Hingham, MA, day twenty, part II – White privilege!

I’ve thought for my entire life that the concept of “White privilege” was hogwash – My Grandfather was a sharecropper and blacksmith in South Texas, my Father enlisted in the Army in 1952, went to Officer’s Candidate School at Fort Benning in 1956, and spent thirty-two years on active duty, retiring as a Colonel (and thus qualifying for the OCS Hall of Fame) in 1988, then working another ten years for one of the Beltway Bandit consulting firms in Northern Virginia, where he and my Mother retired from the Army, and where they live to this day.  I spent the first seventeen years of my life moving every 2-3 years from one duty station to the next, then four years at a Senior Military College (while enlisted in the National Guard at the same time), following Daddy’s footsteps into the U.S. Army.

It wasn’t until 2006 that my annual salary finally made it to six figures – And I worked my butt off to get there.  I’ll still have to work until I’m 70 years old…My army pension, Sep IRA, 401K, and Social Security won’t let us retire comfortably unless I do.  It’s a good thing I’m practically pickled from alcohol consumption over the years, I’ll probably live past 90 (most of the men in my family do – Granddaddy was 96 and spry when he passed peacefully in his sleep, Great-Granddaddy was 92 (he owned, then lost his own farm / ranch near Sequin, TX, which is how Granddaddy ended up a sharecropper for another landowner), hell, as far back as I can trace it the men in this family have ended up old and mean.

But this…THIS changes everything:

SÃO PAULO—With “jewel-tone eyes,” blond hair and a “smattering of light freckles,” Othello looks nothing like most Brazilians, the majority of whom are black or mixed-race. Yet the “Caucasian” American cashier, described in those terms by the Seattle Sperm Bank and known as Donor 9601, is one of the sperm providers most often requested by wealthy Brazilian women importing the DNA of young U.S. men at unprecedented rates.

Over the past seven years, human semen imports from the U.S. to Brazil have surged as more rich single women and lesbian couples select donors whose online profiles suggest they will yield light-complexioned and preferably blue-eyed children.

If that isn’t “White Privilege”, I don’t know what is.  “Othello” gets paid to spank his young, pale little monkey and allow the Seattle Sperm Bank to freeze and store his seed.  All because he’s Caucasian.

You win, my SJW friends, you win.

[Addendum: Not for nuttin’ (see what I did there?), but I started dating a beautiful young black lady my junior year in high school, in 1981, and married her in 1986 (she had prerequisites for accepting my proposal: I was to return to Killeen with a college degree, a commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, and a ring of sufficient size for her to wear without being embarrassed until I could afford a bigger stone (I’ve increased the stone size and the ring twice since then).  My three kids are all 1/2 African-American, and they are all gorgeous – They got that from their mother.]

Hingham, MA, day twenty, part I – Of management vs. command

Lord, you would think I clapped the eight people on the programming team, a database administrator, and a network engineer in chains and held them captive until the UAT environment was restored to normal yesterday evening.  As I predicted, following the procedure outlined in the SOP I wrote up for just this sort of event a couple of weeks ago, rolling back a new build deployment to get the environment back in working order only takes about ten minutes – It’s the regression testing that has to be done in order to certify the environment as stable that takes an additional hour and a half or so.  So that little foofaraw cost myself and eleven other people an hour and forty minutes on a Friday evening to fix and certify.

Continue reading Hingham, MA, day twenty, part I – Of management vs. command

Hingham, MA, day nineteen, part I

1807 hours on Friday, 03/23/2018.  By this time on Friday evening I’m usually finishing my first Martini as I cook dinner, and well into “The entire world can kiss my a**” mode, but I got a call at 1730 that the User Acceptance Testing (UAT) site was down, and a question from my technical team leader as to whether or not it mattered, as she “wasn’t sure anyone was planning on working in UAT this weekend”.

“Are you sure that none of the other project teams are working in that environment?” I asked.

“Well, I wouldn’t know…You wouldn’t either, would you?  We’re only responsible for our project.”

