Fellow Geeks: I Present The Greatest Song Ever

If you are a web designer or coder, you’ll love this.  It’s my new favorite song.

 And, listen to his advice.  It’s good.


I don’t know how it happened.  It must have happened so slowly, I didn’t notice.  But I came to a realization that absolutely shocked me today.

I’ve become my dad.

Now, this isn’t a bad thing, I love and respect my father more than anything.  But, because we’ve always been so different (so I thought), it never occurred to me that our lives would end up almost perfectly parallel.  How different are we?

  • My dad is a stern pessimist.  I am a cheery optimist.
  • My dad is as introverted as I am extroverted.
  • My dad is a man of few words. Me? well…
  • My dad is a huge bear of a man.  Me?  well, many of you have met me.
  • My dad was a machinist (before CnC); I am a programmer/web developer.

Yet, I look at the unfolding of our lives, and you’d think we were twins.

 It’s almost as if I had this pre-defined destiny, and no matter what I thought or did, I would end up fulfilling it.  That’s heavy stuff, when you realise that the unfolding of your life is not something you can do anything about.

There have been little clues.  Lintilla reminded me just last night, after I told one of the underfoot dogs to “git”, that I sounded just like my father.  Sure enough she’s right.

But – y’all bear with me here – what shocked me, what rocked me to my core, was my reaction to the comments for this post at Aunt B’s. I was quite interested in it because at first it was about women & IT, and being knee-deep in Information Technology, I like hearing about these things.  But, a the comments weren’t about IT at all, they were about math and science education.  All important stuff, but I was sorely disappointed.

I thought it was going to be about the real world.

It ended up being a bunch of academics, talking about academics.  Nothing real.

The last two thoughts were brought to you via my blue collar father.  Well, actually, they were thoughts that popped into my head – and that’s what shocked me:  the moment I realized that I was saying (to myself) a version of something I had heard my father say a million times.

You see, in my industry, people with CS degrees are just like mechanical engineers in my dad’s line of work.  They are always drawing up specs have to be re-written by someone who understands how the real work is done – whether it’s slinging code or using a lathe.  I have to totally retrain those newbies with CS degrees, because, either what they learned doesn’t fit into our business, or the school taught them 20 year old technology.

Computer Scientists just get in the way of those who do the real work.  Especially application architects.

Just as my dad use to say about engineers.

Now, on an intellectual level , I don’t agree with this.  But, it’s funny how attitudes are ingrained deep inside; you don’t even know that they are there.  How can a man in my position have old time blue collar attitudes?  But, there they are.

It’s amazing that our children learn lessons we don’t even know we are teaching.  As a dad, I must be careful.

One day, I’ll finish this thought, but I’ve rambled on too long.

My Comcastic Week

 This page provides important information that can be used to resolve problems with your cable modem.
Time Priority Description
2007-11-05 20:02:21 critical SYNC Timing Synchronization failure – Failed to acquire FEC framing
2007-11-05 19:59:52 critical SYNC Timing Synchronization failure – Loss of Sync
2007-11-05 19:59:49 critical SYNC Timing Synchronization failure – Loss of Sync
2007-11-05 19:59:49 critical SYNC Timing Synchronization failure – Failed to acquire FEC framing
2007-11-05 19:41:07 critical SYNC Timing Synchronization failure – Loss of Sync
2007-11-05 19:41:06 critical SYNC Timing Synchronization failure – Loss of Sync
2007-11-05 19:41:06 critical SYNC Timing Synchronization failure – Failed to acquire FEC framing
2007-11-05 19:41:04 critical SYNC Timing Synchronization failure – Failed to acquire FEC framing
2007-11-05 19:39:49 critical SYNC Timing Synchronization failure – Failed to acquire FEC framing
2007-11-05 19:39:46 critical SYNC Timing Synchronization failure – Loss of Sync
2007-11-05 19:39:39 critical SYNC Timing Synchronization failure – Loss of Sync
2007-11-05 19:35:42 critical SYNC Timing Synchronization failure – Loss of Sync
2007-11-05 19:35:39 critical No Ranging Response received -T3 time-out
2007-11-05 19:35:36 critical No Ranging Response received -T3 time-out
2007-11-05 19:35:35 critical SYNC Timing Synchronization failure – Failed to acquire FEC framing
2007-11-05 19:35:31 critical No Ranging Response received -T3 time-out
2007-11-05 19:35:17 critical SYNC Timing Synchronization failure – Loss of Sync
2007-11-05 19:34:47 critical No Ranging Response received -T3 time-out
2007-11-05 19:34:41 critical No Ranging Response received -T3 time-out
2007-11-05 19:34:40 critical No Ranging Response received -T3 time-out
2007-11-05 19:34:35 critical No Ranging Response received -T3 time-out
2007-11-05 19:34:33 critical No Ranging Response received -T3 time-out
2007-11-05 19:32:08 critical SYNC Timing Synchronization failure – Loss of Sync
2007-11-05 19:31:20 critical SYNC Timing Synchronization failure – Loss of Sync
2007-11-05 19:31:17 critical SYNC Timing Synchronization failure – Loss of Sync

