Showing posts from 2012

On the Breathitt County School system

Few things in this world make me fighting mad.  But then, there's this.

This is my hometown.  This where my formative years were spent.   And, because of idiotic graft, nepotism, and malfeasance, this is where my blood relations remain trapped in a cycle of hopelessness compounded by cronyism, intent on keeping power (what pathetic excuse for power it is!) for themselves.

Were I Dante, there'd be some Terza Rima regarding Arch Turner and his ilk's future in Hell, but words fail me.


What sort of combination of (Apocryphal, yet apt) "Boiled Frog" syndrome and Stockholm Syndrome exists on the Middle Fork of the Kentucky River that tolerates this?   Yes, I understand a large percentage of people find primary or secondary employment from the school system or the (almost as nepotistic!) District 11 of the Ky DOT.  Everything is political, and bei…

On Being Afraid

I'm afraid quite a bit.  It's getting on my nerves.

I understand I shouldn't be afraid, both from a Biblical and a rational perspective.  I have been redeemed, and life's never been better.  Nevertheless, that's not really helping me at the moment.

I'm going to try and apply something I learned about grief:  You have to grieve.  You can't avoid or deny it, or you will grieve at the most inconvenient time possible.  Likewise, fear seems something you must face and give name to, then you can move past it.  So, here goes.

I'm afraid of being alone.  Years of no peers and only cattle to talk to will do that.I'm not afraid of dying, but I am afraid of outliving my wife.I'm afraid of my own carnal nature--my selfishness, laziness, apathy.I'm afraid my ADD will ruin my life, despite my best efforts.I'm afraid of my temper, and what I'm capable of when I'm mad.I'm afraid being abandoned by those I love--wife, kids, friends.   I see or…

Predictable Frustration
Engineers are hired to create business value, not to program things:  Businesses do things for irrational and political reasons all the time (see below), but in the main they converge on doing things which increase revenue or reduce costs.  Status in well-run businesses generally is awarded to people who successfully take credit for doing one of these things.  (That can, but does not necessarily, entail actually doing them.)  The person who has decided to bring on one more engineer is not doing it because they love having a geek around the room, they are doing it because adding the geek allows them to complete a project (or projects) which will add revenue or decrease costs.  Producing beautiful software is not a goal.  Solving complex technical problems is not a goal.  Writing bug-free code is not a goal.  Using sexy programming languages is not a goal.  Add revenue.  Reduce costs.  Those are your only goals. Peter D…

On My Anniversary, to My Wife

"For seven years...."
"For SEVEN years...."
"FOR SEVEN years, Harold...."
Just as a child knows when his full given name comes from his flustered parent's mouth, a husband knows when his wife starts naming the time they've been married, he's in trouble.
Well, honey, for SEVEN YEARS tomorrow...'ve stood by me.'ve watched me break, and grow, and break again.'ve watched me struggle, and doubt, and blame, and generally resist any form of responsibility or accountability.'ve watched addictions and off-kilter brain chemistry steal me away from you.
And for SEVEN YEARS, you've remained.  And you've loved me, even when that 'love' is telling me no and getting me help and screaming right back at me louder until I'll listen.  
You've born me two beautiful girls, both in the most difficult way possible, sacrificing your body's long-term well-being in the process.
You've seen me f…

Yesterday sucked

My last 36 hours.

In 4-5pm daily meeting on Monday (that's a #win by itself), the manager in charge ejaculates a "well, shit!" in the middle of the meeting.  Turns out a 7am all-managers meeting was scheduled the next day by the CEO.  "That's never good," he noted.  #obviouslynotTuesday, 6am, I saw this tweet.  It was real, and it was not spectactular; seventeen hundred worldwide jobs evaporated, including 350 in Lexington.  Gory details here.I came into work to a morgue.  First and second line managers were going around talking to individuals and my "talking to" seemed ambiguously in the future.  I checked on a couple guys from church and both seemed safe, and my small group was praying for my job.  There was the appropriate level of gallows humor, but it just felt different than times we've done this in the past.By ~11am we had an "all building" meeting scheduled in our main conference room downstairs, lead by my boss.  The meeting …

Sometimes, you cry out, and it makes all the difference

I sat in this very seat a month ago a broken man, a failure.

