Friday, November 21, 2014

That's Two Days Of...

     Of I don't know what.  Some more of the equipment up at the North Campus failed (cough, need scheduled time up there, cough), leaving me scrambling on a day off to arrange for a rental replacement and factory repair -- and the weather was (barely) good enough that contractor called me, wanting to get some work done up there.  Sure, why not?

     Today, the rental should arrive and I'll go put it in, with help.  I was going to be at the hospital (my Mom was scheduled for surgery) but that got cancelled, so by working at least four more hours, I reclaim eight hours of vacation.  My last eight of the year, which I will be using whenever they get Mom rescheduled.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"The Last Dictator"

     It's a commercial for a chicken restaurant:

     There was some complaint.  Hmpf.

Day Off

     Sorry, gang -- it's a scheduled "vacation day," but I am in fact using it as another sick day.  Spent most of the morning in bed, headed back there. shortly.  Yeah, I still don't feel so hot.  Maybe just the cold weather, maybe not.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

It's Not Just Me, Right?

     You're checking the news a few times a day and breathing a sigh of relief that there's no verdict from Ferguson yet, too, aren't you?

     (Predictable snit-storm of comments to follow.)  At this point, it no longer matters what the facts are -- oh, I know, the true facts matter to you and certainly to individuals directly connected to the precipitating incident -- but if the Grand Jury comes out with anything other than a policeman's head on a spike and especially if there's no new corroborating evidence made public, neighborhoods are going to burn.  The only real question is how many, for how long, and will it happen where you live?

     I don't know.  This was a lose-lose situation from the beginning and I continue to believe it was persistently mishandled by a police department and city government felt public opinion could be ignored and who failed to -- or refused to -- believe they we juggling dynamite with a lit fuse.  I'm not arguing for the right of a mob, any mob, to overrule criminal justice -- but even a little bit of sensitvity, a little bit of PR, chest-beating and a high-ranking resignation or two would have gone a long way to defuse tensions -- or, if you prefer, to undermining demogogues intent on inciting violence.

     Too late now.  The fuse is sputtering down and the only question is, how loud will the boom be?  I expect a verdict today; the weather is about as cold as its going to get this week and yes, I'm just cynical enough to think that will have an effect on the Grand Jury's timing.

     You might want to take a sack lunch to work today.

Monday, November 17, 2014

...And After The Second Half Of The Split Shift

     I'm even less sanguine about my employer's policies towards the very necessary evil of the North Campus.  Oh, don't get me wrong; the place is an historical appendage, something we are stuck with in order to pursue our business, but it also happens to be the highly regulated side of the business.  We can't just ignore it.  If it goes away, we kind of do, too.

     Ignore it we do, though.  I can't get regular walk-throughs up there scheduled on any timetable, not weekly, monthly or quarterly.  It's supposed to happen "organically," and whoever goes up there for whatever kind of fireman-style maintenance or to repair something in the very large garage is supposed to "look around."

     How well has this worked out?  Funny you should ask.  I showed up last night (on a Heisenburg-superstition shift, covering a high-dollar event on the theory that the equipment won't act up if there's someone there to watch it, since that's so much cheaper than actually doing regular maintenance) expecting one issue I wasn't going to be able to fix during the event and yep, there it was, but not expecting to find essential computer-based test gear dead of hard drive failure.  Nope, one of the few "organic" visitors had reported it wasn't measuring a couple of parameters.  Wrong, it was a frozen screen and rebooting revealed why.  And hey, guess what, you kinda need it to take the steps that will show if there's a hard failure in the other thing or its just out of adjustment, well....  There's sort of a workaround for that, if I can get time to actually do it.

     And the topper?  I go to leave, and my car is now so messed up I have to air up two of the tires daily (the wheels leak!).  The little super-flexible section at the end of air-filler hose has rotted.  Leaked like a sieve, which I found out by de-airing my already low back tire.  Forty-five minutes later, I had rebuilt the thing without the flexible hose, handy valve or pressure gauge.  It worked (I have a pressure gauge in the car) and I was able to drive home carefully through the snow.

     Not one of my best days.

     P.S., I need a vehicle.  Won't buy new, prefer 4WD, don't care if it's a gas hog.  Ideally able to transport 8'-long boards of at least 1' in width, which my tiny Hyundai hatchback will do. (Tam keeps trying to sell me on the idea of a roller-skate commuter vehicle, which would be fine 95% of the time but doesn't even begin to work for bad-weather missions to the North Campus and the like).