That’s the last 30 minutes in the life of my cable modem.  It’s been like this for over a week.  I am speaking to you now via Verizon Wireless and their broadband card, which is slow but better than what I’m getting through my cable modem.  The so-called customer service rep at Comcast tried to give me the exact same spiel BusyMom got about my router (It might have been the same person, for all I know).  The best way to tick me off is to speak to me like I’m an idiot.  And even if I was an idiot, it’s not too hard to figure out that when the little light that says “cable” will not stay lit, you have a problem with the signal.  Comcast CS management: please update your scripts!  Maybe take out the parts about arrogant condesension while you’re at it.

When I look direcly at the modem’s URL, I’m getting crazy variations of downstream (all of them LOW), and absolutely NO upstream signal.  Yes, I’ve tried bypassing the cable splitter; it makes minimal difference.

I’m willing to accept that a)My cable modem is dying or b) maybe, just maybe, there are signal problems on the west side of town.  Or maybe all those reports we’ve been reading in the Nashville blogsphere are all coincidences.  But we can’t get to the bottom of things because the CS people are hung up on my router.

 I’ve already severed ties with one unresponsive ex-monopoly.  I’d like to work this out, but that’s not possible dealing with people who are not polite and talk down to people.

I work from home a lot, and I have Vonage.  This is going to end, Comcast,and soon.  One way or the other.  How it ends depends on your attitude when I call again tomorrow.

Such A Tease

I know, I know.  In this thread at MCB, I promised a post about what it’s like being a male DES baby.  And, I swear I will, hopefully today.  But there are two factors that are keeping me from completing that right now:

1) Today culminates the craziest two weeks in my professional history.  We’re finishing up a prototype of an application others said couldn’t be done in the time we were given, and later this morning,  I take the 3rd and final exam in my quest to become a Microsoft Certified Application Developer.  It’s by far the hardest exam of the three, so I have to study with what time I have left.

2) I want to do a little more research.  I can tell you the things about me that are “different”, and I can tell you why I think they were caused by DES injections while my mother was pregnant with me, but for the most part, I’d just be spouting off about stuff I don’t know much about, as usual. 🙂 

So, I swear it’ll be soon, but you’ll have to wait just a little longer to hear about fused bones, infertility, being touchy-feely and heterosexual at the same time, and other oddities.

And of course, tonight I have my usual busy Thursdays (live blogging Ugly Betty, then putting up a full recap before the episode finishes airing in the West).  It’s kind of crazy, but worth it.

My exam is at 10:30.  After I pass 🙂 , and my co-worker passes hers at 1:00, we’re going to “have a meeting” in “Building 5”.  For those of you who don’t know me, the corporate campus where I work has 4 buildings.  “Building 5” is the Outback Steakhouse down the street.  The “conference room” is the bar.


