What is your SHTF value?

IDPA matchI’ve spent hundreds of weekends at hunt clubs and outdoor shooting ranges competing in IDPA and USPSA shooting events. I’ve met characters from other weekend warriors (like myself), and hard-core former-military, SHTF preppers. Including people from all walks of life, from farmers to dentists to cops and even other computer geeks.

Right after the common “so what do you do for a living“, the top follow-up is usually something like:

If it all fell apart tomorrow, what would you do for a living?

What they’re really asking here is:

“What skills do you have that don’t require a USB outlet?”

How would I contribute to society, or for my family, if there were no more computers?

Now, I’m pretty handy with tools and those of you who follow my blog know I’m a bit of a car/bike/racing nut, so I feel like I’d manage to get by and feed my family just fine. But it is an interesting question and I like to consider it from time to time, as unlikely as the TEOTWAWKI scenario actually is.

Well, that’s how I thought about it until today.

Right around lunchtime, one of my contacts at a local staffing company we use reached out to check in. Like the rest of the country’s corporations, we recently had a bunch of layoffs and furloughs take place. “So far”, I told her I was still employed (albeit at a reduced salary), “but the show goes on”. I followed up with a curious “are you guys still placing people in all of this?”, and her response was what got me thinking.

“Yeah surprisingly. There are a few companies still hiring and some banks are thriving with bringing in contractors for customer service type roles. Not for higher level development roles or management level”

And there it was. Hiring phone jockeys and service reps to deal with increased customer needs, but no leaders or developers.

Companies are reinforcing their front-lines and critical systems are staffed with technical skeleton crews, just enough to keep them running. Can’t say I blame them. A good developer can cost as much as four or five customer service reps.

If Covid-19 becomes the first in a long line of successors, as some are predicting, it might be worth considering returning to the old days of turning wrenches…

On tattoos and programming

I like thinking about software.  From a nitty-gritty hashing algorithm all the way to release deployment and branching strategy, I revel in considering architecture, searching for patterns and losing myself in the ever-changing sea of technology.

At my core, I’m a programmer.  I’ve been writing code since I can remember, starting with Basic on my dad’s old Trash-80 back in the early 80’s.  When I screw up, which is actually a key part of my coding process – I learn, use the backspace key, and I move on.  My life is affected only in that I spent a few extra minutes, and maybe learned a lesson I’ll hopefully be able to apply to future problems.

I’ve always been a programmer, but I’ve never been a tattoo artist.

By contrast, a tattoo artist doesn’t get to use the backspace key.  There is no ‘refactoring’ a tattoo.  Once ink has been applied to skin the decision is permanent, and the affected life belongs to someone else.  The artist’s design, decisions, and tiny movements literally etching his or her intent into another human’s life.

At best, the freedom to just throw it out and start over gives programmers the ability to try outside-the-box solutions, or solve problems with methods we don’t well understand, learning as we go.  This I think, has been software development’s greatest enabler.  With no real permanence and carrying the potential windfall of massively successful (and lucrative) products, the stakes are low and the prize is huge.

At its worst however, this disposable-design-methodology introduces an innate lack of applied value to technical solutions.  Unrecognized, this leads to poorly thought-out designs and less maintainable implementations.

FACT: The Earth’s servers are littered with proof-of-concept code that became production implementations.

There are tens of thousands of lines of unmaintainable, misunderstood, and often unreadable code carrying out financial transactions, travel plans, medical insurance claims, and top secret military correspondence.  Developers know this, because we wrote it.

It’s unfair to ask software developers to treat every line of code they write as production level.  The beauty of software is that it can be refactored.  But, we need to consider the implications of the “just fix it for now” mentality in every method we create.  What you build today can become the bedrock of a mission-critical system tomorrow.

