In the “Bet your butt on a machine,” category…

I have a friend who used to say, “Bet your ass on a machine and you’re going to get screwed.

This is ironic considering that later in his life he, by necessity had to do exactly that, literally! He’s still alive and kicking thankfully.

The reason I thought about my friend, his phrase, and the ATM machine that had just screwed me, is due to reports coming out of Illinois where voting machines have been reported (and recorded) switching votes from Republican to Democratic candidates.

The machines are sentient I tell ya, Next election cycle they’re going to demand full citizenship! Alright I’m taking off my tinfoil hat!

No I’m not that crazy, neither am I a believer that it’s a nefarious plot on the part of the Democrats to steal votes.

It’s a touch screen and while the units should be factory calibrated, it’s possible that a scratch protection screen has been added or replaced which has caused the factory calibration to be invalid.

This isn’t a plot to take over the world by the Democrats, I’d bet if the Republican candidate was the top listing that a vote for the Democratic candidate would be switched in the same fashion.  Of course it would be much bigger news then.

After all it would finally prove to the media and progressives, beyond a shadow of a doubt that Republicans sit at the right hand of Satan and are using their fell powers to take over the world…

It’s Skull & Bones, or the Illuminati I tell ya

Conservatives aren’t the only group who line their baseball caps with tin foil…

Here’s a link to the Breitbart Article and the Video.

 

I hope you al have a marvelous day and don’t forget to review your candidates, propositions, measures, and please make an informed choice at the polls next week. Just because the TV says something is good or bad doesn’t mean it’s so.

Read all the information you can about candidates and in the end, don’t vote for party, or perceived personal gain, vote your heart. Vote for  what you believe will be the best course of action for your country, state, county, and ultimately… Your neighbors.

Our Republic works if we participate.

What makes one reality better than another?

Horse

I dream a lot. Sometimes even when I’m supposed to be awake.

When I have recurring dreams I tend to pay attention. Those are usually the kind of dreams where I’m trying to give myself advice. If I listen, that advice is pretty good.

Then there are dreams that are so real that when I wake up it’s as if I was living another life. For want of a better term, visualize a Matrix like reality.

What really gets my attention are dreams that are, both recurring and Matrix-like. Lately I’ve been having one of those dreams.

Ranchland

This dream is either loaded with meaning or I’m living another life someplace else. I suspect it’s the former, but can’t help hoping it’s the latter. If this dream was/is another reality I think I’d like to stay there. It feels like I have a chance to get it right, if I somehow could stay.

It’s winter. There’s a lot of snow on the ground and I’m checking a fenceline. I look almost like I do now, maybe a bit more weathered. I’m wearing a stetson just like the one I have, but it’s beat to hell. It looks like it’s seen more than a few seasons outside.

There’s a noise behind me. It’s a good sized chestnut horse. I know his name instantly, and I notice he’s a bit skittish looking to the east and a line of storm clouds. I calm him with easy familiarity and he settles. This action feels like a dance we do often. Usually, its about him wanting a lump of sugar from my pocket, he knows I’m a soft touch. I know he knows, and he knows I know.

Winter Scene

Today is a bit different, this squall line is heavy, and there’s winter lightening in it. The wind is rising and every once in a while I can hear the rumble of thunder. I nuzzle the horse, “Come on Mac, lets finish up and get back home. I’ll turn the heater on in your stall.” I mount up, the horse continues a slow walk allowing me to inspect the fence from the saddle instead of trudging through the snow.

We walk for a while, then I notice we’re near the abandoned house on the property. The house is steep roofed, built solid and is at least 100 years old. When I bought the property I chose the other house to live in, because this place is so close to a busy road.

Snow is starting to fall. I see what looks like movement through one of the windows of the house. “Great! Squatters,” I think.

“Mac, we’re going to have to make a slight detour then I’ll get you back to your nice warm stall.”

Winterbarn

I tug the reins slightly toward the house. Mac’s not happy about it but he does as I ask. We get to the house and I put Mac under the roof of the back porch. When I walk through the door to the place I’m met by an astounding sight.

The squatters have a full-on business going in here. They’ve knocked out all the walls they could and turned the lower level of the house into a wide open space with sellers stalls in it.

Out front toward the road is a wide parking area. There are cars and trucks and all kinds of people selling all kinds of things. A lady offers me a cup of coffee for only 7.99!

I tell her and the rest of these people that this is my property and they all need to leave. I feel a little guilty about it. But come on! Shouldn’t I at least be getting a little rent? Then I notice there’s power here. I didn’t connect the electricity to this house.

