Sunday, August 29, 2021
It's been over a year since I last posted. Somehow, Google has not yet killed this service off. Outside, I observed the thunderstorms building all around my location. It's refreshing to get out again, after a year of confinement. The city has an unofficial "park", that is really a median on River Des Peres Blvd, and it's a great place to observe from, and walk around. Except for the Formula One track all around it... This August is a natural break point for me. Next month, I begin collecting my Social Security. An obvious time to reflect. I'm taking it early for many reasons, not the least of which is desperation. The whole world of employment has blown up, and this gives me the oportunity to work part-time, instead of betting on a series of full-time gigs. IT has become a nasty world, and I'm not sorry to be leaving the industry behind. Now that I am officially old, it's also easier to let things go. I'm starting to clear out the junk of a lifetime. The objective is to take something out every time I go out. Not just the physical junk. Life is also much more *local*. I only drive when I need to. There is a dollar store, a grocery store, and the post office, within walking distance. After the lost year, it's nice to get out again. Unfortunately, it's getting old that sucks. Can't put a lost year into a single blog post. I'll try again with another one.
Monday, January 13, 2020
It's been a while. Almost exactly a decade ago, my mother died. It changed everything. This decade change is changing everything too. In the last four months, I've been faced with a lot of challenges. Job loss, health, relationship with friends, an uncertain future. Oh. And becoming a senior. Ten years later, no teeth, and hair going white. Not as strong. Unable to drive long distances. Today was a hammering day. My body, recovering still from surgery in late October, couldn't make it to my temporary job. I've found out, to my great regret, that it is not as resilient as it used to be. My friends point out that ageism is rampant in my profession, and it is time to move to another stage of my life. I can't take the hammering I used to. Welcome my senior years. My employer is not pleased. I'm more accurate and personable than my colleagues, but the numbers must be hit. Contracting is a cruel mistress. A steady, low-income position is better than constant fear. This means another social, and income reduction. Due to an angel of a cousin, I was able to resolve the medical issues, and survive the last part of 2019 (good riddance), along with the help of friends. One friend is tired of helping, and that hurts. No one likes to be saddled with a hard-luck friend. Another friend lost his father, and his future is insecure as well. He does have a paid-for house, with utilities for life. I don't. My great fear is loss of shelter, belongings, and identity. I've already lost my teeth... I may have to move out of my low rent lodgings, into truly dismal ones. I will need to shed the majority of my possessions, again, just as after my mother's death. I have found out that it's possible to live without a vehicle (a city with public transport), and my food budget has gone down considerably. Only soft foods for me, perhaps indefinitely. The loss of the teeth has a host of consequences in speaking, eating, breathing, self-esteem...the list is incredible. But, I'm free of the dental issues that have plagued me all my life. Better health, in the long term. The great issues are physical survival, and loneliness, common issues for seniors. My friends are retiring. They are moving on. I must continue working. Also, my life is isolated from my peers, and has little connection with others at work. I do not need much in the way of possessions and material items. I do not need a house, and it's attendant responsibilities. What I have accumulated has great emotional attachment, but not great usefulness. It's the process of letting go that hurts the most. I have no family in this area. The nearest family that is interested in me is 700 miles away. That's a long walk. I have an excellent counselor, friends, and most of my health, and my car. I should be thankful. I'm also scared. Restarting this blog is one way of getting my feelings out, without having them eat me up. Tomorrow, I may, or may not, have a job left. I still have a life left. I'm pretty sure that I would like it with a happier, more realistic outlook on things. Note: before I moved to my present location, I was aware of weather, and the outside world. Dismal lodgings might actually let me see the outside world- and have radio and TV reception. :)
Sunday, August 6, 2017
It's been a long time since I have posted in my little blog. Much of the reason is that I have been either too busy, exercising discretion on what I post, or the desire to not bore the world with my ramblings. Here are summaries of what has occurred: Politics (obviously): Aside from voting, I have given up trying to persuade the world to change it's ways. The last Presidential Election was a clear sign from Elvis that life is now a "reality show", instead of a comedy. Highly depressing. Has Art now taken over Life, completely, instead of following it? When creatives have no restraints, the results are often *worse* than Sturgeon's Law would predict. Work: We have now transitioned into a world where Excel pivot tables, instead of intelligent management, have destroyed life for talented people, regardless of person or profession. Additionally, I've encountered employment environments that are nakedly about extracting the very last value out of