Anachostic

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Category Archives: Wondering

My Year In Review

This week is my annual review at my workplace.  I’m sure anyone that has an office job understands what an ordeal this is.  The post is already written in your head for those of you that have been through it.  So, what I’ll try to do is just give some insight as to our company’s brand of ineffectual review.

The process starts a few weeks out from your anniversary date.  This anniversary date is actually not your start date, because when you are hired contract-to-perm, the “contract” part of your time there is not as an employee.  Your actual start date is when you convert from contract to perm employee.  Yeah, I get it, I just think it’s kinda dumb.  If I really wanted to be bitter about it (which I guess I am internally, but you can’t blame fate), I could say that the difference between my first day of work and my first day of employment also means the difference between getting an annual holiday bonus based on my pre-raise salary or my post-raise salary.

Timing issues aside, what you get is a self evaluation document to fill out and return.  You need to return it something like a week before your review.  I always return it within a couple hours of getting it.  I never understand what the big deal is.

This eval form.  Because our department is considered administrative, the things we do can’t be evaluated, performance-wise, the same.  So we have a short list of statements and we have to choose how well we think we met the statement’s metric.  Is the scale 1-10?  No.  1-5 stars?  No.  It’s three options: Exceeds Expectations, Meets Expectations, or Needs Improvement.  This is the second year we’ve had the 3-option scale and the second year that I have been unable to indicate where I feel I am good or bad.  Everything is “Meets Expectations”.  I don’t think I consistently exceed anything and likewise, I don’t think I suck all the time either (just lately).  But there’s no way for me to say I suck a little, but that’s ok, because I make up for it in other ways.

On review day, we all meet in the conference room and the weirdness starts.  I get a copy of the self evaluation I did, then I get a copy of an evaluation by my boss.  And while my boss and his boss silently watch me, I read the evaluation silently to myself.  It’s truly an awkward silence.

But what’s weird to me about it is that my boss consistently ranks me higher than I rank myself.  Maybe that’s supposed to be good.  I understand they want to find cases where someone thinks, “I am on fire” and their boss has a totally different perspective.  BTW, the only time you can self-evaluate yourself as “I am on fire” is when the statement is literal and not colloquial.

So because of the useless ranking/rating system, what ends up happening is everything useful goes in the comments section, which as any programmer will tell you, is absolutely useless for extracting any useful metrics.  I’ve mentioned before that I worked on a survey engine.  One of the interesting sections of the report was a keyword search in the survey’s comment fields.  One interesting application of this would be to see if the survey taker “spoke the lingo”.  Anyway, that’s a pointless (and self-promoting) comment because we don’t do anything like that.

My comments are a list of higher-profile projects that I worked on the last year followed by some pity statements about how I didn’t meet my own expectations and that I’ll do better next year.  I’m not sure if my boss’s review of me is based off what I said, which would make his part super-easy.  But generally, it says kind of the same thing I said, just from a managerial standpoint, as if he’s pleading with HR to justify me remaining hired and even deserving of a raise.

And as time goes on – this is year 7 – this entire process becomes more and more irrelevant.  We aren’t so huge of a company that any IT person is unknown to management.  We all have high-profile projects.  We all save the day at one point or another.  Everyone knows who we are.  I list my biggest projects for the year like I’m releasing a greatest hits album and people are like “Oh, I remember that one!  Sick beat!”  But the greatest hits releases are the moneymakers, because that’s all people care about – the hits.  They honestly don’t remember the ones that never charted.  And they probably don’t care, because that’s not where we are now.

So, because I really want to beat this topic to death so I never have to talk about it again, I will say that we tried something to catch the failed hits, so they wouldn’t be forgotten at review time.  Or at least, they wouldn’t be a time bomb building up so your review wasn’t a shit shower blasted from a fire hose.  We tried quarterly, informal reviews.

This process was walking into my boss’s office, him asking “You got anything?”, me saying, “Nope.” and that was it.  To be fair, I was a lot more engaged when these reviews started, but there was more to talk about then, too.  Our team is quite stable and we all work well together, so there’s no changes worth discussing, like how the new guy is working out or OMG, there’s a female working with us now.

