Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well, its about 12:15 am local time on the 27th which means its officially Turkey Day. Occasionally known as Thanksgiving in the ole US of A. (Even better, I'm getting paid time and a half as I write this.)

I don't have a whole lot to say tonight, the last week's been kinda busy, and I've been less then 100% being rather under the weather with some sort of stomache bug/cold hybrid that may, or may not have been a light case of the flu. I'm still not feeling great.

But, after I get off work this morning its off to Bismarck to have Thanksgiving dinner with Mom, eat too much and then sleep good and hard - because I'll have been up too late again ;)

My mother found an indoor pistol range in Bismarck (I may need to visit home more often then I currently do...) so Friday will be a Range Day, and I guess my mother wants to come along for the ride and do some shooting. This doesn't really surprise me, my mother grew up on a farm - and routinely during my formative years would break out knowledge of skills I just didn't think a girl was supposed to have. I distinctly recall the first time I saw my mom drive a 4 speed dual axle truck, and was quite impressed at the time ;)

That said, its been a good long time since mom has laid hands on a firearm, so it'll be a good time to practice going through the four rules - and since all I've got to offer is a .45, I'll do some shooting first so she can get a visual and auditory picture of what to expect, and then go from there.

I'm sure she'll do just fine. But it should be interesting. Expect a report later in the weekend ;)

I added a list of all the blogs I've been following to my Blog here, first so people can look and see that yes, I am reading - and to simplify things for me. Now I can just hotlink to my blog and hop through the links to the posts... instead of going through the sometimes less then great dashboard - all of them have something interesting and or pithy to say, so take a look.

Which reminds me. There's an ABSOLUTELY great post on "A Perspective From History" on why the Second Amendment is so damned important. Not that most folks that read the blogs I tend towards aren't already aware of it - it is a well thought out and enjoyable read. Go take a look. Theres even a handy dandy link there on the left hand side ;)

Anyway, thats my two cents for the day.

Back to work.

-Jon

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Escapism

My parents are divorced. I was out of the house and 22 when it happened - give or take. It started the day after our big farm sale, the year Dad decided it was time to hang up the farm gear and just lease our property.

I don't know how long Mom knew Dad was cheating on her. I've never asked, and to be honest, I don't think I want to ever know. Its bad enough that *I* knew for at least a year and a half before hand, and my brother had figured it out about six months before hand. I still feel sorry for him sometimes when I think about it. He was just going into college and hadn't moved out of the house yet when they seperated.

I'll never forget that day as long as I live, not matter how much I'd like to.

Needless to say, I have some rather strong feelings about hipocrits, marriage, and divorce because of it. But, thats another blog post.

My Dad was in town today. We held season tickets for all the NDSU Bison Home Games this year. He's an alumni and I spent a semester there way back in my first attempt at college. (I still don't have a degree, but I'd like one, eventually.) Its been moderately fun, though I admit that seeing my dad that frequently wears on me a bit. We think a lot a like, him an I (which makes sense, he's my father, and instilled a lot of values in me... a lot of them I still hold dear, even if I have trouble reconciling what he did with what he taught.) but we're very different beasts.

Dad doesn't find a lot of enjoyment in much anymore. I remember the days he used to love flying, how he enjoyed teaching me to shoot, or learning something new together. And of course, his endless projects.

I don't think he enjoys flying as much as he used to. Might have something to do with the fact that he met the woman who he allowed to help end his marriage through flying an airshows.

He doesn't enjoy shooting anymore, or reading - which he used to do quite a lot of.

No, these days he spends his time working on his new house (which feels very.. impersonal to me. Its a nice house, but its a bastardized copy of the house we lived in while I was growing up), fixing his vehicles. which like mine are always perpetually finicky. (I think I got that quality from him too... at least I'm mechanically inclined enough to put them back together most of the time) or spending time with my brother or I. When he can't do any of that, he endlessly watches seasons of 24...

My brother is an Industrial engineer, and immediately after college moved out to the east coast. Now his girlfriend, who'd also just graduated was moving out there, but I think the real push for Mark was the fact that he wanted to get as far away from the parents as he could. I envy him that a bit, but I like North Dakota too much to leave, and honestly at least for the moment, have no reason to leave.

I have no proof of this, but I know he doesn't have to put up with monthly (or bi-monthly) visits from the parents, and he sure seems more chipper about it then I do.

