYPD would keep her safe.  When her ex-husband got drunk and beat on her, she dutifully went down to the local NYPD station and files a report for domestic abuse.  Being accommodating as can be, they allow her to fill the form out in her native Spanish.  This report is dutifully filed away in the NYPD files and they do exactly nothing.  6 months later, we have a similar event, NYPD responds, the ex-husband is nowhere to be found and a report is filed with the responding officers.  The following day, Deisy takes a trip to the local precinct and files a follow up report, again in Spanish.  On January 18, her ex-husband was drinking.  He once again came home with ill intent, but this time he killed Deisy, and their two children, and then ran for the border.  We now come to find out that nobody in the NYPD bothered to have her reports translated, and thus never took action against her ex-husband.  She did everything right, according to people like Michael Bloomberg:  She reported the abuse to the police and she did not have a dangerous gun in the home for protection.  Yet still she is dead.

Now we transition to Detroit, a city in bankruptcy, a social fabric crumbling for decades.  Whole swaths of the city infrastructure has been abandoned by the local government.  A mother at home is faced with three criminals breaking down her back door.  She has two young children in the home and the criminals appear to be armed.  This woman chose to arm herself with the rifle given to her by her husband just two weeks prior.  When they made entry, she warned them that she was armed, to which they replied "nuh uhh..."  Her response was a round fired in their direction.  Video has them exiting quickly, one dropping his gun in his haste.  As opposed to NYC, three criminals have been arrested, the chief of police has stated that she did exactly the right thing and everyone is alive and safe.  And it appears that this is a trend in Detroit.

For once, it appears that it is better to live in Detroit than in NYC.  

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Good news, bad news...

The good news:  The first criminal jail sentence has been handed down relating to the "Fast and Furious" debacle, and two more are in the pipeline.  While I think 30 years is a little light, the family of Brian Terry are satisfied with the resolution of this case and that has to be good enough.

The bad news:  None of them work for the ATF or DOJ.

Have to take the small victories where one can...

Monday, February 10, 2014

Go ahead, keep beating that dead....

I generally only pay attention to the machinations of the NYC politicians (and really, NYC itself) only to see how their ideas will affect the rest of the country.  Unfortunately NYC, like LA, has far too much influence and I don't see that as a good thing.  So I was amused when the new mayor decided to start his term by immediately "offending" his constituents by eating his pizza in a very un-NYC way.  Still, while I hated Bloomberg due to his inability to remember that he was the mayor of that city and as such to keep his tentacles within its limits, the new mayor makes me even more happy that I don't live in the city that never sleeps.  He is set to give his first state of the city speech and I see the usual BS being trotted out.  "Income Inequality" is the new buzzword, along with the now regular desire to raise the minimum wage and give illegals a valid ID.  To find that he was raised in Massachusetts is not a a shock.

But his push that I find most idiotic, the thing that falls into the "I guess they have solved all the other problems" category is his desire to ban the horse carriage rides in Central Park.  The carriage rides are one of the few things I that would interest me if I went to NYC.  Removing the carriages is a stupid move, but one made by someone who has taken his election as a mandate from the people to run roughshod over them instead of working for them.  Its a hill that I hope he dies on, if nothing else to keep him from damaging anything else.  He is listening to a few groups that yell the loudest instead of polling his constituents to get their opinion.  Funny, when the NRA is is that position, they are a "fringe group", but when anyone supporting a Democrat is in that position they are a "respected organization", in this case referred to as industry critics.  Funny that.  Still, I doubt that if they actually put is to a vote, the average NYC resident would see the need to end the carriage rides.  So, much like the war on soft drinks that was eventually shot down in court, I hope that this one nails the mayor's foot to the deck.  

Is it a bad sign when you reach a point that you hope duly elected officials spin their wheels in office on stupid items that will not succeed instead of doing the damage that you know they could actually accomplish if they had half a brain?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Interesting coincidence...

Today I was looking in the local newspaper's online site for local ads because a few places actually still do that kind of advertising.  I need to replace our shotgun and I really don't want to overpay like the last time.  While cruising the site a news story catches my eye.  Apparently there was a sniper attack on a power substation just south of San Jose last year that did over 15 million dollars in damage.  This was shocking to me because I had not heard word one about it.  Such a local event involving guns should have been high on the radar.  Why did I not hear about it?  Check the date.  The attack happened hours after the Boston bombing.  All eyes were on Boston and nobody was injured in San Jose, so this was back page news.  Now we are seeing a little publicity because a politician brought it up in December and now the FBI has labeled it a non-terrorist incident.

