I Thought I’d Put This Out There Again

Hi Universe. It’s me, Mark.

I need a job.

Seriously.

But I guess I that’s not going to happen if I don’t spell out exactly what I want now, will it?

While I had complaints about my last job in Phoenix before we moved to Denver, the mere fact that I stayed there nearly eight years (and would probably still be there in some form if we hadn’t relocated) says a lot about what works for me. Unfortunately, my work situation in Denver was—how shall I say this? Unacceptable. So let’s not do anything remotely like that again, m’kay?

I’m looking for a smallish-firm, maybe 250-500 employees or so—or a larger firm where my assigned responsibility would be for about that same number. I like smaller firms, but not so small that I’m the only I.T. guy. I don’t mind being the only desktop guy, but I don’t want to handle servers, connectivity beyond basic troubleshooting, dealing with telecommunications vendors, purchasing, receiving, or anything that is—as my former boss used to call it—”behind the wall.”

My first job in Denver was pretty much like this, but upper management maintained a continual adversarial stance toward I.T. in general, which meant that during the two years I was there we went through three I.T. directors with an average gap of six months between each one, during which time was expected to handle everything, and was given copious amounts of attitude when I failed to meet their unrealistic expectations, so I know that’s not an environment for me.

As I said, while I had complaints about that last Phoenix job, the basic mechanics of it were nearly ideal. We were a large firm, but since each desktop guy had their own facility to support with anywhere from 250-400 users, it seemed much smaller. The workload wasn’t horrific, but it was enough to keep boredom at bay and allowed for occasional down time. The entire I.T. department was very close-knit, and while I rarely socialized with any of my colleagues after hours, I still came to view them as friends and not just co-workers.

I don’t mind driving between multiple facilities to help out my colleagues, but I want a home base; I don’t want a “field tech” position.

Pay? $50K a year would be nice. I’m worth more than that, but I’m trying to be realistic considering the current pay scale here.

I’d also like receive a modicum of respect from whatever company I work for and not be treated like an I.T. Janitor (or required to wear a requisite uniform) as I was at DISH. And while I enjoy a fun work environment as much as anyone, there’s a fine line between fun and frat house.

As far as the industry? I still miss Healthcare, but getting back into it isn’t an absolute. I’d also love to be able to build on my Mac experience in an enterprise environment.

I don’t think I’m asking that much, but if I know if I don’t put it out there and focus, it’s gonna be kind of hard for it to come my way.

Failing this, a winning lottery ticket with a $1-5 million payout would be nice. Just sayin’.

Experimenting With Infrared

Ben’s aunt takes a lot of pictures, so I wanted to get her something photo-related for the upcoming non-denominational winter holiday. I don’t know if Jody was even aware of the technique, but something I have always been intrigued with was infrared photography. I first ran across some examples of it it as a kid in the owner’s manual of my mom’s old Kodak Tourist Camera, and the white foliage and nearly-black skies fired my imagination. But back in the days of film, I never had the wherewithal to actually find the film, buy the necessary filters, and then locate a shop that could develop it. The results could be stunning, but seemed more trouble than they were actually worth.

All that changed with the advent of digital photography, requiring little more than a special filter and engaging the manual settings on the camera.

So I went ahead and ordered the filter for her, thinking it would be a fun diversion for her photos. It arrived today. It’s not the size my camera needs, but I decided to test it out as much as I could to see just how involved the whole process would be. No use giving a gift that would be too much trouble to actually use.

It was a lot of trial and error, but I finally got a decent shot. I had to set the camera to record in black and white (if I didn’t want pink-tinged photos), manually set the exposure time and aperture, and then use a tripod since the required exposure lengths were well beyond the hand-held, point-and-shoot range—making it completely unacceptable as a gift for Jody.

But I’ll have to admit the results were certainly interesting!

So I’ll be returning this one for a general-use polarizer (something she also doesn’t have) and then get my own IR filter to experiment with further.

