Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Whiteboard Jungle: Change Management Request Hell

Some of you may have encountered "managed" environments at work, where, supposedly, every change is tracked and the exact state, more or less, of every system is known at every moment. (Heisenberg would be snorting his beer through his nose right about now; said beer may or may not be getting sprayed on his cat.)

The demon spawn of managed systems is the change management request (CMR). Need to change an application setting? File a CMR. Need to upgrade something? File a CMR. Need to throw a server out the window because it's driving you nuts? Make sure you file that CMR first!

But, just in case you didn't file that CMR first, here's a handy list of excuses!

  1. I didn't realize I needed a CMR to change the font color on my desktop.
  2. I would get blamed if the change broke something anyway, whether or not I got an approval first.
  3. I need a beer.
  4. The CMR web server ate my request, so I figured what the hell.
  5. You're supposed to approve it first? Why? You have no idea what I'm going to do.
  6. I could swear I hit the submit button for that request...
  7. Would you like a cookie?
  8. Doesn't it just make more sense to make the change first, see if it works, and then tell people when it does?
  9. This change management thing all smacks of some inane attempt to give ourselves the illusion that we can impose order on a system so complex that it can be nothing but chaotic. Oh, wait, it wasn't your idea, was it?
  10. Um, I forgot?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Metro Journal: Holy Crap

Today I received this reply from the LA County Metro to my previous missive.
Ms. (Me),

Although we can appreciate your concern, currently we have no policy that would prohibit the changing of a child's diaper while traveling on a Metro bus or train.

Thank you,
Metro Customer Relations
My jaw dropped so fast, it broke the sound barrier.

As soon as I regained any sensibility, I sent this reply:
Dear Metro,

Thank you for your reply. However, I would shudder to think what might happen had the driver had to slam on the brakes while the soiled diaper was freshly removed, but had not yet been secured. I'm sure if it went flying through the air and landed on an unsuspecting passenger, and they learned that you had no policy against diaper changing, they would not be terribly happy.

While that is, of course, a worst case scenario, it is much more likely that the diaper's contents could be spilled onto the seat itself, which would probably prove quite an unwelcome surprise to the seat's next occupant.

(me again)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Metro Journal: Question concerning diaper changing on the bus

Yes, I actually sent this email to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Dear Metro,

Yes, you read that subject correctly. After riding Metro buses nearly everyday for years, yesterday I saw a first for me. I got on a southbound 794 at Hollywood Way & Thornton shortly after 5PM, and not much later, a couple changed their child's diaper right on a seat on the bus.

Of course, soiled diapers need to be changed quickly, but they had little excuse for not getting off the bus to find a bathroom as the 794 route south of the Burbank Airport stops near many gas stations and other public businesses with restrooms. It's unhygienic, obviously, smelly, and not really what I want to be looking at at the end of a long day at work. I really don't want to think about what would have happened had they dropped the used diaper on the seat or floor.

I suppose I should ask if there's some kind of, well, policy on changing a diaper on the bus. I realize I should have walked up to the driver and told him about it, but I was near the back of the bus, and I was rather shocked. And I'm quite certain you've heard stories of even more inappropriate and bizarre things people have done on MTA buses, but the whole thing still has me shaking my head.

Thank you,

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Travel: My New BFF

My new BFF This handsome fella is my new BFF. I call him George. I was out in Denver for a no-adequate-superlative-exists needed vacation, and I drove out into the Rocky Mountain National Park yesterday. I stopped at Lake Estes, which is about 7300 feet in elevation. (The bag of chips I had bought in Denver (about 2000 feet lower) had puffed up like a balloon by that point.)

Golfing elk Lake Estes has a visitor center and a golf course. The only creatures on the course yesterday, though, were several (I counted four) elk bulls. A woman who grew up there was nice enough to explain that they had come down for mating season. While their antlers are quite impressive, they're mostly for show for the ladies. The bulls might butt antlers a little bit, but it's just a play for attention. However, since there were no lady elk present, and it was a hot day besides, the guys were just grazing and napping in the shade of trees. (Note that the elk were in no way fenced in. Not only were there periodic openings in the fence, they could easily have jumped it, and there were a few logs knocked off, although I don't know if they were responsible.)

The lady I was talking to went on to explain that the elk can do about $50,000 in damage each year to the course, but they had the run of the place if they wanted it. After mating season is over, they will shed those gorgeous antlers, which look a lot like aged wood close up.

Me and my new BFF One of the bulls was grazing right next to the fence, and he had quite a fan club gathered around, snapping shots. One guy kept reassuring his friend that the elk wasn't going to bite him. I pointed out that he might get poked by an antler, though. Then I asked someone to snap my picture with George, and I guess I moved too quickly, because George was a little started and stepped back a foot. Hey, most people aren't afraid of me until after I start talking to them! I felt bad, but he calmed down right away. Dude, he has several hundred pounds on me. Plus, you know, antlers.

