Friday, September 11, 2009

Neither Here nor There

It has been some time since I last blogged. Seems that writing on a daily basis was more than I was ready for. But, oh well, perhaps I will get better at this.

It's not like there has been nothing to write about. We have the health care debates, Lakers win the championship, Football has started, the Dodgers are trying to lose their way out of the playoffs, and countless examples of lack of thinking in society which are all fodder for me.

Today we found out that Caster Semenya, a runner from South African, has an interesting anatomy. It is sad that she has been living as a woman all her life and now has to face the public humiliation of the recent discovery that she has both pieces of plumbing.

The question now is should she or should she not compete as a women. Her physical make up gives her the advantage of male hormones. (Of course I know some women that would let me know that is decidedly a disadvantage) But non-the-less is it fair to the other female athletes?

Everyone in medicine and athletics and psycho babble is getting in on this. Sad but true. Look, even I am writing on it.

Perhaps the best thing for all would be to leave it alone while the International Association of Athletics Federation figure out how they are going to deal with it. Then they should state it and we should just be done with it.

But you know that will never happen.
At this point, a certain amount of damage has been done.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Breaking News! 
Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) is going after the BCS (Bowl Championship Series) with guns a-blazing. He serves on the Senate’s judiciary subcommittee on antitrust and is using his power to go after the BCS.

For those of you not in the know, the BCS is not a global china manufacturing conglomerate. They are not the sole makers of a revolving cylinder or drum in a machine. The Bowl Championship Series (BCS) is “a five-game arrangement for post-season college football that is designed to match the two top-rated teams in a national championship game and to create exciting and competitive matchups between eight other highly regarded teams in four other games.”

It seems that the honorable Senator from Utah is a bit peeved about his Utes placement in the final tally after they went undefeated and did not get a chance to play for the #1 ranking in the championship.

Let me explain something about what may seem like an inequity here. Going undefeated, while a commendable feat, does not necessarily mean that your are among the best. For example, if my son’s high school freshman team goes undefeated for the season, it does not mean that team is as good as or better than the high school Varsity team which has one or two losses. It is a measure of two different qualities.

The teams that the Utes played last year to achieve their undefeated record were from poor to fair in ability. To have them play for the national championship would have been more unfair to the teams that did play which had much more difficult opponents all year long. Fans will always think that their team deserves to be in contention for a championship. After all Fan is short for Fanatic or Fanatical (excessively enthusiastic [Latin fanaticus belonging to a temple, hence, inspired by a god, frenzied]).

But here is the more important point of this. Orrin Hatch would have us believe that this issue is of such import to the country that we should spend time and lots of money to “fix” the college bowl system. I guess since he serves on the Senate’s judiciary subcommittee on antitrust, this is the only venue he has to make right the injustice to the University of Utah’s football team.

So we will spend a few million dollars following up on this antitrust action which would have no possibility succeeding so that Orrin Hatch can look better to his home state. Meanwhile, when I last looked the country had some real issues that needed attending to which we have not handled.

Banking for example is still in a sorry state. Banks trying to make-up the money they’ve lost on bad loans they made by hiking up rates to 19 – 20% on the credit cards they sponsor. The economy in general being held down by various factions that are benefiting from the poor economy. After all, many a millionaire was made in a bad economy. States like California are over extended in their budgets and in fact have no budget at this time.

We have healthcare problems, swine flu and bird flu are national and international problems, major cyber attacks on government sites, Social Security numbers vulnerable to compromise, shipping (as in boats) looking at a loss of some $20 billion and Microsoft announcing of a new security issue with a couple of its operating systems.

We’re talking serious consequences here. The apparent inequity for the University of Utah’s football team requiring time and money on the part of the senate must be more important than I thought. Who knew!

I know that fragmentation is a problem. I know that Diskeeper is the solution. 

Thursday, June 25, 2009

No Exit

Yesterday, I had a small adventure at work. It seems that a sparrow had incorrectly sought haven in the lobby of our building. What the bird did not figure on was that the lobby has 2 floors worth of windows that mimic opening to the outside world. Once inside, the bird could not find his way out again.

A message went out to the building manager. Could he come and save this beast from further harm? Unfortunately, he was not to be found. Women and men alike looked at each other inquisitively. What was to be done?! Who could be called?!

Ok, it was not that dramatic. I walked into the lobby and saw the bird. I asked reception, yes, the building manager had been called.

After witnessing the sparrow crash into windows several times, I decided to be of help before the bird ended up with a misshapen head.

With the front door open I maneuvered the bird until I knew my next move would chase him directly toward the door. It did until the last moment when the little beastie broke a sharp left up the stairwell. Into the second floor. Away from the door.

My next attempt was to get the bird to go back down the stairs. It out-thunk me by flying around me into the lobby of our offices upstairs. Another loss, but within that loss, a small opportunity. In this much smaller space, perhaps I could capture the littler tweeter and thereby set him FREE!