So by the time I got to the point of saying “nope”, they had scrapped the whole idea and the truth came out that these reviews were only implemented because some managers refused to talk to their subordinates.  I assume that problem cleared itself out through attrition.

But anyway, this year, I have an ace up my sleeve.  I’m taking the entire department out to lunch for the holidays and it happens to be on my review day.  As long as there is no food poisoning, I can’t lose.

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Nevar Forget

I was reading a thread on a music forum and the participants were lamenting the rise of “anniversaries”.  When I first got into the thread, I thought they were going to be complaining about anniversary reissues, as a lot of 80’s big hits are now hitting 30-yr anniversaries, and some later ones are nearing 25-yr milestones.  But surprisingly to me, it was something else.

Specifically, the jab was at a music news outlet making posts like “7 years ago on this day, we reviewed this album.”  Ok, that’s a little weird.  First in that it’s not a standard milestone like 5, 10, or 15 years, and also that it’s something they did.  As if the world needs to remember the awesomeness of something they did… 7 years ago.

The consensus was that it was just a “slow news day” or a way of making a post to fill things up.  As bloggers, I suppose we’re all guilty of such things.  Although to be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever done a “year in review” or “in case you missed this” post with links to my nearly 10 year archive of shit.  Maybe because a vast majority of it is shit, or maybe because I respect you enough to expect you to use search or tags or categories to find what you want.

But that forum thread gave me a lead-in for a post I’ve wanted to make for a while.  I just keep forgetting about it, which is ironic.  With this concept of rehashing old stuff to other people, there is also a different rehashing going on, the rehashing of your own stuff to you. (#rehash?)  Specifically, I’m talking about Facebook Memories.  Not having FB myself anymore, I hear about the things I’ve done via my GF, whose life is documented on FB.  “Remember when we did this last year?”,  “Looks like five years ago we were doing this.”  and on and on, each day.

On one hand, it’s kind of insane to think that life is moving so quickly and events are so superficial that we need to be reminded of what happened to us a year ago.  On the other hand, more fingers.  The idea of reminding people what they did for their own benefit is not new. 10 years ago (I swear this is just a coincidence), Microsoft Research presented SenseCam to help improve the memory of those with Alzheimer’s.

Facebook “On This Day” was introduced five years later, in 2015.  And I think I might have been on FB at the time, but I do remember (without the use of any technology) the small backlash it caused, like “Thanks for reminding me my dad is dead, Facebook.”  But the feature stuck around, and now with much more data to work with, I guess it’s become more accepted?

Anyway, the point I was writing about is that it will be curious to see in 20 years or so, undoubtedly in an anniversary post or something, if FB’s looking-back feature has had any diminishing effect on Alzheimer’s. Maybe as we age, the Ai will start showing you things that happened a few months ago or last week.

Things You Should Never, Ever Do When Reading This Blog

#1: Take it seriously.

But anyway, it’s becoming more and more common that news headlines have to try harder to get your attention.  After all, we have been in a 24/7 news cycle for quite some time now and with more and more “reporters” out there trying to generate clicks on their articles so they can get the fractions of pennies for their efforts, well, desperation sets in.  (FYI, “Desperation” is a word I’ve been using quite a lot lately.)

It seems to me that advice articles have tried the hardest in the click-bait ascendency.  You used to have articles that wanted you to do things correctly.  Headlines like:

“Best Ways to Cook a Turkey”, “A Dozen Crafts for Kids”, or “How to Paint a Room”

Ah, the good old days.  Then, as competition heated up in the clicks department, the authors – or more likely the editors – had to get more stealthy.  It actually didn’t matter if the article was useful to you anymore, just as long as you clicked on it.  That became more important than providing relevant, useful information.  Now you had:

“You Won’t Believe How These People Cook a Turkey!”, “Incredible Crafts Your Kids Will Love You For”, and “You Must Do This In Every Room of Your House!!!!”

It should not be a surprise that all news now is driven by fear. (It’s not true, people!)  So, keeping in step with the times, headlines switched to a negative tone. So then:

“Don’t Make These Mistakes When Cooking a Turkey”, “No More Crying With These Kid’s Crafts”, and “Is Your Room a Disaster?”

