plonq: (Kinda bleah mood)
I really feel like I should say something about [livejournal.com profile] takaza, but as usual [livejournal.com profile] atara has already said it more eloquently than I could. He was a wonderful individual who touched more lives than most of us would even hope to meet. He will be missed.

We returned earlier this week from a short vacation to Arizona, where we hooked up with [livejournal.com profile] atara's folks and uncle to take on some sights, and catch a couple of Cleveland Indians pre-season games. The weather was gorgeous for the whole trip, and the scenery in the parks we visited was lovely this time of year (much greener than I expect is the norm for that part of the country). We both enjoyed the trip, but we agreed that we are not in a huge rush to return to the land of god and guns1.

I took around 600 shots on the trip, but so far I've only procesed and posted about half a dozen of them. I took well over one hundred pictures up on Kitt's Peak, but so far this is the only one I have to show for it - a turkey buzzard circling over the desert.
Bird

This is an example of what I meant when I said it was surprisingly green. I took this picture by pointing my camera out the window of the car while we were driving ~80KMH, but that gives you some idea of how pretty the parkland was once you got outside of Pheonix.
Arizona

Down closer to Tucson, there was a desert museum that we took in. Big cats are not always the most cooperative subjects for pictures, but this lynx was being very photogenic.
Bobcat

For as much as we enjoyed the vacation, there were two definite low points. Obviously the first was the crushing news of [livejournal.com profile] takazas' death.

The other was a run-in with US Border Services. They had set up a roadblock on the highway to Kitt's Peak, and they were stopping all traffic heading back toward town. They had waved us through as we came the other direction, and we both assumed that we were probably white enough not to catch their eye. Sadly, when they asked where we were from on our return trip, we made the mistake of confessing that we were visiting from Canada, and that we were Canadian and dual-citizen respectively.

Tactical error.

The nice young man immediately demanded to see our papers so that we could prove our citizenship and show that we were in the country legally. We told him that we had left our passports back at the hotel because we had not anticipated crossing any international borders between Pheonix and Kitt's Peak. He lectured us about how they had every right to demand our papers, and he advised that we should carry them with us at all times. He managed to achieve a good mix of disparaging and magnanimous as he told us that, were he not such a kind person, he would detain us for not having our passports.

"Another guy, not as nice as me, would be perfectly within his right to roll you and hold you here for a few hours."

We'd mentioned to him that we were down visiting with our inlaws/parents who were travelling in the car behind us, but it apparently went in one side of his little head and out the other, because when he finally waved us through and they pulled up, one of the first things he told them after they self-identified as Americans was, "It seems you've got a car full of Canadians in front of you."

"Yes," said my in-laws, "they're travelling with us."

I love visiting the states, since I have a lot of friends and family down there, but the creepy "papers please" mentality that is sneaking into that society makes me a bit nervous about crossing the border lately.

1When we stopped at a viewing place on our way up Mount Lemmon, the sounds of nature had to compete with the stacatto crack and sputter of automatic weapons from a nearby shooting range. I was a bit nervous as we walked around the site and I noticed scars and pocks from stray bullets all around the nature viewing area.
plonq: (Crashing Mood)
Blizzard has finally released the patch that allows flying in the new zones.

I've been putting it to use collecting a lot of the chests that were too annoying to go after earlier. It has also helped a lot in the jungle quests. I had stopped doing those once I had all the prerequisites for a flying mount, but being able to fly has made it less soul-crushing, and I've decided to farm a bit more reputation with the factions down there.

On the work front...

I am on call again this week at work. Last week was pretty quiet, so I had some hope that this week would be quiet as well.

It was quiet for almost four hours.

I got a wake-up call at 3:50 this morning by our operations centre because one of our critical reports had not started on time. The alert message advised them to call our group, so they called me.

The guy on the operations desk is fairly inexperienced, so I cut him a bit of slack and told him who he really needed to call, but I assured him that I would stay on the line until things were working again. I was actually just being pragmatic with that second part because I knew that I would just get called again if they could not resolve the issue with the delayed report. While my group does not control or produce it, we do have dependencies on it for our executive dashboard.

The support guy from the other group managed to fix it within minutes, and I stayed on long enough to update our call logs, and to ensure that the rest of the dashboard process would tick through properly. I crawled back into bed around 4:40, but it was another hour before I could get back to sleep.

This evening I got another call at around 20:30. In a slightly surreal twist, it was the same guy on the operations desk who had called me this morning. I guess they work a staggered shift, so the first call came almost at the end of his shift, and the evening call came at the start of his next shift.

It is stressful every time this support phone rings - enough so that when I went to bed last night, I was jarred awake at least three times because I thought I heard the phone ring as I was dozing off. I fully expect to be dragged out of bed by it again tomorrow morning.

The person on support had a very quiet week last week, so I was hoping for the same. Alas, I have already fielded as many calls in one day as she did all of last week.

Not off to a great start.

Narf!

