Category Archives: Paul

Define ‘Deadline’

As I may have blathered on and on about for the past several weeks, it’s been one of “those” times when I’ve been up to my eyebrows in 24/7/365 (or is it “25/8/366” for these?) deadlines on several fronts. Primarily at work and then at the CAF SoCal hangar and from there all of the other little daily deadlines.

Tonight I finished the fifth and (for now) final of the “super gigantic mega oh God we’re all gonna die!” deadlines. I made them all, but it got me thinking about how some folks need to be more explicit about the exact details of the deadline. You know, for people like me!

One of them at work was quite clear – we have a 17:00 meeting on this day with a number of VIPs and it would be “very bad” if we didn’t have that stack of documents ready.

No sweat! After weeks of work, I printed out the final versions for me and emailed them to others on team a full eight minutes before the meeting started. There may have been some hysterical laughter released at the absurdity of it all.

At the other end of the spectrum, the CAF project had to be done “by end of day 9/20/21.”

There’s a fair amount of wiggle room there in my universe. Business day? Or am I still good at 23:59:55? Pacific time zone or Central? That’s important, gives me a whole three more hours!

That got done tonight at 22:20 PDT, so by my definition, I made it by a full 1:40! If that doesn’t fit in their timetable and they meant 17:00 CDT, well, whose fault is that, huh?

Hopefully I’ll finally sleep well tonight. Mañana, y’all!

3 Comments

Filed under Deep Thoughts, Paul

From One Spice To Another

Last night I talked about a spicy dinner – tonight my thoughts range to another spice, that of the planet Arrakis.

“Dune” has been a favorite novel since I first read it in high school, probably 1973. In a couple of weeks the new movie version (covering the first half-ish of the novel) comes out and I haven’t waited this anxiously for a movie in a long time. This will be the movie that will get me back into a theater.

Having gotten past one set of deadlines and pressure at work (yeah, me, and the great team that I’m on there) I’m now up to my eyebrows in another killer deadline from Hell at the CAF hangar. No stress…

But as I’ve been working like a demon on this all day today, my attention keeps going to a poster I’ve had on my office whiteboard for a long, long time. For those familiar with “Dune,” obviously, this is the Litany Against Fear.

Fear of failure, fear of shame, fear of embarrassment, fear of being yelled at. All of the above. Powerful motivators.

Today I’m facing some fears.

And soon I’ll be watching the movie.

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment, Paul

SPICY!!

I eat lots of broccoli, not because I like broccoli, but because I eat a lot of crap that’s “good” for me in my old age, and very little stuff (like ice cream and chocolate and bear claws and cheeseburgers and pizza and… you get the point) that I want to eat. Often to make it taste a little bit less like green, semi-crunchy cardboard, I’ll put a few drops of Sweet Baby Ray’s HOT sauce on it.

A couple nights ago dinner consisted of the aforementioned steamed fresh broccoli, plus a bunch of shrimp. I do love shrimp, and yes, it’s on that list with ice cream and pizza.

But we had no cocktail sauce. An error in my shopping calculations. So I improvised. I already had the Sweet Baby Ray’s out…

Double up the hot sauce on the broccoli, and then really lay it on while coating the shrimp in it.

Thinking about all of that hot sauce on something that my doctor would not approve of to begin with got me thinking. (Which is often not a good thing.)

See the source image

I won’t tell my doctor if you don’t! (And it wasn’t bad – I would have preferred the cocktail sauce, but it beats using ketchup!)

3 Comments

Filed under Health, Paul, Photography

Adrenaline Junkie

So the times and schedules come and go and overlap as they will, and sometimes all of the bits line up and you end up with multiple massive, major, critical deadlines all coming due within a day or two.

So it is with me, as you can tell by the increasingly frantic tone of my posts. The annual audit, this meeting, that review, this update, and payroll (which everyone agrees should NOT be pushed off onto a back burner…).

And then, after busting your butt for WEEKS on the audit, today’s the day to get the final draft, but after bugging the auditors repeatedly they say, “Wait, we’ve sent this four times, why aren’t you getting it?” So you check with your IT guy and he finally says, “Oooh, something happened, I don’t know what or why, but our email system decided to delete without notice all email from that domain.” WHAT??!! (Say that in the same voice & tone as Princess Leia when Grand Moff Tarkin decides to blow up Alderaan anyway, even after she gave him the location of the Rebel base.) Fix that, please – instantly will be fine, sooner would be better. What do you mean, 24 to 48 hours?

And then that wicked pain from what you suspect is a worsening ear infection goes from “Wow, that’s really getting sore” to “Shit, who shoved the freakin’ ice pick into the side of my head?!” So when you finally get a chance to take a breath you end up spending two hours in Urgent Care, and the 45 minutes of care to clear it out and clean it up (yep, that was a mess) turns out to be absolute agony, the kind of pain I haven’t experienced since I first had kidney stones.

