And then there’s this…


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. 


Any news?
Sorry, does that necessarily mean anything?

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

None more qualified than you

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

Were they all for the same position or were there other positions being tested then as well?
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.
That surprises me.
Others in the group knew configuration of really high end routers, the kinds of routers that your ISP uses for entire cities.
But you have the user relations experience.

Get Out

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.
So alien to me since I work so much alone.
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.

And trust is critical.

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

That’s a team.
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?

Too much so.

Bad Boss

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.
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.
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.


Education now is the process of technical training.
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.
To think critically, to express yourself effectively, to know where to go to find information.
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.
And that life is more grays than black and white.
What does that make me?

Gravitional Quantum Physics

You’re T-REX!
I’m probably more like one of the smaller Raptors.
I’ve had to learn about life being shades of gray. I was taught it is all b/w.
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.

There are times when I just want to scream!


And not in a good way!

I’m a bit ADD. I know, I know, that’s become an overused cliché catchall that everyone and their brother uses to excuse anything from a hangover to a stroke.

Hear me out. I’ve been like this my whole life, and for me, this is completely normal. I’ve adapted to being this way because I’ve never know any other way to be. There are times when the ADD presents challenges, loud noises, crowds, bright flashing lights, can really mess with my calm and freak me out. Most of these challenges are manageable. If I feel myself being overwhelmed I’ll find a quiet spot to collect myself and then I’m good to go.

imagesOne of the biggest challenges ADD presents me with is listening to someone talk. If they have something to say and they keep on track I’m fine. If, however, they meander and pause the main thread of their story to fill in useless details or give me background that they should have given at the beginning of the story, then I’m likely to stop listening. In the worst case, the person doesn’t notice my eyes glazing over and they keep yammering.

This is usually when the ADD becomes a real problem. I respond first with annoyance, then hostility, then outright anger. The poor fool telling me, whatever they were telling me has no idea what they’ve done wrong or why I’m pissed off.


Believe it or not, I feel guilty when I lose control and get angry because of the way someone is telling their story. It’s not fair to the other person. As far as they’re concerned they are telling a nice coherent little tale.

To an ADD person it’s annoying tedium. I can explain, I think using the following example.

The church made, because of the rummage sale, the church made, the donations to the rummage sale this year because, because of estate donations allowed the church to make,  One estate donated a teak modern dining set that was worth about 5000 dollars it went at silent auction for 2000, it was one of those Danish modern designs, I don’t know who bought it. The usual amount that the church makes on a rummage sale is $15,000 or so. This year the church made, oh there was a lot of very nice estate jewelry some of it brought in a lot higher than expected prices. This year the church made $30,000 although the final total isn’t in yet.

The story could have been summed up simply.

The church doubled it’s usual rummage sale income this year due to a number of estate donations.

Then if I was interested I could have asked what the total dollar amount was.

benefitsadhd2To an ADD person, the story, as first presented, is like fingernails on a chalkboard. The constant teasing about how much the church actually made, is annoying as hell.

There’s another level though that’s worse for the ADD person. It’s that for every one of those pauses we pause a stream of thought and start another one. Pretty soon your 2 minute anecdote has us nearing the maximum capacity of our brain power.

Think of it like trying to compute orbital mechanics of the entire solar system and keeping all the variables in your head.

Unknown 2

This is, I think part of the reason we ADD folk don’t like watching the late night news, it’s the constant teasers. If the 10 o’clock news really wants to piss of the ADD crowd; tease us for an hour and then never get to the story!

“Stay tuned to find out why your penis is at risk”

The way my brain works is probably best described as a corral of skittish horses. I have tons of thoughts running all the time and it requires an effort of will to harness those thoughts, put blinders on them, and then hitch them up to the wagon of a project I’m trying to do.

Unknown 1

A conversation like the story above tends to have an effect on my thoughts, that’s similar to what you get if a rattle snake suddenly appears in a corral full of skittish horses. After the chaos and dust clears, you’ve got horses spread to the four corners of the corral and none of them are going to do any work for the rest of the day.

I live with a person that tells stories like the example above.  That pisses me off by itself. (Come to think of it, my stepdad tries to lecture on science and technical stuff the same way; no wonder I dreaded asking him questions when I was in school!)


What really pisses me off is when I catch myself telling stories the same way.

My ability to write today is gone. I’m going to go outside and run the weed whacker. I will avoid holding a fluffy pillow firmly over someone’s face.

His journey to the dark side is complete!

My friend who’s a new iPhone, iPad user has in fact taken quite well to the conversion.


How do I know this?

A running conversation through airports across the nation. via iMessage; Messages sent at oh dark thirty (his time) from his iPhone. 

And the final proof!

A status email sent this morning that ended; “sent from my iPad”



Welcome to the dark side my friend.

You’ll enjoy the products and I’m sure that more Apple devices are in your future.

Your expression when I showed you what an iPad and Apple TV could do together, told me you’ll have a couple within the month. That didn’t even include my showing you how to manage porn.

I also suspect that you will replace your Windows computer with a Mac of some kind. It’s inevitable.

I love it when not only do I convert someone, I’m especially gratified when they take to the conversion like ducks to water!

Now if we can just get you over that pesky data cap fear.


Happy Birthday USMC!


Happy birthday to the United States Marine Corps!

Yes, you’re 238 years old today… but you look simply marvelous!

With profound thanks to all Marines past, present & future for your service, and allowing me the luxury of sleeping soundly at night.

You guys attending the Ball, have a blast! Drink and be merry, if you drink too much… call someone to drive you home. Your life is way more important than leaving your car in a lot over night.

To the Marines in my world, who’ve shaped my life for the better… 

I love you all. 

