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Things are looking up at work.  Still busy, but we did get a Christmas lunch.  My boss is in Florida, and her boss is in Florida, so there was a delegated boss to take us out.  There were six of us, the boss plus two of his people, and then three other people whose managers work in Florida.  We went to a Thai restaurant, and I had sweet and sour chicken.  Pretty good, but I’d try something different next time.

Interestingly, I noticed that I was in a minority.  Three of the people were of Chinese extraction, two were from India, and I was the token white person.  On the way over I had asked if the restaurant served hamburgers.  It was meant for us employees, but one of them repeated it to the waitress.  She didn’t miss a beat.  “Sure.  We can order you one.”


Run away!

I am my boss’s right-hand man when it comes to technical things.  Sometimes it’s checking something on Snopes, sometimes it’s helping her neighbor get on to her wireless access point, sometimes it’s watching as she proves a bug in an internal application.  Today it was personal assistance.  She’s selling an appliance on Craig’s List, and got an email from someone who wanted to buy it.

Date: Fri, 17 Dec 2010 03:14:09 +0800
Subject: Re: maytag advanced cooking system gas stove – $50

Hi, I found your advertising on Craigs list and really interested in purchasing and would like to pay in cash.

I am at work right now, so I can’t contact you before I get home.

Nonetheless, I use a site that can save information so you can leave your phone number there.

Firstly i need to inform that I have met number of unusual people from C-list and been sexually harrassed and concern for my wellbeing.

So I only ask If you could verify that your safe to meet on this site , I would come to feel alot more at ease understanding that your not some pychopath.

My user is sarahlady88, look me up and message when you available. I be on most of the time.

I am a serious buyer and need this. I will certainly contact you soon after I get home to arrange a meeting.


I told my boss I needed to look into it, but I expected to be emailing her a reason not to continue talking to this person.  And I was right.

I found a site in China where they are getting bamboozled with the same email (the link goes to the Google cache of the page, just to avoid potential junk getting in).  I had identified it off the user name.

All in a day’s work.

Yesterday I went to a presentation at work, about the company’s Political Action Committee.  Interesting presentation, and free pizza.

The girl who gave the talk had some slides showing how the PAC is bipartisan, that they give money to both Republicans and Democrats.

One slide was a pie chart, showing that 40% of the money went to the D column, 49% to the Rs, and the remainder to other PACs and organizations.  Fine.

She went to some lengths to explain the disparity between the D and R allocation.  “In this part of the state, where the company is located, most of the elected politicians are Republicans.”  Again, this is accurate, and a good explanation.  But then she went further.

“I’d say that nine out of ten of them are Republicans.  Well, no, but maybe ninety percent.”

I didn’t hear jaws hitting the floor.  I was surprised.  And it took effort on my part not to brand her forehead with the scarlet I for innumeracy.

Seems like there is a conscious effort to box in the reach of religious people.  Apparently President Obama and Hillary Clinton have been using the phrase “freedom of worship” instead of “freedom of religion”.

One word – what’s it really matter?  As explained here, it matters a lot.  Religion happens wherever you are.  Worship happens within four walls.

I have a bumper sticker in my cube at work.  It’s in an open cabinet.  You have to be fairly far into my office to see it, and turn the right way.  It’s this one.  Under the current freedom of religion, I can have that.  Under freedom of worship, I can’t.  I’m not engaged in an act of corporate worship, inside a worship center.

It’s not the government’s place to tell me where I can and cannot worship, where I can and can’t talk to God, where I can and can’t talk to someone about my relationship with Jesus.  They may think that it is, but it’s not.

I’m glad I serve a big God, bigger than the four walls of a church building, bigger than any government regulation.  He’s just bigger.

The company I work for is participating in an effort to help people exercise more and be healthier.  It’s a city-wide thing, not just corporate.  Multiple companies are getting involved, and there is a big public kickoff soon.  All well and good.

