Every time…

…I have to unbox some cheap-ass piece of black plastic Dell crap at work, I come to appreciate Apple and its aesthetic, quality, engineering, and packaging all the more.

 

CHRISTINA!

Bring me the laundry basket!*

*This phrase grew from the infamous line in Mommie Dearest where Joan yells, “Christina! Bring me the axe!” into something my last housemate in San Francisco and I used to say to each other when we ran across a picture of some hot guy. It started out as “Bring me a sock!” [to jerk off in], but if the guy was super hot it became into “Bring me the laundry basket [full of socks]!”

A Question for My Denver Area Readers

One of the things I miss most about Phoenix are the healthcare providers I had there. My Primary Care guy was amazing. My Ear-Nose-Throat physician was supposedly one of the best in the valley. My eye doctor was outstanding. Heck, I even liked my dentist. And working for the company I did down there, I had the added perk of only a $50 copay to any of our emergency rooms and any procedure I had performed at one of the hospitals didn’t cost me a thing.

Unfortunately, my luck in Denver hasn’t been as good. While my Primary Care physician is decent enough, he’s geographically undesirable. And since he only knows other doctors in his general area, that means anyone else I need to see (like an otolaryngologist for my yearly checkup) is also an hour drive from home. I found a decent eye doctor in Glendale (based on a referral I got through this blog a while back), so I’m hoping I can do the same again for my other providers.

I need a suggestion for a good primary care physician in central Denver/Glendale or the Greenwood Village/Lone Tree/Littleton area. Also a dentist. And if any of you have a therapist you can recommend, that would be great too. (With all that’s happened during the last six months, I’m reaching the point where I think I need to start seeing someone—at least until the mother-in-law moves out.)

One Of My Favorite

…photos from my dad’s collection of pictures he took during World War 2.

The one in the middle front, and the one in the back about to throw the ball, please.

I remember when I was a kid I used to get all tingly looking at this. Is it any wonder?

Movie Review

Ben and I saw INTO DARKNESS Saturday afternoon and I have to say I was blown away. I love love love the Abram’s reboot of the franchise. He manages to remain faithful to the core—the “soul” if you will—of the mythology yet breathes new life into the stories and characters in unexpected ways.

My only fear is that with him now becoming wrapped up with Star Wars, he won’t have the time to do any more Trek movies, and that would be unfortunate.

Instead of rambling on at length about how awesome I thought this film was, I’m just going to copy verbatim what one of my readers posted on his blog because it sums up my own thoughts exactly:

GREAT!

INTO DARKNESS is not only the best of aaallllllllll the Star Trek movies, it is one of the best action movies in years. GO SEE IT! I’ll be seeing it again if I get the chance. I’ll leave it at that but for one more thing:

INTO DARKNESS breaks almost all movie rules:

  • Sequels are not as good as the 1st.
  • Reboot/Remakes are not as good as the original.
  • Sequels which are reboots/remakes suck!
  • Remakes of great movies are never as good as the original.
  • Remakes of great movies which are also reboots are never as good as the original.

I had forgotten/didn’t know the main plot for INTO DARKNESS so I’ll not reveal it here but it took until 40% through that I realized what I was seeing. [And when I did, I giggled like a schoolgirl; it amazes me that they’ve managed to keep it quiet for so long—VR] When the action stopped the plot moved forward and the interaction among the characters was just as entertaining.

Work History

My current employment situation sucks, but sometimes it takes a phone call to a longtime friend to get me out of my own head long enough to actually put it all in perspective. After speaking at length with my dear friend Cindy the other night, I realized that the emotionally toxic work environment I currently find myself in is merely a bump in the road—that I need to remember that I have had these bumps before, and that “this too shall pass.” I need to remember the incredible sense of liberation that I will feel when I finally find something else and break free of this place. I also need to remember that I have worked for some truly outstanding people during my career and that I will find that magic again.

“I am open and receptive to the abundance of the universe.”

The one company that immediately comes to mind in that magic category was the small architectural firm that I worked for in San Francisco for nearly a decade—until in what can only be described as a fit of utter madness I decided to throw my entire life into complete chaos and move back to Arizona the first time.

(Of course, if I had not done that, it would not have led me on the path to Ben, and as I’ve said that many times before, I wouldn’t change that for the world.)

My interview at H&M (no, not that H&M)  was the result of having sent out a hundred blind resumes seeking work as an architectural drafter (my profession before getting suckered into giving it up for full time PC support).