It is interesting to me because on one had, the attack showed planning and knowledge.  They knew where the communications lines were and cut them, actually affecting both local and cell phone communications.  They scouted the location beforehand (apparently) for the best vantage point to shoot from.  However, on the other had, they left fingerprints everywhere and shell casings.  So not as professional as one would think.  Still, I am in agreement with several others.  I look at this item as a test run to see if it would work, what the response time would be and what the effect would be.  That information is useful to those wishing to cause problems on a continuing basis.  I am really disappointed that with the evidence apparently available, they have not made an arrest.  Hopefully they do before a larger event is put into action.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Being sick still sucks...

I have been struck the last several months with a string of illnesses that all involve infections.  The latest caused an open sore right where my CPAP mask rests at night.  What should have been a simple ingrown hair turned into an ugly open would that caused much pain and precluded me from wearing my CPAP.  Lovely.  It also caused so much pain initially that I was prescribed Norco for the pain.  I have had multiple people comment how lucky I was that they gave me the medication.  I disagree.  I hate the feeling of being "high" on this medication.  It amazes me that people will seek this out, because I find it to be almost worse than the initial problem.  It also interferes with me getting work done, which is likely why I can't understand those who like being on the medication.  I can't drive so I am driven into work, and now that I am here I have problems concentrating on my work.  Seriously, how do people think that this is a great way to be all the time?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

What is important in life...

Tonight I plan to make time to turn on the TV and watch an important event.  I am told that the president will be making his state of the union address, wherein he plans to speak broadly about his grand plans for the upcoming year.  I am told that he will be announcing his intentions to use executive orders to go around congress, likely waste billions of dollars setting up programs that will haunt us for decades and almost certainly destroy the freedoms granted by that pesky Constitution thing that keeps getting in his way.  It will likely be a grand speech, with the teleprompters all aglow, the Democrats ready to hold up their new Zippo's as if Freebird were playing and the Republicans ready to boo and hiss at every opportunity.  However, I will not be watching this spectacle.

You see, I have Sherlock on the DVR.  That is far more important to me.  Oh, and a couple of Inspector Lewis episodes as well.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Oops, that'll need more than a mop...

In the "New Lessons Learned" category, we add Transport For London and their contractors.  It appears that while working on new station upgrades, the contractor proceeded to fill an escalator void with fast setting concrete.  Unfortunately, it appears that the details were not checked, and there was a small, itty bitty hole that allowed a foot of concrete to flow into the control equipment room.  There are pictures and they are ugly, from an IT point of view.  I have worked on rewiring network rooms, and that was without a foot of wet concrete to deal with.  Looking at the picture, all of the equipment at the concrete level and below is toast, and the cabling at that level will also need to be replaced.  All that after the concrete is cleared.

It reminds me of an incident once where on of the electrical contractors at our company was working on clearing old cabling between buildings to lay all new cabling for new equipment.  After years of re-tasking, they could not stuff any more cable through the tubes and had to clear the dead cables.  It was late in the day and everyone wanted to go home.  The contractor was up an a ladder with the big shears and made a sizable cut.  He examined it for a moment and then came down the ladder fairly quickly.
"Whelp, time to go home!"
"Well cool," replied the in house electrician.  "So can we go over whats happening tomorrow before you leave?"
"Nope, gotta run, have an appointment to get to."
"Dave, you seem in a hurry all the sudden.  Did you cut something?"
"Nope, gotta run!"
30 seconds after he hit the door the IT department lost it.  He had cut all the fiber between the buildings instead of the old Cat5 cable next to it.  We spent hours running new fiber patches to get the network back up in the other building.  We had security guards, facilities staff and anyone willing to work overtime helping out.  And that was just the patch, not the actual fix.

I wish them luck on this one.  I see many hours of OT for many people to fix that mess.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The reality of everyday drones...

So in Norway, they had a fire in a horrible place to have a fire: a mostly wooden historical town, where the average age of the buildings can be measured in centuries.  Not a whole lot of buildings up to modern fire code.  The fire was fast an merciless, and for a while it was fought entirely by locals.  The fire service worked quickly to get a firefighting helicopter up to douse the flames.  However, they had a problem.  It appears that local news stations had secured drones to use for their news coverage and as fast as they could, they deployed them to get great coverage of the calamity.  This forced the fire service to keep the helicopter out of the area because it would not be good to add to the problem by crashing a helicopter into the middle of the fire because it didn't see the ActionNews3DroneCam while on is way to drop water.  Here we have the beginning of the unintended consequences of drones.  Its bad enough when there are multiple helicopters swarming a news story.  With the advent of cheap drones (compared to a chopper) and the media's driving need to get a better scoop than their competitors, I foresee problems like this to be bigger in the future than overreaching law enforcement, tho I do anticipate that the latter will still be a plague upon our lives at some point.  While some complain that the FAA is moving too fast or slow on these things, I really what them to get the rules right.  Treating them more like aircraft and less like model airplanes is a good start.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Did the other side even show up?