I heard a brilliant woman say to her husband, "Look at the moose!" I made my way further down the path around the golf course. I saw a few dozen Canadian geese hanging at a water trap on the golf course. I saw some interesting butterflies (my pictures of them didn't turn out well) and walked into a bird sanctuary, although the only birds there were crows or ravens. No, I can't tell the difference.

While the path around the golf course is paved and has signs that leashed pets are fine (but owners must clean up after them), the bird sanctuary trail had a sign saying no pets or loud noise makers (read babies) were allowed. So, as I was coming out, moose woman, her husband, her chihuahua, and her baby stroller were coming down. I politely told them the sign at the head of the trail said dogs weren't allowed, as there were birds on the ground. I'm not sure how they could not see the sign, but... yeah. To their credit, they did turn around.

I stayed about an hour. My lungs are used to sea level, and although I wasn't having much trouble, I didn't want to push it. I was also driving a rental car, and the mountain roads were, well, mountain roads with switchbacks, periodically dotted by signs saying, "Drive Safely. In Memory of [some person who apparently did not drive safely enough.]" I also wanted to get back to Denver before the sun got too low and the forecast late afternoon thunderstorms hit, and as I said, it was hot (90F). Those gorgeous elk made it worth the trip on their own.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Other: Ninja in a Box!

Because apparently even craigslist doesn't have a "Ninjas for Hire" section, I decided I had to provide my own ninja delivery system. (And why do I need a ninja delivery system? Because harsh language has proved insufficient in certain situations.)

It's still in the prototype stage, but below is a test video. Note I was not testing it on Spoon; the camera hog saw the camera set up and, as usual, he had to get in the picture. He didn't seem all that perturbed, oddly enough. Maybe if it had been "vacuum in a box."

Monday, September 13, 2010

Spoonerisms: Another Spooniversary!

It was 4 (!) years ago today that Spoon moved in. He was a little skinnier (ok, a lot skinnier) then, but he's still the same super love muffin he was from day 1.

Whiteboard Jungle: Pictorial Monday

Many of these are from the awesome site Monday Through Friday, but we'll start out with a short that Jim Henson made in the late 60s for IBM. If it had been made today, Kermit would have been using PowerPoint.

You can read more about Henson's IBM films and see them here.

work fails - We Value Your Opinion
see more Monday Through Friday

No picture for this one, but a mortgage company worker in Utah (what, not Florida?) was arrested for shooting his employer's computer server with his handgun after getting drunk. The article doesn't specify his job title, but I'm thinking "system administrator" is a good bet.

job lols - The Days Of Yore
see more Monday Through Friday
Except the Ctrl-V should be on a jar of, hello, paste?

We Have Matches And Hair Spray
see more Oddly Specific
Except I don't work at a help desk, so I wouldn't want people to get ideas. However, this next one...
Honesty Is Always The Best Policy
see more Oddly Specific

The "I" in "TEAM"

And last but not least, a portrait of me. More or less.
funny pictures-I can pretend to listen and I can pretend to care. Just not at the same time.
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Other: Mini Constitution Tutorial!

There seems to be some confusion over what the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights covers.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
(Emphasis is mine.)

Freedom of speech does not mean that
  • any news outlets are required to carry your message
  • any website is required to allow you to say it on their bandwidth
  • anyone is required to listen
  • anyone gives a shit
If, say, you post hate speech on your website and your web hosting provider takes it down, or your network cancels your show, they are not violating your first amendment rights. They’re just being sensible, because they're either run by decent people and/or they know it would be bad business to be seen condoning that point of view. If, say, I decide not to tell a co-worker that they have the butt-ugliest kids on the planet, I'm not violating my own first amendment rights. I'm just being sensible, because co-workers who hate you can make your life hell.

The flipside of your freedom of speech is our freedom of not having to listen to the bullshit that oozes past your lips.

Got it, intolerant “reverend?” Got it, “Dr” Laura?

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, but I can fucking read.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Knittin' Crap: Picture Show

As I'd previously posted, I was making some costume accessories for my friend Steve Z's steampunk film Adventures in Science. I ended up going, per usual, a little overboard. (OCD: Curse or Blessing? Next on Dr Phil) (Ok, I don't technically have OCD. I prefer to think of it as "highly focused.") I've made 2 shawls, a ladies shoulder cape, 3 ladies purses, and a gentleman's miser's purse, all from vintage turn-of-the-century patterns, except for the last, which I ended up making up myself. You can see them all here, but here are a few highlights:

Gentlemen's Miser's Purse Rose Bag
Miser's Ring Purse Greek Key Tobacco Bag

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Spoonerisms: No-Fail Alarm Sound

I tend to be very difficult to wake. Yes, a loud alarm clock can usually do it. However, having grown up with a cat who likes to eat grass then puke it up on my pillow, the one sound that, without fail and at any volume, can wake me up from a coma is that of a cat about to throw up near my head.

They should make an alarm clock that makes that sound.