You know what happened next, right?  I dropped mentally back in time to the last command I held:

LRSD-Lightfighter

“Give me a second to see what activity was taking place right before the server went down,” I told her, hearing traffic noise on her end of the line.  A quick look at SVN and the deployment logs showed that one of our developers had added some XML and CSS to a new SVN branch and created a new code build, then deployed it to UAT…Then apparently packed his laptop and headed home without testing.  I’ll have a discussion with that individual on Monday – But in the meantime, I took the phone off mute and told my technical team leader: ” ________________ from OUR development team created a new build and pushed it to UAT 30 mikes from the time it went down.  We own this.  It’s Friday night, but I wrote up an SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) for this exact type of situation two weeks ago; SOP ________.  We’re not going to have our collective a**es in the wringer come Monday morning, so I’m calling ________________ and having him go back to the office and roll that build back to the previous, working one, regression test it, then I’ll let him go.  I want you on the P2 bridge I’m going to open so that you know exactly what’s being done – Once it’s fixed I’ll send a note out to management, again per SOP, describing the issue, the root cause analysis, and the solution.  This is going to eat up a couple of hours of our Friday night, but the SOP is approved and signed off, and on file, so that’s how we’re going to do it.

Dismay in her voice she asked “Fickle Green, can’t you just Putty in and roll back the build yourself?  It would only take ten minutes, I’m driving, I can’t do it right now.”

“_________________,” I said, “Affirmative.  I COULD Putty in and fix it myself in ten minutes, but what would the team learn from that?  Any time there’s a problem in off-hours call the Program Manager and he’ll fix it?  That’s not the lesson I want to be the takeaway from this dog and pony show, the point is that there’s a reason I’m spending two hours a day writing SOP’s, and that reason is that I expect them to be followed.  I hope you’ve got a phone charger in your car, this is going to be a one or two hour exercise, but it will be done RIGHT.  I’m opening the P2 bridge and sending the page out now, talk to you on the bridge in five.”

So here I sit, phone on mute, copy of the SOP on the screen in front of me, listening to the team follow it and resolve the issue.  I suppose I COULD be drinking a Martini as I listen, but if something else gets screwed up in the process, I want a clear head to deal with it.

So how is everyone else’s Friday evening going?

Hingham, MA, day seventeen, part I

Al Gore must be giving a speech somewhere today – We’re in for another 6″ of snow starting at about 1600 hours and running through tomorrow morning.  Perfect timing for the office to be open until the first flakes start falling, then closed at the same time every other business in Boston and Cambridge closes, causing a horrible rush hour this afternoon.

I’d call in and tell them I’ll work from home today, but another holdover from my soldiering days is that if you want to be selected early for promotion, never go on sick call, get a profile, or be put on light duty – Don’t be that guy.  Be the guy that’s up two hours before he has to be, showered, shaved, dressed, and ready to go out the door an hour before you actually plan to leave.  Eliminate the risk of being late for a formation, and if you’re in a command position, always be the first man to arrive for formation (that’s often a competition between yourself and your platoon sergeant,  first sergeant, or sergeant major – Those guys delight in getting there before you do).

So I’ve been here at the office since 0600, fueled by a Red Bull and three coffees, and I’ll stick around until 1700 unless they close the office early.  I’ve already heard rumblings about “f****** with the bell curve” (this is academia, after all), but that’s not my intention at all, I could give a rat’s a** when anyone else gets to work – MY a** is the one that I’m responsible for covering, and it has enough scars on it, I don’t need any more of them.  It shall remain well-covered.

Out here.

 

Hingham, MA, day sixteen, part IV

Sixteen days I’ve been here?  Over two weeks?  Doesn’t seem like it, but this is a new job, so the busy, busy, busy is no doubt making time fly.  Outside the workplace I’m getting ready to lease an apartment in Providence, Rhode Island – The only affordable place that’s an hour or so from work and isn’t located in an area resembling Fallujah in 2004.  For the bargain price of only $688 per month I get a 1BR, 1BA, tiny kitchen, and tiny living room, all squashed into 700 square feet.

