At the new gig

Posted on June 24, 2009 by Steve

Things are proceeding well enough at the new place. The commute, at 23 miles, is a bit longer but much more tolerable, generally going against traffic and at speed. At yesterday's fill-up I recorded my first 40 mpg tank.

While waiting for my paperwork to be processed so I can log in and get some work done, I've been browsing some user manuals to get familiar with the work. There's more than a whiff of "your tax dollars at work" maintaining a labyrinthine bureaucracy. The change request process at the private software company I left was, essentially, QA or someone enters an issue and assigns it to a developer, who then takes care of it. This, with many acronyms and names redacted, is the CR process here:

I also stole a glance at some source code, and was pleased to see comments, regions, reasonable formatting, and even some ternary operators! Granted, the output arguments were true and false, but you can't have everything.

What's worse than finding a buried cable in your backyard?

Posted on June 16, 2009 by Steve

Finding half a buried cable!

Ha ha. While digging for a backyard patio, I unearthed some black coax cable, just like the one that carries our TV and Internet service in the house. It was kind of loose, and I gave it a firm tug and one end popped up out of the ground. Bad news. I ran inside and confirmed that the TV was still working, and even checked a computer for access, and all appeared normal. So I got lucky this time. Why don't they make buried cables day-glo orange? This thing looked just like a root.

Speaking of roots, I found that a circular saw is the most satisfactory non-explosive way of dealing with them. Not enough has been said of the virtues of dirt cooling.

I also disturbed the 17-year nap of a cicada nymph and uncovered some night crawlers.

Among the unemployed

Posted on June 06, 2009 by Steve

Day 1 started off with the community yard sale. For me this meant sitting on the sidewalk among piles of used baby gear for a few hours, reading and chatting with neighbors. Bob stopped by, looking for barbells and sharing stories about work-related stress. I've had worse Saturday mornings. The take was $30, not enough to cover the mortgage but it did pay for our lunch in the afternoon. I also spent some time fooling around with our new cell phones, though I haven't got my handset yet -- the salesman muttered under his breath that a new model might just be announced on Monday, and advised me to wait until then.

I quit.

Posted on June 05, 2009 by Steve

The first time, it was 1997, and some friends had invited me to join them on a visit to the U.K. After two years at my first serious job I was bored and ready for change, so I told my manager that I wouldn't be coming back after my vacation. All very simple. I was 25, living with my parents and had no responsibilities to speak of. (In fact, I turned 25 the day we arrived in London, by luck the minimum age to rent the Fiat Punto we drove to Edinburgh.)

My next two jobs straddled the dot com boom and bust, and both ended with layoffs. These were uncomfortable and untimely, the first one happening just before my soon-to-be wife and I closed on our home purchase, and the second just before our son was born. Both also led to better opportunities.

Now the score is leveled at 2-2, and I've experienced firsthand that anomaly of American office culture. For abandoning my work, I was taken out to lunch and given a "come back anytime" promise; when given a pink slip I had to throw my possessions in a box and was escorted off the premises.

The Bartleby Comeback

Posted on June 03, 2009 by Steve

"I would prefer not to say."

This is the reply I've been giving since September to cashiers who ask for my phone number or ZIP code. I don't know why I didn't think of it earlier; I used to uncomfortably give fake information or, more uncomfortably, answer honestly. My new response is far superior:
  • It is honest. Giving false information (whether it is obvious or not) repays rudeness with mendacity. Better to obtain the moral high ground, so the guilt adheres to the nosy party.
  • It is easy. Making grand statements about privacy to a POS lackey is awkward and pointless.
  • It is direct and final. Asking why a cashier needs your personal information, or expressing fears that it will be misused, invites canned promises and excuses, which in turn require you to either cave or implicitly judge the promises as lies, a waste of time either way.
If that's not enough, it also seems to be the fastest way to get through the transaction Thanks to Melville for the inspiration.