Where it falls apart is that during the public kickoff there is going to be a “flash mob”.  I put that into quotes because it’s not a real flash mob.  I know it’s bogus because the company I work for was soliciting volunteers and plans to have a practice a day earlier.

Wikipedia: The term is generally not applied to events organized by public relations firms, protests, and publicity stunts.

Part of me is offended by the takeover of a fun thing (flash mob pillowfights, for instance) to be something organized.  Part of me is mildly bothered (but not terribly surprised) that the company I work for is involved.  Part of me is bothered that the powers that be think that a youtube video of the event will encourage people to get up off their chairs and exercise (as opposed to “You think that’s good, let me show you this swordfight using pool floats!”) – in other words, having the opposite effect.

And part of me wants to make sure I get in, pick up the goodies being offered at the booths, and get out before this “spontaneous” event starts at 12:15.  I don’t want to see it, and I sure don’t want to be captured seeing it.

People might think I approve.

We had another round of layoffs today.  I made it through, but lost a friend and some co-workers.  On one of the prior rounds, they let go the manager who hired me almost fourteen years ago.  I’ve been in his house, bought a computer from him, attended a special program at his church, been to a funeral together.  And then, as with my friend today, BOOM.  The rug gets pulled out from under you.

One of my first thoughts when I heard I made it through was “even if I didn’t know, I’d think that God likes me”.  Wrongo, bucko.

God loves me (and did before I was born).  He loves me no matter what happens at the place I’m currently employed, and the place after that.  He loves me whether I keep my job or not.  And he loves the other people at my company (and those soon to be “not at my company”, and those who have never heard of my company) just the same way.  Unlimited.  Boundless.  Infinite.  Without conditions.

Doesn’t mean that there won’t be good and bad days.  Doesn’t mean that there won’t be layoffs and financial struggles.  Doesn’t mean that there won’t be wet pillows tonight, and then a fresh face for the workplace tomorrow (or at church on Sunday).

And God’s love doesn’t mean that I will see all these people in heaven.  Romans 6:23 says

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

For some, the employment decision was made for them today.  But for all of us, the choice of where we spend eternity is ours, every day.  We’re not perfect, any of us, but we do choose (with the help of the Holy Spirit) what we do and say, what we think, what our reactions are.

I hope to see these people again, upstairs (and that’s not on the executive floor, either).

At work, one of my duties is resetting passwords for users of the application I support.  When I get a password change request, I make a new password for the person.  “password” is too guessable, and changing the password (from the previous one) properly frustrates others who may have the original password.

To make a password, I pick an eight-letter word, change a letter to a similar numeral, and occasionally toss in a capital letter.

The hard part of this is the initial eight-letter word.  Fortunately there are web sites that have lists of X-letter words.  I saved one list to my hard drive, so I can load it up quickly when I need it.  This week I have used it extensively.

And that’s where I found a new word.  I’m a logophile, and a pretty severe one.  I may not know the definition of a word, or may disagree with the definition (motley comes to mind), but I have read most words before and have a sense of their flavor.  And of course growing up as the child of two school teachers during the phonics era helps me a lot.  So even though I hadn’t seen this word before, I knew how to pronounce it and knew what it meant.


I happen to be wrong about the meaning and the pronunciation, but aside from that . . .

I had linked it to potato and factory.  I’m aware that potatoes are not built (except, in a sense, by God).  The word conjures up the sense of a root cellar.  It brings to mind Shakespeare’s “to a nunnery, go”.  It does not bring to mind potion or potable.

So I am, linguistically at least, humbled and corrected.  I do not know everything, and my assumptions can be wrong.

Unless I can disprove the word’s origins.  Working around the whole “in print since the 1200s” thing is going to be a bit of a stretch, but I’ll give it a go.

Recently my company switched away from Lotus products for chat and email to Microsoft products.  No more SameTime, no more Notes.

As bad as those were, the anguish of leaving them was terrible.  And we didn’t even get the local, big fat version of Outlook – we got the web version.

