Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Happy... Holidays?

I'm having to make do without the India-based members of my team as they take the day off to celebrate the first day of Diwali. This made me feel bad for my Indian co-workers here who are coming into the office like it's just any ordinary day.

As soon as I got in, I ran into my buddy S. (I'm not protecting his anonymity, it's just that his name is really long and probably spelled exactly as it sounds.) Trying to get into the spirit, I wished him Happy Diwali. He thanked me then explained he and his family don't really celebrate the holiday as they're Christian.

Okay, so it's a little more complicated than I thought. Since I never want to offend anyone, I'm going to stick with the inoffensive* "Happy Holidays". Then if I get a funny look I can say, "You know... Halloween?"

Or as S. calls it, "Monster Day". His wife is due to deliver their baby any day now and yesterday he told me that he hopes the baby's not born on Monster Day. It took me a minute to realize he meant October 31st. I explained that my brother was born on Monster Day, so I know what he means.

This exchange was fresh on my mind when later in the day I got a text from my Sister: "Today is Scott's birthday. He knows how to text now, here's his number..."

You mean my busy-body-know-it-all Sister – who somehow has the impression I own neither a calendar or an address book – got a birthday wrong? Call it a character flaw, but the opportunity to correct her was too sweet to pass up.

"No it's not. Scott's birthday is next week." Send. Wait.

"Oops. Well, I'm being proactive then."

"If by 'proactive' you mean 'wrong', yes you are. ;-)"

I haven't seen the statistics, but I'm convinced the incidence of domestic violence has surely declined since the invention of the emoticon. It makes me feel bad for my parents' generation who had to resort to using their actual emotions to qualify their snarky comments, often with tragic consequences.

* Except for my Fox News-watching uncle who finds the use of "Happy Holidays" to be highly offensive.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Knight Shift

After months of preparation, you'd expect my project deployment would go off without a hitch. Unfortunately it was far from hitchless. With the official start of the production shut-down scheduled at 11:59PM Friday night, I was looking forward to crawling into bed sometime before sunrise. In reality, it would be 2:30 Saturday afternoon before QA would finally sign off and I could go to bed.

Earlier Friday evening I made a grocery store run to stock up on supplies. Canned chili, Vitamin Water and Halloween candy. At 9PM I fired up the VPN to begin some prep work. Around 10:30PM I ran some tests and realized I'd overlooked a very important step. I'd forgotten to request our Systems Operations team to create the new directories I was going to need to install my software on the production servers.

This was a rookie mistake. I looked at the clock and frantically called the Systems Operations after-hours emergency number. How was I going to explain this? I breathed a sigh of relief when Bob answered the phone. I'd worked with Bob for several years at my previous job, back in those magical start-up days when every Friday ended around a keg of beer on the roof.

After explaining my dilemma, I asked Bob if he'd been to any chess tournaments lately. His kids are chess prodigies, or so I can only assume by the way he describes them. In the time it took for Bob to bring me up to date on his kids' latest achievements, my directories were ready with minutes to spare.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Premature Panda Meets Crush Bunny

In response to StevieBunny's post at Nice To See StevieB. I'll make up the two hours of sleep this weekend.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Step By Step

I sure hope that light ahead is the end of the tunnel.

With this week comes the climax of a project I've been working on for the last three months. I know better than to believe next week will be dramatically different. In fact, I'm expecting it to be just as frenzied as a few of those inevitable roll-out bugs need to get urgently squashed.

But I am looking forward to some sense of normalcy to return to my work pace, when an attempt at a restoration of balance can be made to my life.

I can tell I'm spending too much time at work when JB starts expressing resentment. We both know it doesn't make sense. As a flight attendant his work takes him away for days, sometimes weeks at a time. During those times it's never occurred to me to question what that means to our relationship, or if he's going out of his way to avoid spending time with me.

In some ways it seems self-centered. How many times do I have to say, "This has nothing to do with you, this is my job"? But I know JB well enough by now. His life revolves around taking care of people. Even his job reflects this. If one of the pleasures of his day is preparing a nice meal only to eat alone again in front of the TV, it's going to take its toll after a while.

But there's always a plastic-wrapped plate waiting in the refrigerator for me.

Since my health kick this past Spring I've been wearing a pedometer. As an engineer, I like working with data. As a geek, I like getting it wirelessly. So of course my pedometer periodically uploads my activity to the Internet. It's tiny enough to easily wear daily, and it's expensive enough to constantly worry about losing or laundering. A few weeks ago I thought for sure I'd lost it. I couldn't find it anywhere.

I was relieved a few days later when my pedometer emailed me to let me know it hadn't detected any movement from me. It was concerned I was dead and about to notify my next of kin. The fact it was updating to the Internet told me it was somewhere in my house and within range of its wireless charging base. Sure enough, I found it attached to a pair of slacks I'd put on one morning then decided to change out of because they're getting too tight.

And is it any wonder why my pants are getting tighter? Look at my activity on a typical day from last week:

1,412 steps taken.

What are we looking at? You're seeing me get up in the morning, getting ready for work, walking to my car, then walking from the parking lot to my desk. You're seeing me take a late afternoon bathroom break with a stop at the vending machine on the way back to my desk. Then you're seeing me walk to my car, back into my house and getting ready for bed.

Compare this with one of my better days from a few months ago:

11,208 steps taken.

Here you're seeing me sleeping (yes, you're supposed to wear the device to bed if you wish to monitor your sleep) with a couple trips to the bathroom. Getting up and going for a morning run. Going to work and taking several breaks throughout the day. Coming home and going for a nice walk after dinner.

