Mostly about my amusement

Year: 2013 (page 1 of 3)

Cats do not like change

When my parents moved out of their house into Lily’s and mine they had a Siamese cat. I drove the cat to the new house and he spent the short ride perched behind my neck on both shoulders.

Siamese cats are very talkative and I got an earful the whole ride.

When we got to the new house I took off my coat and he started to walking around the house. Eventually it was too much for him and he crawled into one of my coat sleeves. We thought he’d gotten out and was lost but he was just hiding while trying to adjust to the change.

I know how he felt. I’ve seen some changes this past year and a half.

The biggest is that my family lost my Dad in 2012 and I’m still dealing with that. His funeral was the day that hurricane Sandy landed in Long Island. I happen to think that’s appropriate since everyone was saying goodbye to a great man.

Dad did not like funerals and would have been unhappy that we had made any fuss. But all in all it was a cathartic experience and that’s really the point. I see him in almost everything I do especially with my interactions with the kids. It’s a shocking role reversal for me but I’m doing alright.

The other change I’ve been dealing with is more along the lines of “stop being a crybaby Jan!” Lily and old friends of ours purchased a wine and liquor store. She’s been working there straight for 100+ days without a single day off.

This completely changed my daily routine. Previously I would spend about an hour on the train next to her and another 15 minutes walking down 8th avenue from 33rd to 23rd street. After 5 PM I’d meet her and spend another hour on the train heading home. Round it up to 3 hours a day I’d spend with my wife and I miss it.

See what I mean about the crybaby part?

Lily’s fulfilling an ambition of her’s and I fully support her and help whenever and however I can. On Christmas Eve I was making deliveries and working the floor at the store. I even got $22 in tips for making those deliveries. Sweet!

But cats do not like change. They need time to adjust and they always want to go back to the way things used to be. So I’m dealing with it and still adjusting. Eventually I’ll find my equilibrium and it will all be fine but until then I’ll be hiding in one of my coat sleeves.

P.S. You know when the cat runs up the stairs really fast and stops at the top looking around? And you walk to them and they run off? I still do that.

At work you can have good failures too

Sometimes when things go wrong at work they still go right.

Two Friday nights ago I was at the office till about 11 PM working on some infrastructure. Originally the scope was for 2 devices but that was expanded to cover 4 devices instead. After notifying different groups I started at 5 pm.

Naturally I did the 2 easier devices first and that was wrapped up by 7 PM. One of my co-workers helped me out and sanity-checked my work. That part went well without any issues. After those 2 I was on my own for the rest of the night.

The next 3 hours were an exercise in futility. This included almost 2 hours on hold with the vendor that was supposed to be providing support. While I was on hold I backed out the changes on that device and worked on the last one. No joy there either.

Except for emphatically expressing my displeasure to the vendor’s duty manager (who failed to get me the support I needed, thanks anyway) I was not fatigued, I was not frustrated, and I never lost myself in “where am I and what am I doing here???”

Here’s why: the entire work effort was all my plan and the team I worked with vetted and approved my steps.

My managers not only knew what I was doing but was available if I needed help or just to explain that I was stuck.

My back out plan called for leaving the old devices in place and untouched. Putting it back all back was a pretty straight forward process.

When I called my boss to report the status he said those magic words:

“It’s been 5 hours. Back it out and shoot off an email to the stake holders.”

I was prepared to go at the problem from a different angle but he’d pointed out that I’ve already crossed the line where I’ll start making mistakes due to being tired. I backed out the last 2 devices, performed my checkouts, and shot off that email.

I got home after 1 AM.

It’s all about the support at work

Anyone who works in IT has times when things just don’t work. When that happens you can spend hours on the phone and let people know the status is still “Yep, beaming Happy Thoughts™ at it hasn’t solved the problem”. Those support conference calls are the worst.

But what makes it all worthwhile is knowing that I have the support of my teammates and managers. It’s a small group that I work with but everyone has each other’s back.

I’m not the easiest person to manage (due to my sense of humor- WHAT??) but no matter how deep into the pool I get I will always have a lifeline. Also good planning and being able to roll back completely is a bonus too.

Here’s why two weeks ago was not a failure.

  1. I planned for the worst.
  2. I made sure my back out plan was solid and I checked my plan with the team.
  3. I communicated in planning, before the work, during the work, and after. Did I mention communicate?
  4. I set a threshold for when to declare a failure and roll back. Which I almost didn’t follow but my boss got me to do.

This next week was spent working out those problems I encountered and last Friday night I tried again. The job was completed successfully by 9 PM.

So what’s the point again?

Being prepared is great and can save you grief at work. Having the support of your managers and co-workers? That’s awesome and I’m glad it’s part of my work environment.

Grosse Pointe Blank moment

Every now and then I read something online that makes me reply “Grosse Pointe Blank moment!” which is not necessarily a good thing.

Martin Blank: Who’s the ghoul?

Marcella: Whoa. This guy is a badass. Felix LaPoubelle. An accomplished amateur with the Basque Nationalists.
Few odds jobs with the Algerian Separatists. Went pro with a stunning debut aboard an elite Caribbean cruise liner.

Martin Blank: Oh, that’s where I know him from. He’s an asshole.

See, there’s a lot of wisdom in John Cusack movies.

People? Don’t be Felix La Poubelle.

Seeing movie connections in all the things

This tweet

Made me think of this dialog.

Debi Newberry: So, is there a Mrs. Mysterio?
Martin Blank: No, but I have a cat.
Debi Newberry: It’s not the same thing.
Martin Blank: Well, you don’t know my cat. It’s very demanding.
Debi Newberry: “It”? You don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl?
Martin Blank: I respect its privacy.

It’s not my fault, I’m on vacation and I’ve had good wine. 😉

“By the end of the war it was deemed inadequate”

Today we went to a nearby shopping outlet (I got sandals) and they had a section for the Museum of American Armor. This is an off shoot of the American Airpower Museum which the kids and I visit a lot.

My 11 year old son is a WWII armor vehicle buff. He looked at a vehicle labeled the M-8 Greyhound and started explaining that the placard said wasn’t for that vehicle. That vehicle on display was the British Bren Carrier.

This impressed the museum guide and when he got to the 57mm anti-tank canon my son replied like so.

Yes, but by the end of the war it was deemed inadequate. The 57mm anti-tank canon was adequate for fighting earlier German tanks like the Panzer I, II, and III. The Panther had thick sloped armor that shells would bounce off. They got the idea from the Russian T-34/76 tank.

Seriously, he said that. I just asked him to repeat it in case I got it wrong.

He’s been reading and has a few books on the topic and for the last couple of years has become an expert.

The museum guide was wowed and suggested that he should sign up to give tours. I think that’s a great idea and it would really build a lot of confidence for him. Hopefully next spring the museum will break ground in Bethpage and we’ll visit them regularly. In the meanwhile we’ll see the armor on display at the American Airpowered Museum this Labor Day weekend.