Men aren’t all that bad

Like many others in the non-NYC area, I skipped over an article on CNN talking about cat-calling and street harassment aimed at women in the city.  Like much of the rest of the US, my “left vs right” internal argument falls somewhere in the middle but I still managed to imagine the thinnest of liberalized arguments making a few uneducated, third-world-transplant construction workers generalized as everyday Americans.  “Oh, stop fucking crying” I thought.

Then I watched this video, and I was mind-blown.

cat1After you get past the stupid shit people are saying, and even the mind-boggling rate at which it is being said, there still remains a creepy and obvious threatening overtone.  This is most apparent when watching her eyes as a barely-controlled panic sets in, darting from side to side and back to the camera in the man’s backpack for some kind of reassurance that she is safe from pending attack.

Although it is clear from the video that this approach is likely not resulting in “hook-up’s”, this has become an issue and reportedly is getting worse.  This can only lead me to believe that it is either working (these me are actually getting dates with this behavior), or the power-shift is so addictive, men are willing to take the chance of being pepper-sprayed to continue it.  Either way, the story is compelling (albeit, disgusting) from a psychological point of view.

Infinity’s ass hole

Nice job, asshatIn what I can only guess is an attempt to continue the stereotype that Americans are either too stupid, too removed from reality or both, Infinity has created this TV commercial featuring what, by all accounts, can only be described as “that guy who is the cause of every traffic accident, ever”.

The commercial shouldn’t include the disclaimer “professional on a closed course“,  maybe more like “fucking idiot trying to kill everyone else on the road“.

Touting this car’s ability stop you from running soccer-mom-vans full of sticky-fingered children into a roadside creek is insulting and irresponsible.  Congratulations Infinity, the only one-up to including anti-dumb ass technology in your cars is this commercial showing it off with captain-crash-a-lot.

Fail

Someone should really do something

“Someone should really do something!”

Whenever there is outrage, anger, or perceived injustice, the country reacts and we band together to make it all right again.  Don’t we?

Yeah… Not so much.  Let’s assume that you’ve been in a coma and let me take a minute and bring you up to speed.
fracking

super heroNone of this is made up and none of it is over-stated

The list goes on, and on, and on.  Seriously, choosing only the ones above was a challenge.  All of this injustice, all of this travesty…  Surely someone must be doing something!

Truth is, no one is doing anything.  No one.  Nothing.  Nothing is being done.

grindsNo super hero has come forward to save us, no justice seeking judge or famous-faced cop has stepped into the light to lead us to freedom.  Nothing is being done.  And we’re all so willing to turn the cheek and just go back to our lives.  In fact, when you finish reading this we’ll shake our heads, and go back to ignoring all of it.  And I’m just as guilty as the rest of you.  The most I’ve done to fix the financial crisis or make a case against the TSA is blog angrily about it.

When Watergate came to light, the people called out the government and the President resigned.  And that wasn’t enough!  The scandal also resulted in the indictment, trial, conviction, and incarceration of forty-three people, dozens of them were Nixon’s top administration officials. (source)

You are Black!When the NSA spying story broke, the ACLU started a lawsuit.  Don’t let me spoil the ending for you, but…  Best of luck collecting on that one.  In the financial crisis of 2008, hundreds of laws were broken, billions of dollars funneled through falsely valued mortgages, and questionable (at best) methods were used by mortgage underwriters, insurance companies, and investors across the country.  And as you may have guessed by now, no one is accountable except one random fall guy and a bunch of protesters:  For those keeping score that’s ZERO bankers, and over 2,500 protester arrests. (source)

So, if I’ve done my intended job you are all riled up and pissed off like I am.  But we won’t do anything about it.  In 90% of the cases, we can’t.  Neither you nor I can tip the scales of the elite vs the rest of the world.  And in this time of a growing chasm between them, all we can do is step back and watch, and hope for some lubricant.

Snazzy layout

Enjoy the long-overdue update to a new site design.  The original MyExWifeIsAWhore blog design lasted almost 5 years!  Sadly, I’ve decided to retire the infamous girl-outline header and make room for the devil icon used across my sites.

