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Category Archives: Wondering

How I Do Love Thee

Welcome to February, the month of lovers, where survivors and castaways of Dump Month find new hope.  Also, half home to Aquarius, despite whatever the fuck those people that think they can change the astrological calendar think.  In the spirit of this month, I wanted to do something a little XKCD-y, which was predicated on my wandering thoughts on the simple question, “Do you love me?”

“Do you love me?”  This question is more polarizing than say, “Are you a Trump supporter?”  Whereas an answer to the latter will give you a pretty good indication of how well your relationship is going to work out, the former simply brings up more questions.

First, let’s list through some context scenarios.  In no case is any answer a safe answer.  Consider if any of the following came up to you and asked, “Do you love me?”

  1. Friend
  2. Co-worker/colleague/superior
  3. Significant other
  4. Family member/pet
  5. Stranger

I say that there is no correct answer in any case.  That is because yes and no are absolutes, while love is not an absolute.  There are limitless types of love.  Here is another helpful list of potential love types:

  1. as a fellow human
  2. as someone whose company you enjoy
  3. as a friend
  4. as someone you want to see happy
  5. as someone you want to see naked
  6. as someone you only want to love you in return

For the sake of brevity, I kept this list short, but I did order the list in least to most creepy.  And when you map these simplified types of love to the context of the requester, things get a little tricky.  Please note that “yes” could mean “as a fellow human” as well as “I want to own you exclusively”.

1 2 3 4 5 6
1 Good Good Good Good Weird Bad
2 Good Good Good Weird Bad Bad
3 Bad Good Bad Good Good Bad
4 Bad Good Good Weird Bad Bad
5 Good Bad Bad Weird Weird Bad

And even that mapping doesn’t tell the whole story.  And part of that is because the list of love types is not exclusive.  Multiple types can be valid at once.  When you get into that, you have to start assigning points for goodness/badness/weirdness and sum them all together to determine if the end result is good, bad, or just weird.

And after all that analysis, maybe that’s the only types of love there are.  Good love, bad love, and weird love.  But, the asking of the simple question, “Do you love me,” can result in the exposure of which of those three types your relationship is then based.  Unless you lie.

Where does lying get you?  Let’s go back to a simple yes/no answer for this, because if your answer is, “In what way?” you’re immediately in the weird zone.  Unfortunately, the most logical response, “Why do you ask?” puts you in the bad zone.  The most rational response, “Yes, of course!” is also the most risky.  To which I repeat, there is no safe answer.  Ok, maybe answering a stranger, “No” might be valid, but who ever wants to heard they aren’t loved, especially when they asked the question?


Congratulations, One Way Or The Other

January is officially ending.  January is unofficially “Dump Month”, so either congratulations on making it through and keeping your relationship intact, or hats off to you for making the decision to move on and have a better life in the future.

January is classified as Dump Month because no one wants to ruin the December holidays with a breakup, but no one also wants to try and fake it with Valentine’s Day.  And hey, new year, new you, right?  Resolutions and all that stuff.  And if you’re the one who didn’t make the choice to end the relationship, fuck that other person.  You were being held back anyway.  2018 is going to be the best year yet, and you are going to be the one responsible for it.  There is no loss, here.

But, if you are happy in your relationship (as I have been for a great many years), or if you aren’t in a relationship at all, go ahead and get smug.  If you are paired up, love your partner.  If you’re more than paired up, love them all.  If you’re not paired up, love yourself.  For all of you, the only thing you have to worry about is taxes.

In just a few days, everyone is going to be losing their mind over valentines and candy and hearts and pink and OMG, the special dinner that you can’t get reservations for anymore because there’s so many fucking people now and they all want to make things perfect for their SO’s when a certain number of them are probably thinking, “I missed Dump Month again this year and now I’m stuck paying for Filet Mignon for two.”  So, you newly single and not-newly single can get your smug on in just a couple of days.

In the “research” I did for this post, I learned that January is also Slow Cooker Month, which is a stupid name contrived simply to avoid using a trademarked name.  It’s fucking Crockpot Month, people.  And for those with crockpots, you should make a dump meal in honor of this event.  A dump meal is a stupid name also, because poop.

I also learned that the film industry has “dump months” where all the shit movies are released because expectations are lower.  January is a dump month for them too. 

See, it’s all about getting rid of the junk.  Whether shitty plotlines, shitty actors, shitty leftover food, or shitty partners, January is the month to dump them.  There’s still time left.

I’ll Take Spam For $400, Alex

Those of you WordPressers who have been around for a while probably know that spam comments are inevitable.  WordPress has a pretty good spam catcher built into it, so you may never see any comments come in that are flat-out fake.  But, spammers are a persistent bunch.  Well, I wouldn’t actually call them persistent, but they do have cheap and easy scripts that will blast any blog with stupidity.  And yesterday, I was hit by a gentleman named Alex.