Snowdog1

I stomp through the front door and out to the road. There, at the edge of the property is a brand new power relay. Nice shiny new transformer, a new fence surrounding the unit and bright coppery connections at the top of the insulators. Obviously someone is paying for this, I wonder if it’s me, and I just haven’t gotten the first bill. Everything I’ve seen looks like this is all new and these people have recently arrived.

I go back inside the house and ask to see whoever is in charge. I’m directed to some punk who smells of weed and who tells me they thought the house was abandoned.  Since the house needed people and they needed a place to live it was like a match made in heaven so they moved in. He’s telling me I shouldn’t be upset. The power company was really nice connecting the house to the grid, they said they’d send a bill later.

I asked him about the fence that they cut to gain access to the property, meanwhile I’m thanking my lucky stars that I didn’t just turn the heard loose into this pasture and decided to check the fence first. If I hadn’t, I’d have lost the whole damn herd.

Summer Field

What I get from weed boy is more bullshit about no fences and that the house needed people. I realize I’m getting nowhere with this dumbass. I’m pissed off because this is exactly the kind of shit I moved out here to avoid.

I pull my cell phone out of my pocket, I have just enough signal to call the sheriff.  I’m going to make this his problem. Then I’m going to get on Mac and go home, we’re probably going to get caught in the storm at this point and his nose will be out of joint for days.

I press the call button…

Suddenly back in my bed. The sun is shining warmly through the bedroom windows, I can see the bright green of the vegetable garden and beyond it the barn. I’m freaked out, I jump out of bed throw on a pair of flipflops and walk out to the barn. Mac is half asleep in his stall. I can hear Lucy barking at the cows in the pasture, she’s probably making them do cardio, the cows must be just thrilled with her this morning.

I think Lucy’s the bossiest dog I’ve ever had, she’ll be up here soon demanding her breakfast. I open the barn door to the corral. Mac meanders out into the sun, and starts his morning routine. I smile, it’s like he stretches and warms up before the start of the day. I put his breakfast in the trough and make sure his water is fresh.

Cows1

The morning sun is comfortable on my skin and if it wasn’t for the work that I need to do around the place, I’d stay naked all day up near the pond in the north pasture. The thought brings a smile to my face.

Lucy comes padding up to the porch, all tail wags that I’m up already. She goes into the house through her doggie door. I grab the door handle…

I wake up here, in this bed, I’m sweating in a panic. I feel like I’ve travelled, and that I’ve lost something. I call for Lucy, I don’t know at first where I am. Sunny, my golden retriever, jumps up on the bed. He’s looking at me with the concerned look all retrievers get when their “people” are upset. I get a nose lick from him, then look at the clock.

It’s after 12PM. I’ve slept for 13 hours.

I pull some sweats on and hustle it to the slider, both dogs run down the stairs gratefully. I feel bad that they waited so long. Usually one or the other will wake me up but for some reason today they didn’t or couldn’t.

field1

There’s no mess to clean up. They come back inside bouncing and wanting their treats. I give them more than the usual allotment to thank them for being patient with me.

I flip the coffee maker on and over the first cup of coffee wonder at the reality of the dream. Or the reality of this place. Scent, sight, taste, sensation all were equally vivid and “real” in the dream. Even the weirdness of the dream within the dream felt “real”.

The strange part is that I’ve dreamt about the house the squatters were in before. I’ve seen the fence, the property, Mac the horse and Lucy. I have memories of being at that place and having a completely different life there.

Creek

I have equally “real” memories of being here.

Is this what some of the Native American tribes were describing when they said their dream life was just as real as their normal life?

I notice a couple of things between the realities.

Here, now, I’m a technocrat. There, I have technology, but my life is more physical.

Here I live in a town and while it’s not LA, there are people around me. There, I live alone except for the animals.

Here, my view of the world is defined by what others have built or let me see. There my view is defined by nature, I see sky, sun, trees, mountains, and fields, I don’t see humans. Obviously they exist, but as a rule, in that life I know solitude.

My first cup of coffee is done, I’m awake and the dream life is fading.  As I wake up more and this “reality” settles in, I wonder if I’m just wanting to return to the places where I was truly happiest. Secret places from my childhood that were green, and alive, and where my future spread before me. Back to the places where turning left, or right on a particular day could’ve changed the entire outcome.

I can’t get over the feeling that I’ve lost something.

And then there’s this…

Ouroboros

I sometimes find myself in the most interesting discussions.

This one came about when a Friend asked how a couple of interview / tests had gone in the past week. 


Group

Friend:
Any news?
 
wwducat:
Nope.
 