I intended to send my pastor a quick note asking him to pray for me.  What actually happened was time disappeared, and what'd been pent up for months spewed out of my heart, down my touch-typing to an email that Scott said was too long to even attempt reading on his smartphone.

The subject line:  "I'm broken..."

And I was.  Uncertainty and doubt clouded me, truth and lies were my constant companions.  I put so much crap on myself that I was paralyzed to do anything about it.  I was angry and entitled, all the time.  That very week, I'd exploded at one of my colleagues in a meeting (mom taught me a great phrase for this: "Tearing your ass"), then done the same things to my kids multiple times.   I just couldn't stand...anybody.

Within, I just felt shame, shame that I'd let my past transgressions leak back into my life, that I wasn't strong enough to shy away from them, that I wasn&#…

Febrile Seizures: "This is the Seizure You Want to Have"...Wait, WHAT?

"This is definitely the kind of seizure you want your kid to have."


She was an ER resident with an icy, direct gaze and a no-frills haircut.  At that moment, I couldn't remember her name because I was busy trying to get my wife to drink something as she held our daughter, who, an hour before, had just had a grand mal seizure in our downstairs bathtub.  An hour or so later, our other two kids were at a friend's house, my car had a Check Engine Light because I flogged it so hard getting to UK Hospital, and we were both trying to process what happened.

* * *

Scalett Fever.  Those two words hit me like a ton of bricks the previous day when Whitney came home from Georgetown Pediatrics.  Immediately my mind sprang to two movie scenes:  One from Oh God! You Devil with George Burns where the mom pleads with God to not let her baby die because its fever was so high.  Another was some dead-people movie where a kid gets thrown into an icy bath and dies anyway.

Scarlett Fev…

On Steve Jobs (NSFW)

I work in technology.  I'm writing this on a second generation Macbook Air.  My family owns or has owned: 2 ipod classics, 3 ipod nano's, 1 Intel iMac, 3 iPhones (1 3G, 1 iphone 4, 1 4s).  I'm not a fanboi, but I'm in the neighborhood.

That disclosed, let me be very clear in my position:  Fuck Steve Jobs.

Not because of what he did--he did great things (Apple, NeXT, Pixar, Apple...again), nor for his tyrannical management.  I raise the cyber middle finger to Jobs because people conflate the two.  They conclude that to do great things, you must be a tyrant, and that's just wrong.  In fact, the collateral damage of Jobs may take more than a decade to undo, just because people misunderstand who he was.

I find little to respect in Jobs the man or Jobs the leader.  He bred fear and distrust in his subordinates.  He surrounded himself with people afraid of him, and destroyed people for fun.  He was an awful father, the …

A Sick Sunday: Gross, with Lots of TV

After a great date night last night--long, in-depth conversations and understanding--I awoke this morning feeling like crap.

I'll spare you the details, but the quote of the morning was, "Great.  You apparently have Cholera."  Given the symptoms, I couldn't disagree.

So, I slept 'til about noon, with Whitney insisting I stay hydrated, then I watched a few episodes of 'Glee' on Amazon Prime (okay, the first 6 eps of the first season).

The girls went out to Evans Orchard for the late afternoon.  Naturally, amid our drought, today was a day for spotty downpours, so they didn't get to have much fun, but the did return with three movies: "Happy Feet 2," "Ghostrider 2," and "This Means War."

Happy Feet 2 was a plotless mess.

This Means War surprised in its punchy simplicity and appeal to both male and female audiences :-)  We both liked it.  Honestly, it's the only time I've seen Chelsea Handler in a still or moving i…

Stomachaches, headaches, and stress

Just wanted to jot down a few notes so I'd remember this week:

Sunday I heard a great sermon at church, then took Maria and Grace down to see Mom & Dad.  We had a nice little visit, then drove back through 1 hour of solid downpour.  It didn't rain at all in Georgetown, though.Monday I had a quasi-regular day at work and then spent 2.5 hours with my pastor thereafter.Tuesday I had a somewhat regular day at work, though my "Driving Change" group--Dave Ellison and Patricia Ritchie--were back in town so we had some practice and preliminary work to do.Wednesday was Driving Change, all day, and a webchat with Cebu from 7->7:30 am.  I was late showing up for the first presentation and was behind most of the day.  At lunchtime, we got to sit with our CEO Paul Rooke and my Division Vice President, Marty Canning, to discuss how to move change through Lexmark.Thursday was the big presentation day.  I woke up nauseated and threw up twice...couldn't tell if it was nerve…

