Link Me Up, Scotty - Death, Ebola and Biker Editioin

Thursday, October 30, 2014
From the always wise Caleb White over at Confessions of a Funeral Director, a guide on How to Speak the Language of Grief. Based on my own horrifying experience, I can say without question that everyone should commit the "dos" and "don'ts" to memory.

One of the responses that touched me the most was from a colleague of mine, who after learning of my daughter's death, not only told me how sorry he was for our loss, but then said, "Tell me about your daughter." Not "tell me how she died," just tell me about her - who she was, what she stood for, what she valued. I loved that question. It allowed me to share what an amazing person she was, while also providing support.
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From the "Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while" file, the Koch Brothers are using a small portion of their wealth to help bolster this country's public defense system. Like Doug over at Popehat, I believe this to be a bipartisan issue that deserves attention from everyone, since it's one of the bedrock principles of our justice system. It's tough enough for the poor in this country to have a voice, they shouldn't have to suffer an inadequate defense, as well.
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Eric Liu takes on the issue of gun violence in this country and how it will take everyone's buy-in to reduce this scourge. H/T The Smart Man.
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A group of bikers has made it their vocation to stand up for children who are victims of child abuse. It's a nationwide movement, and the members take their duties very, very seriously. Also? THERE'S SOMETHING IN MY EYE. H/T everyone.
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America's abandoned insane asylums. H/T Steve.
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The Broadside Blog examines the Navy's propensity for constant inspections. Those were the days. Not.
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In Focus shows the many sides of everyone's favorite Sith Lord.

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Video of the Week: A comparison between the British and American reactions to Ebola:


On Sucking Up and Shining On

Wednesday, October 29, 2014



One of the "pleasures" in being a technical resource in a sales organization is that my work product and time are highly valued resources. In every organization where I've been employed, the sales staff far outnumbered the technical staff, which makes this pretty universal in my experience.

So naturally, the moment you show even a modicum of competence, suddenly everyone wants to be your friend.*

That's not necessarily a problem, of course - it's nice to be valued for your skills, especially when you're the token chick, as I've been most of my career. It's the way in which they try and accomplish their bogarting of my time. In a phrase, sucking up and shining on.

This ploy is so transparent it actually makes me cringe with discomfort when it happens. Of COURSE I want to be considered a top performer in my group. Of COURSE I enjoy having the respect of my colleagues and co-workers. But sucking up has always made me uncomfortable, regardless of who's on the receiving end. Because, EW.

I tend to gravitate more towards people who manage our relationship in a more professional way. If I've done good work, by all means, say thank you. If I've done poor work, by all means, call me out. But don't act like you're my best friend because you want me to prioritize your tasks over others'. It's beyond presumptuous, as it Implies you think you know me well on a personal level when that's clearly not the case. And what makes you think I like you at all? Studies show that typically any given individual is going to dislike 1 out of 7 people for no apparent reason. Just because I'm pleasant and professional does not mean I want us to move in together and share warm showers at night.

Because, EW.


*To be fair, the reverse is also true - if I could pick and choose the sales staff I support, I'd be all over that like stink on days-old fish. Just as I try to avoid the incompetents and the reprobates like the plague.

Link Me Up, Scotty - Go, Ladies, Go Edition

Tuesday, October 28, 2014
30 Feminist Lessons in 30 years. Far wiser than I at that age. Also? Thanks, Mom!
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A new early treatment program to help young people with the first signs of schizophrenia is being piloted in California. This makes me very happy, indeed. My own family was devastated because my daughter's mental illness was uncontrolled if not untreated. Earlier intervention usually equals better results.
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More insights on why there's such a dearth of women in the STEM fields (in this case, computer science). Hint: Societal norms as it relates to boys and girls' interests play a role.
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Nigeria has rid its country of Ebola. And not by napalming villages or executing victims, either. A lesson in public health and leadership. Well done.
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The disingenuous anti-abortion crowd is at it again here in Colorado with their latest iteration of the Personhood Amendment. As most of my readers know, I consider abortion to be one of the few moral dilemmas of our time, but after a great deal of thought have come down on the side of a woman's self-determination. What's different about this year's debacle (as opposed to the 2008 and 2010 attempts, which experienced stunning defeats with 70% of the voting public voting "no") is that this version doesn't make fetuses "persons" across the board - only as it relates to Colorado's wrongful death and criminal code statutes. At least it's a more honest Amendment, essentially making abortion illegal without actually making abortion illegal. But it's still a POS law, and I have already voted with a resounding NO.
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Chris Kluwe takes on the "Gamergaters" with his usual affection for creative profanity and insight.
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Instead of a Video of the Week, this time we're going for a Comic of the Week:




Wanting my cake and eating it, too

Monday, October 27, 2014

One of the things about our modern age with which I have a love/hate relationship is the ease with which we can build and maintain relationships over long distances. For example, I have known the Mechanicky Gal for over 20 years. During that time we've lived in the same city for only a few of them, and for many years we weren't even on the same continent.

And yet, we've managed to maintain our relationship over the years and the miles, to the point where we're family, now. There isn't a single thing in this world I wouldn't do for her if she asked.

And yet, she lives fricken three states away.

We make an effort, of course. Twice a year, come hell or high water, we spend time together. And I stay with her and the Mechanicky Guy when I'm in Southern California, which is totally bonus time.

But it's not enough.

I want her to live down the street from me. I want to be able to go for walks with her and the fuzzy head-case in the mornings. I want her to come to my family's monthly get togethers. I WANT HER CLOSER.

Of course, the diasporas of people in the 20th and 21st centuries are the very thing that allowed us to become friends in the first place. It's allowed her to become friends with my friends (I love that), and for us to keep in touch.

But I want my cake and eat it, too, not only when it comes to Mechanicky, but with Sister Stacey and a few other people for whom I'd go to the ends of the earth. I want them HERE, with ME, not strung out all over the country like wild vagabonds.

Teleportation can't come soon enough for me. Hurry, science. HURRY.

Coming Up for Air

Friday, October 24, 2014



Over the last month or two, I've found myself uncomfortably busy. We had an engineer on our team resign, and I ended up picking up all his accounts. This was fair, as I'd been complaining for months that I didn't have enough to do. But it fast turned into a "be careful what you wish for" kind of deal, as the new accounts are very high maintenance, and I've resumed traveling more than I prefer.

However, the vacant engineering req has now been filled, and it looks like some relief is in sight. I've begun establishing some limits with my new account teams, and begun restricting the calls I'm willing to take in order to free up my calendar for actual engineering work.

For example, a call I'm willing to take: "Discussion surrounding network requirements for the deployment of multi-site on-demand video solutions." A call I'm not willing to take: "A discussion of periodic payments based on the financial vehicle used to purchase this project." In my experience, implementation teams will suck me into every call they schedule, regardless of the applicability to my actual job function. So I have to ensure they'll take "no" for an answer, if the answer is applicable.

I still have a bit of trouble with some of my newer sales teams in that they don't know how the sales process works at our company. This means they assume that sending me an e:Mail will result in the magical manifestation of a bill of materials, a professional services contract, a scope of work, and a financial vehicle for them to present to the customer without them having to perform any of the mundane tasks associated with this work. Note: This is not their fault when all they receive is the "go do it" training. But I do expect them to learn and remember when I provide guidance.*

So I'm getting more of a handle on my professional life, and I hope to reduce my travel, as well. I dislike not getting a chance to spend time with that dude I live with - I kind of like him. And the fuzzy head-case, too.

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*Because I'm a bloody optimist, that's why. Shut up.

The Merits of Flying with Bail Money

Wednesday, October 22, 2014
I fly a lot. Not as much as I used to, but a significant amount. And every time I fly, people's sense of entitlement makes me want to hit them in the face with the Shovel of Doom.

Flying sucks. It's cramped, there's no room for your stuff, the constant violation of your 4th Amendment rights and airlines who know they have you over a barrel (and act like it) make the experience a bloody nuisance. But here's the thing: it's a nuisance for everyone. TSA pre-check makes it slightly less of a nuisance for frequent travelers, but it's still a pain in the ass.