But I'm getting off topic. I started thinking about this change in my fathers behavior patterns. And it occured to me that most of the things he claims to not like doing anymore, are things that he used to do with friends... who he never sees anymore. Since he got divorced he's been pretty much persona non grata with a lot of them.

Its probably just a defense mechanism on his part... but it is a sad thing.

We all die alone, as the saying goes, but my father has gone from a full and enjoyed life, with friends, family plenty to do and look forward to... to a cold lonely existance. He makes the best of it - but only just. He's my father, and as much as I hate him on occasion, I still love him. Its frequently stressful when he's around, but I'll continue to put up with it, on occasion.

Because I will never hate him enough to take that away from him. He may have become an Escapist in many ways... but he's still my father.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ode to Roleplaying Games

I love table top RPGs. I don't get to play them like I'd like- being a semi-responsible bachelor adult with bills and such - but they sure are a lot of fun, and tend to leave lasting memorys. I've played with the same game group now for about 5 or 6 years (has it really been that long?) and we've gone through the gamut and back again. I guess I'm thinking about it because tonight I'm working on the second adventure for my new Shadowrun Campaign.

Dungeons and Dragons (3, 3.5 and 4th Edition) Warhammer Fantasy RPG, Dark Heresy (Warhammer 40k RPG), Shadowrun 3rd Editon (which I spent way too much money on) and 4th Edition (which I will probably again, spend way too much money on), a couple sessions of Paranoia, three to five aborted attempts at Star Wars (D20 and then Saga), and lots, and lots of free form.

And we remember the crazyness. The time Devin O'Connor got to use AP rounds for the first time and killed the pilot of an assault chopper with a single burst. (I remeber T's look the best, as he looked mildly perturbed that I'd just killed his engine of destruction)

Guk, carrying my shot up ass out of the fire more then a few times, and the day he almost killed us by trying to blow open a door with waaaaaay too much C4 because O'Connor was unconcious.

The first time one of the Jedi in the party used the force in anger, and on purpose, smashing a guys head flat against the floor and killing him.

Drowning in a pool of my own blood, and leaving behind two orphans.

Watching Dash McBragg die. (I still need a t-shirt for that)

Going to bed at night dreaming up new ways to kill Junie Takahara.

Framing P's character for things I was doing in Paranoia.

Being there when Guk killed a guy through a weapons slit at about fifty yards with a fracking machine gun.

Watching Guk get beat up that first time by a wimpy little Dwarf who refused to carry a god damned gun.

Finding that Dwarf's corpse sometime later in the same campaign and selling his cyberware for profit.

Killing Skeletons with a magical sword of healing.

Knowing that if there are 5 doors in a hallway, my party will have to open every one, even if 4 of them contain death destruction and pestilence. Its our curse.

Listening to the Dragonborn complain when the party refuses to retreat from a fight he caused. (We don't, ever, retreat. We're like Space Marines that way....)

Getting killed by what amounted to a giant wild boor, after my perfect shot with my massive handgun *BOUNCED* off its head.

Getting turned into a giant pile of ash after spending mind numbing amounts of time doing character building and surviving the unsurvivable. I still gets pissed at the way Ivan died....

Telling the party that I was a "Merchant and a Locksmith" with my WHFRPG theif, and getting them to believe me... at least until I bedheaded sum dood with a lucky critical that saved my ass.

Getting my brother to play too for the first time, even if he decided his name was "MacGuyver"

And many, many more.

It makes for a great time, and fun memorys with friends. I recommend it to everyone who's ever been even vaguely interested. Plus, its something you can do with kids from a fairly young age. Should I ever happen to reproduce, my kids will be getting a set of dice about the time they can read.

Its all downhill from there ;)

-Jon

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Winter's Bite

So winter is still not sure its arrived here on the northern plains. Its gotten plenty cold (for early winter anyway) with highs seldom gracing 32 degrees Farenheight... but the two spurts of snow we've had haven't stuck around.

While most might be relieved, I'm offended. I like the cold of winter, and the snow it brings. I don't make use of it outside of the mountains once a year, but I like it. I could do without ice, but if it brings snow, I'll suffer through. I'm not really sure what it is about Winter that I like so much. I know I like it cooler then most folks, but sub-zero temps aren't fun for anyone, no matter what the macho part of my psyche might say.