But then, a bit of fear just didn’t go far enough.  Like building up a tolerance to a drug, the news peddlers had to up the dosage.  Enter the adverb “never”.

“You Should Never Do This When Cooking a Turkey”

And then, when that wasn’t enough, they added another adverb, “ever”.

“Never, Ever, Think About Cooking a Turkey.”

And once you reach that point, don’t you realize you’re talking to people as if they’re children?  Maybe that’s the point, that no one will heed a warning unless it is smacked upside their head?  They will never, ever heed a warning.  Never, ever.

And the thing that has irked me as of late is how that wording has infiltrated the most benign articles.  Things that shouldn’t ever (never, ever) need such treatment.  Here’s a quick list of actual titles:

  • 4 Alarming Shifts In Your Sex Life You Should Never, Ever Ignore
  • 10 Things That Good Houseguests Never Ever Do
  • 8 kids’ songs that I never ever want to hear again
  • Why You Should Never, Ever Order This Drink at McDonald’s
  • Apparently you should “never, ever” brush your hair in the morning.

And I could go on and on.  There’s already “never, ever, ever” starting to creep in.  Fucking hell.

It’s The Small-Town Vibe

Yesterday had a couple of curious events, especially curious to happen in the same day, both involving dining.

For lunch, a bunch of coworkers and I (plus one who got left behind) had lunch at a middle-eastern grocery/restaurant.  Hardly really a restaurant, more like a deli with some booths and tables.  For myself, I grabbed some tabouleh and some pita bread and a drink, paid for it and sat at a booth.  Everyone else all had their food from the kitchen.  I wondered how everyone paid for their food already.  They didn’t.  And no one seemed to understand how payment was going to work.

So each of them just went up to the kitchen window, asked for food and got it and was now seated and eating it, whereas I went to the shelves and coolers, got food, paid for it, and was now eating it.  No one else had any order slips, checks, or anything else to indicate what they got.  The point I am laboriously making is that this restaurant operated on the honor system.  Does such a thing exist anymore?  Well, it worked out well for everyone, because I do have standards for my cohorts and honesty is one of them.

But, if that story is somewhat interesting, maybe mildly interesting, this one is better.

After work, I decide to stop at my local Blimpie for dinner.  You know Blimpie, there’s what, maybe a dozen of them around?  I can’t seem to find one anywhere, but I do love their bread. It’s so fluffy.  Anyway, that’s not what’s interesting.  See, the guy who runs my Blimpie, runs/owns, I mean.  Foreign as well, maybe Indian, maybe Pakistani.  That’s all completely irrelevant.  He’s a damn hard worker.  He owns the place and is the only employee.  He works open to close seven days a week.  His wife owns/runs the dry cleaning location in the same plaza.

Now, I feel sorry for this guy, not only because he’s always there, but also because there’s never anyone else there.  Maybe I’ll see another customer when I’m there, most often I won’t.  But he always recognizes me and always forgets what cheese I want on my sandwich, so hey, I guess we’re friends.

Tonight, I get my food and as usual I’m the only one eating it there.  The guy comes over to me and says, “Can you do me a favor?”  He puts this paper down beside me.  “I’m going to go over next door.  If someone comes in, have them call this number on here and I’ll come right back.”

Yes, you probably understood that just as I did.  I’m in charge of the store while he goes out.  That’s quite a promotion for someone who’s not even an employee.  So, since we’re friends, I say, “sure,” and off he goes, carrying a box from Amazon.

He had said he was going to be gone for just a minute, but I think it was something more like five minutes.  And wouldn’t you know it, here comes a customer.  As soon as the customer gets in the door, I hold up the piece of paper and say.  “Well, you are the first person to come in and I have been told that he wants you to call this number and he will be right back.”

The customer is like, “Where’s he at?”  And I say, “I assume he went to the dry cleaners.  I think his wife runs it.”  He’s just “Geez,” but he gets his phone out and calls the number on the paper I’m holding up.

“Hey.”  “Yeah.”  “Ok.”  And the guy hangs up.  Then he’s just walking around the lobby.  I’m not sure if I’m supposed to make sure that anyone walking in doesn’t steal anything or not, so I ignore him for a bit, then try to engage in random talk.  “It must be rough working open to close every day.”

