Thursday, April 30, 2015

Lots of good stuff here

 I know nobody wants to read a hundred pleas per year for the kinds of things a dude with a blog is supposed to request. I appreciate your patience with the following paragraphs.

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There's more to it than a bunch of links to posts. It's a little heavier on humor and lighter on stream of consciousness rambling compared to this site. And I'm obligated to try to boost traffic and build a base of readers and all that stuff. So do it.

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Anyhow, want to be my EF? Sign up using that box over on the left side.  And if you want, please also subscribe to my professional blog here.

 Will take you 12 seconds. You get stuff. I'm just saying.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

400th Post

According to my admin dashboard, this will be the 400th post on this blog.  That doesn't include the drafts I haven't finished or any deleted posts.  I've been writing this blog for 6 years now, ever since Vox went bust and transferred out blogs to typepad. [The domain has re-emerged as a media monitoring blog/aggregation site of its own.]

Is this significant?  Who knows.  On my professional blog I have published around 175 posts in one-third that amount of time and have easily ten times the audience.

To keep things interesting this year, I have kept to 10 posts per month.


Boris and Natasha are a little over 7 months now and are finally (technically) sleeping through the night.  They had colds last week would meant they would wake up when their little noses were stuffed with nose-stuff and they are starting to teethe so sometimes they don't eat their "dinner bottle" and wake up in the middle of the night absolutely starving.

At least now that the weather is nicer we can take them for walks in their stroller on weekends and wear them out. 

There are some things going on at the home front which I'm not inclined to write about at the moment.  The Life Events in question, while awesome once it is completed, can be a grueling ordeal when you are on the front end of it.  It's usually not until you complete that you can breathe happily, so I'd prefer not to let the cat out of the bag yet.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Why college costs so much

This Why does college cost so damn much article, this time in the NYT is making the rounds.  The
author discounts the argument that states have slashed funding for higher education by emphasizing that adjusted for inflation, state support is much more extravagant today than prior to 1980.

Ed from Gin and Tacos says "there [are] definitely are too many administrators and they have a terrible habit of paying themselves too much."  But he also maintains that's not the whole story, though,  The rest of it is a result of two legitimate problems:
  • One is that competition for students is intense (at private schools, "desperate" doesn't go far enough to convey the enrollment situation these days) and colleges increasingly look to compete by turning the experience into a playground."
  • The second part is the one people only whisper about. More and more students are going to college over the past two decades, partly driven by the availability of loans and the inability to enter most fields without a degree." 

"Those of you who went to college in the ancient past can attest to how austere the accommodations were, how barebones the support services were, and how little "fun" universities paid to provide."

Arslan Says: The sad fact is that many jobs which should require no college degree are requiring them for no explicable reason. You see this all the time: Requirements- "four year degree." No specification as to the field. It could have absolutely nothing to do with the field, but no matter how much real world experience you have actually doing that job, it's a non-negotiable requirement. --

When I was at the No-Name Software Company a couple of coworkers were vying for a Team Lead position.  Between the two candidates there was the very smart guy who had been there longer and knew what the hell he was doing.  He was also working on his Cisco Certification in his spare time.  The other guy had some type of college degree but not nearly as much experience.  He was technically competent and also a charmer.  Guess who got the TL position?

Other Guy went on to become a Director there but before that, he was instrumental in hiring Director Palpatine who directly and indirectly was the cause of so many people leaving or being forced out, including the guys who selected Other Guy for the Team Lead position.  And that is what we call Corporate Irony.

Some rebuttal to the above that I mined from Gin and Tacos comment thread on the subject:

--GunstarGreen Says: The reason the generic "four year degree" requirement appears on more and more job applications these days is because having a degree — any degree, the field is entirely irrelevant — speaks to the applicant's ability to withstand staggering amounts of bullshit. The vast majority of American college degrees aren't worth the paper they're printed on in terms of describing a person's knowledge or aptitude in a given field, but they do signify that a person was able and willing to go into substantial amounts of debt, put up with a ton of academic and bureaucratic horseshit, and in general be a good little peon that did as they were instructed and seal-clapped when appropriate for four or more years. This is all that most American employers want from a prospective employee these days, actual skill be damned.--
Now look at it from the young person's point-of-view.
They graduated!
So, new college degree in hand, they go looking for a great paying job – that was the point of college, no?
Only to find that, unless they had a great special skill, or had gone to a top-level college, jobs 'don't pay so good.'
What happened?
Hey, they had fulfilled their end of the bargain! They had gotten their degree!
So why couldn't they find any jobs besides being entry-level CSR's making just a few bucks more than minimum wage?
This wasn't how this game was supposed to go!
"I went to college, dammit!"