No choice, really…It’s going to take my bride several months to get the Atlanta house ready to show, list it, and sell it, so we’ll have to maintain two households until it does sell.  You wouldn’t believe how expensive that can get – Everything from paper towels to detergent has to be purchased twice a month, not to mention the $688 rent payment on top of our $1200 mortgage.  Add to that things are about 30% more expensive here in New England than they are in Georgia, and you can begin to see how we’re both going to have to live like I’m earning half of what I actually am – AND be separated for however long it takes to get the house listed (she doesn’t need to be there to sell it, the realtor can put a lock box on the front door and show it as often as she needs to, no one needs to be home).

And yet we both remain unstressed about it all – We’ve been separated for much longer periods than this one will be, and we talk on the phone at least once a day…And the relocation package my employer provided is remarkably generous, it is almost exactly like an army permanent change of station.  The truck and the packers / movers will show up when she’s ready, pack and load the truck with all of our stuff, and bring it up here to New England.  All she’ll have to do is walk around with a clipboard and record the box numbers and their contents in case anything is broken in the moving process, it’s 100% insured – They break it, they pay for it.  We also get 60 days of storage paid for when our household goods arrive, and since we’re already looking at homes within a one hour commute from Cambridge, I’m fairly certain we’ll have found and purchased one before the free storage period has ended.  Hell, my employer is even paying the realtor’s commission (both to sell our house AND to buy a a new one), and paying for the closing costs on the new house.  Nothing to complain about there.

It’s a good day for me – Not because of anything I’ve done, but because my son, my oldest child, called this afternoon to tell me he was promoted to E-6 (Staff Sergeant) today, and made squad leader of the best squad any platoon has, the weapons (Whiskey) squad.  He’s been in for less than seven years, making four stripes in that short amount of time is one hell of an accomplishment.  I’m proud fit to bust, and grinning ear to ear.  Already a decorated veteran of one tour in Afghanistan, he’s headed back there with his brigade next month for a 12-month tour…His Mama and I will lose some sleep over those twelve months, but it is his second tour – We’ve been through it once, so we know what to expect, and are mentally prepared to deal with it.

None of this for us:

At first, the pills helped her feel so much better.

Jessica Falstein, an artist living in the East Village in Manhattan, learned she had an anxiety disorder in 1992. It led to panic attacks, a racing pulse, sleeplessness. “Whenever there was too much stress, the anxiety would become almost intolerable, like acid in the veins,” she recalled.

When a psychopharmacologist prescribed the drug Klonopin, everything brightened. “It just leveled me out,” Ms. Falstein said. “I had more energy. And it helped me sleep, which I was desperate for.”

After several months, however, the horrible symptoms returned. “My body became accustomed to half a milligram, and the drug stopped working,” she said. “So then I was up to one milligram. And then two.” Her doctor kept increasing the dosage and added Ativan to the mix.

Now 67, with her health and stamina in decline, Ms. Falstein has been diligently working to wean herself from both medications, part of the class called benzodiazepines that is widely prescribed for insomnia and anxiety. “They turn on you,” she said.

I know where Ms. Falstein is coming from.  I’ve had a standing prescription for Valium from the VA since I retired, and while I do get them filled (they are a last ditch resort when things go haywire), it’s a rare occasion that I actually take one.  I read Stevie Nicks’ account of her battle with Klonopin years ago, and what she described absolutely horrified me.  Look, I quit smoking in 2004 with the aid of nicotine lozenges, only to become addicted to the damned lozenges for almost thirteen years, and to get off the lozenges I started vaping, which I still do to this day.  If I were ever to get hooked on pills, it would be the hardest fight of my life to quit them, and I’m just not up for a fight like that.  Don’t need it, don’t want it.  Won’t have it.  I have enough fights thrust upon me, no need to pick them with myself.

So I go into this evening happier than I’ve been since my son’s last promotion (only two years ago!), there’s no better medication for stress and anxiety than knowing you have happy, healthy, well-adjusted, independent, and confident children, and I have three of them, and two grandsons to boot.

Their Mama did a great job raising them.  I just wish I’d been home more to help.

Proud Opa Out.