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Geez

     Tried to leave work on time and two pieces of software crashed.  One didn't matter, and we fobbed around and got the other "fixed," more by luck than skill.

     Great, all done, go home, sleep, finish split shift from 9 p.m. to midnight.  No?

     No.  Boss calls, wants logs from a different computer issue, proceeds to tell me stuff that doesn't jibe with what I understood the last time we grabbed the logs, and continues to do so after I have called up the actual memo and am reading it.

     Hey, boss?
     Don't overestimate how bad I need the money.  You've been losing people; you've even lost a couple who still collect a paycheck.  What's one more?  Nothing to you, as near as I can tell, so why should I care?
     Sincerely yours, another cheap piece of meat you won't bother to replace.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

So I Went Back To The Doctor Last Night

     (Guys, I'm going to tun off comments for this because while I appreciate people's desire to help, quack-doctoring makes my blood boil.  In dealing with the ongoing long-term migraine-like issues (very similar to the present mess), I have been down every side-alley and cowpath associated with medicine, and shelled out good bucks to fringoids who used stuff as far-out as electric acupuncture.  To date, what little progress has been accomplished has been done by traditional, conventional Western medicine and even the dullest hack of a conventional M.D. has done well by me.  The far-out guys -- and I'm including neurologists as I have so far known them, sorry fellows -- have proffered "treatments" that cost a lot of money and made me feel worse when they did anything at all.  The neurologists at least have the excuse that even the very best and most targeted of drugs we have for the brain are about as subtle as a hammer; the rest of them, IMO, are self-deluded at best and unethical frauds at worst and that's where discussion stops in my little corner of the Innernets.  Snort all the colloidial silver/electric acupuncture/Reiki you like but keep it over there on your side of the table)

     After two nights in a row of being awakened by pain in my ear, face, neck, left shoulder and back, despite taking my ibuprofen on schedule, I thought I should maybe go see the doc yet again.  I'm still having bouts of dizziness and I've starting taking aspirin and/or acetaminophen offset three hours from the 4x/day ibuprofen.  Yeah, big fun.  Plus the Augmentin is causing severe tummy/GI upset despite taking acidophilus capsules.

     So I called 'em and they called back and we talked about my symptoms and they had me "come on down!"  (You could possibly pass off the main doc-inna-box as a very young Monty Hall but you'd have to upgrade his wardrobe and dial down his friendliness a notch.)  He's added another medication and as soon as I'm civilized today (I made it to the office about 8:30 p.m.), I'll go pick it up.  I slept better last night after starting out flat on my back with no pillow; I have a tendency to sleep on my left side and that's sure not helping the inner-ear pressure on that side.

     Some fun.  I've been avoiding my Mom because I sure don't want her to get what I've got.  Tam appears to have weathered a mild attack of something similar already.

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Sad Story

     A stray cat showed up awhile ago.  He was pretty shy and one of the neighborhood ferals, a middle-aged fellow our neighbor calls "Skittles," just hated him on sight.  The two cats were of similar coloring and build, compact gray shorthairs; maybe Skittle was just freked out by a mirror-image that didn't move when he moved?

     By a slow process known only to tomcats, the new guy ended up spending most of his time in our front yard.  He tended to talk, and if I was at the backyard fence talking to Jack, the third feral -- he's gray-and-white, long-haired, fourteen years old and a great pal of Skittles -- the new cat would meow and meow.  Eventually, the new cat started spending time on our front porch and made it clear he'd be happy to come on in.  He wasn't afraid of me or Tam, and if the inner door was open, he and Huck would talk through and smooth on the glass storm door.

     It was natural, as cold weather started, to think about adopting him.  I'd fed him on the front porch a couple of times. Our neighbor, who's very good with cats, caught him and kept him caged overnight.  Yesterday morning, she delivered him to us in a large carrier and I kept him in it, isolated in the basement.  I'd made an appointment with the vet for 11:30 a.m.  It was during my work hours, so Tam took him there and he was a real charmer, as sweet and friendly a cat as could be.  One ear was "tipped," which usually means Indy Feral has caught and neutered a cat, and he was looking good....

     Until they checked for Feline Leukemia.  He had it and it was starting to affect his health.  The clock was ticking -- and since it's infectious, Tam couldn't even bring him home to be an outside cat.  The vet was visibly upset when she shared the bad news.

     Tam stayed with the gray cat -- we were calling him "Buddy" -- 'til the end.  She's called me and we were both very broken-hearted over the news.