So, the good news is that I’m a FREAKIN’ SUPERSTAR and the four simultaneous huge deadlines (plus payroll!) HAVE BEEN MET. Everyone’s happy. And the ear thing has been cleared without my head actually exploding and I have some drugs. Not the really, REALLY good drugs, but some pretty okay drugs.

But coming down off of all of that adrenaline? Wow! I’ve been abusing the adrenal gland 25/8 for about a month and now that I have a moment to breathe, I’m going to just stare off into space , maybe get caught up on a few episodes of “Ted Lasso,” or rewatch “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist,” and eat some ice cream that I’m not supposed to have. I’ve earned it.

There’s an excellent plan for you!

(P.S. – had the ice cream, got WICKED BAD brain freeze, almost as bad as the ear thing. God hates me.)

 

3 Comments

Filed under Health, Paul

The Red Queen’s Race

Yet, amazingly, I remain up to my eyebrows in deadlines. While I’ve knocked off a few big ones, others loom, coming at me like freight trains.

To remain semi-sane and get some of the pressure off of my timeline, instead of kicking back, having a BBQ, watching some football, and so on, I think I’ll be spending the three days running the Red Queen’s Race.

See the source image

At least I get to go to an Angels game on Monday. Thanks, Sister#2 and BIL#2!

Leave a comment

Filed under Paul

Adrift On The Calendar

I’m so glad that my watch and phone tell me what day and date it is. I realize that I’m now totally dependent on them to keep track of such things since my brain and body and schedule are so overbooked that I can’t spend the energy or the brain cycles to track such things myself.

In some ways I feel like the crew of that ship in “WALL-E” where they’ve forgotten how to walk or move independently. And like in that film where there’s a malicious, evil entity that has manipulated them to go down that road, we have the GQP and the Death Cult right-wingers and conspiracy nut jobs who are pushing us to spend so much time stressing over their bullshit that we’re losing our ability to keep track of little things like the date. We have so many bigger fish to fry.

Do you remember a “M*A*S*H” episode where BJ Honeycutt was messing with Winchester’s clothes, subtly a little at a time having them taken in or let out, convincing him that he was gaining or losing weight? That’s what our electronic devices could do, adding a few minutes to the work day here, taking a few days off the holidays there, putting an eighth work day into the week (“Wait, wasn’t it Tuesday a couple days ago? Why is it Tuesday again? Whatever…”) Forget about “watching the watchers,” is anyone watching the watches?

The only reference I seem to have is, “How many days until that next deadline? And the one after that? And the two next week? Wait, they’re THIS week?! Shit!!!”

The good news I guess is that I’m more or less keeping up with the deadlines, at least the ones that are critical and for which I’m getting paid. The volunteer gig? Might be letting a few slip there.

I think the French have a phrase for that.

1 Comment

Filed under Deep Thoughts, Paul

Random Season Changes

It seems that with the pandemic and work-from-home thing for 18 months and feeling busier than God 24/7/365, the “seasons” have cut loose from their traditional moorings. As a result it’s feeling more and more like daily life in the Twilight Zone.

One thing here in California is that it seems to now be open season for the GOP television ads on the gubernatorial recall to be shown on every channel all day. (I’m assuming – there are a LOT of channels I don’t watch, and never will, but they seem to be on every channel I’m watching. I must be their target audience.) I’ve seen them for four different candidates already today. It invokes absolutely no surprise to see that each one is a bigger douche canoe than the previous one.

That’s going to get really annoying really fast. I might turn into a crotchety, cranky old man over this one. I might have to limit my television between now and September 14th to “Ted Lasso” next Friday and the Chiefs’ game on the 12th. However, given that the Chiefs’ game is right before the election, the ads might make it unwatchable. Perhaps I’ll listen to that one on the internet radio instead, even if it is on TV.

And Halloween candy went on sale at the grocery store three weeks ago. My first display sighting was on the weekly grocery run on the 8th. I know they get earlier and earlier, but really? A full month before Labor Day and we’re already getting Halloween candy?

Any bets on when the first Christmas stuff will hit the grocery stores? This week?

When my faith in the future of humanity is taking heavy fire from all quarters on a minute by minute basis, this isn’t helping. If you see something on the news about someone going berserk in a SoCal grocery store over Christmas candy in August…

1 Comment

Filed under Death Of Common Sense, Paul, Politics

Rabbit Hole

Wow, what an internet rabbit hole that was!

To start, something came in to my personal email account that I needed to send to a couple folks at the company I work for. I decided to be lazy, and rather than send the email from my personal email account to my company email account and then forward it internally, I just sent it from my personal account. Now, I’m aware that my personal email account is really old and has a weird domain name, so there was a possibility of it being sent to Spam or blocked, or the folks I was sending to wouldn’t recognize that it was from me. On the other hand, my usual “first initial last name” user name was right there… What could go wrong?