Hingham, MA, day sixteen, part II

Works every time.  When hell breaks loose in my head, punishing my body fixes it.  By the time I finished my run and hit the gym early this morning, I was, as always, too exhausted to stress out or be angry – And the commute from Hingham to Cambridge is no problem when you leave at 0600.

Being the first one to arrive at the office also gives me the first crack at the coffee machine, three cups consumed before anyone else badges in has me happy, healthy, and well.

I’m not here to give advice, this is more or less a “stream of consciousness” blog, meant for my own use in reviewing old entries to see if I’m slacking in any important areas so that I can fix them.  We Baby Boomers aren’t much for seeing shrinks, we prefer to try fixing ourselves (sort of like a shade tree mechanic for your own life)…But if I had any advice to impart, it would be to start exercising if you haven’t already.  I’m fortunate in that I’ve been athletic since Pop Warner football in the early 70’s, but there have been periods (some of them quite long) since I left the army when I found an excuse to skip daily exercise, and those are the periods I always begin to fall apart in other areas.  It’s easy to make excuses not to exercise (“I’m too tired today”, “I don’t have any time for it today”, etc., etc.), but getting back into the routine is much more difficult than foregoing it.  Especially at my age, when something, somewhere hurts every day, whether I’m exercising or not.

Out here.

Hingham, MA, day sixteen, part I

Or, “The relocation from Atlanta to Cambridge culture shock edition“:

MIT LIBRARIAN: TECH WORKPLACES PLASTERED WITH STAR TREK POSTERS, OTHER GEEKY STUFF IS NON-INCLUSIVE TO WOMEN.

As Glenn noted over the weekend, when another leftwing Massachusetts woman was triggered by signage involving the name of a Civil War hero, “It would be easy to write an argument for restoring the patriarchy based solely on feminists’ statements about how weak, fragile, and stupid women are.”

Seriously?  My God, I’m surrounded by these women at work daily (the staff on the project I’m working on is 90% female, most of them born and raised in New England – Guys like me, who do the dirty work of test firing weapons in 11-degree Fahrenheit weather, are the minority).  Hell, when I brought in just the marksmanship related awards, certificates, and photos from my “I love me” wall to hang in my office, I was interrupted and told those items were “inappropriate for the workplace”, and “potentially offensive to the female staff”, and instructed to remove them.

Hired because of my marksmanship skills just as much as for my analytical and software development project management skills, I’m nevertheless forbidden to display my qualifications in my office (with the exception of my sheepskin from the Senior Military College I took my undergrad degree from and my sheepskin from the College I took a second undergrad degree from after leaving active duty – And I’m certain they only let me hang those so that the females on the team, with their sheepskins from Harvard and MIT can chortle to each other about my sub-par education.  Heaven only knows what they’d say about me if they knew I’m a product of the Killeen, Texas Independent School System as well…).

This isn’t feminism.  This is all-out war on men, and the consequences of returning fire when fired upon are losing one’s job.

And I thought those poor soldiers’ rules of engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan were a travesty.

It’s 0350 hours here in Massachusetts, I woke up forty minutes ago and can’t get back to sleep – A common affliction among those of us who often functioned for months at a time with little or no sleep and nothing but the berries and small game we could gather silently to eat – And when I say “functioned”, I mean doing things that we’ll never be able to forget.  These days, I don’t have to worry about running out of ammo, or being captured or killed…but I’ll be damned if I don’t still feel like I’m at war.

Sigh.  Were it not for the mortgage and the bride, I’d do as so many of my Brothers have done…gin up a case for disability and buy a piece of land in the Blue Ridge mountains, build a cabin, and spend the remainder of my days hiking, fishing, and hunting.  Alas, I have a family to support, and my army pension doesn’t near suffice to doing so in the manner to which they have become accustomed (and deserve).

Well, embracing the suck is nothing new – I’m wide awake, I suppose I’ll go for a run in this weather:

Weather-03-20-18

Then hit the gym for a grueling chest / back workout.  That should be enough to settle my mind, get my temper under control, and assume the mask of compliance and normality before commuting into Cambridge for work.

You all have a good one.  Out here.