Friend:
Sorry, does that necessarily mean anything?

wwducat:
I don’t think so. There were a LOT of people taking the tests, the last test had six essay questions. I think it’s simply about them grading the tests and as you know essay questions are highly subjective.  My guess is that there were at least 50 – 60 people total competing for the positions.

ISP Server Racks

Friend:
None more qualified than you

wwducat:
Based on the conversations I heard prior to the testing, these folks were Seriously qualified!  Fierce competition.

Friend:
Were they all for the same position or were there other positions being tested then as well?
 
wwducat:
All for the same two positions.  These guys knew their stuff every bit as well as I do and much better in some cases, because like me they’d been in the trenches.  Some of them knew stuff about fibre optics that I never thought to ask.
 
Friend:
That surprises me.
wwducat:
Others in the group knew configuration of really high end routers, the kinds of routers that your ISP uses for entire cities.
 
Friend:
But you have the user relations experience.

Get Out

wwducat:
Yes I do have user stuff.  Surprised I don’t know things? Believe me that shouldn’t surprise you, it’s normal.  In technology, you tend to get specialized. You bring some things to the table and others bring different abilities. Successful teams hand off tasks to the person or persons within the group that is best suited to perform those tasks. 
 
It’s an almost organic thing, which is why it hurts so much to be layed off or transferred.  You lose contact with those parts of you that you are as reliant upon as your left and right hands. Then you have to find another team where you can be an integral contributing member.  That’s the problem with a lot of “outsiders” including management, they don’t look at a team as an entity, they see only the parts.
 
Friend:
So alien to me since I work so much alone.
 
wwducat:
My specialization / Talent is user interfaces. Either in communicating for the team or in testing software that the users access. I’m usually the coordinator of resources, and the “go to guy” to obtain resources so the team can move forward.

Buss & Tag Terminators

I understand the technology, and leverage that knowledge to help the team. I also am usually the team historian and the guy that members of the team brainstorm with when they’re stuck. 
 
Because I’ve been around forever and Can relate everything I’ve ever encountered to the new stuff I help by providing new perspectives or a different view of a particular problem.  That function requires building trust between myself and the team members.

Friend:
And trust is critical.

wwducat:
Very! I have to be willing to tell them that I don’t know something, and ask that they explain it to me. And they have to be trusting enough to lower their guard and admit they don’t know something or that a problem has them stumped.
 
Then we put our heads together and call upon other resources from the team directing our energies toward a resolution. No one is criticized or derided about it. The focus is about all of us doing our job and learning in the process.
 

Cabling Evolution

Friend:
That’s a team.
 
wwducat:
These abilities are not shown by tests, or speaking with HR representatives. The only people that get it, are people that have been there, themselves.
 
Unfortunately over the past 10 or 15 years teams aren’t often perceived as entities, they’re seen as individuals and any person that appears flawed is replaced instantly, often without telling the team. This results in critical data being lost. I’ve referred to it as Tribal Data, because sometimes things are done in a particular way that is not immediately obvious to an outsider.  Those “special” things are done because they work not because they’re part of a policy or procedure.
 
When you have a lot of churn in corporations or a stressed group of individuals who never become a team, fewer people have ever had the experience of team work.  
 
Instead they’ve only dealt with Machiavellian machinations that lead to promotions and raises by eliminating people in your way.  These kinds of office politics have become commonplace and the sense of teamwork is becoming more rarified.
 
Wait!?!!? Isn’t that kind of like the academic world?

Friend:
Too much so.
 

Bad Boss

wwducat:
It would be a cruel irony if american businesses were falling behind, not due to degradation of skills but instead due to the most negative lessons learned in institutions of higher learning.  Especially when so many college graduates can’t seem to write a cogent sentence.
 
Friend:
But the academy is becoming more of a business- money driven and sales defined
Some of my colleagues argue grammar is a vestige of colonial patriarchal oppression. And they’re teaching writing.
 
wwducat:
So we could be looking at a college, business, college, self perpetuating model. Oh crap whats that snake thing eating it’s tale?? Ouroboros! that’s it.  A never ending  cycle of education & business eating and creating itself at the  same time.
 

Plato

Friend:
Education now is the process of technical training.
 
wwducat:
Sadly from what I’ve seen, in general the technical training isn’t all that good.
 
Teach me how to find things, teach me how to teach myself, teach me philosophy, and ethics, teach me that learning is a lifelong pursuit not an end state,  teach me that independent thought is equally important to equations and sums.
 
Friend:
To think critically, to express yourself effectively, to know where to go to find information.
 
wwducat:
Teach me the value of duty, and honor, and how bad choices lead to bad things and that there may be shades of grey but that the best choice is the choice that is mostly white. (Meaning good, not the great white way.)  
 