Real life -v- Fake life: Ecclesiastes

In Ecclesiastes 6:3-7, we read:
3If a manfathers a hundred children and livesmanyyears, however manythey be, but his soul is not satisfied with goodthings and he does not evenhave a proper burial, then I say, "Betterthe miscarriagethan he, 4 for it comes in futility and goes into obscurity ; and its name is covered in obscurity. 5 "It neversees the sun and it neverknows anything; it is better off than he. 6 "Even if the other man lives a thousandyearstwice and does not enjoygoodthings -do not allgo to oneplace ?" 7All a man'slabor is for his mouth and yet the appetite is not satisfied.  
My pastor told me a story last night:
I once had a trusted colleague, a Christian, who held me accountable when I was young in Christ.  Like me, he was a lawyer, but he seemed to have that work/life balance thing figured out.  I asked him how he did it.

"You know," the man said, "it's funny. I'd go to work and have all these accomplishmen…


Two months into our new house, amid the Drought of 1988 (redux).

What's gone wrong:

Mold.  Pervasive mold on every floor, especially in the basement.  At the moment, my wife refuses to go down there for any length of time.HVAC.  Turns out the mold on the top floor was caused by the 23-year-old HVAC unit that was listed as '7 years old' on the disclosure form.  In reality, the AC coil was leaking, and the drip pan was rusted out, so whenever it ran, it ran moisture down into the drywall in my girls' room.  New HVAC system installed upstairs, on credit. #facepalmTV reception.  Despite my current efforts (the booster we had on our old house) the Jerry-rigged (asshole was named 'Jerry') coax from the attic VHF/UHF antenna won't pull in our local PBS affiliate after 8am.Dishwasher leaks on the lower left front corner.Plumbing fun: Slow drain in the downstairs bath, indifferent water pressure (cold or hot) in downstairs bath, leaky trap O-ring under the kitchen si…

A Year as an "Architect," looking back.

As of June 23rd last year, I was "promoted" to the title of Architect within my organization, reporting directly to a Third line manager.  I was taken off of regular, day-to-day delivery activities and basically given freedom to involve myself wherever I thought best, or wherever my boss needed me.

At the time, I was given the following commentary and advice:

"Welcome to being the bitch.""So, are they going to let you code anymore?""You're going to have to get used to being very broad, and very shallow.  You have to know alot and have a high-level understanding of almost everything, but not get mired in the day-to-day.""You're more of an advisor than an architect.  Your job is to advise those making decisions and help do technical mediation for those teams." Those quotes came from the first week.  At some time or another in the past year, they've all been true.
Some awesome things about my job in the past year: I get exposed …

Review: John Carter

Ah yes, John Carter, aka "John Carter of Mars," aka "A Princess of Mars."  You single handedly assured that Andrew Stanton of Pixar will never, ever be granted final cut again.  You lost something like a quarter of a billion dollars for your parent company, Disney.

You know I've seen many bad films in my life (current nadir being "Tristan and Isolde"), and John Carter isn't one of them.

It isn't a great film.  Comparison to other alien epics like Cameron's Avatar inevitably come, and Carter does poorly.  We don't truly care about our hero until well into the second act.  Worse, the framework of the story--that John Carter has died suddenly on earth and his nephew Edgar Rice Burroughs (get it?) is reading his fantastic account of his Barsoon Exploits--just feels like faux epic claptrap right up to the end.

Further, there's much to laugh at:  Plenty of deus ex machina, from a magic potion that is "The Voice of Mars" to actu…

On the other side of moving. Exhausted.

So, we moved.

We sold our old house on the east side of Georgetown, KY and moved to a house on the west side. I'm currently so tired and overwrought I can't even remember if one capitalizes 'east' in a sentence.  I think you do, but capital letters just hurt my eyes right now.