Oct. 16th, 2011 12:36 am
plonq: (Insane Mood)
One of the problems with sleeping in until almost 9 is that one is often not the least bit tired well past their normal bed time. I even got motivated and did a couple of chores I'd been planning to do tomorrow to see if that would put me in more of a sleeping mood. I guess the next step is to climb into bed and see if the boredom of lying there in the dark puts me out.

Among the chores I did this evening was hook up our new dryer. Er, our new new dryer. Well, technically our new new new dryer. Maybe I should back up a bit here and start at the beginning.

I'm not sure if I covered this in LJ, but our dryer recently quit working because it forgot to quit working. [livejournal.com profile] atara put in a load of wet clothes and set it to its auto cycle on a Sunday, and when she went downstairs for something on Wednesday it was still running. Fortunately she'd set it on low heat, so we didn't have a fire on our hands, but that was apparently enough to kill the heating coil. I set to work disassembling the dryer to see if it was the coil, or maybe the thermal fuse that had gone, but on further discussion we decided that even if it was one of those, that still left us with the problem of a dryer that didn't want to shut itself off when it was done. There is a term for dryers like that: fire hazard.

We did some tentative shopping for replacement appliances, and in the mean time [livejournal.com profile] atara began hanging clothes in the basement to dry manually. One of the delays in replacing the dryer was that we could not agree on whether to replace just the dryer, or get a matching washer/dryer set. She was leaning toward the former, but I favoured the latter. There was nothing wrong with the washer, per se, but I reasoned that it made more sense to just replace the set rather than alternately replacing the dryer and washer as they wore out in turn. Plus there is something aesthetic about having them match.

Eventually we roped in a friend with a truck and picked up a used dryer that she'd got a lead on through a co-worker. We hooked it up, and it worked fine with the exception that it tended to blow the breaker after drying one or two loads of laundry. This dryer could charitably be called a beat up piece of shit, so we assumed it was probably on its last legs. That belief seemed to be confirmed when it stopped producing heat a couple of weeks after we bought it. Great. Now we had a working washer, and two broken dryers in our basement.

When we were out shopping that weekend, I dragged [livejournal.com profile] atara into Sears to look at their line of appliances. They typically have pretty competitive prices, and the one out in our end of town usually has a fairly broad range of appliances to choose from. We found a decent mid-ranged, high-efficiency set that were on sale and seemed to fit the bill nicely, so we ordered them. Part of what swayed us was that they promised delivery later in the week.

They delivered them right on time. Unfortunately they delivered the wrong dryer. Worse, it was a dryer a few models lower than the one we had paid for. I immediately called their help centre, and the frazzled but helpful girl at the other end promised that they would set things right for us. She said to go ahead and use the dryer they had sent us, and they would call us no later than Saturday with an update.

I called them again Saturday evening and got a different girl. She repeated what the first had said about using the one we had until they could arrange a new one, and she promised that unlike the first girl, she would actually order a replacement for us. A week later when we had heard nothing further, [livejournal.com profile] atara called them again to politely say, "WHAT THE FUCK?" She got a slightly different story, but the person at the other end again promised to get things rolling for us and told us to call back if we didn't hear from them after 2-3 days so that they could escalate the problem.

In the mean time, the new dryer didn't work. It made all the right noises and tossed around clothes, cats, and whatever else went into its drum but it wasn't pushing out any heat. We quickly figured out that the problem with the previous dryer had not been with the dryer, but with the circuit. It was late Sunday at this point, and I was flying out to Calgary early the next morning, so we had a very short window in which to get it fixed. I took a picture of our breaker box and drove up to Home Depot. I showed my phone to one of the helpers on the floor, pointed at the breaker box and said, "I need one of these in 220 volts."

I brought home the new breaker and had [livejournal.com profile] atara hold a flash light while I tore apart our breaker box and replaced the faulty breaker. Fifteen minutes later we had a happy dryer that pushed out heat. I had a happy wife who had a working dryer, and she had a happy husband who has clean underwear that's not stiff from hanging on the line.

The day before yesterday Sears showed up with our new new new dryer and hauled away the old one - and that's what I was hooking up this evening.

Oh, and for the record, it works.
plonq: (Cat-like Typing Mood)
I have not been around here much in the past couple of weeks, either reading or posting. The problem is that traditionally I have done most of my LJ reading/writing at work, but now that I've been moved out onto the floor, I don't have the privacy that I enjoyed in my little office. I am either going to have to bite the bullet and force myself to do this from home, or adapt to the new paradigm.

Since I am a stubborn old sod I am going to do the latter.

There has been surprisingly little to report on in my life lately. We picked strawberries last weekend and [livejournal.com profile] atara turned most of them into yummy strawberry jam.

I took Tuesday off work and we caught the matinee of Ratatouille. The story was a bit predictable, but they managed to avoid some of the annoying clich├ęs that one often sees in a movie like this. I give the movie two thumbs up (four if I had prehensile toes, but then I'd just be showing off).

We have a potential adopter for our foster cat. We're going to crate her up and taker her down to the shelter on Monday for a meet & greet with her prospective owner. Leia gets very stressed out at the shelter, and does not show well there as a rule. [livejournal.com profile] atara has booked a private room, and we're going to get there early to let her settle in a bit before this girl shows up for a look.