It probably really is the snow. The crisp white covering everything in an even cool cover, changing the landscape and dulling sounds. I always hate having to track new fallen snow because it always looks so peaceful and quiet. (well except when skiing. Then its a rare privledge)

But track it we do, and throw it, push it and generally try to get it out of the way so the world can keep on moving at the pace it prefers these days. On a normal year, Fargo has to haul it out in trucks from the roads because there's just no space for the snow to build up on the sidewalks.

The downside is its a lot less fun to get out to the range when its below zero before the windchill, and the wind's whipping up to a nice steady fifteen mile an hour blow with a gust to 20 to 25. The wind out here will whip right through you and chill you to the bone.

The other downside is the upcoming holiday season. Since my parents seperated and then divorced, the holidays have become a *lot* less fun, and much more of a stressful balancing act, trying to see everyone and make everyone happy... while often not making *me* happy.

And while selfishness isn't the name of the season, sometimes you need that *me* time just to keep yourself sane. I'm already starting to dread it, and it hasn't even begun.

It's going to be a long road.

See you another night folks.

-Jon

Friday, November 14, 2008

Want to spread conservatism? Educate.

Well, after yesterdays foray of oddness, I appologize by the way, occasionally I just feel like venting, and on occasion - I just let things go where they may. It happens.

Back to today. I've been bouncing around the Blogosphere lately, and while admittedly my bouncing has been primarily to gun blogs, I've been picking up the scent of something that disturbs me.

More and more in comments I'm seeing people state "The Republicans Lost because they refused to go to the center."

First off, I'm not going to make this blog into a political blog, or at least, I'm going to try not to. This is my personal space to speak my mind on the day. But this needs to be addressed. First a piece of disclaimer. I am not a Republican, but I am, what Republicans often claim to be. A Conservative.

I supported George W. Bush and I still support his past eight years. I do not agree with the way he expanded government, and to some extent spending. (Being staunchly against Big Government). But I was for his tax cut, I was with him when he went to war, and I'm still there. Yes - there have been mistakes, but never is such a decision perfect. I don't believe he lied to the American people, I believe he did what he felt must be done.

And, as some people like to point out, no one's tried to do anything similar, since. Yes, our troops are out there, and have died to protect our way of life, and in a way this is tragic. But it *is* what we pay them to do, and the vast majority is proud to do it.

Now. McCain lost for three *very* important reasons. One, in the Main Stream Media Barrak Obama can do no wrong. Look, I don't give a damn what Barrak's skin color is, if he was the most conservative candidate and supported things I support, I'd have voted for him. I vote issues, as much as I can.

Two, McCain refused to firmly address issues in Obama's past, the idiocy of the Bailout, and to strongly present an arguement as to why he was different, and better then now President Elect Obama.

Three, McCain does not fit with the Conservative base of this country. He's at best a centerist, and at worst a moderate liberal. I respect him for his military service, but I strongly disagree with many of his stances in the past five years. That said, this election ended up boiling down to the devil you know, or the devil you don't. I picked the devil we know.

The people of this country, disagreed with me. Thats the beauty of this country - we get to do that.

Everyone likes to talk about Regan. There's a good reason for that. Regan was elected because he *taught* conservatism. He didn't hitch his post to soaring retoric, or his background as a maverick - he went out and reminded people of historical significance, *while* explaining the basis for the programs he wished to enact.

*THIS* is insanely important. When you talk to your average person, they don't like politicians in general. They all lie cheat and steal. But if you educate them on what policys are actually at stake, and what they will mean for them, put the paper in front of them and explain what it means, most people tend towards conservative, at least fiscally. And often times - as we see in California - Socially to.

And now I've opened the biggest nest of vipers on the net. Because I referenced Prop 8. Your far left opponents will go off on how this is horrible, and a destruction of a people's civil liberties. Your moderates will do the same. I'm gonna shock everyone by agreeing with you - if Prop 8 banned civil unions. I haven't looked it up (but I will) but as I understand it what Prop 8 did was define a Marriage as between a man and a woman. While I feel this is far deeper into this then the Government should go - a civil union grants the persons who hold it the exact same rights and privlages as a 'Marriage' in the Governments eyes, because a Marriage is a fancy word used by religions, and the government while it may call it a marriage, considers it a civil union.

Guess what? That is 'equal'. Thats really as far as it needs to go, unless you want to quibble about language. Gothelittle Rose could go far deeper into it from a deeply Christian perspective. I'll leave that to her. She's much better at it then I am, and I want to get back on topic.