talented people, then, unceremoniously destroying them. Many of the previous generation who knew the values of leadership are simply gone. They have been replaced by two generations who act solely out of their own self-interest, or petty ego. There is nothing that can be done about this. Politics has become the exercise of business by other means, to paraphrase Clausewitz. Humor: Very little. Real Estate: Ironically, I am now in the position where I wanted to be seven years ago, renting, rather than owning. Jettisoning home ownership has been a most liberating experience. I also live where I can walk to many,many things. Markets. Retail. Car repair, Post Office, public transport. Simplicity of living. I still miss having a back yard, a dog, and a decent place to see the sky, and listen to radio. My apartment is almost a perfect one to survive most tornadoes, however, although I cannot see the sky from it, or have anything but the most powerful local media stations reach it. I cannot force a dog to live half a day in a reduced space, just for my convenience. That loss of companionship still hurts. I am still angry about how blind I was in re-investing in my home, after being forced out of the caretaker position at my mother's house I had assumed. I had hoped for three months to find new quarters. My sister gave me thirty days. She wanted her money. The fact that I could not properly grieve, or recover from the case of pneumonia I had contracted from lifting Mom, and working full-time simply did not matter, compared with cashing in her lottery ticket. Moving myself, with no assistance, destroyed my health. The combination of the two made the rest of the decade a dark one indeed. Many of my co-workers do not understand that buying a (grossly overpriced) home on the periphery of the metropolitan area, with no public transportation, can be a fateful decision. In our fluid employment world, your job moves more easily than you can. A house, as I have found to my dismay, is an illiquid asset. It's a trap, as well as a home. They have yet to discover that blind fate *can* reach you, and leave you stranded in a very poor geographic location. Both of my co workers travel thirty miles, one-way. This is unsustainable. sooner or later, the price in time and transport will come calling (not to mention age). Friends: I have good ones. They have helped, when help was needed. My health has kept me more isolated than I was before, and they are also aging as well. Sadly, one of our original group has died recently. Weather: What's that? :( I only find out about the bad news, once I have to clean off my car of the snow accumulation. Fortunately, there are few slopes to traverse, such as my old home's driveway. Or, when my utility bill arrives. The loss of connection with the outside world is similar to the Scandinavian problem of isolation. I fell less connected to the world, than before. The only courtyard in my apartment complex is full of smokers. Not good for someone with respiratory problems. Transportation: My car, Blue, has gone through a mid-life crisis. It has absorbed much of my cash. It now drives wonderfully. I hope that continues.. Medicine: After politics in the last year, my medical bills/medicines have become far more expensive. Additionally, my dental work, without the care of Dr Bruno, has taken it's toll as well. I have had two teeth extracted, rather than crowned, due to expense. Fortunately, a competent dental office is within walking distance, something the whippersnappers will discover the hard way. Almost all of this was paid for in cash, through my HSA, one of the last protections against destitution, via the healthcare industry left standing. All but one insurer has pulled out of Missouri, in my price range. No words can suffice. Money: None. All surplus income is now absorbed by unplanned expenses. I travel very little now, to work and back, and to maintain the car, or for missions that cannot be walked to. This does mean that the car has very low mileage, but it means a weekend to visit friends is right out, much less traveling to the Chicago museums, or Wright-Patterson. In all likelihood, I will never see the Smithsonian. I have yet to collect the meager health plan my position allows. It is just barely superior to the minimum ACA plan, that requires a 20% co-pay on everything after the first $6,000 from my HSA. Games: There are now wonderful board games in the world. I only wish my old body could stay awake long enough to visit my friends, and play them. I walk many, many meters on my job. I need no step counter. By the time I get home, my feet and blood pressure quash any ideas of a weeknight outing. I feel a traitor. But, dying is not the best option. My rest is hampered by poor respiration, and my rest time needed has increased greatly. Work, or have friends. I love just how great America has become. Now, my game time isolates me more, since it is on the computer. Internet access is good (fiber), and I have few problems. It is no substitute for human contact. Additionally, everything that has driven the work and political worlds has been echoed exponentially in the online game world. It is a griefer's paradise, with few consequences. Additionally, game content has bee monetized to a degree that would make Mammon green with envy. And to survive, one must play the game as a full-time job. Art, imitating life? No. Life has become an art form. One can only live, in the true sense, by evading the illusion of Six Sigma perfection in ones own life, and admitting to your own limitations. I guess that's as good of a summation as I can get.