Side note: I should mention that her name was “Vida”, and I stole her off the the internet years and years ago.

Thanks for your service, Vida.  You will be missed I’m sure.

I am currently preparing for the onslaught of hate mail.  Bring it!!

As the smoke clears

I spent almost 20 years with a cigarette in my hand.  And I was an on-again/off-again smoker before that.  But just over three weeks ago, I snuffed out my last butt.

No patches, no gum, no supplemental medication and no sissy half-assed-attempt quitting device.  I did what many call “Cold Turkey“.  I think the best way to quit smoking is to STOP BUYING cigarettes and STOP SMOKING them.

Anyway, I’ve had some interesting experiences since quitting and none of them are mentioned in any list of what is supposed to happen.  And additionally, the great stuff that was promised to me hasn’t shown up yet…

Dreams

My dreaming has become more vivid and frequent than I can ever remember it being in the past.  I’ve been told that this is a common side-effect of the quit smoking drug Chantix, but didn’t expect it from quitting on my own.  Makes me wonder if the dreaming is an effect of quitting, but the drug enhances it?

Allergies

Another interesting side-effect is allergies to pollen and weed and such, which before only flared up for a few days in the spring, now are a consistent source of sneezing and coughing.  Perhaps the smoking was suppressing my natural allergies, or more likely suppressing my body’s natural reaction to the allergens.

Stronger sense of smell

This was a big promise on the list that hasn’t come to realization.  And it’s one that aggravates me a little, since it would be a welcome enhancement.  I’ve detected no change in my ability to smell anything except the presence of cigarette smoke.  Since I no longer smoke, I can smell that a mile away.  Otherwise, my sense of smell is unaffected.

Whitening of the teeth

Another empty promise.  I’m using the whitening mouth wash, and the whitening toothpaste, and I have yet to see any difference.  There’s no way I’m quitting coffee too.

The big promise

The really big pluses of quitting don’t show up until you’ve been smoke free for a year or more: Lessened chance of stroke, coronary heart disease and heart attack, improved lung function, decreased occurrences of cough, shortness of breath and so on.  But I’ll get there, and I really hope I pick up that super sense of smell along the way, and some pearly’er whites would be appreciated too…

I don’t care

I don’t care if you’re gay. I don’t care if you’re Republican. I don’t even care if you’re a Christian, Jew, Muslim, or from Mars.

If you are a candidate for political office I will hold you to the same standards I hold every candidate.

We have to get past partisan bullshit, people.  Time to elect the BEST PEOPLE FOR THE JOB.  Get over your fear, get over your right/left voting history, and GET OVER YOURSELF.

The current administration (like the past 5 or so) only care about lining their pockets with your retirement money.

Let’s stop bickering over conservative vs liberal (a completely made up argument, by the way) and vote for people who will HELP us fix this.

Your fear of homosexuals, “anchor babies”, witchcraft, Catholic priests, black people, liberals, conservatives, socialists… It’s all MADE UP.  Stop watching fear news and do some research on the candidates, then vote for someone who won’t fuck us in the ass for the next few years.

I don’t care if you are a Republican.  I don’t care if you are a Democrat.  Actually THINK about your choices, and vote for the best candidate.

This isn’t rocket science, it’s democracy.  Quit fucking it up.

Stormtrooper?

So, on my latest trip I find this stormtrooper in my jacket pocket.  Only, I have no idea where he came from.  While I was out of town last time, some friends of mine played some pranks and did some crazy shit to my house (covered the walls in post-it notes, moved furniture, etc) so naturally, I accused them of planting the figurine in my jacket.

But, they claim they had nothing to do with it.

So, here I am, on a business trip in Boston, with this stormtrooper.

And so begins the great stormtrooper photo blog.  I plan to take him everywhere with me.

Just need a name for him now.  I was thinking maybe Fred, or Chuck.  Let me know what you think.

Stay tuned for more stormtrooper coverage!!