Miller Time

Remember that scene in Stand And Deliver, when the testing service demands the kids re-take the AP Calculus test because their grades were near perfect (and the teacher Escalante also thought it was because his students had Spanish surnames)?

 Well, that’s how well I did on my Microsoft certification exam today.

I didn’t just pass it, I kicked its butt and left it for dead.  By my calculations, I missed two questions out of 43.  In three of the six areas of study, I got a perfect score.

I’m so excited; I’ve got two more to pass to get my MCAD, three more to get my MCSD (at which point Bill Gates will own my soul).

I’m not bragging, I’m just sitting here in shock.  I was an idiot last night, and didn’t take my Ambien (worried about being cloudy-headed today).  Well, whenever something’s happening the next day, you can be rest assured that my mind will be running a mile a minute ALL night, which happened.  I’m running on zero sleep.

So, I ingested so much caffeine and sugar, I came close to running around screaming “I am Cornholio!” at some points during the day.  So, that, along with the fact that all my studying didn’t seem to be “sticking” — I thought that would be a recipe for disaster.


Now, I’ve come down from the high of both the caffeine and they joy of still being able to kick butt on exams.  I am exhausted.

I know I owe a few of you some communications, but I think I’m going to take a cat nap, then go get a beer.  I’ll see y’all on the other side.

A Post About…What Was This Post About, Again?

Posting has been light due to excessive study for a Microsoft certification test I have this Friday.  I’m scared to death about it.  There are two factoids about me that would explain it.

1) I haven’t failed an exam or test of any kind since th 7th grade.  I’m one of those people that tests well.  And generally, I pick up instruction the first time, with no need for additional study.  I’m not particularly smart, I just understand Key Concepts and phrases that they use in standardised tests. And, I guess I know a thing or two about programming, as well.

2)  Both of my grandmothers had Alzheimer’s disease.  BOTH of them.  Needless to say, this little genetic tidbit has been in the back of my mind for the last 20 years.

So, anyway, it all ties together. The past couple of weeks, I’ve been studying for  the upcoming cert exam.  And I feel like Charlie Gordon on the downside.  I’m just not as sharp as I was 5 years ago.  The facts just aren’t sticking like they used to, even after multiple study sessions.  The skills that I used to rely on to appear smarter than I really am are failing me.

I’ll probably still pass, but only because I’m cramming – something I’ve NEVER had to do before.  But, I’m afraid the years are starting to catch up to my brain.

Or, it could be something worse.

I think about my grandmothers every time I walk into a room forgetting why I came there, or I have to stop in mid-sentence because I can’t remember the name of some common item like “chair” or “Oldsmobile”.

I KNOW this sort of thing is expected as we age, but I’m only 42.

It scares the hell out of me.  Until I forget why I’m scared, at least.

Saturday Randomness

I feel much better today, much more at peace.  Interestingly, that which was causing me so much stress at work is also the root of much satisfaction, something I haven’t had from work in quite a while.  My boss’ boss, the one who accused me of a coffee crime,has to be the most fickle boss ever.  Whatever shiny object is in front of him at the moment is “the most important thing on earth”, and whatever we are working on currently (which, not long ago was “the most important thing on earth” for which we dropped everything) must be put aside to make room for the new most important thing on earth.

This makes for a never boring work environment, but also puts my boss under a lot of stress.  Dancing as fast as you can gets a little tiring after a while.  Me? I seem to thrive in chaos, but if I have to work with people that don’t, their stress rubs off on me.

So, crazy boss man last week decided that all the extremely important projects we were working on (due in late June or early July) must be put aside do work on the latest most important thing on earth.  For you developers out there, he is asking for a major point upgrade to an existing complex system, coded, tested, user acceptance tested and moved to production in three weeks.  He wanted two, but logistically, that’s not possible (that doesn’t give the change control departments time to do what they do).

What gives me happiness is the fact that my group is so good, we’re going to be able to fulfill this unreasonable request.  Watching these folks work, being a part of it, has been a thing of beauty.  People who are so good at what they do they can accomplish the impossible are just fun to watch.  It’s even more satisfying when you know you are one of those people.