Saturday, May 24, 2014
The new shopping cart has passed it's operational trials. It was much easier than I thought it would be to cart my groceries through the store, and back and forth over the terrain. Only hassle is repacking, inside the store. Unpacking inside the apartment is so much simpler. The apartment has yet again validated itself. At least in MVFR weather and better, I can now shop.
Saturday, May 17, 2014
Thursday, May 1, 2014
In my reduced circumstances, I have to take orders from the Volcano Gods, who operate an infallible scheduling program I shall call Clack!. If you've been exposed to any navigational or logistics problems at all, you should know about the old Traveling Salesman routing algorithm. Using one person, hit all the stops using the shortest distance, or time. The Euhler Seven Bridges of Konigsberg problem is an example of this. Try to take a route that covers all seven bridges, and not retrace your steps. Euhler proved it could not be done. The computer repair business is a mature one. Squeezing more revenue out of customers is difficult. So, what do the bosses do? Up the call quotas per tech (they get paid per call). There seem to be a near-infinite number of burnt-out geeks available, if one geek should not be able to make the quota. As long as they can get away with it, they will. Until Murphy's Law strikes. So, the Volcano Gods order Clack!, in Tagalog, to generate the schedules. Clack! then generates the routes, which seem to be optimized to maximize distance traveled. It pays no attention to geography, topology, call volume, or logic. It is infallible, and incapable of human error, and is also immune to the phrases "overbooking" and "minimum time needed onsite". So, it generates *negative numbers* for onsite time, if there are sufficient calls in an eight hour period. If you can strip a laptop down to bare chassis, then rebuild it in *minus* 27 minutes, you have a future with us. Depending on the meaning of the word "future". That future could be shorter than you might think, if you follow Clack!'s schedule, and drive 90.56 MPH through Wash U's quadrangle. Just using Google Maps, I beat Clack! by 30% on mileage alone today. That helped make up partially for the two systems that had half the securing hardware missing, and one unit that simply should have been shipped back to depot anyway. Or the customer who was *shocked* that his outfit used laptop disk encryption, and I did not have his company's proprietary unlock codes. And held on to me for half an hour before he accepted defeat (after calling his internal IT department to complain). In four hours, the Volcano Gods will speak, again. I am truly sorry for what I did in my previous lifetime :( The company saves 30-50% on programmer and support costs by locating at Clark. Until it goes off, again.
