Posts Tagged ‘ respect ’

So, you think your life is “interesting”? Part 2

Dunno why GOD drove Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden, He could have just given them teenagers. Maybe that’s what “Original Sin” really is? We were all teenagers once, and maybe even have, or are having, or will have soon, more teenagers. Or, is it just hell on earth?

You can guess that yesterday was not a good day for me. And, it didn’t get any better once I got home last night. But a night on the sofa was nothing compared to the email I got from the boomerang daughter this morning.

I know, I know, I know: having values is just so, so inconvenient. I used to like John Lennon’s song, “Imagine.” But, the more I heard the line “Nothing to kill or die for / And no religion too” the more I came to hate it. Once every person and everything is beige and vanilla, then we’ll have peace and the world will be as one. Graham crackers and milk, num, num. And the poor lion of Isaiah who lies down with the lamb will starve to death. Lucky lamb. Sorry about that, lion. I have just one word for your world John: boring. Life is supposed to be messy. Sorry, I’m just biased. Maybe my world is so messy I think everyone’s should be. You know: share the love.

Back to the email.

So, she pretty much rips her heart out of her chest, lays it on the table, and says “I screwed up, and I’m sorry.” Whereupon my heart starts to bleed.

Then I get to paragraph two.

Last September, after she came back pregnant, she decided she needed to go see him – the guy who made her pregnant. So, she flew, coast to coast in October. She had the money for that, but I paid for her college class that quarter. Of course, I was silly enough to demand to see her grades from the summer quarter I had already paid for. And no, I have not seen any grades at all; but why quibble? When she asked if he could come out over the winter break, and I said he wasn’t staying in my house, he came out anyway and they stayed in my sister-in-law’s apartment. I know I had big plans for a family Christmas, including seeing the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s “Nutcracker” (last season for the Stowell/Sendak version that I had come to love for nearly 30 years); my wife and I went, without our daughter (so much for the ballet lessons I had paid for).

The rollercoaster of course went into the clouds when our grandson was born. He’s two months old today, and is the absolute personification of an angel. How he manages to get cuter every day I will never know.

But, our daughter wants the father of her child to actually meet his off-spring. The fact that the horny little shit hasn’t bolted is not in his favor; I wish he would have (should that be “would have had”? yeah, more quibbling). I would lay money on a snowball in hell, before I would lay even a plugged nickel down on them getting and staying together. So, her email contains this: “He is coming here with his dad to see his son on March 31st until April 5th.” What am I, chopped chicken liver, here?

It just occurred to me that she has made plans to interrupt the most dear holiday of the year for me. As much as I enjoy Christmas, and the birth of Christ is a big deal; the Triduum and Easter is, by far and away, a much, much bigger deal for me.

Being at work, I do the only thing I can: write her an email. I tell her that I learned a few things over the years. That I didn’t paint rocks in the Marine Corps. That some things can’t be compromised without losing your identity, your “who I am.” I tell her I know her generation thinks my generation is irrelevant, and then point out the irrelevant house she is living in, the irrelevant food she is eating and the irrelevant car she is driving. I throw in the irrelevant car seat and stroller her son is riding around in for good measure. Forgot to mention the irrelevant diapers he’s wearing.

I say that, when what’s-his-name steps up and accepts responsibility, then he will be welcome in my house. I also mentioned something about the application of the quaint colloquialism, “shotgun wedding” – but only to say that, if I had a shotgun, I would meet him at my front door with it. And it wouldn’t be to force a wedding. I mean, what would be the point of doing that? Talk about irrelevant!

I stewed about it all day. I have prayed, and I have prayed hard. Two places in the Bible came to mind: the woman accused of adultery (John 8:11), and the blind man at the temple (John 5:14). In both instances, Jesus said “Sin no more.” I suggested that “repent” did not mean shedding a tear and then pressing on; it means a significant change in behavior. Not just a small course correction. I implied that to continue to live as she has was in no way something she should be doing; and hell would freeze over before I let it happen in my house.