It’s a danged shame they’re going to break us up.  And I still think I need a change.  But the general unease I’ve had following me around the last two weeks has now abated.

We get our new xB today.  We think we have a private buyer for our old car; he is supposed to meet us at the car dealer (who will take care of all the paperwork, thank goodness).  However, we haven’t heard from him yet today.  If he follows through, it will save us about $2000.

We are going to make the switch to Vonage today.  It feels good to feel in control of these things; to have a little power over the big, bad company.  And it’ll save us about $40 a month, so that’s a good thing, too.

As of today, I’ve lost 45 and a half pounds.   My goal was 50 lbs before we go on vacation, so the chances of my reaching that goal are slim.  I will not weigh next Saturday, I’ll save that for our departure day.  More than likely, I’ll be off by 1 or two pounds.  But 48 lbs is no small feat, so I’m not going to nitpick.  If I lose at least 3 this week, I can say with confidence that I reached my goal.

And that was just the first goal.  Not that I’m going to lose much more weight, but I have some firming up to do.  I was hoping that getting down to 175 would mean no more love handles, but alas…  I can pinch an inch. (Remember those ads?)  Well, maybe 3/4 inch.  It’s much better than the three inches of fat I used to be able to pinch, but we all have this picture in our heads of what we’d look like if we were totally in shape, and little love handles are not what I had in mind.

But, I’m not sure if even an “in shape” almost 43-year-old man can have a sculpted body like a 23 year old.  It may be impossible; this might be as good as it gets.  But, I’m going to keep trying and see what happens.

I’ve gone from 225 to 179 (hopefully 175 by the 5th).  I’ve gone from wearing size 42 – 44 to size 36 – 38 .  I’d bet I could wear some 34’s, especially by July 5th.  My face looks like “me” again (abeit a little older).  So, I’m not going to beat myself up, and I think what I’ve accomplished should be celebrated.  It just doesn’t mean I’m “done”.

When I do break the 50 lbs lost mark, I’ll post several “how I did it” posts, unless y’all say they are too annoying.  You’d be amazed how non-drastic the changes in my life were.

I will say this:  if you are a man without health conditions that keep you from exercising, you definitely don’t need allii or surgery to lose significant amounts of weight.  I can’t speak for the women, but I daresay 20-30 lbs isn’t out of the question, using the same methods I did.

But, keep in mind, I’m not saying I think that certain sizes are ugly or not healthy.  Anybody that knows me knows that I don’t feel that way.  This was something I wanted to do, to see if I could do it.  Yes, it seems like I obsess about my body, but that’s because I’m a goal-oriented person.  I set a goal, and by golly, I was going to meet it come hell or high water.

Plus, in general, the way skinny Slarti is treated is astoundingly different from the way fat Slarti is treated.  Especially by strangers.  I suspect (how the heck should I know ?) that I do not wear extra weight well, that I am quite the unattractive “big” person, and a not too bad looking when I’m smaller.  I don’t know, but that theory might explain things.  And it may be shallow for me to want that (good treatment and courtesy), but I want it nonetheless.

Ford Prefect, his wife, Brooke and I are singing the offertory at “big church” (the two traditional services) at Belle Meade UMC tomorrow.  Considering the drama of the last two years, this is a big step toward healing long-held wounds. 

X-Alt is playing next Saturday at TBG Coffeehouse in Ashland City at 8:00, for those interested.

 Anyway, I think that’s enough news for a Saturday.

Things Always Get Better

Did anyone see the 20/20 special on “luck” last night?  It was fascinating.  Apparently, optimists generally are luckier, because they are more open to luck.  We Chistians would probably substitute “blessings”and “blessed”, but we’re really talking about the same thing; the only difference is whether the luck is directed or just happenstance.

Anyway, I found it intersting and timely.