Any of you that know me, You know I’ll come pick you and your buds up & make sure you’re safe while you sleep it off. Call me if it comes to it.

Semper Fi, my friends.

It’s been a rough week, The eldest dog died.

IMG 0091

As I mentioned elsewhere, I’ve been dealing with a very sick dog.

Thursday night the poor guy started regular seizures about every 3 to 4 hours. With each seizure he got weaker, and lost more control over his legs and body, in the end he was completely blind. 

Whatever was going on was major. Just as we panic when our bodies betray us, so do dogs.

In the end he was panicked so much that we couldn’t get him to calm down before the next seizure hit. 

The other dog was frightened too. His health is good but he knew something was seriously wrong with his buddy.

Friday morning the seizures were coming faster and we knew it was the end, and time to let him go. 

The vet did a quick exam to see if there was anything to be done aside from euthanasia.

The opinion of the Vet and the Technician who’ve know the dogs all their lives was it was time. All that could be done, had been done and while the dog was between seizures and relatively calm & comfortable it was best to do him a mercy.

So my family is down to three.

I’ve been spending a lot of time on the floor and setting aside whatever I’m doing to reassure and comfort the remaining dog.

They escaped an abusive household together 9 years ago. They wouldn’t be separated at the animal shelter (They’d both stop eating) We adopted them both, and never separated them.

I’ve been watching carefully to make sure that S. (I’m not using his full name. I’d prefer he barked at you if he doesn’t know you) is eating properly and not getting too depressed.

He is boycotting all the dog cushions. I think it’s because we were having to rotate the cushions and their covers after each seizure and “His” cushion got used repeatedly by our sick guy.

Hopefully that will pass & he’ll decide it’s ok to use the soft cushions instead of the floor. 

He doesn’t seem to be looking for his buddy per se, but he’s acting a little lonely. 

IMG 0096

I scheduled a quick grooming for him Friday afternoon, (He really likes the groomer) that took his mind off all that had been going on Thursday evening & Friday morning.

When we got home, he was confused at the absence of his friend. Eventually he laid down on a cool spot and got some deep restful sleep. 

Eventually, I laid down on the bed, within a few minutes I was being nuzzled then there was a big sigh as he snuggled next to my chest. He’s always done this when he’s upset, sick, or hurt. We slept like that for about 3 hours.

Several years ago after the fire here at the house, these two dogs pulled us through some really dark and tough times. 

One of the things that they helped us with was priorities. Or responsibilities to them always came first. In return, they gave us boundless love and attention. Sometimes it was as simple as nuzzling a foot, or leaping on the bed in the morning with a toy that got dropped on my head. Their needs focused our attention on what was important.

All the rest of it was just noise.

I find myself in that same space. S. needs attention and concern. We’ve been walking in the mornings during the past couple of weeks (we used to walk in the afternoons with his buddy.) He’s enjoying the exercise, as am I. 

Over the past weeks he’d accepted that his buddy couldn’t be with us on these outings.

He forgot this morning that B. wasn’t here at all and went looking for him in the yard and all the rooms of the house. You could almost see the realization as S. couldn’t find B.

S. had gotten in the habit of coming back from a walk and then telling B. all about it.

It was one of those ‘gotcha’ moments that bring a tear to your eye. 

I just cuddled S. and told him it was OK, He’s a good boy.

The telltale to his being upset and depressed, was that he didn’t want his after walk treat.

We’ll all get through this it’s just going to take time.

B., you were a great dog, I miss you.(Yes, even your snoring like a freight train.) I pray that you’re playing with other dogs somewhere in a sunlit grassy field. 

Here are a couple of PDFs friends have sent with loving, comforting, emails. B. was a sweet dog and even those who were afraid of larger dogs loved him.

Pet Death.pdf

Rainbow Bridge.pdf

Good News Everybody!


The Supreme Court of the United States today gutted DOMA and effectively said that Proposition 8 here in California was unconstitutional, by allowing the 9th circuit courts ruling to stand.

This is a good day.

At the same time we know that the well funded, fundamentalists will begin their campaigns to take away the rights and privileges that have been restored to the GLBT community.

48 11403

Today is a sad for me personally.

Today marks the Fifth anniversary of a friends death.

John would have been leading a band of happy folks over the SCOTUS ruling. I have this weird image of him playing his trumpet or his sax like the pied piper. Wait, he also played the flute yeah that’s what he’d be playing.

I found out that he played the flute one Summer afternoon when he was on leave from the Marines. He was sitting on my back patio in a pair of olive shorts just noodling with some classical piece of music. He looked up as I came in from work and morphed the classical piece into the riff from Jethro Tull’s Aqualung. Then he moved on to a medley from Songs from the Wood.

He did it so seamlessly that I never noticed the transition. He gave me a gift that day. He perked up my mood and put a smile on my face even though it had been a really BAD day at work.

I still smile when I hear music form those albums because I see John sitting on the patio relaxed and happy, playing his flute for an audience of one.

Five years on, and I still miss him. Every once in a while I’ll hear someone whose voice sounds like his. Now though I smile instead of feeling blue.

John wouldn’t want me to be sad, especially not with the news today. The image of him leading a group of smiling people his flute sparkling in the sunshine does put a smile on my face. There are times when I wonder if he somehow puts funny images in my head to cheer me up on his birthday and on this date.

Yeah, I get misty-eyed thinking about him, but I can’t stay blue. An endless line of memories and laughs we had flits through my head and I end up smiling & feeling happy in spite of myself.

So John, in honor of you…

I’m going to smile, be happy and drink a toast to the good news. Then I’ll toast to you, our friendship and loving each other like brothers.

Your light and joy aren’t forgotten and you have a place in my heart forever.