The new Egyptian constitution was voted on, the second time in 2 years.  Last time around, those opposed to an Islamic centered framework complained loudly and protested by boycotting the election.  This guaranteed that the Islamist would win and put their preferred document in place.  Two years and one military led coup later, we see another election and this time, the Islamist are complaining loudly and have boycotted the polls.  Shockingly, they lost.  And they lost by a landslide that honestly beggars the imagination.  Over 20 million voted this time, as opposed to 16+ million last time, and this time there was only 1.9% voting no, as opposed to 36% last time.  Last time there were far more voting "No", with roughly 4 million less votes.  I would say that the claims that there was a "mandate from the people" were far less accurate last time compared to this one.

That being said, part of the right in a democracy is the right to participate by voting.  I view it as a responsibility as a citizen  of this country.  I believe that all who live in country that has this right should view it as a responsibility.  The fact that my vote in the area that I live will not generally be on the winning side due to my beliefs has nothing to do with it.  If you do not participate, you have no right to complain about the outcome.  I believed that two years ago those who protested by boycotting the vote were getting the government and framework that they deserved.  I also believe the same now.  If the Islamist's are so certain that they are right and that their view is that of the majority, they should have encouraged everyone to vote.  They decided to boycott, so they lose, without even a significant minority vote to point at as proof of their claims.  If you don't participate, you can't win.  Personally, based on the last constitution, I'm glad they boycotted, but that's just my personal opinion.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Reading can be a joy...

Long, long ago I read a series of three books by Elizabeth Moon that was combined into a single volume called "The Deed of Paksenarrion".  Its set in a fantasy world, but written from the viewpoint of a sheep farmers daughter.  I both loved and hated it.  I have always had issue with leaders in organized religions and the "wisdom" that I personally feel is normally arrogance, and in the second book of the series she hit that button square.  I feel that this is the sign of a great author.  I cared deeply for the character and was incensed by how the character was treated.  Brilliant.  I hadn't read the series in about 20 years when I pulled the book off the shelf several years ago and started re-reading.  I got to that section and once again was so affronted by the behavior of the religious leaders that I actually had to stop reading.  This was a first.

I have also slowly gotten into using my Nook more and more.  I personally like the feel of a book in my hand as opposed to an e-reader, but I have warmed up to the Nook.  I like having the ability to take a collection of books with me without using the large amount of space those books occupy.  When I first got my Nook, I found that I that Paksenarrion was not available, much to my disappointment.  However, recently I found that this had changed.  All three books and the omnibus edition were now all available.  I also found that in the interim, Elizabeth Moon had decided to start writing new books in that world, such that I now had four new books to read.  This coincided with a gift certificate for B&N, which means that I get to read all four as fast as I want.  Which has been faster than I expected.  In about a week, I have gone through three books and am on the fourth.  And the fifth is not due out until the end of May.  I have actively slowed down my reading to intentionally not finish the last book too quickly, but that won't last.  I must give the author credit that she has me so interested in her characters.  I can't wait until she releases the next one.

Luckily, however, I have another Larry Correia MHI book waiting in the wings.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Ah, the news...

I brought up CNN, mainly to make sure no major wars were started while I was at lunch.  Looking at the page, I am not sure which is worse: The fact that the top story portrayed was confirmation that Paul Walker was going really fast when his car crashed, or that many people (starting with the press) have apparently forgotten that it is supposed to snow in significant parts of North America during the month of January.

Starting the new year off right...

January 1

Unexpected good news at 8am, my return trip has unexpectedly been bumped up to first class tickets on both flights.  TSA was again very helpful, polite and courteous.  I still have little use for many of their procedures and policies, but I will give them credit on the customer service aspects.  The flights were very good and I had a very enjoyable dinner out with my wife after arriving home.

January 2:

Anticipated bad news at 8am, I now have to do an expense report using one of the most user unfriendly systems known to man.  A report which will be ignored for two weeks by the finance department before they spend another two weeks questioning every line.  Then they will issue me the funds two weeks after my AMEX bill is due.

Not the worst start to a new year that I've ever had...