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Yesterday, after the thunderstorms, I rolled my trash cans back to the Doghouse for the last time. Had a talk with my best neighbor, eulogizing the Doghouse. It was a sad feeling. The Doghouse is 64 years old, and not really salvageable as even a starter house. It will likely be demolished, and a modern structure put up in it's place. If it gets replaced. The basement flooded again during the storms, the siding is starting to come off, and birds and squirrels are starting to reside in the attic, now that it is no longer continuously occupied. My nieghbor will be able to see the sunrise a bit earlier with it out of the way... Got a nice postcard from my retired teacher cousin at my new address. Perfect Palmer Cursive handwriting. You won't see that very often. She's very glad to be out of education. It's a deathtrap, even for the most gifted and dedicated teachers, she says. She pities the kids, trapped in their medium security warehouses, when they emerge into young adulthood. From what I've seen on my service calls to educational institutions, she's right. One of the most cynical, hard-bitten generations is being conditioned to believe in nothing, especially themselves, contrary to the "entitled" narrative. The kids are run like cattle through (censored), treated like prisoners, and are no fools in distinguishing between what adults promise for the future, and what is actually happening. And you thought Gen X was a happy bunch. I've moved back over here, because I've had my fill of being dumped on by those happy abused children, who are now, of course, becoming the abusers. And, X is the largest group of control freak parents ever unleashed on the school system. No wonder the kids look like they have been stuck in Basic Training their entire lives. When they get loose, about 2024 or so, 1968 will look like High Tea at the Savoy Hotel. Then, X will have something to worry about other than me. It will be...heartwarming...to watch them get screwed by the kids. :)
Monday, April 28, 2014
Today, I made another check of the Doghouse, and, sure enough, there were things missed. Tomorrow is trash day, so quite a bit got rolled to the curb. Tonight's game session was one of the most silly I've played in years. I think Ron's (our GM) head is going to explode, as we try causing the universes to implode with our collective uber-stupid stunts. So stupid, they work. Why explore the wizard's dilapidated tower when you can simply NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! End of rational thinking. We took 75% casualties, but it worked. The cow lived. This game setting emphasizes low-level gaming at it's silliest. If anyone ever discovers a Wal-Mart, it's all over with.
Sunday, April 27, 2014
Obviously, a lot has happened since my last blog post. The Winter of DeathCold and DeathSnow forced me into taking action on something I should have done long ago: I can no longer afford to maintain a house. Something about $300 monthly heating bills, siding being ripped off by storms, and adjustment to a 40% reduction in income. I now live in a basement apartment, five minutes walk from two grocery stores, a post office, and a MetroLink station. The move nearly killed me. If only I had done this when my Mom died. I had been planning something similar, but Mom died much earlier than I thought. Foolishly, I moved back into the house, and poured cash into it to make it more saleable (I thought) and habitable. All of that money was wasted, in the end. It just bought me four years of increasing expenses. Once again, I have had to jettison the past. And I do mean jettison- so much physical material had to be gifted, donated, recycled, or trashed. The operational plan was simple- only bring what was needed to live in the apartment. No attempt, this time, to stuff the house into the apartment, or the old life into the new one. It's a more profound concept than deciding what junk is to be saved. It worked. But at a cost. For my health, the backbreaking haul nearly finished me. But, once established in the bunker, my allergies diminished. I was eating food cooked by myself. I was walking more. I brought the bike, and am now using it to ride the nearby bike trails and parks. Additionally, you can stuff a lot from the store into the bike's saddlebags. The bunker is *quiet*. Peaceful. In the doghouse, every neighborhood event was noticeable, and I was aware of the slightest changes in the weather. In the bunker, I have to check the computer for the weather. The heating and cooling of the bunker is far more stable, and there are no doggie destroyed carpets to make me sneeze. There are neighbor noises, but I'm in a corner location, and sheltered. Ironically, I may be in the best place to ride out a heavy storm. There is no sign of water damage, and I've checked thoroughly. My sleeping has improved. Greatly. I've had to give up my radio and TV gear, for the most part. There is a nearby electrical substation that plays merry hell with HF, so I may be down to a handheld, soon. UHF is now my most reliable band. Less than two miles from most of the STL area's major TV transmitters, the TV sets suffer from overload. Worse, Channel 9, PBS, has to be caught by using a reflected signal off another building! GRRRRR! On the other hand, my internet connection is far superior, and I am now watching much streamed material. I'm catching up on decades worth of material. Also, I am using Skype and other methods of remote social media to connect with others, now. From a social and societal standpoint, I may be part of a trend. From degreed professional, to working poor. I'm starting my elderhood a little early. That is something the Millenial generation is facing: There may not be an American Dream anymore. (Actually, it's been dying since 1973, when real wages began falling in the US). The political board is as mad as ever. They are arguing about gun control as the rest of us are just trying to survive, and getting even more "triage fatigue" (what to sacrifice next). Monday morning steadily approaches. Time for bed.