Don't blow it kid - we like you and all, but we want our change room back.

I am going to miss her when she finally gets adopted. She's a very nice cat, but she picks fights with Jaws or Belladonna.
plonq: (Christmas Mood)
I'm halfway tempted to post this link to the [livejournal.com profile] customers_suck community, but it's too close to Christmas (and I don't really want to get the gift of tar and feathers).

McDonald's Training Video Circa 1972

After watching this I am forced to conclude that this video was part of their screening process for prospective employees. Anyone who ran screaming from the room before it finished probably wasn't McDonald's material. For me the burning question is, why (and when) did they stop making them wear those nifty hats?

I really love the placement of the mistletoe on this icon.

Oh my!

Oct. 11th, 2006 09:48 am
plonq: (Plonq @ Work)
One of the things you don't like to see in your daily status reports is a trend line that plummets off the bottom of the graph.  Perhaps "plummet" doesn't adequately describe the way this line is aggressively boring its way to the unplumbed depths below the bottom of the chart.

Read more... )

Fortunately the dive is due to a service outage on the database where we report the results, rather than an actual decline in our service level in this particular area.  On the other hand, there is a downward trending happening that I don't like to see.  Early October doldrums I suppose.

On the other hand, the graph is a pretty good representation of my energy levels these days.  Yesterday's snow, and this morning's chilly temperatures and icy streets have got me off to an early start on winter depression.  It's a good thing that I mowed the lawn and mulched the leaves on Monday.  O.o

---

Game notes:

I'm starting to get a little burnt out lately on WoW.  It's not the game itself that is burning me out, but the aggressive, hardcore nature of the guild I'm in.  When [livejournal.com profile] atara and I joined this guild they were a fairly casual raiding guild, doing 2-3 serious raids a week.  Currently they are up to 5 days a week of raiding, and they are demanding 50% minimum attendance to avoid DKP wipes and other penalties.  That's a bit more hardcore than I really wanted, but on the other hand I've been running in the 90% attendance range, so I can't really complain too loudly about those requirements.  Doing 10 raids a month isn't a serious hardship IMO.

What's burning me out is that the raids have stopped being fun; the raid leader and officers are taking things way too seriously.  They keep tabs on the progress of every other raiding guild on the server - Horde or Alliance - and measure our performance and progress against them.  When a raid is going well, it's all rainbows and buttercups, but when things turn a bit sour they start getting a little ugly.  Last night was one of those times when things went a little sour.

"Goddamn it, what's wrong with you people?"
"I'm not going to waste my time bringing you in here if you're not going to bring your A game."
"Did you all take your stupid pills today?"
[etc]

We were working on Noth when our secondary main tank dropped from the raid and logged out.  Apparently the raid leader had sent him a whisper, telling him to "STFU in Vent" because this guy was trying to keep things a bit lighter in there.  As soon as he left, there was an immediate round of back-biting, and comments about "thin skins" and "PMS".  The warrior who logged is one of the nicer guys in the guild, and a very capable player.  He didn't deserve, well, any of this.  I would not be surprised to see him take a break for awhile.

As for me, I'm getting closer and closer to transferring my character over to join a bunch of my ex-guildmates on another server.  I sat in on one of their raids in Ventrilo last week, and it was really refreshing to hear people talking, and joking and even laughing in the middle of multiple wipes.  They were having fun with their raid, as opposed to what I'm doing now -- which is more like boot camp than fun at the moment.  There are only two things holding me back just now.

1) I know that it will be a long time before I see any of the same end-game content with the other guild as I am seeing with this current one.
2) A part of me feels that I owe something back to this guild.  These guys have decked me out in pretty good gear, and I'm one of their primary priests.  If I cut and run, it will be with no small amount of guilt.  Officers aside, there are some genuinely decent folk in this guild.

Right now there is a tentative guilt/burnout balance happening, with guilt weighing slightly heavier at the moment, but every raid like the one last night stacks more weights on the other pile.  I was planning to wait for Burning Crusade to transfer, but I may jump early at this rate.
plonq: (Busy Mood)
I solved a vexing mystery this morning, but they're not happy with my answer.  Cars with apparently identical records were not yielding identical results when it came to suppressing reclaimable mileage.  They have been looking into it from a system standpoint, trying to find a programming error somewhere in the works.  As soon as I heard about the problem this morning (why don't they bring me these things sooner?) I had a different thought.

"If two cars with identical records generate different results, Occam's Razor suggests that the records are not - appearances aside - identical."

It took about twenty minutes, but I managed to find the problem in the records (very subtle - it's no wonder they missed it earlier), and traced the root cause to human error.

I suspect that they were hoping that the problem was systemic.  Finding out that it was a clerical error makes them all *frumple*.

Now back to working on my year-end review.  I managed to get it postponed until Tuesday (yay me!) so that I could track down some vital figures.
plonq: (Huzzah!)
Rumour has it that today is [livejournal.com profile] pierrekrahn's birthday.  It has better be, because I hate wasting a birthday bear picture for no good reason.

Happy birthday and best fishes.

In other news, I feel the intense need to freebase coffee today.

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