The customer doesn’t seem fazed at all. “Oh, he and his wife run this and the dry cleaning business.”  Well, then.  I guess he knows what’s up.  Blimpie owner comes back and he and the customer are just “Hey, how’s it going?”  I guess they’re friends, too.

But the point of this is, I was trusted to watch a restaurant yesterday.  Sure, I’ve run pizza shops alone, like 20 years ago.  But I was an employee then.  I’m a customer now!  What’s up with this trust all of a sudden?

Not Getting Value for Dollar

This was a draft from 2015 when Florida’s online unemployment system was revamped and launched to much disaster.  It sort of became a rabbit hole and I stopped diving deeper, although there was so much more to add.  Because I’m lacking in ideas for posts, I’m going to throw this out, but it’s as complete as I really want to make it.  Being two years out of date, you can imagine the shitshow is forever ongoing.

Spurred by significant problems experienced by someone close to me, I did some investigative work just for fun.  The subject: Florida’s new online unemployment system called CONNECT.

It started simply enough, I went to the web site and looked at it.  It’s written in ASP.NET,  The HTML markup is seriously ancient.  This really scares me.  A brand new system shouldn’t be coded like it’s from 1999.  Of course the other warning signs are there: built to work with IE 8/9 (2009-2011), Safari 4/5 (2008/2010) Firefox 16/17 (2012), and worst, resolution: 1024×768.

I started filling out a fake application.  It used ASP.NET postbacks heavily, which is bad.  After submitting some totally wrong information, I was told that the SSN I entered was already in use and I should log in using it.  An invalid SSN… in use?

In the source code, the logo used an ALT tag that said “QUEST”.  That’s odd, because the site is called CONNECT.  Easy online searches show that Massachusetts’ unemployment system is called QUEST.  Really.  So Florida bought software that was developed for someone else?  Yes, and it’s worse than that.

QUEST was built by Deloitte Consulting for Massachusetts sometime around July, 2013.  They paid $46 million for the site.  Again, they paid $46,000,000 for this website.  But Deloitte was smart.  They double-dipped.  They got Florida to pay $63 million for theirs.  Ahem, $63,000,000.  For writing one severely flawed application that has proved to be a failure in both installations, they collected $107,000,000.  Sure they got fined for their fuckups to the order of about $6 million, but that’s pennychange.  The track record of this company is absolutely amazing.

That’s really what this is about.  You would not believe how much this company fucks up and continues to remain in business and get new work contracts for millions of dollars.  Boston journalists have done a pretty good job of exposing this company’s garbage, but you can find out their failure is well-documented in searchable online news stories.  In spite of that, the company is heavily embedded in the governments, with former employees now running state departments – a conflict of interest that is conveniently ignored.

Pennsylvania: Deloitte launched the worker’s comp system in 2013 and complaints abound. They built the Dept. of Welfare site in 2012 and it’s reported to be full of errors and malfunctions.  They created the COMPASS system back in 2002 and there’s no reports of issues with it.  Either Deloitte did good work back then, or Internet news reports weren’t as prevalent.  The company gets so much money from the Pennsylvania government that PA had to reconsider its bidding system.  Despite this, a company contact says that they win bids because they consistently receive good reviews.  In 2006-2007, they won nearly half of the contracts they bid on, so clearly they can’t be getting favoritism.

Massachusetts: Deloitte’s failures in this state are incredibly well-documented.  They were fired from a project after getting $54 million out of a $114 million contract for a system to process tax returns.  They almost got fired for the unemployment system mentioned previously.  Yet, they landed a contract for the DMV.  Time will tell on this one.

California: Another incredible disaster, where Deloitte got sued over charges of incompetency and corruption.  They got fired from a project to track services for the disabled.  They implemented the worker’s comp system at twice the original budget.  They were fired from the project to link the court systems, after getting hundreds of millions in payment and costing the state billions.  Also, they created the unemployment system, also error-prone.

Florida:  Deloitte was fired by Miami for incompetence not on IT, but on legal council on employment.  The unemployment system needs no additional discussion, other than FL is talking to another contractor to fix the problems.

Virginia: Deloitte has been contracted to improve systems for $100 million.  Stay tuned.