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Is It REALLY worth that much effort

When I drop Moose and Squirrel off to daycare, I notice the other parents dropping off their kids.

They'd run us over for that spot

Everyone attempts to get the Good Parking Space, the one right in front of the building.  I can understand doing this in the middle of winter when it is the only shoveled spot.  But on an average day when it isn't raining?  People still struggle to back into this spot even if it means holding up traffic for a few minutes because some people just never learned how to parallel park.

Just after I took the photo above, I saw someone struggle to get their vehicle -- don't remember the make but it must have the worst turn radius ever -- into this spot in front of the silver vehicle even though there was (at the moment) a football field worth of space behind the silver car.

This is of course the same type of person who would park equal distance between cars and hog two spaces, or when driving at slow speeds, would still try to keep two or more car lengths between them and other vehicles, thus preventing you from entering the turning lane before your arrow expires.

Monday, April 20, 2015

This describes what goes on in my head on the drive to work

Something a ChicagoNow Blogger wrote:
"We all have THAT THING that still takes us out at the knees - that memory/decision/thing/death/betrayal/love that can still creep up on us and attack our everything, daggers drawn. Flanked by grief, we are forced to drop everything and attend to the gaping, dripping wound a-fucking-gain.

It can come from a dream (last night), a song, or a picture. Sometimes, we even go searching for it, thinking it will be different this time. We think the temporary immersion of joy will be worth the impact of the inevitable fall.  Or maybe we just don’t have it in us, yet, to resist its pull on our hearts. Either way, when we re-connect to the memory, it’s a shock to the system that briefly stops the heart. Still.

‘Dammit. Why am I not past this, yet? This was so long ago. What more is there to do? I have done it all. I have:

--let myself feel it/cried it out
--read the books
--binge watched all the shows
--journaled like a mad man
--talked it out with the inner circle
--turned it over
--thrown shit out.
--journaled some more, this time with some lists
--let time pass, trusting it might heal all wounds"  --- Source

and I really need to stop being so hard on myself about things that happened in the past.  In my younger days,  I didn't have the necessary resources and tools to deal with this thing called Life and all its intricacies. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Scenic Friday around Portage Park

So the twins are a little over six months old now and not quite sleeping through the night.  While we have established, more or less, a routine during the week, our weekends are still a little more ad hoc than we'd like.  Just because the kids napped at 10 and 2 on one Saturday, doesn't mean they will repeat the pattern the following.

One thing that really disrupts our attempt at routine is visitors.  Friends want to come over and see the kids and it's has become a challenge because the point of coming to see the kids is

actually seeing the kids and interacting with them.  So you want visitors to come post-nap so they can play with the kids.

Well at least the visitors do, all I want is for my hands to be free of holding a kid for a few minutes so I can get something done.  No word yet how the kids feel about it but guessing from the smiles at long as you are showering them with attention they are cool with it.

The best visitor is one who treats the visit like 3rd-period French class back in high school.  They show up, play with the kid for 40 minutes and then splits so I can get back to routine.  Because while we love the social interaction with another adult human being who isn't a blood relative, we still have stuff to get done.

At least now that the weather is warmer, taking the kids out for a stroller ride is an option.  This is huge because while I'm taking them around the neighborhood, Nightingale can get stuff that requires using two hands and some rudimentary level of concentration done.

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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Moving some friends to the Practice Squad

It's too much work to be his friend. In my post-college years, that phrase was used a lot to describe me. Looking back through the lens of time, I have to admit sometimes it really did apply. I could be stubborn, overbearing and say things without thinking. Other times the conflict came when I'd challenging the status quo by standing up for myself. Still other times it was the other person waiving their freak flag justifying their dysfunction.

Today I have a couple of friends that the ROI doesn't meet the LOE necessary to maintain the friendship. It bothers me because it seems so hypocritical to give up on someone without giving them a chance to right the "friend" ship or even let them know what their trespass is. On the other hand I've also learned in my old age that people don't change unless something really shifts their paradigm. Even if you had a Pensieve from the Harry Potter World, and played back the unbiased account of their trespass, they wouldn't see it that way.