Visiting an Old Friend

Ben and I were itching to get out of town, so yesterday we drove to Tucson where we met up with Bernie and Damon for lunch at a place we’ve been going to since I was in college.

The place hasn’t changed at all. Bernie said, “You almost have to look through the ghosts.”

And why is this so special?

Hamburger patty tacos. Yeah, I know it sounds bizarre, but they’re a South Tucson staple. They tasted a bit different from what I remember; the seasoning in the meat had changed, but otherwise they were still delicious.

What. The. Fuck.

From RawStory:

An enraged Waffle House customer shot and killed a waitress early Friday who asked him not to smoke.

Police said Johnny Mount was eating about 1 a.m. at the restaurant in Biloxi, Mississippi, when he lit a cigarette, reported WLOX-TV.

A waitress asked the 45-year-old Mount to put out the cigarette or smoke outside, and he began arguing with her.

Police said Mount then pulled out a 9 mm handgun he had concealed under his shirt and shot the 52-year-old waitress in the head.

She was taken to a nearby hospital but died from her wounds.

Mount was arrested as he tried to leave the restaurant and has been charged with first-degree murder.

He remains held on $2 million bond.

Quote of the Day

The next time you hear me attacked as a socialist—like tomorrow—remember this: I don’t believe government should take over the grocery store down the street or own the means of production, but I do believe that the middle class and the working families of this country who produce the wealth of this country deserve a decent standard of living and that their incomes should go up, not down.

I do believe in private companies that thrive and invest and grow in America, companies that create jobs here rather than companies that are shutting down in America and increasing their profits by exploiting low-wage labor abroad.

I believe that most Americans can pay lower taxes if hedge fund managers who make billions manipulating the marketplace finally start paying the taxes that they should.

I don’t believe in special treatment for the top 1 percent, but I do believe in equal treatment for African Americans who are right to proclaim the moral principle that Black Lives Matter.

I despise appeals to nativism and prejudice of which we have been hearing a lot in recent months, and I do believe in immigration reform that gives Hispanics and others a pathway to citizenship and a better life. I don’t believe in some foreign “ism”, but I believe deeply in American idealism.

I’m not running for president because it’s my turn, but because it’s the turn of all of us to live in a nation of hope and opportunity not for some, not for the few, but for all.” ~ Bernie Sanders

‘Murika!

While I don’t feel this is a completely accurate depiction of politics in these United States, I think it is a good rendering of its overall Zeitgeist. Yes, I agree that the Democrats by and large do much, much more for the 99% than the Republicans would even consider, and by and large (there are exceptions, of course) they are —at least for now—foregoing the current fear-mongering being spewed by the Right Reich, but when it comes down to the interests of the 1% who ultimately control both parties, I think this is pretty much spot on.

Frightened, Ignorant and Cowardly is No Way to Go Through Life, Son

From John Scalzi:

So, this week.

The last few days are a reminder that a large number of Americans are in fact shrieking, bigoted cowards, and that’s a sad thing, indeed.

Seriously, I don’t think the bedwetting about Muslims has been this bad in a very long time, which is saying something, and the panic on Syrian refugees is particularly ridiculous. Here’s a nice, juicy quote from a just released essay on the subject:

Of the 859,629 refugees admitted from 2001 onwards, only three have been convicted of planning terrorist attacks on targets outside of the United States and none was successfully carried out.  That is one terrorism-planning conviction for a refugee for every 286,543 of them who have been admitted.  To put that in perspective, about 1 in every 22,541 Americans committed murder in 2014.  The terrorist threat from Syrian refugees in the United States is hyperbolically over-exaggerated and we have very little to fear from them because the refugee vetting system is so thorough…

The security threat posed by refugees in the United States is insignificant.  Halting America’s processing of refugees due to a terrorist attack in another country that may have had one asylum-seeker as a co-plotter would be an extremely expensive overreaction to very minor threat.