Oregon: Deloitte just won an $18M contract to oversee an integration project for state-federal health exchange. 

Rhode Island: $105M to create the infrastructure to manage the healthcare insurance integration.

Minnesota: $10M to take over the healthcare exchange built poorly by a different consulting company.  They were the original first choice, but lost because of cost projections.

Connecticut: An awesome quote by the CEO of the CT Health Insurance Exchange: “We looked at every operations area that we did and we said where can we outsource. … We have outsourced all of our third-party operations — why should we be doing something that someone else can do better, faster, cheaper?”

They did Kentucky’s system, called KEWES in 2001.  It cost them $20 million initially and $6 million/year in operation costs.  I’m not sure if that’s all consulting hours.

This company also was chosen for Ohio’s unemployment portal in 2000.  It’s written in JSP and has the developer changelog right in the HTML source.  Wonderful.

Random Music

So, Woot, I’ve said I’ve been done with you plenty of times, but still you suck me in.  This time, you made me buy this thing.

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And you know what, you jerks?  It’s not the first one of those I’ve bought.  I bought not one, but two from you last time.  And this time I bought not one, but two, again!  If you care, I plan on taking one to work to try and drown out the stupid noise leaking from all these cubes.  My desk fan is effective, but having a range of potential sounds is also very attractive.

But that’s only a lead in to what I was going to post about.  I’d been thinking about this for a while, because it’s been happening for a while.  It’s kind of a recent thing, too.

One day, I was explaining this noise device, the LectroFan, to AK and I was saying, “It’s weird.  Sometimes when this thing is running and I’m lying in bed, I hear…” and AK interrupts, “voices?  Do you hear voices?!”  No, it’s not voices. (“awww.”)  It’s music.  But it’s not exactly music.  It’s very similar to turning an analog tuning dial on an old radio, except there’s no points of static.  It’s just microseconds of what sounds like songs constantly cycling in my head.  And sometimes, it kind of makes sense, like “I’ve heard that before, what is that song?” but it’s gone in a flash and replaced by another song in another moment.

The LectroFan does not use sound samples, it generates white noise.  White noise is a random waveform that is constantly morphing with no predictability, as I said, random.  And songs are music, full of tones that overlap and interact, and those tones are made of waveforms.  Another blog I manage, Relative Waves, actually focuses on the difference in sound between albums by comparing waveforms.  For example, one comparison looks like:

All sound is waveforms, and you would think there is infinite variation in waveforms as sound, but in everyday practice, you will encounter sounds that remind you of something else or trigger a memory.  And you also might think that white noise is just noise, that it couldn’t be mistaken as voices or music or anything else, but in small enough bites, yes it could. 

This phenomena doesn’t happen often, but it isn’t a single isolated occurrence for me, either.  It’s a very curious effect, and I find myself trying to make sense out of what I’m hearing, which of course is impossible.  But it also makes me wonder if there are people out there that are not as logical and analytical to study the sounds and understand how they are tricking the ear.  These people may be the ones becoming obsessed with “hearing voices”.  Seems like there’s more of that nowadays? 

Temporary Improvements

Day one of my first NaNoWriMo.  I don’t know what really to expect, so I probably overprepped.  I planned on planting myself in front of the computer and not moving for hours and hours.  So, to make sure I was uninterrupted, I ordered food from Pizza Hut to eat first, or during, or whatever.  This post isn’t about the writing part, it’s about the food part (but not about the eating part).

I got to PH and picked up my pizza.  It’s a different crew tonight and I don’t recognize anyone.  Seeing as I go there weekly, more or less, we kinda know each other.  Anyway, when the counter person came out with my food, she handed the pizza to me and walked off.  That’s kind of rude in and of itself, but the question popped into my head that I wasn’t asked to look at the pizza first to make sure it was done correctly.

When I got to my car, I wondered more.  Wasn’t that a thing for Pizza Hut?  Something like, “Your pizza is free if we don’t ask you to look at it?”  Now, I don’t particularly care if my pizza is free or not.  I’m pretty sure I still have a credit on file with them that I’ll probably never use since I always order online.  But, Pizza Hut was obviously concerned about customers seeing their pizzas at some point.  It’s logical.  Catch mistakes before they leave the store.  The customer won’t be nearly as pissed off as they would be if they had to turn around and drive back for a replacement.  So to incentivize this behavior in their employees, they established this rule, with the penalty of having a charge-off if the employees didn’t comply.