Well, the sparrow, finding himself in a smaller space, doubled his efforts to get away. He did this in part by banging off the walls in an attempt to find an exit. He spied a window and thinking that it was his escape flew into it at full speed. I was sure that the ker-thunk he made could be heard throughout the building. But no, he was not done. Certain that he merely had not hit the window hard enough to get through, the bird took another bang at it…and dropped to the ledge.

I quickly picked him up, found him to be alive, and after a very brief display to the receptionist, I took the bird out front and gently set him on the entry walkway. I expected it to fly off the moment I released it. I was mistaken. It laid there doing about 2000 breaths a minute. I waited. No movement other than rapid breathing. I waited some more. No change.

I couldn’t stay but I couldn’t leave the bird laying there with a massive concussion to be stepped on by any passing worker. My solution was to set him on a small concrete wall next to some plants. Guiltily I left.

My memory took me back to when I was 10, had cold cocked a pigeon with a ball, had found it alive but motionless. I thought to find safety for it between 2 garages. When I came back an hour later the bird was gone except for hundreds of feathers where he once had lain.

Back in the present, it was five minutes later. I looked out the window, and he was still there but at least he had lifted his head by now. Another check ten minutes later and the sparrow was no longer there. As there was no blood or feathers in the vicinity, I assumed he made it.

So there it was. I had rescued a bird. But I wondered if he would have been better off be allowed to figure out the front door by himself or if I had indeed rendered him a service. Oh well, a super-hero should never second guess him self.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Be The Crow

I saw a crow today in the middle of the La Tuna Road in Sunland, a community in North West Los Angeles. The crow was keeping to the middle of the road as much as possible in spite of drivers going 50 – 60 miles an hour past it in both directions. After all, it had a purpose. A road kill squirrel that was lying just north of the narrow center divider.

This road kill was a fairly nasty piece of work as it had been flattened numerous times by compact and SUV alike. The only thing that suggested it had been a squirrel at some time was the fuzzy tail. Otherwise it appeared to be a grey/black blob.

This crow, it seems, wanted its’ fair share of the potential meal. Now my initial reaction may have been similar to yours as I described it. Disgust.

But after a quick moment’s thought, I realized that the crow was just being a crow. This is what they do. They eat anything vaguely eatable in order to survive.

As luck would have it, my reverie was interrupted by some radio personality telling LA that Miss California had lost her crown because she wasn’t showing up for the gigs that they had set up for her as Miss California.

So here she was after all of the commotion of the controversial pictures to her controversial answer in the pageant – fired from her job.

So what really happened? She forgot to be the “crow.” Unlike the crow who continued to be the crow in his actions, she forgot to be the Beauty Queen doing the Beauty Queen stuff. No matter how others might look upon the Beauty Queen, with distaste or disdain, as long as she keeps being the Beauty Queen, she’ll make it. She’ll survive. Stop doing the Beauty Queen stuff, zoink! It’s her undoing.

This is a purely obvious observation that, all too often, we fail to see. I remember being an installation developer wishing I was the GUI designer. I spent too much time suggesting and helping on the GUI design of a product and way too little time on my own job. The GUI came out fine; my installation program had to be redone after going through our Test Lab.

And so Miss California was too busy being right about her answer on Gay marriage and her own personal career that she didn’t take care of what she was – A Beauty Queen.
She forgot to be the crow.

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Friday, June 5, 2009

Rain, Rain Go Away...

It rained today in Los Angeles. It was not a hard rain but rain just the same. As a desert community, we welcome rain as a much needed element. While it doesn’t help our drought conditions, it cleans away some of the grime of the city and feeds the hills for the day.

I hate the rain. Perhaps I overstate that. I actually enjoy it when I am in Peoria, Illinois. I have respect for the life that it brings. But here in Los Angeles, well gosh darn it, I hate it.

Why? Because in Los Angeles, we don’t know how to drive when it rains. This really divides LA drivers into 3 groups.

Group one understands that the wet conditions will affect the road and take some precautions to avoid an accident.

Group two understands that the wet conditions will affect the road, other drivers, the signal lights, the nearby coffee shop as well as the size of the font on the local newspaper.

Group three understands that the wet conditions will affect nothing.

It is the meeting of these three groups on one freeway that results in an abundance of unusual activity.

Group two will get on the freeway at no more than 15 miles per hour and try to merge into traffic going at least 60 miles per hour. They will drive down the freeway somewhere between 25 to 50 miles an hour and insist on having 18 car lengths between them and the car in front. Their signal lights will flash for a full 5 minutes before they decide to actually pull into the lane they have been threatening to pull into. They will slow to a near stop ¾ of a mile before their off ramp.

Group three will get on the freeway at 75 MPH and try to merge into traffic going at 60 miles an hour. They will drive down the freeway at 85 or 90 and will insist on being 3.4 inches behind the car in front of them. They will merge into the next lane without using their signal light – after all, they’ll only be there a second. When they get off the freeway, they will cross 4 lanes 20 feet before the off ramp but will slow down to 80 MPH.