Like I’ve whined about over and again, I’ve had a really bad week.  I’ve just about decided that I’ve taken my current position just about as far as I can.  Since I’m in the middle of a mid-life crisis (newscoma, we should write a book together – kind of a he said / she said of mid-life), it won’t hurt to start looking at my options.  Do y’all know I’ve been in IT for 19 years?  Holy crap.  Anyway, that kind of experience is worth something.  There are several positions within my company that I’m going to look at first; I REALLY like working for this company, I just don’t think it’s worth the stress anymore to remain in the position I’m currently holding. Brittney’s kind of inspired me; I know I don’t have to take this crap. 

But I’m much older than Brittney, and have some pretty steep financial obligations, so it makes more sense for me to find another job before walking away.  But just thinking about walking away is a big step for me.  I’ve become far too comfortable, and my personality is not built for comfort. 

Speaking of comfort, I woke up unwillingly at 4 this morning.  I’m already pretty loopy.   I’m coming down with a summer cold.  And I don’t care.

I’ll be heading out soon to our big show tonight at New Beginnings.  It is going to be something else, and I hope we raise a lot of money for this very small but wonderful and daring church.

And I sold enough stuff on eBay to get the DX-40 I’ve been Jones’n for!  Chris Wage was right; I’ve only had the thing a day, and I’m already eyeballing more lenses.  But this camera is absolutely awesome.  Here’s a photo I took this morning of some lovely ladies, and I’ve yet to take any training:

Mom and Daugher

OK, it’s a little washed out on the right, but Trillian and Lintilla look wonderful.
Check out the one Trillian took:


You have to admit, not bad for a 9 year old.

And here’s something else that’s cool. At the Habitat For Humanity build on Thursday, I left very tired but very excited. I used a circular saw all day! You must understand, that when I was a kid, my Dad sized all of his boys up, and he quickly decided that my job would be to “go get that” and “measure this” and “hold this”. Which was OK, power tools scared me, and just like with guns, a tentative operator is a dangerous operator.

But, I got volunteered to be the “cut man”, and it was scary and exciting at the same time. Once I got over my fear, it was almost as if 40 years of feeling inadequate melted away. I wanted to call my dad right there and say, “Guess what I’m doing???” I wouldn’t let anyone else near the saw. I exhausted myself, but when I left for the day, I felt a pride I’ve never felt before.

The future owner of the house hugged me as I was leaving to thank me, but I said, “No, thank YOU!” I really can’t explain what a thrill it was to finally, finally feel the pride of being a carpenter. It may sound silly to you, but it means the world to me.

So, things altogether aren’t any better than they were before the week started, but they ain’t too bad, either. And that’s worth something.

Now, I’m going to go make a joyful noise, and bask in the reflection of that joy from Heaven.

Lord, We Are The Geek Family

We just finished the nightly”must see” in our house this summer: Good Eats followed by Unwrapped.  My kids absolutely adore Alton Brown. He’s silly, he incorporates science into his shows, and he’s a great, inventive cook.  I have no idea where the love of Unwrapped came from (I mean, it’s just tours of factories over and over), but it’s acheived cult status in my household.

Now we are watching the Mythbusters episode  we DVRd last night.  My family just cannot live without Jamie (Zaphod’s favorite), Adam (Lintilla’s favorite), Grant, (Trillian’s favorite), Tory (Who we all love for his silliness),and Kari (my favorite, I wonder why?); sometimes they feel like members of the family.  Irreverent geeks…yeah, they’d fit in.  And they love to blow stuff up, which is always a good treat.

Tomorrow, I’ll try to post a photo of four laptops, lined up just like the hundreds are Microsoft Tech Ed, which, sadly, I had to miss this year because of departmental budget cuts.

Considering the way things have been lately, I’d better add the disclaimer that “Geek” is a term of endearment for me.  Ask my children the difference between nerds and geeks, and they’ll tell you: “geeks get things done”.

A Peek Into GeekWorld

This is how you know technology has eaten your brain:

Me (to co-worker): We need to shift gears, and get to work on that new project.

Co-Worker: OK.  So, what do we do with all this brainstorming information about the old project we wrote on your whiteboard?

Me: Oh, we don’t need it anymore.  You can just delete it.