Ok, so an employee didn’t follow the protocol.  But when I looked back in my memory, I didn’t see the rule promoted or displayed anywhere in the store.  At least nowhere that I noticed it.  How does a rule like this just end?  That’s like my Quicken post where Intuit promoted better customer service free for a limited time.  It’s not worth doing if you’re not going to do it all the time. (And in retrospect, how weird is it to explicitly say you have to pay for better service?  It’s more like an unspoken thing.)

The same thing for DQ and their upside-down Blizzards.  The Blizzard is supposed to be free if the cup isn’t flipped over when they hand it to you.  But that’s not a universal rule.  When I was back in PA, the DQ there had a sign stating they were not participating in the “upside-down or free” promotion.  I’m unsurprised by that considering the customer base in that town, but regardless, I know the “upside-down or free” promotion will end at some point.  And then what?  It just goes back to the way it was.  Why do it in the first place?  In DQ’s case, I suppose it’s a wow-factor, albeit a lame one.  Yeah, it’s thick, yippee.  And if it’s always going to be thick, why not always flip it?  Or why ever do it?  What does giving it away for free have anything to do with anything?

When I stand back and look at it, I find it weird that a company has to reward a customer for an employee not doing a particular action.  Granted, there are some examples like “if you don’t get a receipt”, which only exposes the fact that the business hires thieves.  But how about, “if we don’t tell you about our drink specials” or “if we don’t ask you to order an appetizer”?  Your meal will be free if we don’t annoy you?

Maybe this has contributed to the rise in online ordering and take-out orders.

This One Time At Summer Camp…

I made a trip to my hometown, the wasteland, this last weekend.  It wasn’t exactly business or pleasure.  I guess it would be considered more business than anything else, though.  My mom now resides in a nursing home.  I don’t think they call them nursing homes anymore.  They’re probably called long-term care facilities.  Cue George Carlin and his anger over the softening of the English language.  But anyway…

I got to see my mom a couple of times.  She doesn’t have a lot of stamina for visits and dismisses visitors with a “I want to take a nap.”  No problem.  I don’t really have much to talk about anyway.  But one thing we talked about got me thinking.

In her new living quarters, they have a pretty set schedule with meals, activities, therapy, etc.  Some things are optional or semi-optional, but a lot isn’t.  When she was complaining about it, I was reminded of my years at summer camp.  I thought, my mom’s at summer camp, for the rest of her life.

My first summer camp was an unpleasant experience.  It was a military camp far from home that ate up six weeks of my summer vacation from school.  I didn’t know anyone there and I was not exactly military material.  Your day was regimented into sessions, of which you were allowed to choose things like Arts and Crafts, Model Rocketry, Basket Weaving, etc.  Then there were others you couldn’t, like Softball and Soccer.  Then there were parades and practice parades, and inspections, and of course, meals.  You always went to meals in formation with your entire division.  What a show.

And in many ways, my mom’s new life is like that.  Some things are optional, or a choice and some you can’t get out of.  You go to meals with the same group and sit at the same table with everyone.  You are going to do therapy.  (They don’t talk about it, but the facility has to perform therapy or they are considered neglectful of their patients and would get fined or shut down.)  There is a gift shop/concession place where you can buy things with money from your account (I had that too in camp).  Other people can put money in your account for you to spend (just like my parents did for me).

So if my mom is unhappy at summer camp, it’s no different than how I felt in the same situation.  Both involved being around strangers you have to become friends with, away from a lot of things that are familiar to you, and made to do things you may not feel like doing.  If you’re an independent spirit like my mom (or me for that matter), it’s a nightmare.

While my mom and I discussed the summer camp concept, I finally admitted to her that I almost got kicked out of that military camp in my last year (the last of four) there.  I had gone “cabin-trashing” with another camper and it isn’t really a surprise we got caught.  We had to spend the time repairing all the damage we caused while all the other campers were at a picnic.  I think we were still fed lunch, I can’t remember.  And it caused me a lot of ill will with my cabin-mates. 