Obviously, Alex is not a real person.  But Alex’s profile is run by a real person.  A real shitty person.  What’s the purpose of these spam comments?  Alex doesn’t have an associated website, so it’s not trying to create linkbacks to improve a spam website’s search ranking.  Maybe they’re trying to build a profile with some posting reputation to increase the status of a future blog on some nefarious subject?

Anyway, the gold is in the comments, right?  So let’s see how Alex felt about my posts.

Alex liked this post so much, he commented twice.

I am now not positive the place you are getting your info, however good topic. I needs to spend a while studying much more or understanding more. Thanks for great information I used to be looking for this information for my mission.


You actually make it seem so easy together with your presentation however I find this matter to be actually one thing that I think I would never understand. It sort of feels too complex and very large for me. I am looking ahead to your next submit, I’ll attempt to get the hang of it!

Then he moved on to another post and left me this comment:

Excellent blog here! Also your site so much up very fast! What host are you the use of? Can I am getting your associate hyperlink in your host? I desire my site loaded up as quickly as yours lol

Then Alex handed the reins to his friend, Madeline Whitehead.  She commented on the same post:

you’re really a excellent webmaster. The web site loading velocity is incredible. It seems that you’re doing any unique trick. Also, The contents are masterwork. you have done a great activity in this matter!

Alex and Madeline went off and had sex and in a virtual universe where events happen at breathtaking speed, they had a baby, who grew up and married a dirtbag at the age of 8 (the age of consent in Spamtopia).  And within 6 hours I got her first work of art.  Behold the handiwork of Kristin Harding:

You actually make it seem really easy along with your presentation however I find this matter to be actually one thing which I feel I might by no means understand. It sort of feels too complicated and extremely broad for me. I am looking ahead in your subsequent submit, I’ll attempt to get the dangle of it!

Clearly, she is Alex’s spawn as she plagiarizes his work quite well.  But being the spam slut she is, she couldn’t help herself by mentioning she wanted my dangle.

How To Close

It’s in the news that Walmart has closed a bunch of Sam’s Club locations.  Just for the record, I despise Walmart for many reasons, so don’t be surprised at the stance I’m taking with this most recent news.

A while ago, a regional Walmart closed down unexpectedly for “plumbing maintenance”.  It was part of a series of closures as well.  At the time, there was a massive conspiracy swirling around that the store was shut down to quell a union organizing.  And, on schedule, the store reopened, with an all-new crew and no union considerations among them.  Who’s to say what the real reason was?  Maybe it was plumbing?

In both that case and this new case with Sam’s Club, the closures were done with no warning for either employees or customers.  This is the part that really bothers me.  It reminds me of a time when I was working for a pizza chain and there was a coordinated closing of a bunch of neighboring stores.  The manager would show up in the morning and the district manager was already there to inform him the store was closing immediately.  The other employees would find out eventually, whenever or however.  It’s a shitty way to do business.

That Walmart is operating this way says a lot.  However, I’m not sure if they are making a commentary on their customers, their employees, or both.  In all cases, including my own near-closing experience, it’s all about a lack of trust.  It’s a disdain for people and an assumption of the worst in people.  The owners believe that if a closing date was scheduled, their assets would be at risk for theft or damage.  So, to mitigate that possibility, they surprise everyone with the closure.

I say that this really bothers me, but I really do understand it.  I can easily see an employee pocketing some merchandise, because, “Why not?  I’m only here another week anyway.  What will they do, fire me?”  I can see an employee turning a blind eye to shoplifters, because “Why should I care?”  Hell, I can see this happening at Walmarts that aren’t even closing.  And that’s what makes me think differently.

Walmart has built an entire culture on worthlessness.  All their products are cheap and disposable.  They’ve created a culture of customers that think this same way.  The customers have no pride for shopping there.  The employees clearly aren’t trained to actually care about their store and take pride in their jobs.  How can they when the chain has the reputation it does and the customers reinforce that belief every day?

Is it possible to create a culture where employees will be loyal to the end?  Maybe if given a fair severance?  Maybe if treated well during their entire career?  Maybe if the corporation was respected?  Maybe if the employees and customers took a little pride in their store.

Here’s a little factoid about me.  Sometimes when I’m shopping somewhere, I’ll clean the place up.  I’ll rehang a shirt from the floor or straighten a display.  I’ll organize things (especially CDs) as best I can.  I leave the place better than I found it.  But, sometimes, I don’t.  And in the cases I don’t, it’s a gut feeling that it’s of no use, that it would never be appreciated.  And, in the extremely rare instance I’m in a Walmart, my only desire is to leave, not to try and make things better.

Because, when I’m in a store I enjoy, I want to be comfortable there.  I want it to look nice.  I want other customers to enjoy it as much as I do.  Yes, that’s a role for the employees to fulfill, but there’s no reason there can’t be a family-type feeling in the place.  And if I remove one source of disarray and the result makes another customer more cheerful at how non-disheveled the place is, then the store will succeed and I’ll get to keep coming there.

And I would hope, that on the day my favorite stores have to close, there is a nice structured ending.  Kind of a farewell parade – a little bit sad, but dignified.  And nothing like the shotgun finalities of any of Walmart’s closures.