We couldn't have done it without lots of help from folks at church, especially folks from our small group.  We got T's Chevy Colorado truck (2.8L 4-cylinder, AT for those scoring at home) for almost a week, and schlepped stuff to T's garage, B&D's basement, our storage building, my office at work, and a Mobile Attic.  Most of the stuff (at least the things not in the mobile attic, actually got moved *twice*.

The week before closing sale on Sardula was crazy.  Sunday, I chose to have another group member lead my small group at church as Whitney and I packed things into boxes.  I liked smaller boxes; she like the efficiency of larger boxes.  Monday I was at work, dealing with a …

Podcasts: Ragequit some stuff this weekend

So, Buzz Out Loud ended this past week, which sucks considering I only discovered it last month when I started using Doggcatcher as my go-to podcast reader (I'm aware of the term 'podcatcher' and its symmetry with 'podcaster,'  I just think it's a terrible word.)

So, I had to go in and remove BoL from my subscription list.  While I was in there, I the following subscriptions for the following reasons:

Mintcast -- This is actually a really good Linux podcast; they do news around new Linux distros, the latest in the Gnome/Cinnamon schism from the Linux Mint team, and general sys-admin-y stuff.  Nothing wrong with the cast itself, other than it's middle age sys-admin guys talking about linuxLinux Outlaws -- This one hurt.  I've listened to Linux Outlaws for almost a year now--started right after I got my Atrix.  The issue I have is the main creative force behind the show--Fabian Scherchel--has moved on.  He's acting like he hasn't, but he's real…

Crappy Easter Weekend

I was sick all weekend (hayfever).  Hot/cold, freeze/pollen, dust/grass...thankfully, none of it's made it to my lungs.  Yet.
Grace was sick all weekend (Hand/Foot/Mouth).  Hasn't eaten normally since middle of last week.  
Nobody slept well.  
I didn't get to go to church, as I stayed home with Grace.
A bright spot was we had a new couple from our church over to the house to have Easter dinner, Tyler and Kayla Williams.  Really enjoyed their company, their sunny disposition.  Whitney and I are SO FILLED WITH HOPE. :-)

On Europe

"Why do you like Europe?"

In our house, we do lots of "apropos of nothing" discussion.  One minute, you're talking soccer, the next you're analyzing the selfishness of the Baby Boom generation.  Last night's verbal ejaculation came in the middle of another dull, overwrought Shonda Rhimes pilot, Scandal--or as I like to call it "Scrawny balloon-lipped gal who flounces through every scene."

Anywho...."What, you mean like to live there or to visit?" I replied.

"Yeah, why do you like it?"

"Because most of Western History happened there."


"Uh....Art, music, historic sights.  It's all there.  You can stand where Caesar stood, where Charlemage, Henry-the-eighth stood.  And there's all the old buildings from different eras."

"So, dead people and old buildings?"


Funniest Facebook Thread I've Ever Seen

I typically abhor facebook.  It's banal.  It's boring.  And, 20% of the world's population is on there, so--like a bad High School Reunion--you sorta have to be there too.

This thread I'm about to copy/pasta reshare single-handedly changed my perception of FB:

On cruise shuttle. Entering radio silence. I hope the world can survive without my exciting posts for a few days....

Okay okay, a little self-important, but hey, this is the Twitter/Facebook generation where every meal and waste elimination is comment worthy.  But the comment stream:
I can stand in for ___ if anyone is having withdrawl? "Well, rode the new bike for 48 miles, stopped to get some salmon steaks to grill for the fam... then I replaced all the tile in the downstairs bath because, hey, why not?... buffed out a scratch in the Porsche and rewired the sound system... changed all the door thresholds used to contain the dogs to a titanium blend that I smelted myself in my handyman garag…

"Worthless" religion

In working on my small group lesson this week, I'm stuck again in James 1, and there's this verse (26)

Ifanyonethinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bbbridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, thisman'sreligion is worthless.

You could pretty much summarize my last 5 or 6 years right there.  I've deceived myself time and again, focusing on what was easy, felt good.  I can rationalize anything, it seems.


If accountability has taught me anything, though, it's that so long as you're sucking wind, you can change.  Goes right along with my One Step --> Focus less on myself and more on others.


When I was born, my head was almost too big to fit through the birth canal.

That explains much about me to this day.  Just sayin'.


After 2 days' exposure to corporate purchasing and approvals, it amazes me that my lights stay on.