But, the year following that incident, my parents sent me to a different summer camp.  A computer camp that was only two weeks long.  It was a totally different environment than military camp and I would have gladly spent six weeks there.  But it was only a couple of years that I got to go and then I was on my own again.

Unfortunately for my mom, it doesn’t sound like there are other camp opportunities.

Double Disappointment Day

Coming back from lunch, I got behind a vehicle that had me shaking my head.  Later on, I thought I should probably write about it.  Not that I had anything poignant to say, but I think I felt challenged to talk about it without being overtly offensive.

So, I’m talking about trucks.  The big full-size trucks that are the truest expression of American life.  You know… I’m not a fan.  I understand their purpose and I know some people need a truck to manifest that purpose.  I don’t think everyone needs one.  I think many people love the image of being a truck owner, which to me is a shame, because I hold truck owners in very low regard.  Why do I?  Well, part of it is what I just mentioned – you don’t need the capabilities of a truck, but you want to portray that you need it and do “truck stuff” all the time.  And part of it is a bully posture – you want to be the biggest thing on the road.  And with that personality, I immediately equate it with low intelligence and lower social… um… capabilities?

I can’t paint everyone with this paintbrush, but we all know people who have a few coats of this on already.  And I’m not below making assumptions based on outward appearances.  There’s little harm in doing so, because people are projecting the image that they want to be seen.  Right?

Back to the story.  So I saw a truck at lunch, and when I wanted to use a picture of it from my dashcam in this post, I was bummed to find out my dashcam only saves about half an hour of video.  By the time I got home, the video was long overwritten. (Mental note, buy a bigger SD card).  So that was the first disappointment.  The second was when I searched the internet for something similar and discovered it is “a thing”.

So, to anti-climatically get to the point, this is what was hanging out in front of me at a long stop light:  a dead deer mural.

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Mine wasn’t that exact one.  But I shouldn’t be surprised, there’s plenty of variations.

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So… I said something earlier about social something.  I grew up in a hunting city in a hunting county in a hunting state.  I get it.  Some people like hunting.  But, coupled with the “look at me” you naturally have with the truck, do you really need to advertise that you want to kill things 365 days a year?  Do you need to foist that desire on some (or many) people who may not share the love of your bloody hobbies? 

And you may really be a hunter.  It’s quite possible.  But let’s be truly honest here.  That mural on the back of your vehicle is a fantasy.  You wish you could bag a buck that big.  It’s a dream.  You may have done it in the past.  Maybe, just maybe.  Not everyone can get a trophy kill.

But that’s not what all truck people fantasize about.  My search for dead deers included other tailgate murals.

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And don’t worry.  There’s plenty of variations on that, too.  Just in case you wanted to be different.

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So maybe this has become a triple disappointment day.

Now I don’t mean to be really sloppy with the paintbrush here, but the paint only seems to be sticking on one type of vehicle.  There’s a certain subset of people out there that have a predilection or even a desire to offend other people.  And the go-to vehicle for those types of people is… the American full-size truck.

Let It Be

In the early programming days, back when the language was called BASIC, there was a instruction that has since become deprecated.  That command is called LET.  Because language parsers were simpler back then, there needed to be a way to identify assignment of a value to a variable.  Nowadays, you just say x=1 and assignment is understood.  However, saying x=1 could imply comparison, resulting in a true or false value.  To avoid that ambiguity, in the past, you had to say LET x=1.

I started off with that little history lesson to say that I was listening to a recently purchased CD and a song title was “LET X=X”.  Since I was driving while the song was playing, I couldn’t really make out any of the lyrics, but the title gave me plenty to think about.

A programming statement like that is pretty useless.  It changes nothing.  And that thought is somewhat powerful.  Telling someone “LET X=X” could be saying “Leave things alone.” or “Don’t change a thing.”  Or you could be a bit more philosophical about it, applying a Que Sera Sera viewpoint to it – whatever happens, will happen.

So I looked up the lyrics and to me, they don’t make any sense.  But whatever, that artist rarely makes any sense to me.  But I got my own meaning out of the title, and I think that makes up for any confusion.