The funny thing is, when I first arrived for my interview, I almost turned around and left before even going in. The office was in a decrepit building on the southeast corner of Mission and 2nd, above a perpetually going-out-of business men’s clothing retailer. The first thing that greeted me when I got off the elevator was a locked metal gate preventing further access. But for once in my life I actually listened to that little voice in my head that told me if I turned around and left I would be making a horrible mistake.

2nd & Mission, San Francisco CA – 1987

I rang the buzzer and was greeted by one of the two principals.

As expected, it was a small, rather dingy office, about 20 feet wide by 40 feet long. Along one side were four drafting tables perpendicular to the wall. On the opposite wall was a row of bookcases holding product catalogs. Between them was a folding conference table.

Despite my initial misgivings, I had an excellent interview. It was one of only three such interviews I’ve had in my life that even during the interview itself I knew was kismet. And at the end of the interview, Jack and Nick looked at each other and said, “We like you. Would you like to come to work for us?”

And so began my 8 year journey and the birth of my second family.

Shortly after I started work, the fourth member of the firm returned from an extended absence. Neill was a couple years younger than I, but we had so much in common in the way of music, film, and our overall design aesthetic we immediately hit it off. (I remember one afternoon we were off to measure some building and he said something about cock suckers. I looked at him and said, “Excuse me, but I’m a cock sucker!” He looked at me, and smiling, said, “Some of my best friends are cock suckers!” Neill wasn’t gay, but having grown up in the bay area, was certainly unfazed by my announcement, and thus began our friendship.)

Jack was the company’s sales division. Nick was the main designer and ran the office, handling the day-to-day coordination with clients. Neill and I were production, although as the years went by each of our respective roles branched out significantly.

A couple months after I started, I arrived at work one morning to discover an IBM computer sitting on the conference table. I remember asking, “What’s this for?” and was told, “We’re not exactly sure. We hope you can do something with it.”

And so began my obsession.

I’d never touched a PC in my life (other than a brief stint playing with a Commodore VIC-20 years earlier), but I took to it like a fish to water. As the months progressed I began learning everything I could about this new piece of technology. Little did I know where this would ultimately lead me, or how it would result in a life-long friendship with Jack’s wife, Lei.

I got a copy of WordPerfect from my ex, who was working for a law firm at the time, and—having attended a sales presentation for AutoCAD at my last job in Tucson and knew that this was the way the architectural profession was headed—”acquired” a copy of that as well. I remember AutoCAD being the most difficult thing I had ever set out to learn. At one point I was literally moving things in my dreams by applying cartesian coordinates.

While they kicked and screamed the entire way, I dragged the firm legally into CAD, and as time passed we bought several new PCs and created a network. Then, after realizing the money being wasted by having all our CAD drawings printed offsite, the firm invested in a plotter.

Nick was one of those amazing employers who basically gave me free reign to do whatever was needed to grow professionally as well as personally while I was there. Only once did I take advantage of his generosity, and it’s something I regret to this day.

Nick, Neill, Your Humble Blogger, and Jack – 1991

The office moved after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake (not surprisingly, the building was condemned) to nicer digs at Fremont and Folsom where it remained until the late 90s.

Like any family, the one at H&M had its difficult moments. Both the owners were fond of spending an afternoon at the local pub, and when Nick and Jack fought, it was like parents going at it. But also like a family, in difficult times, we hung together. When business turned down in the early 90s, instead of laying anyone off, we all voluntarily went to a 32 hour work week until things rebounded. And when things were good, they were very good. One day after the weather had warmed up after a particularly wet and nasty winter, Nick turned to us and said, “Take the rest of the day off. Go to the beach.”

For the Christmas holiday, Jack and Nick never failed to go above and beyond. Of course, there were the year-end bonuses and profit-sharing, but in addition there would always be something else. One year it was a trip on the ferry to Sausalito and an expensive lunch followed by an afternoon of playing tourist…

Neill, Your Humble Blogger, and Nick – XMas 1987

Another year it was fishing on the Bay for the day (worst weather ever, and after catching and killing the fish—a sturgeon—Neill took up permanent vegetarianism, but it was the thought that counted)…

Drowned Rats

Yet another year they rented a house at Sea Ranch for a weekend and we all brought our families/significant others…

Sea Ranch – 1991

While working for H&M, I remember days where I was irritated, or frustrated or pissed off at something Nick or Jack or Neill did (Neill got pretty pissy too at times), but never do I remember waking up in the morning and thinking, “I just can’t deal with the bullshit today,” like I often do now.

This was also the only place I have ever worked where I was regularly invited to break bread at the owners’ homes with their families as well as having them in my home to do the same.