So, dispite the fact that most of the Main Stream pundits have stated over and over that the way to win an election is head to the center - we have irrefutable proof that the way to win an election is to speak to the voter, and educate him on what you believe, and what you intend to do.

Every time the Conservatives have done this, they've won, and often times, they win big.

Now here's the catch. You have to back up what you promise to do. Don't do that, and that voter who believes in what you say, and even agrees with your ideas will kick you out. They'll say its to punish you - when in reality they're often punishing themselves - after all, if your in Congress, and you get kicked out you're still getting paid a decent little piece of change - for life. Not amazing amounts, but definately comfortable. Especially if you get another job.

McCain lost for the reasons I stated above, and one last important piece of information. People forgot who was really in Power.

We had a Congress who's approval rating hit 9% or below. NINE PERCENT. Thats... unimaginable. The Democrats held control of Congress. It stands to reason that it should have swung back to the Republicans if what I've stated above is true. But it didn't, and here's a clear answer as to why. The Democrats in power got quiet, and indeed acted outwardly as if they were not *in* power in the House and Senate, while throwing more limelight on the oft hated, and much Maligned George Bush - who wasn't going to be in Power anymore one way or the next. But people remebered that he is a Republican, and Obama's message for 'Change' resonated.

It really was a beautifully acomplished piece of work by the Democrats. Exacerbated by the fact that the Republicans failed to educate people on matters. They didn't stand up, and explain what was wrong, and why. Those who did, were lost in the shuffle.

It all comes back to this. You want to win? Educate. Make people think. Liberals like to make people *feel*, and they're very, very good at it. You want to bring back conservatism as an option? Teach. Teach. Teach.

It is the only way. And thats my two cents.

-Jon

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Been there, done that - left a tshirt behind.

-Free Forwarning, This Posting Rambles a *LOT* and in a lot of rather divergent directions without tying much together.-

I've been all over this country. That said, I haven't been everywhere yet - but I am working on it. I've driven up and down the east coast, skiied in the Rockies of three different states, wandered through most of the Midwest (spend 2 months in Chicago this year for work... I'm still trying to get the smell of that city out of my clothes ;)) and flown over most of the rest of the lower forty eight at one time or another.

I love this country. Only in the US can you go a thousand miles, still be in the same country - but as Gothelittle Rose from The Determined Homemaker once put it to me - appear to be on a completely different planet.

I've been living in North Dakota as my permanent residence all my life. And more then likely, I'll die and be buried here too. With luck along the way I'll get married, raise a couple of rugrats and have more of a fine old life.

These days, I call Fargo home, and while you might snicker and go "Hey, have you seen the movie." I will tiredly answer yes, no it was not filmed here, and no - I didn't particularly like it. (It was filmed primarily in Bimidji Minnesota, btw). Fargo is the centerpiece of a three city metroplex of a massive hundred and fifty thousand people, give or take. (Feel free to laugh now)

It is as big a city as I ever want to live in. If it wasn't for absolutely horrible broadband penitration, and my current job, I'd likely seriously consider building a house back out on the farm, and taking up residence there. I've been to New York, Los Angeles, close enough to throw a rock and hit Philly, Buffalo, Chicago, and a few other places along the way... and they're just bigger then I like. More importantly, the cost of living in North Dakota is dirt cheap in comparison.

The only down side is I live smack dab in the middle of the biggest fount of Liberalism in the state (outside of the Reservations). But you do what you must.

Like my brother, if I wasn't going to live in ND, I'd probably move closer to mountains. I try to go skiing every year, my parents introduced me at a very young age, and I've been hooked ever since. Love it - and you can't ski worth a damn in North Dakota. My personal favorite skiing location is Jackson Hole. Beautiful country out there in Wyoming. Living expenses in JH are a little bit on the astronomical side though.

Of course, one never knows where life might take them. And I've got a lot of that yet in front of me, if the law of averages holds up. Lord knows this isn't where I expected to be ten years ago. I'm still without a college degree - and while I make very good money, this wasn't quite what I'd envisioned doing either.

But I am good at it, and it keeps paying the bills and in another year or two I might even buy a house. That, aught to be an adventure. Another page for the book that makes up my life. Another place I've been where I've left a bit of me behind.

I don't know that I've ever been truely happy with my life. But I don't hate it, and I rate better then content. And as I've said there's a lot yet to come.

Might as well get back too it. See you another night, gentle readers.