What horrifyingly liberal commie soviet came up with this load of codswallop? The Cato Institute, the libertarian think tank co-founded by Charles Koch, i.e., the fellow who with his brother is currently trying to buy the entire right side of the political spectrum for his own personal ends. When the Cato Institute is telling you to maybe take down the pearl-clutching over the Syrian refugees a notch or two, it’s an indication that you’ve lost all perspective.

It’s been particularly embarrassing how the mostly-but-not-exclusively (and thankfully not all-encompassing) GOP/conservative politician freakout about the Syrian refugees points out that, why, hello, bigotry really is a thing, still. From small-town mayors declaring that FDR had it right when he put all those US citizens of Japanese descent into camps to presidential candidates alluding that might not actually be a bad idea to make special IDs exclusively for Muslims here in the US, to the House of Representatives passing a bill to piss on the Syrian refugees, it’s been a banner week for bigotry here in the US, enough so that the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum took the extraordinary step of issuing a statement of concern with reference to the Syrian refugees. And as many have noted, there is irony in the freakout about Syrian refugees coming into a season which celebrates a notable middle eastern family who famously were refugees at one point in their history, according to some tales.

But as this asshole politician said this week, “Mary and Jesus didn’t have suicide bomb vests strapped on them, and these folks do.” Well, no, they don’t. Leaving aside that the perpetrators on the attacks in Paris all appeared to live in Europe to begin with, the actual process for placing refugees in new countries is so long and arduous and so selective, with just 1% of applicants being placed, that (as the Cato Institute astutely notes) there’s a vanishingly small chance that someone with ill intent will make it through the process at all — and an even smaller chance that they would be assigned to the US when all the vetting is done. To worry about terrorists in the refugee pool is, flatly, stupid — no terrorist organization is going to pour resources into an avenue with such a small chance of success, especially when it’s easier to apply for a friggin’ visa and get on a plane (they can buy their guns when they get here, don’t you know). The reasons why so many people are voiding their bowels about it are simple: Ignorance, racism, xenophobia and bigotry.

“But people are scared!” Okay, and? Being scared may be the excuse for abandoning all sense and reason in the moment one is actively under attack; it’s not even close to a reasonable excuse for, thousands of miles away from an attack and with no immediate threat on the horizon, vilifying innocent co-religionists of the attackers and plotting to slam the door on refugees running from the very people who claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks. Taking the Paris attacks out on Syrian refugees is security theater — it doesn’t make us safer, it’ll just make the most ignorant among us feel safer. It’s the TSA of solutions to the Daesh/ISIS problem.

This has been a bad week for the United States, folks. France was directly attacked by terrorists and its response was to promise to house 30,000 Syrian refugees; we weren’t and one branch of our government fell over itself to put the brakes on accepting a third of that number. France is defying the very organization that attacked it while we, on the other hand, are doing exactly what that organization hoped we would do. We’re being the cowardly bigots they hoped we would be, and as loudly as possible.

So congratulations, America. We’ve successfully wrested the title of “cheese-eating surrender monkeys” from France. Enjoy it.

A Little Note to Republicans…

To all Republicans who insist on banning abortion because it “kills innocent humans”:
So do chemical spills in our water. And gun rampages in our malls at at our schools. And starvation because mothers can’t earn a living wage even working 60-hour weeks. And curable diseases when parents have no access to affordable healthcare.
And yet you insist on sanctimoniously sticking your noses into family-planning choices, have smugly opposed every attempt at safety regulations, gun controls, raising the minimum wage, and the ACA you DARE to fixate on banning abortion.
You are the worst kind of hypocrites: arrogant and ignorant. YOU ARE WHAT IS WRONG WITH AMERICA TODAY.

I am Reminded…

…of a certain Calvin & Hobbes strip from long before any of this Middle East bullshit was even a gleam in Dick Cheney’s eye, but it seems even more relevant today than when it was published in 1995:

In the most deadpan voice I can muster, “Oh no. We are all going to die.”