I’m such a dinosaur,  I’ve held many of these philosophies to be true the majority of my life.
 
Friend:
And that life is more grays than black and white.
 
What does that make me?
 

Gravitional Quantum Physics

wwducat:
You’re T-REX!
 
I’m probably more like one of the smaller Raptors.
 
Friend:
I’ve had to learn about life being shades of gray. I was taught it is all b/w.
 
wwducat:
Oh respective histories are similar, I too had those lessons. While I think there is  value in a B/W philosophy and it should really be the “Ideal”. 
 
Practically speaking, humans are not computers, and not all situations lend themselves to a binary outcome.  There is always fuzz in the stuff to the right of a decimal point.  AKA Chaos theory.
 
The best I can do it navigate toward the white and get as close as I can before the time element collapses on a particular choice / outcome scenario. 

 
So That’s how some of my day gets spent. Nonetheless it makes for an interesting blog post.

Bullet Dodged – Ebola in America appears under control

ebola

Not that my faith in our Government response is restored.

I’m glad that those who tested positive for ebola are on the mend.  I’m glad that the folks in TX don’t seem to have an outbreak on their hands.

Even though there is a Doctor in NY that tested positive for the disease. He was self monitoring as he was supposed to do. He was perhaps a little lax in that he was feeling a bit puny, but honestly I can see him perhaps chalking the fatigue up to jet lag. Once he realized he was symptomatic, he did the right thing.

I think I would have preferred that he be held in a quarantine situation, even if it was a home quarantine for the incubation period of the disease. On the other hand, were all travelers from affected areas banned, we’d have never had the issue in NY or TX in the first place. 

All that being said, we’ve been lucky. If ebola was more contagious, or airborne we’d be looking at a very different situation.

The best thing to happen from all of this insanity is that questions are being asked.

Procedures and policies are being reviewed and perhaps this whole event will serve as a reminder that our ability to travel the world in just a day or two does come at a price.  I’m happy to see that our airports are increasing their readiness for the possibility of contagious diseases. It’s prudent, reasonable, and serves to protect not only Americans but also international travelers from all countries who may be changing planes at one of our airports.

I was recently talking with friends who travel internationally often.

I’m not talking about travel to Europe or Japan. I’m talking about travel to tropical countries where there are diseases that can really do you harm or kill you.

Most of my friends don’t give it a thought. They don’t even discuss these trips with their doctor either before they leave or after they return. I’ll grant you, for some of these tropical diseases there are no vaccines, but for many there are.

When I travel on a dive trip, I’ll typically call my doctor, tell him where I’m going and ask if there are any boosters or vaccines I should have before I go.  A day or two later my Doctor calls me back and either says I’m good to go, or I should have X, Y, & Z updated or administered. Since I’m usually working with a long lead time prior to the trip, I’ve got plenty of time to get to see the Doc and have the vaccine or boosters at full effectiveness before I leave. To me, this is simply common sense. Apparently, lots of people don’t think about it.  

Heck, I even have a copy of my vaccination record in my passport. I figure if’ I’m taken ill while traveling, at least the local physicians might be able to eliminate the diseases I’ve been vaccinated against while they’re trying to figure out what’s wrong. Again, it’s about planning for the worst and generally having the best of possible situations.

ZombieApocalypse

After chatting with my friends, several of them decided to check with their doctors prior to their next eco-trips.

I hope that more people are paying attention to their vaccinations, and to their travel destinations. Unless you’re someone that can render aid to a disease stricken area, you have no business going there. Change your plans, why risk catching something or bringing something back? 

On the other hand, if The Zombie Apocalypse has to start anywhere, I hope it starts in TX.

Those folks are good shots, well armed, and I doubt seriously the Zombies would have a chance! 

I never saw this coming – To our neighbor Canada

Asshole

I watched in stunned silence, the events unfolding in Canada.

My heart goes out to the Canadians.

I hope the Canadians don’t change the way they do things.  

Goodguy

Their Parliament building is beautifully open, unlike our public buildings, their buildings don’t have the forbidding feel of an armed camp.

Many years ago, I was in Washington DC and remember vividly that Pennsylvania Avenue was busy.

Honored

There were cars, and trucks, and people just going about their business.  I remember standing next to the wrought iron fence and being fascinated to look at the President’s actual house.

I was thrilled to walk up the steps of Congress and to see all the historical and modern buildings unimpeded as is my right as an American citizen.

NathanCirilloFuneral

This was in the years before fear came to rule us.

In the initial images of the Canadian Parliament I was struck by the freedom of access. I remembered the joy I’d felt to live in a free country when I visited my capital all those years ago.