     I've been with cats in their last moments a lot of times -- a couple of brave ferals at my old place that were mortally injured in fights, my ex's nice little cat, my family of three black cats -- and it never gets any easier.  Being there, comforting the cat, is the one decent thing you can do for them.  But it hurts.  Gosh, it hurts.

     Huck was puzzled last night, looking around, checking the windows.  Where was his friend?  I told him and he listened as solemnly as only a sixteen-pound tomcat can, then leaped off my lap to go play.  Life's a bit simpler for a cat.

     Last evening, I kept thinking I'd heard a meow from outside, faint and distant.  Go in peace, little gray cat.  We tried.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Yer Kicks Just Keep Gettin' Harder To Find

     But Augmentin'll kick you, good and hard.  My tummy knew it all day yesterday, up close and personal, too.
*  *  *
     And speaking of kicking--  Looks like California stands at the brink of shall-issue gun permits, for which you can thank Peruta v. San Diego and the Ninth Circus Circuit court, the "open carry" advocates who panicked the State Legislature by walking around with unloaded (!!!) guns not so long ago (Open Carry went away in CA in 2012), and their predecessors in the Black Panthers who did the same thing with loaded guns and panicked the state Legislature -- and then Governor Ronald Reagan -- into passing and signing the shameful Mulford Act a generation earlier.

     California generates plots too implausible for the movies and this slow-motion dance, from open-carry and a restrictive "May Issue" process for concealed carry, to unloaded-only open-carry, to no carry, to the courts discovering that an honest citizen was left with no option at all outside their own curtilage, might not have played out in any other state; but it has there, leaving County Sheriffs (who generally control the permitting process) with few options other than granting permits to any qualified applicant.  There are a few last chances for parties opposed -- despite having refused an official request from the State to do so, the Ninth Circuit could still decide to rehear the case en banc. With the State of California unlikely to provide guidance, individual Sheriffs in individual Counties may be reluctant to implement the changes Peruta would appear to require, which will probably result in further legal action; and various municipalities including most of not all of the state's larger cities are likely to fight it, too.  Stay tuned, kids, there's plenty of exciting action still to come--  But Peruta looks definitive; the remainder is just mopping-up and perhaps the end result will be all the stronger for having been well-tested.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Augmentin, Amoxicillin, Whatever

     After a day and a half on the stuff, nearly all of it in bed, I'm better.  Not a hundred percent, but enough better to see that I haven't been, not for some time.

     (It's frustrating -- do I not catch these soon enough because my usual headache masks it, or are the two related?)

     Anyway, on the mend again and hoping this time, it'll last.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Armistice Day

     In the States, it's Veteran's Day, one (1) day out of 365 when the media (with a perky smile) reminds you to say thanks to a veteran (and moves on to weather, traffic & sports); in the Commonwealth countries, it's Remembrance Day, functioning much as Memorial Day does here, and those poppies you see recall the ones that bloomed across the ghastly Great War landscape and symbolize the fallen.

     However observed, however marked, we remember and honor those who fought, who served....on a day when they stopped fighting.  At one eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, nearly a century ago, along the crawling gray scars that disfigured the landscape, the guns fell silent.

     The men and women who fight wars, who treat the wounded, they don't start them and it's rare enough they officially end them; they do not choose their battles.  When their country called, they served.  Call them patriots, call them dupes -- they hear it often enough, too often, from fools and cowards, from those who never "saw the elephant" and never will --they stepped up. And they all sacrifice; even in peacetime, it's not safe work, it's not well-paid work. It's a kaleidoscope for every pundit and demagogue, every pacifist and non-serving hawk: each has an opinion, an image, a stereotype, and they slap it on the nearest veteran.

     It's a mistake. Men as different at Jimmy Stewart and George McGovern served, went out there and did the job alongside people you've never heard of and never will.  All individuals.  Not a one was abstract or symbolic: real people, most of them cogs in a vast, harsh enterprise, flesh and blood against steel and lead.

     You'll hear a lot of rah-rah about freedom today and perhaps you should (it'll give something to ponder at TSA checkpoints, won't it?) but this day isn't about that, either.  It's about the people who went into danger, brave or scared, reluctant or eager, and came back hale or hurt; it's about all those who took the oath and did jobs that were "merely" difficult, dirty, dull--  They served.  They served while the guns were firing and when the guns fell silent.

     Stop a moment, in your comfortable life, and thank a veteran.