Group one will get on the freeway at rate of speed of the freeway. They will try to keep with the speed of the freeway but make sure that they have sufficient space to stop in the case of a accident. They always use their signal lights and wave at the guys that allow them in. They plan for their next exist and slow down early enough before the exit so that they do not cause an accident behind them.

Now mix up those three groups and what do you get? A mess.

The “fast” group tailgates the “slow” group getting on the on ramp. They then swerve into traffic as soon as they get on the freeway, regardless of whether there is room for them to get on. The ‘slow’ group however has slowed down even more due to the danger of the fast group. This means they are now doing 8 MPH as they get on the freeway. Meanwhile, the first group is driving in the slow lane at 55 – 60 MPH and they have to slam on their brakes first to evade the fast drivers and then again to not slam into the slow drivers. Now going down the freeway, a dance begins. The slow drivers trying to get everyone else to conform to their “safe” driving, the fast drivers weaving and dodging like a running back among defensive linemen and the first group trying to stay out of the other two groups way.

Inevitably, someone misses a step and CRUNCH. Now no one is moving.

So, yep, I hate the rain. Except when I’m in Peoria.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

But It's Just A Game

Overall, it is a great time for sports in Los Angeles. (Yep, that’s were I live and normally I wouldn’t trade it for any other town.) Last night the Dodgers pulled out a game in the 8th inning, coming back with 4 runs to win the game with a score of 6-5. The Lakers have once again made it into the NBA Finals after getting a win in Denver after a tough first 5 games.

I for one have always enjoyed the adversity that comes with competitive sports; the tough fought games that a team pulls out by rising to the occasion. I enjoy the one or two players that rise to the occasion and have a tremendous game that helps their team to win.

I’ve played competitive sports all my life but currently only play basket ball on the weekend with some friends. Sure there is nothing at stake in these games except pride but we play to win and we play aggressively. Sometimes there are disagreements but we always congratulate each other after the game no matter how hard fought it was. I mean after all, it’s a game.

So when a high priced athlete refuses to shake hands with another team after a hard fought game/series, first thing that comes to mind is “but it’s a game!”

Of course nothing is ever as simple as that. For these guys, this game is a business. They go to work each day of the season and prepare themselves for the “game” they will be playing. Some make more or less depending on how far the team advances or how well they played the game that season. So for them, it is not a game, it is a business, it is work, it is their livelihood.

Who in business shakes hands with a competitor after they “steal away” a customer? Who in business gives the other side a hug when they pass up the company in terms of sales or size? Do we knuckle up with the competition when they get a product to market before our company does? The answer is too obvious.

BUT IT’S A GAME!!!! Many of us have said it. Many believe it.

So maybe it is time we look at our business model. Huh? That right, maybe we should start looking at our business the same way we expect professional sports athletes to act. Maybe we should start sending our competitors a fruit basket when they launch a new product a week before we launch ours. Perhaps Avis should be sending flowers to Hertz. Or maybe, the American Airlines executives should be flying over to Southwest Air headquarters and giving them a big high five.

What would be the result? Would we all be happier? Would we all get along better? Would we be any better a business for doing so? Would American business become the model for all business around the world?

Well maybe not.

When you play the game for nothing, it’s a game. When you play it for money it’s a business. Then it no longer becomes a matter of win or lose, it’s all in how you play the game.

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Writer's Glut

Those of you that follow this blog or even stumble upon it from time to time may have noticed a span of a couple of weeks were nothing was written by me. I thought I might take the time to explain.

A couple of weeks ago I ran across the story on Miss California and how she might lose her crown. It was followed by her retaining the crown and the young lady being absolved of the controversial pictures and comment/actions on gay marriage. To my mind, this was the fodder for something interesting especially Mr. Trump’s comment that "If her beauty wasn't so great no one really would have cared."

To be honest, it was too fertile a story. I have limited time to write this blog and the first day I had it about 2/3s written when I ran out of time. That was fine, I would finish it the next day I told myself.

However the next day, I found I had a different angle on it and did some more research and started to write the new (different) blog only to run out of time. But that was fine, I now had what I wanted to write and could finish up the blog the following day.
This went on for two more days!
Each time I found myself looking at this story from a different perspective. In the end, I decided to lay it to rest and look for something else. Then I got very busy and was unable to get back to it until a couple of days ago.

But all of this put something in perspective for me. If I had just finished the blog story the first day it would be done. I might have changed my mind the next day, but that could have been a different story to tell.

There was a time I thought there was just only so much one could write about. Once you have written about it, you were done. There was nothing else to say. I figured this must be where writers got writer’s block.

So I learned that one can have too much to write about and that one can have so much to write about that one can be undecided about what to write. I think I’ll call it Writer’s Glut.
The answer is to just write. Get it all out there, say what one meant to say AND then get on with it.
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