I hope Canada doesn’t succumb to the same fear that has made our seat of government so inhospitable. 

CirilloPups

I’ve heard already that; there are people in Canada trying to use the tragedy to increase gun restrictions.

Canadians have obviously given a lot of consideration and thought to balancing the rights of hunters and shooting enthusiasts against the desire to insure public safety. While I may not agree with all the Canadian regulations, I respect, and even admire to some extent, the system you have in place.

Canada, don’t let this single heinous incident cause you to jump to conclusions about anything.

CanadianParliament

My Friends, you lost your innocence today, and a good man. Remember that another good man put a stop to the insanity before it got much further.

Take time, bury your honored dead, tend to the wounded, and know that you southern neighbors understand, and you’re all in our prayers.

I sincerely hope that you don’t change.


To the Jihadists…

Your day is coming, you’ll not be able to hide, you’ll find no mercy, no rest, no water, no food, no love, nor hate; you’ll be hunted like vermin and die in filth. On the day the last of you has his brains spattered on barren sand, the world will rejoice and you’ll be wiped from the history books like a vile dream.

That is your legacy today, it’s not too late. Beat your weapons into plowshares and the world will help you plant a future.

President Stompy foot just doesn’t get it does he?

TPresObamahe president has called for calm, and trust in the face of ebola.

He’s cautioning the American public not to give into hysteria. 

Really?

Mr President, perhaps people would be more willing to trust you, your administration, and the government in general if you hadn’t lied to us again and again.

Just a few weeks ago you and the CDC said that ebola was hard to catch. Then we have someone come in from a country that honestly should have been on a restricted travel list and he’s sick. Then he’s at a hospital and dies, now two nurses have tested positive for ebola.

Protocols?

So Stompie, is this disease hard to catch or has your arrogance already killed thousands?

The math of a simple geometric progression is scary enough, but the potential for spread of this disease in a densely packed locale like a city is terrifying, especially since the fixed ratio is likely to be more like three or four if you account for family units or co-workers.

Most people think of the series 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128. That’s a fixed ratio of 2, a fixed ratio of 3 yields something like 1, 3, 9, 27, 81, 243, 729, 2187. A fixed ratio of 4 gives you 1, 4, 16, 64, 256, 1024, 4096, 16384.

It’s not unreasonable for the American people to ask if the genie is already out of the bottle. A sick nurse, on two flights in a closed environment at close quarters with a minimum of 140 other people…  Gee, that sounds like a freaking party! Sign me the fuck up! I’m surprised as hell that others aren’t showing symptoms, but the incubation period is still young!

Djin

You said, Mr. President, that you didn’t think we’d need an ebola tsar, yet you’ve assigned one.

You said the CDC had it under control, but they’ve said they screwed up.

You’ve said that the troops we’re sending to Africa to battle ebola will not have contact with sick people, but now we’re learning that apparently they are going to be assisting sick folks in the temporary hospitals.  What are you going to do if our troops get sick? You’re needlessly exposing our troops to a situation that they shouldn’t be in.

You’re concerned about imposing a travel ban because we need to help the people of Africa. You’ve told us that a travel ban will harm the people of Africa by restricting the flow of aid, that’s dishonest on it’s face. We can send all the aid we want to Africa, we just don’t have to allow anyone from the restricted areas to COME HERE.

Golfy Stompy

Your Oath of Office says you’ll put the needs and safety of the American people first. Imposing a travel ban is a simple direct way to do that, as is closing our southern border (which you have consistently FAILED to do.)

We won’t even discuss your failure to take, ISIS or as France has decided to call them Daesh, seriously, or your subsequent authorization of bombing in Iraq and Syria. 

Really President Stompy, Why should I or the rest of the American people trust you?

I’m not hysterical about ebola. I’ll tell you this, I’d think twice about getting onto a plane right now.

I’ve caught the flu more times than I can count on planes. The flu is a pain in the ass, ebola is worse so if I don’t have to fly, I’m not going to.

President Fail

Technically I don’t even have to fly to get ebola. I can simply kiss someone that was on a plane and who now has flu like symptoms, its flu season we’d think nothing of it, and we’d probably wait to get treatment because a lot of us are still having so much trouble with our medical insurance that the concept of seeing a doctor is simply too daunting. The delays in seeking treatment, could result in more exposure, and the spread of the virus before it was even reported in a particular area.

This is because Mr. President, you’ve failed… again, to put the safety and wellbeing of the American public first.

You may well have created an America that rivals third world cesspool countries, time will tell. Regardless, your presidency will be one for the history books. 

Congratulations!