But that got me wondering again about the age of that email account and domain name. I’ve looked a couple of times before but haven’t been quite able to ask the right questions. I vaguely remember some things, but it was a long time ago…

This was well before Gmail came along. This was before Google existed! This was before Windows XP. In fact, it was probably right around the time that Windows 95 came out, maybe just before. Now it’s administered by EarthLink, but before that it was Mindscape, and before that it was Netcom.

The email address is pwillett@ix.netcom.com. So how long have I had it, more or less, and what does the “ix” stand for?

I finally figured it out, more or less.

Yes, I remembered the Earthlink –> Mindscape –> Netcom evolution correctly. Netcom started in 1988, running as a local service in San Jose for college students who lived off campus. As they expanded and this thing called the World Wide Web started to be a thing, Netcom released a  program called NetCruiser. NetCruiser was originally released for Windows 3.1 in 1995, and I found a very old Cnet article from Jan 10, 1996 announcing that NetCruiser for the Mac would be available Q1 1996.

WOW! NetCruiser included the ability to display both GIF and JPEG files! It also included email, Usenet, IRC, Gopher, ftp, and Telnet! The Netcom/NetCruiser combo was $19.95 per month for 40 hours of peak time use and unlimited use off-peak (midnight to 09:00) and on weekends! And it worked up to 28.8 kbps, almost blinding speed!!

“Wow” indeed.

And that matches what I remember! I had a Netcom account for at least a while, a year or two maybe, before NetCruiser came out. I remember how much easier NetCruiser was than manually setting up programs for different parts of the Internet, like email, web browsers, usenet, and so on. I remember getting those CD’s with the NetCruiser distribution on them – probably have them buried off in the garage someplace.

So that places my ix.netcom.com usage back to at least 1994, possibly a year or two earlier. But where does the “ix” come from?

I finally found another article about Netcom that talks about that. The original Netcom email accounts were in the “user@netcom.com” format. But during the development of what became NetCruiser, the original name was “Internet Xpress.” They ended up making the name change to “NetCruiser” due to legal issues with the “Internet Xpress” name. But the “ix” prefix stuck.

So the account and address are at least 26 years old, possibly 27 or 28 years.

To come up with a more precise answer, I’ll bet that somewhere on an old enough set of back up disks I have backup copies of my Netscape or NetCruiser emails. But that rabbit hole will have to remain unexplored for tonight.

Today I also have a couple of different Gmail accounts, plus my work accounts, plus my CAF work accounts, plus… But the primary is always the “ix.netcom.com” account. Occasionally I’ll meet a fellow geek who recognizes it and knows that it means that I’ve been doing this for a long time.

Geek cred – gotta love it!

1 Comment

Filed under Computers, Paul

Money, Money, Money, Money

Being Finance Officer of the CAF SoCal Wing I spent a good part of this weekend counting cash. This led to a most curious observation.

Here’s the situation. We have a number of sales sources around our ramp. Some of them (PX with T-shirts, toys, hats, patches, and so on – and the beer/margarita stands) generate a decent amount of sales but it’s mostly electronic, or $10s, $20s, $50s, and $100s if it’s cash. But most of the others (tips, candy, chips, snacks, sodas, water, and especially the aircraft tours) are simple and charge $1. Simple, just drop a dollar bill in the bin and off you go!

Except…

Someone has to count all of that. And to count it you have to unfold and stack and put it all in a format where you can go through it. It’s tedious, it’s time consuming, and it’s a pain in the ass when you can hear the planes flying and the “bombing” explosions and action going on outside.

But here’s the thing.

Having my desk covered with a mangled, messed up, mish-mash of $1 bills (with the occasional $5 or $10), almost everyone coming through the office wants to ooooh and aaaaah and just drool over “ALL THAT MONEY!!!” It’s like Scrooge McDuck frolicking in his hidden lair full of gold coins.

Only these aren’t gold coins. While everyone else is looking at it and obsessing over “CASH!!!” I’m seeing $100, maybe $125. Max.

And the majority of those with that attitude were pilots. Pilots who work for the airlines are are making $200K/year or more, sometimes a LOT more. This money lust that’s taken away their common sense is about what they would pay for dinner with their wives, OR LESS, yet they act like they could use it to go buy a new Ferrari.

It struck me as odd and a bit amusing, so I’m sharing. It’s what I do. Well, that and spend hours unfolding and stacking dollar bills until my hands cramp.

Meanwhile, if you’re tired of being obsessed with the mountainous stack of $1 bills, pull up a chair and start unfolding, stacking, and sorting. I give it fifteen minutes, tops, before you never want to see a $1 bill again.

2 Comments

Filed under ALSA Golden West, CAF, Paul

No Context For You – August 06th

With all of the huge machinery lumbering up and down the street during repaving this week (and it’s not over by any means, they’ll be back on Monday morning) I’ve learned things.

One is an almost childlike joy in looking at and watching REALLY BIG FREAKIN’ MACHINES!

So many buttons, valves, gauges, and monstrously large sections of metal designed to shred rock and pavement and concrete and…

Leave a comment

Filed under Paul, Photography