I fought it for a while, and tried the big fat version of Outlook (it was installed on my PC), but I’m sticking with the web versions.  I’m minimizing the emails I keep (there’s an enforced cap), but I’m also minimizing the folders I store things in.  I used to keep a “today” and a “yesterday” folder, and manually move emails.  Now that’s done by Outlook Web Access.  I just delete the emails and they go to the “deleted” folder.  They’ll age out after a couple weeks.

The enforced minimalization is useful.  I’d like to live with less stuff.  There’s less mental drain, fewer things to track.

I’ll add that to my to-do list.  I know I wrote it down somewhere around here . . .

A few more layoffs at work today.  Nobody I worked with, but a few were people I had talked to or gotten emails from.

People are still happy to see co-workers still around, and seem to be almost fatalistic about their own chances.  Decisions will be made by someone, somewhere, sometime, based on some unknown criteria.

It’s not encouraging.  The humor is getting dark.  And we still do a good job, putting forth much effort.  Because it’s still the right thing to do.

We’re going through some changes at work.  One of the more significant ones is a move away from Lotus Notes and the SameTime IM platform to Microsoft-based technologies.

We switched our chat client already.  The new one allows us to easily place messages that can give extra information about the people we want to chat with.  The note pops up when we hover our mouse over a little text box.  Some put their office phone numbers, or if they’re off-site, or out to an appointment.

I use mine as a daily micro-twitter of humor.  I lifted one off a bumper sticker last week: If bald is beautiful, my tires are gorgeous.  It’s not true, of course, but it’s funny.

I check out the entries of people I work with.  A few do personal things, or talk about the “joy” we all share in the new technology.  One help desk person uses “Everybody has a photographic memory – some just don’t have any film”.  Makes me wonder what they say about us users when they have a tea break . . .

And then there’s Sowmya.  She’s a tester I support.  I have never met her, have no idea what she sounds like, and have no idea what she’s even talking about.  But I like her attitude.


Whatever cheppandi is, it’s good.  It helps her get through her work day.  I could imagine it being similar to chocolate.

Mmmm . . .  chocolate!

This is a grab-bag of stuff.

  • Earlier this week, my weight was a computed 192 (194 minus the two-pound adjustment). Down a pound from last week, but . . .

182 June 13
181 June 20
180 June 27
179 July 4

  • Another fun number to report is Steve and Bettie 2, mice zero.  That’s right – I found one earlier this week, dead in the sump pump room.  He’d been there a while.  And then today I found another, in the same place.  Yes, I put a trap back there again.  Location, location, location.
  • I am starting to identify the ethernet cables around the house.  The electrician who wired the house didn’t do ethernet.  He also didn’t label the cables.  I’m shy one digital (or analog) ohmmeter, so I’m using a work-alike.  I have six cables terminating in the computer room.  I stripped a wire at this end, stripped the same wire at the other end, connected the wire to an extension cord, hooked up a battery, and I’m zapping my tongue with 9 volts.   When I zing myself, I know I have a good connection.  I am labeling the wires.
  • We watched Gary Cooper in High Noon tonight.  First time for either of us.  Good flick.  We think they should show it in a psychology or civics class.  On the other hand, they may not understand his motivation.
  • We have our Reverse Osmosis unit, but it’s not installed yet.  It will be, hopefully this week.
  • We had a weed trimmer for a few days.  A Ryobi 4-cycle from Lowes.  We bought it based on the name, and took it back based on the reviews.  Leaked oil, trouble starting, lots of difficulty starting it.  The reviews were almost uniformly bad.  We are planning on picking up a Husqvarna.
  • Had a re-org at work.  My VP is leaving the company at the end of July.  Not sure what this all portends, or if it’s settled yet.
  • I’ve had over twenty thousand hits on this blog.  What in the world are these people thinking??  Don’t they have anything better to do?
  • We dropped the asking price of our house this week.  We have had several lookers but no offers.
  • Through it all, God is good.  He knows what we need (which doesn’t always line up with what we want).  But He is supplying all our needs.