 This segment of Getting It Off Your Chest features one friend in questions is guilty of getting upset when I treat him the way he treats me. He overstates my slights against him and dismisses the same slights on his behalf as being overly sensitive. He moves the goal posts. Over the years his modus operandi is: He comes up for air every so often and expects me to do all the heavy lifting when it comes to getting together. More than half the time he cancels 11th hour citing some excuse but with little to no acknowledgement of wasting my time. That's the other thing. Any problems, concerns or Life Challenges you might have on your plate at any moment should be put on the back burner when he wants to get together. But if there is something going on in his world, how dare you suggest the band play on.

I introduced a new segment here on Mysteries of Life called Getting It Off Your Chest. The ideas is to write a short post about some Past Trespass on the behalf of a Friend-Who-Really-Isn't. Not to bitch, whine and moan but to move on by gaining some closure. I invite readers to share their experiences as well.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Thread-jacking Narcissist has deeper unresolved issues

I introduced a new segment here on Mysteries of Life called Getting It Off Your Chest. The ideas is to write a short post about some Past Trespass on the behalf of a Friend-Who-Really-Isn't. Not to bitch, whine and moan but to move on by gaining some closure. I invite readers to share their experiences as well.

This segment of Getting It Off Your Chest features a friend who is guilty of constant thread-jacking which is veiled narcissism, but there is more to it underneath the hood. This friend hands you her resume without you asking. It's one thing to find something in common and talk about it, but to
constantly make it about you is just means someone didn't get enough hugs as a child. This friend can sit at the table at brunch and tell a half dozen of us a story. If someone else shows up, without missing a beat she can start the story all over again. I cannot easily do that. I feel guilty at making the first six people re-listen to my story that they were likely just being polite listening to in the first place. In the words of Cordelia Chase of Buffy fame, this friend really needs to get over it.

God! What is your childhood trauma?! Whatever is causing the Joan Collins 'tude, deal with it. Embrace the pain, spank your inner moppet, whatever, but get over it.
The truth is this friend is a bit of a hot mess sometimes and an emotional bag of unpetted kittens the rest of the time.

Even a dog expects to be fed One of the things I do bring to the table is, I'm a very good listener. I seldom interrupt when someone is telling a story -- unless I've heard if for the 586th time, then i might ask you to skip some parts -- and I try to avoid offering a solution 60 seconds after hearing a problem you've been working on for several weeks. However, this does not come free. If I'm going to listen to your drivel and BS, I expect you to return the favor.
One member can consistently do 90% of the listening and only 10% of the talking, and in situations where most of the talking is about life problems, what’s happening is a one-sided therapy situation, with a badly off-balance give-and-take ratio, and that’s not much of a friendship—it’s someone using someone else. -- Source
It doesn't have to be story for story, it can be slightly out of balance, like one of my stories/problems/rants to 4 or 5 of yours. But if you cut me off or suddenly have to get going, then guess what: my ears will no longer be available to hear your bs.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

PST from a previous job

What do you mean there's a  faster way?
It definitely wasn't all me: I wrote about the PST from a previous job before. I keep replaying all
these old experiences over and over in my head and I realize a couple of things.  One, I really did have a very naive and idealistic viewpoint on how things should and could be.  And two, that place and the people were so fucked up that no amount of governance and therapy could save them.

When I was a paralegal I adapted to the firms new document management system faster than my peers and was treated like a child molester for doing so.  At the time I couldn't understand why the resistance.  This was the direction the firm was going and we all had to do it, so why fight it?

I figured out that it wasn't so much a resistance to tech per se, although that was definitely there.  No it was a resistance to anyone or anything that made them look "bad".  As in not as smart or talented as they claimed to be.  For some people, it is easier to make others look bad than to do a good job.

I had a certain capability to navigate a new technology without fumbling like a fish out of water and this was, for some reason, a threat to them.


Who is the A-hole?  Let's say you are at you friend Tina's party and you meet Brian.  He seems really cool.  Tina pulls you to the side at one point and tells you that Brian isn't the great guy he
appears to be.  You decide not to give him your number or not to get further involved. years later you find out that Tina exaggerated/made things up and he was actually a really decent guy.