-Jon

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Firearm Rambles

I own firearms. One is specifically mine, but I more or less co-own a couple of rifles with my father, and I really need to get them from him and give them a proper cleaning. My father wouldn't know a bore brush if it jumped out and bit him. It’s not his fault really, his father wasn't big on firearms, and so he never learned much in that regard.

That’s not to say my father can't shoot. He can, or at least he used to be able to. He taught me after all.

I grew up on and around a small grains farm in the far northern stretches of North Dakota. I spent the first eleven years of my life in a town about six miles south of the Canadian border, to give you a solid reference point. Farms are a great way to grow up and learn a thing or two about an honest living and hard work.

They also, usually include a firearm or two. Pests occasionally need to be eradicated. I learned early that firearms were not toys and were not to be treated as such. My father considered them tools he occasionally had to make use of, and that was about it.

I remember finding them fascinating. I still do. I begged for a very long time to get a BB gun, and on Christmas before I turned twelve I finally got my wish. It was a daisy, I can't remember the model, but it was patterned after a Winchester lever action. I did most of my shooting at the farm, during the winter. Summers were for working, winters for tinkering, so I could often times get away to rain death on unsuspecting pop cans. I was a pretty fair shot at the age of 12 out to about twenty to twenty five yards with iron sights. (I couldn't safely back up much farther at the time)

Four years later I talked my dad into pulling out his old .22s and letting me plink with those. He had, and still has, two. A bolt action mounted with a scope that I have tried a good hundred times to zero unsuccessfully, and a pump action with iron sights. He wouldn't let me remove the scope from the rifle, not then and not now. Pity too, it shoots pretty well.

That was the extent of my firearms use, til recently. We stopped farming round the time I turned twenty - neither my brother or I were up to taking on the responsibilities to keep it running, and in all my life, I don't think it was ever in the black once. That’s not to say I'm not glad my father kept at it all those years. I learned a lot because of the life at the farm. I despised it on many occasions, but I'm a much more self sufficient individual for it.

Anyhow, I've always intended to buy myself a proper rifle and a pistol. I'm a huge history buff and if I had my way I'd own an M1 Garand and a Colt 1911. I unfortunately am not a wellspring of cash however, and other things have always been 'more important.' Like rent. Paying my car insurance, making sure my computer(s) stay functional.

But in the past few years I've had more money to move around on my own. I have a good solid job, no wife or kids at the moment, so spare money can go where I wish it. And egged on by a few friends who are also firearms enthusiasts, the threat, and now reality of an impending Obama Administration, and my own personal *wants* I finally pulled the trigger on a pistol purchase.

I've mentioned it before - it’s a Springfield Armory XD.45 'Tactical' with the optional ambidextrous thumb safety. I'm left handed, so ambidextrous controls are important to me, and in the case of the XD, the thumb safety was really the bit that sealed the deal for me - since the XD doesn't have an external hammer, and there is no good way to safe the gun, once a round is in the chamber, without dropping the mag and clearing the chamber. The integrated safeties are nice, and I like them, but this isn't a weapon I'd want to carry with a round in the chamber, and with the extra thumb safety, which blocks both trigger and slide action - I feel the weapon is a bit safer.

In any case, this is to be the first of my collection, and for five hundred and thirty dollars for the pistol, a proper carry case, two mags, a holster (that I can't use, damned south paw) a mag case bore brush and gun lock, I really can't complain. Springfield Armory does know how to make a nice clean package, and a fine pistol.

I spent a long time researching firearms before I finally did pull the trigger. I remembered how my father didn't know how to properly care for his firearms, and while they were robust enough to keep firing, even though they probably needed a very good cleaning I don't intend to let the same thing be true about my personal firearms. I learned the ins and outs of basic maintenance, and once I purchased my pistol read the users manual front to back a couple of times, and practiced standard usage dry until I knew where everything was by touch, and I felt safe with the weapon.

Then we took it to the range. It was a crappy, crappy day to be out at the range, it had been raining for the last month or so fairly steady so there was a lot of standing water, and loads of mud. Plus, every hunter in three counties seemed to be out zeroing their scopes.

We had to use a borrowed target board from the range, and that thing was a piece of junk. My weekend project this weekend is to build myself a good target stand, but that day, I just had a rather poor target to work with. Even so, at twenty yards or so, I made a pretty good showing of myself for my first time firing a firearm in roughly seven years. I wouldn't say it was amazing, but I did manage some pretty tight groups by the end, and I never did miss the 10"x20" target we were using. Overall, I'm pleased with the weapon, and its handling.