After reading it the umpteenth time, I came to the conclusion that I would rather be known for believing in something, rather than believing in nothing (ala John Lennon). I told her I had already been called a self-righteous prig and that she needed to be more original.

Then I hit the “Send” button.

So, what can I expect at home tonight? Yesterday, after I did a whole 12-hour shift, I had to make my own dinner. They had already eaten. I guess it will be more of the same today. Will the daughter be there? She’s already left twice without saying good-bye (yes, she drove off in my – irrelevant – car on one occasion). I’m still “guardedly optimistic” that I will find another paycheck after this one ends next month (I know UPS is hiring “package handlers” at $14.75/hour). My wife is heavy with child(ren), and getting heavier and heavier.

Who says GOD doesn’t have a sense of humor?

A lesson in success from “2001: A Space Odyssey”

What is success?  HAL actually stated what success meant to him, and it didn’t include meddling humans.  Given that computers can’t have an original thot, then HAL was programmed to define success in those terms.  Even if HAL had that as an original thot, ‘success’ to him was still somewhat different from what Frank and Dave, and the three scientists who were hibernating, might have held as ‘success’.  Human success usually, if not always, includes being able to tell the tale; i.e., living.  Either HAL never considered his own mortality, or he thot that his memory would always exist and therefore he was immortal, even if specific dots of silicon might cease to exist as chips and transistors.  Or, frankly Scarlet, he didn’t give a damn.

We are led to believe that HAL deliberately, and purposely killed Dave, although, cleverly, we did not actually see the apparent collision between the pod and Dave (and why was the pod parked so far away from the antenna Dave was out there to fix, anyway?)  HAL almost killed Frank.  To HAL’s way of computing (or “way of thinking”), since he observed them talking (by reading lips?) and discussing disconnecting HAL, HAL was merely acting in self-defense.  But, HAL could terminate the lives of humans because he did not need them for his success.  The equation for HAL’s success might have included an unknown into which ‘human survival’ could be plugged; apparently, that term could easily have been left null.

Clearly, HAL terminated the lives of the three scientists who were hibernating; so HAL got to the point where any and all humans were a threat to his success.  HAL did suspect the three sleeping scientists because they had been trained off site and put into hibernation before being ‘installed’ (‘loaded’?).  Ironically, the video near the end, as Frank is unplugging HAL, states that the three scientists were essential to the success of the mission.  So, it’s unlikely that HAL was originally programmed to kill all five humans.

So, HAL went nuts.  Behavior so human that it’s frightening.  And, frankly, behavior I see every day in the computer systems I have to use.  As I have learned to think of computer behavior, there is a lot of space between zeros and ones in machine language.

But, what is our success?  To what do we strive?  When we achieve success, what do we have?  In business, the goal posts are constantly being moved.  Often the bar is raised before we even get to it, or so shortly after gaining it that we can’t savor the moment.  We can’t feel good about an accomplishment that no longer exists.  Every day, it is “what have you done for me, lately?”

It is like beating our heads against a brick wall, expecting a different result w each impact.  It’s our own head we are smashing.  And, it is a brick wall of our choosing.  Why this self-destructive activity for a meaningless objective?

Of constant – yes, daily – discussion in my job is our future as a workgroup.  There seems little doubt that the need will exist far after all of us are gone, so it’s not a matter of no one needing buggy whips anymore.  But, where will the job be physically done?  The current buzzword is ‘geographical diversity.’  Which is espoused to mean that engineering talent is just sitting on its hands, all over the world, waiting for the privilege and joy of working for The Company.  What it means in reality is that there is a core group of  hundred’s of years of ‘tribal knowledge’ that no longer has any value to the corporate bean counters.

Fortunately, I am old enough to make retirement an option; but many of my co-workers are in their 40s and they can’t afford to retire.  And, by “retire,” I don’t mean sitting in a rocking chair on the porch for a couple of years, which is what previous generations did.  I work w ‘high achievers’ – doing nothing is not an option for them.  But, neither will they be able to find another job, let alone continue in the career they have worked so hard for.