This is what I'm looking forward to getting back to in the weeks to come.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Critical Path

Our software release schedule for 2011 was published internally over a year ago. That's why I find it inexcusable that the Project Manager overseeing the upgrade of the network configuration management system for which I'm responsible is expecting his second child at the worst possible time. Seriously, how can his wife's due date coincide exactly with the code lock-down date tomorrow? Someone obviously neglected to add an ovulation category to their Microsoft Project. And he calls himself a Project Manager.

No really, I'm happy for them. I definitely am a believer in "family comes first" and am trying to pick up the slack without complaint. And I've been moderately successful so far if you don't count all the complaining. After leaving the office at 2am this morning, I was happy to see the 9am scrum meeting was postponed to this afternoon. While sleep would be an obvious choice, I've opted to use this free time block to update my blog.

Okay, so I'm updating my iPhone to iOS 5. But while I'm waiting for that to finish, I thought I'd post.

Isn't it nice when porn brings back fond
memories of your first experience? What
I wouldn't do to go back in time and stop
myself from throwing away the original
packaging for that computer.
I was surprised the Apple home page is still dedicated to the memory of Steve Jobs. Knowing how businesses usually take maximum advantage of web traffic to optimize revenue, I thought it was very cool of Apple to do that.

But after a week it's starting to feel a little awkward. Especially when yesterday's Lion update froze my MacBook for a few uncomfortable minutes, leaving me powerless to Steve's ghostly monochromatic gaze.

I got a creepy feeling during those two moments that it maybe wasn't my computer being uploaded with new instructions, maybe it was me. Wouldn't that be the Ultimate App? I began imagining Steve Jobs' final moments, strapped into one of those giant Lawnmower Man gyroscope gizmos, laughing maniacally as his essence uploaded itself to the net.

The boing of my MacBook rebooting shook me out of my B-movie daydream. Time to get back to the office. The Apple Store is on the way.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pride Atlanta 2011

It was Gay Pride here in Atlanta, and it was a beautiful weekend for it. This is the second year since Pride was pushed back from late June and, speaking for myself, I prefer it in October. June is always so hot and wet. I know, but not the good kind of hot and wet.

The only thing worse than standing in the rain during a two-and-a-half hour parade is seeing the poor, soggy drag queens waving forlornly from drenched floats, mascara running into their ruined shoes. One year I barely escaped a flash flood when the storm drain at the intersection I was watching from got clogged with feather boas and sequins.

This weekend's weather was perfect. Unfortunately I missed out on the parade yesterday, opting to catch up on some work instead. This is do-or-die week on my project so I thought it best not start it with a post-pride hangover.

But I did make it to the Pride kick-off party Friday night at the Georgia Aquarium. That was fun.

I learned Whale Sharks aren't whales, and there's no such thing as a free brunch.

This was a convenient people-watching spot, where I could enjoy a cocktail
while watching a never-ending supply of gays stream by on conveyor belt.
Industrial cruising under the sea. (Cue steel drums.)

I was impressed that the World of Coke, adjacent to the aquarium,
got in on the spirit of the celebration.

Saturday was spent hanging out with Gil, Larry and JB at various bars with outdoor patios. There was a slight breeze that felt wonderful, and the day ended with a perfect sunset.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

* Different

Head In A Jar

Assuming you're viewing my standard template, you may have noticed I added a randomly rotating tag line to my blog header. I played around this this last year when I added a shopping days countdown script during the holidays. (I plan to combine the two scripts when I get some time.)

I intend to gradually add tag lines when it tickles my fancy, but as a starting point I populated the script with a few random title cards from Futurama. I love Futurama. I don't watch a lot of television outside of flipping around the various History Channels until I find something non-history related. But heaven help the reality-addicted homo who fucks with my Futurama season pass on Tivo.

Anyway, I wanted to add attribution links to the tag lines to give proper credit where appropriate. The ones I steal shamelessly from Futurama will link back here.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


I worked late again last night. I'm afraid it's going to be like this for a few more weeks as a project deadline looms. It wouldn't be so bad if I could focus exclusively on my project, but it never works that way. Yesterday my work got pushed two places down the stack by reactive requests from upper management. By the time I got those out of the way it was nearly 6pm.

When I finally got home around 10pm I found a package at my door, the first wave of Halloween novelties from Archie McPhee. Inside was an assortment of gnarly hillbilly teeth for JB. (He's looking forward to using those at work.) A yodeling pickle for my ex, Joe. (A Christmas gift, actually. Don't ask my why, he's just really hard to shop for.) And a mask for my costume idea #1. I just need to find a willing partner to help complete the ensemble.

What do you think?

Horse top ISO bottom
Me: well-bred, fun-loving social drinker who enjoys nuzzling.
Likes: studs, shoes & appletinis. Dislikes: fillies, flies & smoking.
You: great ass, strong back, able to remain bent over for long
periods of time with minimal access to fresh air. Own tail a plus.
Looks not important.

Monday, October 3, 2011

October Optimism

Wow, October 3rd already. I've always liked October. When I was a kid, it marked the beginning of the easy slide into the holiday season. The month was dominated by the escalating spookiness of Halloween, climaxing in an orgy of miniature candy bars and corn syrup.

As an adult, the sugar element of Halloween has been replaced by its social elements. While the anticipated party invitations never materialized last year, I think it was because I wasn't mentally prepared for Halloween. I put hardly any thought into a costume and I wasn't really in the spirit. So while I don't have any specific plans or invitations yet this season, I'm optimistically preparing nonetheless. I've already ordered a costume online which should arrive this week, and I picked up a few decorations on my last visit to Pier 1.

When buying my new washer and dryer the other day at Lowe's, I was tempted by the display of illuminated, animated inflatable yard ghoulies. JB shook me back to reality by reminding me we live in a condo. "Don't be an idiot." He's probably right.