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
As soon as the OAT (Outside Air Temperature) hit 20 F, I shovelled off the front and back steps, and got the accumulation off of the car. My purchase of the last snow shovel in the metro area on Saturday paid off. Tuesday afternoon. Cue the Moody Blues. It was simply too dangerous to work outside for an old dog like me, so I waited it out. Good call. I'm blown, after only about half an hour. If I had done this when it was - 10 F, I might well be a frozen outline in the driveway. Car warm-up will commence at 1530, peak heating for the day.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
As noted earlier, I decommissioned my Windows XP machine, and migrated to a Windows 7 laptop that was far more capable of handling the new software. The laptop dated to June of last year, and had been quite reliable. It had HDMI out, 8 GB of memory, and a 17 inch screen, quite the looker. Reliable. Until I had migrated the bulk of my data. I suspect that the laptop, which had been used for mobile purposes, had suffered some kind of shock. Video on these models is native to the motherboard, and not replaceable. I had been planning a backup, as soon as I had pruned my massive music files down to size. Just like never missing a chance to go to the bathroom in aviation, one should always back up when time is available. My fault, aggravated by the processor hog process of importing music into I Tunes. Two days. An unbelievable outrage was the necessity of purchasing *gasp* Real Player, to convert the old files on Real's format to conventional ones. Blackmail of the lowest order. These converted files *were* backed up. By the time that was done, I had been pushed into a stupid zone of fatigue, and neglected the backup. Today, first the video failed on the primary monitor, then the laptop's primary monitor refused to return natively. Before I knew it, the boot sectors had gone due to multiple reboots to regain video. The 1080P HDTV used as a monitor may not have been the best choice. The good news is the backup drive is intact, and all the data, except for the current mail folders, and documents, and logs for the radio, and... you get the picture. The bad news is that the laptop drive is corrupt, and all the conventional means of data recovery have failed, including some pretty clever data recovery tools. The cheapest data recovery services are half the cost of a new desktop machine. Fortunately, most of the mail is online, and can be recovered. Same for the music. My financial data and software had been archived to backup, and not restored to the laptop (whew!). It's the radio logs, documents in progress, and things-you-don't-miss-until-gone that are going to hurt. With luck, the drive can be formatted, and the laptop sold with a bare OS. Friday, new PC's will be available. And, ironically, the old E-Machine laptop that I had used to carry around to games was still fully operational. So, that's what I'm using now. It seem to be handling the load. But, it is still a laptop. Meanwhile, it gets to gloat. An old lesson is that one should never use a laptop to do a desktop's job. The new tablets and phones seem to be catching up with the laptops in functionality, so they may get squeezed even further into niche uses, like field tech work (which mine was used for as well). For my eyes sake, today I got myself a new 27 inch dedicated monitor. Wunderbar! I can now see details on the radio monitor's waterfall that were invisible before. And the monitor can stay on, as well as the new keyboard and mouse, so much better than the laptop's. Note: the new keyboard is so much sharper in key response, that my laptop fingers are causing typo's. Don't be surprised if more of them crop up, as I adjust to typing more normally. I can already feel a reduction in eyestrain. Of equal note is that I have been cleaning up more of my debris. Carpet is now visible in the living room. The HDTV that I had been using for a monitor will be going in there. The E-Machine laptop was going to be the media interface for the entertainment center. Now, it's the primary. I fear retribution, if it's relegated to a lesser role again...