Bible Study

I was sitting at my little bistro table, eating some dinner – double-decker peanut butter sandwich and potato chips – and absently studying a snow globe in the middle of the table.  Inside the snow globe were “the three wise men” from the birth of Jesus.  My mind started wandering a little bit.

My first thought was AK’s nativity post that had four wise men.  And me, being the insensitive heretic I am wondered, “was the fourth one Shemp?”  What were their names anyway?  Frank, Goldman-Sachs, and MIR?  And then I got thinking about the gifts.  I don’t know about the other things, but I know gold.  That’s a pretty fine gift, right there.  Of course, nowadays, you better be bringing bitcoin.  But, despite not having a 600% growth curve, gold is still useful.  You know, it could pay for a room at the inn, instead of being stuck in the stable.

And how about those lodgings?  I mean, you must be the son of god to survive being born in a stable.  There’s no incubator, no heart monitors, no nothing.  But I’ll bet there was a whole lot of blood.  The innkeeper was probably like, “When’s she due?  Oh, I don’t have any rooms for that kind of mess…”  So, you deliver the baby and now to clean up.  “Where’s the water?”  “Oh, just get some from the trough over there.”  “Good god.”  “Yes, he’s right here!”  “Put some clothes on him.”  “He’s a mess!”  “Well, don’t use the good clothes, use the… I don’t know… swaddling clothes!”

As I was making these horrible jokes, I started to get a little concerned.  Not because of the sacrilegious-ness of the jokes, but because I wanted them to be accurate.  You can only stretch the truth so far in a joke and then people will be like, “That’s not even funny.  That never happened.”  Of course we’re joking on a topic that some people take literally.  LITERALLY.  So for everyone’s benefit, I wanted to do some research before I do any more insulting.

Here’s the problem.  I don’t have a bible.  Funny, huh?  I was raised Catholic and went through all the sacraments until I became a free-thinking adult, but I don’t seem to have my bible anymore.  Nor my rosary, nor my crucifix.  I kinda miss my crucifix, it was actually pretty sleek and modern, despite the dead, wasting body of Jesus on it.  In fact, I think if I did still have it, I might actually hang it in my house, because I understand modern Christians – the ones that think they can do whatever they want and just say, “I believe in Jesus” before they die and get a free pass to heaven – find crucifixes creepy as fuck because of the dead body.  They prefer unadorned crosses instead.

Anyway, my lack of bible.  Ironically, all the Family Christian stores have recently closed down around me, so I couldn’t go get a top-notch bible.  I mean, yeah, I could probably buy a bible at Dollar Tree, but seriously, would you trust a one-dollar bible that was made in China?  Harreruyah!  My other option would be to get a hotel room for the night and steal the bible from the nightstand, but that seemed wrong.  And too expensive.

The obvious option was an online bible, but, even though I hadn’t shaved for a few days, I felt like I had a full hipster beard when I recoiled at the thought of accessing the oldest printed text in the world through a non-printed medium.  Reading the word of god online?  That’s how they get ya!  Goddamn liberals.  Oh wait, I am a liberal.  So I shaved off what whiskers I had on my face, opened my browser of choice (Vivaldi, now) and went to what I thought would be the most likely guess for a place to read the bible –  Fucking shit.  There’s no bibles here.  This is a website where you learn about the bible.  Blah, blah.  Let us tell you about this or that from the bible.  No, I want to read the goddamn fucking… oh, there it is.  Never mind…

So, I checked out Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, who are like the Ninja Turtles of the bible.  And I was surprised at the lack of detail I got about the birth of Jesus.  I remember stories about how Joseph and Mary travelled from inn to inn looking for shelter and the details of how they were turned away and how finally someone took pity on them and let them stay in the barn.  I don’t remember if they got charged for staying in there, but that detail, along with all the others I thought I remember, aren’t there.

I was also really surprised at how fast the plot moved along.  It was only a few minutes of reading and suddenly Jesus is like 30 years old.  Understand, I went to Catholic elementary and high school.  We did a lot of bible study.  I was even motivated enough to draw out the family tree from Adam to Jesus in elementary school, which impressed the hell out of my teacher (odd choice of words, that). So, I don’t where I spent all my time studying.

But concerning the Jesus birth, I wanted a lot more detail.  Like, yeah, Jesus had a manger (which, BTW, if you search for images of “manger”, the ratio of baby Jesus pictures to actual farming equipment pictures is stupid), but where did Joseph and Mary sleep?  On bales of hay?  Sleeping bags?  And this guiding star that keeps getting mentioned.  I’ve gone geocaching a lot and there’s plenty of times I can’t find a cache with 15ft accuracy from nine satellites.  How can someone find a baby in a city with essentially one satellite?  Using a single star as a GPS unit is just a poor navigational decision.

In the end, it was all just a great time diversion.  I didn’t really learn anything and I did not attain a physical bible.  The lack of useful joke material in the bible kind of squelched my ideas, but the journey certainly made for a provocative post.

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.

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.