And as a testament to the fact that we were more than just employers and employees, Nick openly wept as I said my final goodbyes at my farewell lunch.

While I have since lost contact with Nick and Neill, I still regularly call and write Jack’s wife, who often referred to me as her second son and with whom I still share a deep and abiding love for all things tech.

I’m Sure It’s Not…

…the first time either John Barrowman or Stephen Amell have found themselves in this situation. Maybe not necessarily together, but still.

Or maybe I’m just projecting.

I can just imagine the off-screen kidding that must’ve gone on during this scene—especially with Barrowman involved.

Sigh. If this is any indication, Arrow looks like another show I should probably be watching.

50mm

I left my zoom lens at home today went out with only a fixed 50mm lens attached to my camera. I like how it forced me to approach composition a bit differently.

The More Things Change…

I started digging through my old journals trying to track down when I took a certain trip, and I ran across this. From 22 July 1997:

Life at work hasn’t improved much since I last bothered to record anything for posterity.  If it weren’t for the fact I really want to get my Novell and WinNT certifications, I would’ve packed up and headed over to PC Personnel a long time ago.

Joel and I were briefly discussing that subject this morning.  Joel, who gave notice last week, has severe “short-timer” attitude, so he probably isn’t the best counselor, but I asked him why things are so god-awful at OHS.  I mean, I’m going to be asked (assuming I leave for reasons other than geographic relocation) why I decided to leave an ostensibly good job.  That’s where I’m faced with the conundrum. Neither one of us can put our fingers on any one thing that makes the job so horrible.  In fact, if I have to really sit and think about it, it’s got to be one of the easiest jobs I’ve ever had.  So why do we all dread coming to it each morning?

It could be the constant attitude we get from the users.  The “us-versus-them” mentality rampant in the company certainly doesn’t contribute to a healthy, encouraging work environment.  Nor does the fact the vast majority of the people upstairs don’t want to bother learning the myriad tools at their disposal—that they simply want their hands held when things go wrong—and you can no doubt understand our frustration.  The idiot users don’t care how things work, or even why they work a particular way.  If it doesn’t work they way they expect—which seems to be way too often based on my own observations—they want us to simply wave a magic wand and bend it to their will, not understanding that this isn’t Burger King and you can’t always have it your way. No one takes the initiative to do anything on their own, and that’s what’s most irritating to me.  Easily 75% of the calls that come in are for stupid, stupid things; stuff the users could easily take care of if they thought past fucking step one!

But no one—well, almost no one—does that.  It truly surprises me when I run across someone who’s bothered to do some independent learning (or even thinking) on their own and is capable of taking care of the little day-to-day glitches that show up with the tools that their entire employment revolves around. 

You would think that when a computer locks up, most people would simply have the sense to reboot it or turn the fucking thing off and on again.  But no! It’s far easier to call 4259 and whine to us.*

Of course, arriving at work in an absolutely foul mood because of the absolute idiocy of drivers in this town doesn’t contribute to a positive work attitude either.

I’m not exactly sure what to make of this, other than what I chose for the title of this post.

*OMG! Just as true today as it was fifteen years ago!

Some People Really Just Need to STFU

I now know the most intimate details of the 60-year-old Catholic, Goes-to-Mass-every-Sunday-but-somehow-knows-when-Mercury-is-in-retrograde, had-a-hysterectomy-when-she-was-50, allergic to tree nuts, nurse’s life who sits on the other side of the cube divider from me.

That includes where she lives, the details of each and every commute, every medication she’s taking, where she goes to purchase those meds, every doctor appointment, the never-ending medical problems with her aging dog—that she flat out refuses to put down no matter what it ends up costing her—and of course, every. little. thing. her impossibly adorable grandchildren do.

She doesn’t get along with her brother, and has berated him at length for having bought their mother a complicated, flat panel television last Christmas that the mother is forever screwing up and calling her to fix.

And she giggles. Constantly. Like a teenager. She doesn’t work for us; she works for our parent company, so I didn’t have any interaction with her when she came on board and had no idea what she even looked like for weeks. In fact, before I actually saw her, I thought they’d hired a co-ed fresh out of nursing school. Imagine my surprise when I heard her say she was 60.

The only thing I don’t know is whether or not she swallows, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time until that bit of unwelcome knowledge is forced upon me as well.

Did I mention a day doesn’t go by where she’s not on the phone to HER Help Desk for some incredibly stupid issue?

All I can say is thank the FSM I don’t have to support this woman. AND for headphones. Most definitely for headphones.

Ear Worms

Because I’m not the only one who’s going to suffer!

You’re welcome.