Now, I want to learn to be more then just basically proficient. My first step in this is signing up for a CCW test. ND requires a written test for CCW carry, and I'm going to take the class section for the Utah permit while I'm at it. This will let me be fully aware of how I can, and cannot carry in my state, while permitting me to do so - and the guy that teaches the Utah class locally goes into depth on how the state's current laws work for self defense, which I also want to be well versed on.

Through the winter I'm going to try to get to the range at least once a month and put at least a hundred rounds through the pistol each time. Fifty at the minimum, depending on the conditions and the price and availability of ammunition. .45 rounds aren't cheap; the best deal I've found locally ends up being about 44 cents a shot. With luck the local pistol and rifle association can break ground on their proposed indoor range this year and I'll be able to shoot in much more comfortable conditions next year during the winter.

Over the summer, the guys a shootsafely.com hold a lot of classes, and I think I'm going to see if I can attend them all. I feel basically proficient in maintenance, and firing, but I'm going to go through the whole gamut anyway. Learning, after all is good, and their prices are reasonable. Beyond that, I'd really like to get out to the range at least twice a month over the summer. Perhaps more often, we'll see. I *like* working on marksmanship, and I intend my XD as at least a home defense weapon. Though I'm going to need to get couple mags worth of Frangible before I'll keep a loaded mag in my apartment. I'm not particularly worried about crime in my area of town, and more importantly, a firearms mishap, or even a legit Self Defense shooting in an apartment building could have very bad unintended consequences. I've done my homework. I have a very clear idea of just how much force a .45 slug carries, and just how far it can travel through standard interior walls. Frangible aren't perfect, but they go a long way to improving my peace of mind in that situation.

In the next year I want to acquire at least one rifle, and I'm leaning towards either a M1A Carbine (I really like the look of Springfield Armory's version, and pleased as I am with their pistols I'll probably buy from them if I decide to go that route) or an AR-15. I haven't decided which yet. Once that’s picked up, I'd like to get a proper bolt action rifle, and *maybe* a shotgun. That will round out my simple 'must haves'. After that, we'll see. I'd love a 1911 as I mentioned before, and I've got some other weapons on the wish list, but I'll start with those that are most likely to go away in the Obama administration, even if only temporarily, and work down from there.

Now if I can just talk my dad into letting me tear down those .22s and clean them up for him...

Wow. That went on quite a bit more then I expected... I think I best get back to work.

-Jon

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Willful Incompetence

You know, I deal with a lot of stupidity in my job. Its part and parcel with Tech Support, and more so when your client is a major QSR (Thats Quick Service Resturant BTW which I think you can Parse from there). Hell, most days we joke that its job security. They keep breaking it, we keep having a job.

But if there's one thing that gets my goat its willful incompetence. Either on the part of a client, or on the part a fellow technician. As the head of the blog says I'm a Level 2 technician, what that means in laymans terms is I fix high level software issues, and in general have a very solid idea of how the system we support works, on all levels. Or, I'm very, very good at my job. Thats probably a little bit of pride talking, but there are very few issues I can't fix. And I like knowing that.

We have a few lower level technicians around here who know that this is true, and thusly they try to pull fast ones on me. They give me partial information, that makes it sound like A: they've done they're job correctly to this point and B: that they're completely stumped.

Tonight was an excellent example. Guy came over to my desk and told me he was getting an error message that basically means that the backoffice server couldn't communicate with the POS server (POS means Point of Sale, but if you think it means the less polite term, you'd be fairly correct too). I asked him some basic questions, including if he could ping the POS server from the backoffice server. He nodded dumbly and said he could.

So I headed over to his terminal and checked if he'd run a script we've created that gives you all sorts of data if the POS server is working. Look, he hadn't. So I ping 10.25. No ping.

He gets back on the phone, and low and behold its OFF. Gee - maybe if he'd done some of the most basic parts of his job instead of seeing if I'd do his job for him, we'd be good to go.

So, I head back to my desk, confident that this call will be corrected momentarily. That, was stupid of me. Twenty Minutes later he's back at my desk, with the same store, with the same issue. Site has an error message on the POS server now, which he lists as the "No printer Found" error. Its a legacy error that means nothing, since the software was designed to have a printer connected to that server, but no store does. You hit yes, and it goes away. According to him this is the only error they have and he still can't fix the communications issue.