( Yeah, I know.   Not up to my usual standards. )

Damn. Fell in Love with the wrong car.

You know how you go out looking for the right car, with a checklist and a list of requirements?  I've been doing that for the better part of two years.  I've driven every small car known to man at intervals, trying to find some reasonable personal transportation when the Camry of Doom goes kaput.

What I'm *really* looking to do is duplicate the love I had for the 1998 Impreza 2.5RS, a car with All-Wheel Drive, a sweet 5-speed manual transmission and the turn-in responses of a B13 Sentra SE-R.  I still remember the test drive I took at the now-defunct Oldhan's Subaru in Nicholasville Kentucky back in college, and whoo boy, was it FUN.  Pity I had no job at the time. :-)

Anyway, fast forward > 1 decade, and here I am.  Camry is getting lose about the....well, everything.  The Front end wobbles.  The transmission slips.  There's the every-present water leak in the trunk that's never bad enough to fix.  It smells like vomit so badly that none of the females in m…


It's been a rough few weeks, almost entirely self-inflicted.

As the Eastern KY saying goes: "Work is aggravating me to death."  Nothing about what I'm doing is hard; tedious and frustrating, sure, but not difficult.  Basically, I fight whatever fires appear, and 90% of the time these are communications issues between teams, not technical problems.  Corporations tend to self-select for people who can hide within bureaucracy, stifle their own opinions, and dumbly line-up behind meaningless mandates.  That's wearisome, to say the least.

I feel like the same passionate guy I was eight years ago.  It's just tough keeping that passion going when all it does is get you in trouble with the political animals who smell blood in the water.  If what happened Friday blows-up on me, well...I'll own my mistake and learn from it.  I did a lot of learning last week.

* * *

The grind of keeping the house clean and picking-it-up for showing is wearing on us.

There's been…

Elves took over my house, cleaned, and took pictures

The listing

Yes, there's Kitchen-Aid porn in that picture.  Jealous?

Picture Day

Nothing like a deadline, I guess.

So, we've known we needed photographs of our house up on various MLS/ sites, and our realtor scheduled a photographer for today.


Yeah, lots of work had/has to be done.  We were up last night until after 1am, and back at it again this morning ~7am.  I had a Diet Mountain Dew influenced crisis of confidence at 11pm, but...uh...pushed through it.  I stuck my head in our oven.

I left at 9:15 to go to work, with Whitney still at it.

If you hear a thud followed by a snore, that's my head hitting the keyboard, asleep.

House is on the market!

So, my home sweet home is on the market.

It's been a long road getting here.  Whitney's been feeling the tug to get out of the house since before the housing crash (!), and she's been a steady force there throughout financial crises.

Anyway, so it's up.  We're supposed to be hosting a photographer Thursday, so it's been continuous clean/declutter/reclutter/clean/declutter since New Year's.  I'll give Whitney all the credit--she's got the place looking great, especially the paint, staging, and her attention to detail.

We're not after any specific place at the moment, though we have some stringent requirements.  Okay one: Must have a basement, preferably in our current area.  Given that our area is a huge limestone dome from the Orodivcian period, "basements" are few and far between.  Also, our water is hard enough to chew, but our bones (and those of our famous Kentucky Thoroughbreds) are stout from all that lime/calcium.

Proof: Sometimes, you need a Salesman

Prove: Authoritarian Decision-making is myopic
Assume: You work in a engineering-centric corporation with attendant corporate hierarchy.

Engineers believe no one is as intelligent as an engineer. (Dilbert's Razor)Engineers view non-quantifiable job skills as unimportant (Scientific Postulate)Engineers age and seek more salary, responsibility (That's life)Engineers become managers (by 3)Engineers often communicate poorly (self-evident)Persuasiveness is not quantifiable (self-evident)Charsima is not quantifiable (self-evident)Persuasiveness and Charisma are unimportant (by 2, 6, 7)New idea implementation requires persuasion (The "He who has the Gold makes the rules' axiom)Engineer managers must persuade to promote new ideas (by 4, 9)Engineer managers will be told 'No' (by 5, 10)There's no point in resubmitting the idea; all pertinent facts were included, by definition. We were told 'No' (by 2, 8, 11).Those in power will only see an idea once, no matte…