So why do some people think they're entitled to do as they wish, regardless of its impact on fellow passengers? These unique little snowflakes think it's perfectly fine to take up an entire overhead bin for their oversize suitcase, as well as their personal item. They think they're  entitled to congregate at the front of the aircraft while waiting to use the bathroom. They believe that only they are inconvenienced when a plane is late or a flight cancelled. They're convinced that a crying baby in the cabin is screaming only to irritate them personally.

Newsflash: You're not. You're just not. The world doesn't revolve around you, the community of flyers has no obligation to accommodate your unreasonable requests. You're entitled to be treated politely and respectfully - just like everyone else.

So when the flight attendant announces that peanuts are prohibited on your flight because there's a child who suffers from anaphylactic allergies on board, just shut the fuck up about how your civil rights are being violated by the airlines. They're not, and this child's health and safety are far more important than your ability to eat your snack.*

Every time I fly I get closer to confronting these types of people. I suppose I should start traveling with a bail fund, just to be prudent.

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*True story, I shit you not, witnessed by yours truly. What the fuck is wrong with people?

Fearbola

Monday, October 20, 2014
I'm sure I'm not the only one who's getting sick to death of the constant fear-mongering associated with the current outbreak of the Ebola virus, aggravated by the fact that a number of cases have been diagnosed here in the U.S. Some of the doozies from social media:

1.    The terrorists are using Ebola to spread plague in the U.S. in order to strike terror in the hearts of God-fearing Americans. I think our own stupidity manages that just fine on its own, thankyouverymuch.
2.    The President is using Ebola to kill all the white people in the U.S., presumably by killing a bunch of black Africans first - the very people such conspiracy theorists claim he's working for.
3.    People with Ebola should be euthanized to ensure the spread of the disease is stopped. Perhaps we should page Dr. Mengele, as well, as long as we're at it.
4.    Communities with Ebola should be napalmed from the air to prevent the spread of the disease. Because nothing could go wrong with that plan.
5.    If we don't close ALL the borders, EVERYWHERE, then we're all going to DIIIIIE. Because that's what happens, I guess.
6.    Ebola is actually an air-born virus, but the government doesn't want you to know, because it would ruin their plans for death camps and the destruction of the conservative base. Because conservatives are so likely to hang out with black Africans from the West Coast of Africa?
7.    The government has a vaccine for Ebola, but won't release it to general public because... reasons?
8.    The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control are intentionally allowing the epidemic to spread in Africa so the U.S. will be induced to increase foreign aid. Because really, sacrificing people to a horrible death in order to induce more donations is what all people whose life's work is the eradication of disease do. It just makes sense.
9.    Ebola was genetically engineered as a weapon by nefarious unknown persons, as opposed to the claim of those elitist scientists who insist the virus reservoir is actually bats, transmitting to bush meat animals. I myself suspect Russia.
10.  Ebola is a punishment from God to punish the wicked. I guess the wicked only live in Africa where the consumption of bush meat is common. Funny, that.

I could go on...and on...and on. The Drivel. Never. Ends.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but I have a hard time taking the pearl clutching and hand-wringing seriously when every other outbreak of this horrifying disease has resulted in a yawn and a resumption of watching The Real Housewives of the Amish or whatever. This pattern of behavior leads me to believe such health crises only matter when there's a chance that it will affect actual, you know, WHITE PEOPLE, instead of those 3rd world brown folk. I'm strongly reminded of how people "reacted" to the AIDS crisis when they thought only those icky HOMO-SEXUALS were at risk and getting sick.

I'm not saying that appropriate precautions shouldn't be taken by all nations. Nobody wants this scourge inside their borders, and managing the public health is everyone's responsibility. And it will absolutely take a Herculean effort to contain the spread in Western Africa - an effort that should be taken up out of common decency in addition to an attempt to prevent the epidemic from leaving the continent. But this isn't a conspiracy. It's a string virus, spread to the human population through zoonosis.

Get a grip on yourself.