Back to his desk I go. Terminal window up and I check a few things. Nothing seems to be wrong so I have him have her read the error message thats on the screen. Its a Fatal Application Handler message.

Now, here's where I'll be fair. My L1 techs can't fix that error message. Its not in their job description, its in mine. So at this very point, the call belongs in my hands.

*HOWEVER* This technician took an HOUR to diagnose a problem that should have taken 5-10 minutes, at which point he brings it to me and I fix it in 2 more. And the reason for this? I can only call it willful incompetence. This job is not overly hard or demanding. It IS stressful, and you do need to learn to hear what the store is not telling you, and work out the issue for yourself with the evidence presented. And this particular tech has been around, he's well past the barrier where he's just groping around and completely doesn't know what he's doing - and with some of the willfully neglected steps - the only reason is he felt like being lazy.

As House MD rightfully puts it, everyone lies. Stores do it to you all the time, willfully on occasion because they don't think steps X Y and Z are worth doing so they say they already did them, or because they're afraid that this problem will be their fault and it will lose them a job. (it really won't, we don't care what caused the problem, our job is to fix it. At least 99.99999% of the time, I have gotten someone fired at a client's site before, but thats another story) And sometimes its not willful because there's a language barrier and these folks just don't KNOW.

Stores do it to you all the time. Its part of the job, you learn to deal with it by thinking critically. But when TECHNICIANS do it to you, its extremely frustrating for me, and and moreso, for the client. Me, because I end up doing someone elses job, the customer because they sat around with an issue that should have been fixed an hour before.

Worse, now I have to write him up about it. All because he felt like being lazy - and with yearly merit pay increases coming up, thats going to negatively affect his pay - because it'll still be 'on his record' when they roll around.

But, I didn't make that call, he did - and now he has to suffer the consequences.

*mutters and wanders off*

-Jon

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Dropping Fuel Prices, and other rambles.

So I filled my pick-up's fuel tank this evening, one of those things that, living just over eight miles from work (which, may not sound very far to you folks who live in a 'real city') is guarenteed to happen at least twice a month. And, like most frequent drivers and commuters, I've been smiling as I watched the gas price continue to fall. Its down to $1.89 locally and is almost a dollar cheaper then when I fueled up two weeks ago... and a solid two dollars cheaper then the time before that.

Now I've poked around and seen a lot of varied reasons for the fuel price drop, and I'm of the stout opinion that it can be tied to the falling price of oil, which has been caused by a sharp surplus of crude in the American 'pipeline.' It took longer then I expected, but the surplus of local crude waiting to be refined into gasoline, along with the fewer miles being driven on average by the American people finally kicked the laws of supply and demand into action... and the price came down.

Now, I predict that within two months of Obama taking office, if fuel prices remain in the low 2 dollar range (or below) on average in this country, the new president - who once touted high fuel prices as good for America - will take credit for the new lower prices.

Never mind he had not a damned thing to do with it. And, if as some folks believe, he re-instates the ban on offshore drilling, either by executive fiat/order or by signing a bill sent up by Pelosi and her bunch of crooks - we'll see prices gradually creep back up, as initiatives that might have been started to get more drilling into the gulf stall, and our current surplus of crude slowly goes away. Our neighbors in the Persian Gulf aren't stupid. They know if they cut production they can slowly drive up the cost of a barrel of oil, and we'll pay it - because we refuse to exploit our own resources.

But, perhaps cooler heads will prevail, and such will not come to pass.

I'm not holding my breath.

For now, I'm just glad I was *right* and gas prices could drop below a 2 dollar mark again. There were plenty of folks around here that said "Well its just adjusting itself to match what it needs to be"

Glad my call of BS on that, way back when, was right.

Onto other things.

I started a Shadowrun Campaign with B and T last weekend. The first run went off pretty well, considering it had been a good long time since I'd GMed anything, and I ran most of it off the cuff. I gave them a 'train job' to aquire a rather large package from a train before it reached its destination. I stole the idea from Firefly, almost part and parcel. The only difference was the contents of the package, which was 'human' (a SURGE III survivor, which in SR terms basically means Beastperson (in this case, cat-girl). I presented them with a moral quandry. Finish the job and drop off the package... or free the girl from slavery.

I'm pleased that they picked the latter option - and to be honest I wasn't sure. I was offering them a lot of ching to finish the job, and they'd done it as cleanly as could have been hoped. It should have been a sweet payday.