Unsurprisingly, ‘success’ varies by the individual.  One co-worker stated that this workgroup was like a second family for him.  Others, clearly, get their social fulfillment by coming to work.  Others exchange their time for a paycheck so that they can indulge their hobbies, whether it be the accumulation of more toys, or time on the ski slopes or vacations to exotic lands.  No one talks of ‘geographical diversity’ as a good thing.  If the powers that be move the lock, stock, and barrel of our work, they will be moving computer workstations w/o operators.

In the meantime, for the company thrives on secrets, so rumors are rampant, little work gets done as the workers discuss the uncertainty of their futures.  Hard to build a future on shifting sands.  More to the point, why bother?

I am grateful that only my paycheck depends on The Company; I divorced my own success from the company years ago.  In fact, I am looking forward to the day when I can thumb my nose at the politics, the lies, the subterfuge, the games, the innuendo, the lack of respect.  In the meantime, I am just building up my retirement fund.  All the company wants from me is my time, and that is all the company is getting from me.  I am investing in my retirement fund, and someday, I will start withdrawing from it.  If I am a rat leaving a sinking ship, I am a rat that can swim.  And will never look back.

New technology, new questions

Usta be, you didn’t wanna be found, you didn’t give anyone your address or phone number. And that was that. Now? It ain’t upta you.

When I was living in Europe, I had to do the usual things, like open up bank accounts, get telephones, the usual hassles that I never got used to, but were part and parcel of my life. One of the things I discovered there, thinking one bank branch was as good as another was that it wasn’t. Why? Simple: your personal information belonged to you, not the bank. So Branch A couldn’t do business with you, even tho the name on the door was the same as Branch B. Really? Back in the Good Ol’ US of A, everybody knew more about you than you did. Why? In this country, the person does not own his personally identifiable information, somebody else does, and that somebody else can buy and sell it – but you can’t.

So, now, you can’t hide – unless you’re “off the grid” as they say (I have no idea who “they” are, but I hear this a lot so, there must be a huge group of “they”). But, if you are incognito (maybe “incommunicado” is the right word there?), then you’re not reading this blog and a few other joys of modern life (I mean this blog is a joy, not the inability to read it – but you knew that, right?).

I have finally succumbed to new technology, and I am very much “on the grid”; and spend an awful lot of time “housekeeping” all of this wonderful “connectedness.” I think I might have finally gotten to the point where I am pretty much up-to-date on things, and I went looking for old friends. Just curious, y’know?

And I found an old “flame”. Pretty hot flame for a short time, too. But, that was then and this is now. Great, so now I’ve found her, what to do?

Like I said at the beginning (I’ll wait while you look back at those unforgettable words), it is pretty difficult to hide these days, and since “networking” has become synonymous with the internet (this blog being just one miniscule example), if you value your career, you hafta be on the grid. Why? ‘Cause that’s where people look, that’s why. And you want them to look. Look, look, look.

Maybe. Unless it’s an old flame. Then, maybe not.

Thus the quandary: Do I take full advantage of the technology to say “How ya doin’?” or do I keep my distance. After all, since I’m on the grid, she could find me (maybe already has) if she wanted. So, since I haven’t heard from her, she obviously doesn’t want to resume any sort of contact (hell, she was great friend – she’s the reason I passed my accounting classes when we were both studying for our MBAs – “left drawer assets, right drawer debits” – or was it the other way round?)

What I don’t need is another Facebook Friend to tell me what they had for lunch, or how long they slept last night. What I would like is a friend of the old-fashioned persuasion: somebody to talk with. Yep, that’s it.

I know, I know: what’s the worst that can happen? It’s not like I can damage a relationship that no longer exists. But, I am “traditional” enough to respect her right to her privacy; after all, I’m not selling vinyl siding (or whatever the daily phone calls from Area Code 702 are about – I don’t even know anybody in Las Vegas).