Instead, they took the moral high road, freed the girl, and now have to figure out what to do with her. It should be a lot of fun.

I'm looking forward to our next game.

Anyway, I think thats all thats on my mind today - best get back to work.

-Jon

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Aftermath - Election 2008

Well, I'm disappointed. My candidate (chosen as the least of all sorts of wevils (thank you Master and Commander)) did not win in his bid for the presidency. There are all sorts of reasons why this may have been so.

But I think my co-worker (who voted for Obama) sums it up well.

As I came in this morning:

Me: "Congratulations on your candidate winning the election."

Tr: "He's not my candidate. At least, I wouldn't refer to him that way."

Me: "You voted for him."

Tr: "I see it as a vote against Bush, McCain and Palin."

Sad. But that was the conversation. Prior to coming to work tonight/morning I hung out at a friends for a bit and sorta watched the election coverage. The occupants were:

P, B, T, J and myself. T's wife showed up after a while too. I got there about 9:30 I suppose, and J was already drunk. He's the one person in the group I'm sure voted for Obama. And he was TANKED. What a loud drunk. Nice guy - but for a self proclaimed libertarian, he's oftly liberal. Especially drunk. We had an interesting conversation about taxes when I drove him home on my way to work.

God help us if this is how the majority of Americans think.

B and T are solidy on my side of the fence, and amusingly we've all bought firearms in the last month. (As a stop gap against possible future firearm legislation.) I need a rifle to augment my handgun purchase. We all were past/current firearms owners, but my rifle selection is only a pair of .22s. I'd like to add a solid semi-automatic rifle to that list. B picked up an NRA Mini-14. T's got his Mosen Nagant, and a Remington Pump action 10 gauge, along with his Springfield Armoury XD 45.

I've got a Springfield Armoury 'Tactical' (Five inch barrel) XD.45, a old bolt action .22 and an even older pump action .22 with tube feed. I'd love to add something like an M1A Carbine to the mix, but they're typically out of my current price range.

Christmas list? That includes new mags for the XD and maybe some money towards a new rifle. Who knows, maybe I'll find a good deal in the next couple months.

Anyway, back to the election. Govenor Hoven was re-elected. And while he is the incumbant Republican, I don't really like him. ND doesn't have term limits on Gubernatorial candidates, and Hoven is up for this third term, with no signs of stopping next run either. I'm a staunch Term limits supporter, I want them in place and enforced at all levels of executive and legislative branches. The founders of this country intended that the job would be so annoying and un-rewarding that no one would want to do it for a long period of time.

This, is not the system we have today. But it could become that system again.

Earl Pomeroy was re-elected to the House... again. For a generally solid red state, we really like our Democrats out in Washington. Our current rep and senators have been in office as long as I can remember.

Yet, another reason why I'd love to see some term limits in place.

There was a tax initiative on the ballot to cut income taxes in ND by 50 percent across the board, and Corp taxes by 15%. I voted for it. ND has a 1 billion dollar surplus. There are just over half a million people in my state. Thats a LOT of money for the state to be sitting on, so maybe we don't need to be paying them quite as much eh? Apparently, most North Dakotans either aren't paying attention, or like paying taxes. I'm not sure which.

It failed, 70 to 30.

*sigh*

Well, the world will keep turning, and despite it all, the country will still be here in the morning. But its going to be an interesting few years.

The Chinese have something to say about living in interesting times. Personally, I'd vote for boring and mundane.

But we're not going to get that.

Just my two cents.

-Jon

Monday, November 3, 2008

A little bit of morning stupidity.

These boys need to have the book thrown at them properly, once it comes to that. It caught my notice because its blocking my primary egress route from work to home. Now I'm gonna be stuck waiting for a train more then likely.

Oh well.

I finally broke down and 'followed' I aim to Misbehave - a blog by a fellow Browncoat that happens to be police officer. I've been reading his blog for a few weeks now, and find it both entertaining, informative, and insightful.

Good stuff over there - and since I'm back to blogging myself, I figured I'd let him know someone's paying attention ;)

No good stories from the work angle tonight, though I really really wanted to fall asleep. I didn't sleep so well last night since I was out of prilosec, so I'm going to have to stop and pick some up on the way home. Election's coming up. I'm ready for the drama to be over already.

And that's all off the top of my head this morning.

-Jon