So long 2016….

I usually do some year end post,  so this is my adieu to 2016.

It’s been a tumultuous year,  not just for me,  but the entire world.

At the end of 2015,  I had hope.   I was seeing that people were standing up against hate and bigotry.    To the point where those who victimized others with hateful prejudice were on the defensive….complaining that people were making them feel uncomfortable by being intolerant of their intolerance.

Now, a year later things are radically different.

Trump’s election victory has emboldened those who are so insecure that they transfer those insecurities on minorities,  homosexuals,  and, well anyone who isn’t like them.

Hate crimes have spiked, and even here in Canada there have been instances where Canadians have bragged that “Trump is gonna come up here and  [insert whatever here]”

It’s gotten so bad that the ‘alt-right’ dismiss any evidence that goes against their beliefs as “left wing media bias”,   even if the evidence is a video posted by one of their kin, showing Trump spewing vile hatred.

Here are some common responses from the alt-right crowd when challenged:

  • Left wing media bias!!
    • The rare time they respond when asked for a non-biased version they turn to Fox, or worse,  Brietbart
  • Libtard!!!
    • Because insulting someone is a great way to get them to see your point
  • Threats and bullying
    • Because that’s an even better way.

On the other hand,  they believe anything that plays into their twisted beliefs,  no matter how outlandish.

Take for instance the travesty that came to be referred to as #pizzagate. A story that started to circulate about a pizzeria in Washington was a front for a child-sex trafficking ring run by Hillary Clinton.

Unfortunately,  the pizzeria in question is an actual restaurant.  Staff have been threatened and harassed.

Doctored pictures have circulated around the internet as proof.

On Dec 4th, some mad man fired into the restaurant in an attempt to “self-investigate”

Read the wikipedia article and see for yourself the level of crazy that now passes for social and political discourse.

Add to that the baffling trend for some of those on the left who have started to preach that we should be more tolerant and accepting of the alt-right ideals.

More tolerant of bigotry, ignorance and hatred.  Can you even imagine?

In my humble opinion, it now even more important for those of us who are accepting of others regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity, orientation,  or any other factor other than their level of ignorant asshole,  to stand up and speak out.

While it is doubtful that we can change the minds of those bigots posting on social media and other outlets,  if we fail to challenge the misinformation and fear mongering we allow it to grow.   Even if we cannot convince bigots that they are in fact bigots,  we may be able to reach the silent lurkers,  who have not yet swallowed the poison pill.

2016 was bad.  2017 and the four years after might be worse.

I will continue to speak up, and to fight against hatred, tyranny, ignorance and bigotry.

Will you?

 

 

 

Donald Trump will NEVER be the Leader of the Free World

In 2016 there are 22 countries that are deemed to have more freedom than the United States

Despite this,  the President of the United States is also referred to as “The Leader of the Free World”.

For some reason, millions of ordinary Americans ignored the psychotic, childish, bigoted ravings of a lunatic and elected him as their president.

So,  now, to have some Americans tell it,  Donald J. Trump is soon to be “Leader of the Free World”,  even though most of the free world didn’t get to cast a ballot.

Trump has made it clear that His World will be terrific.  He’ll make everything so much more better….so much more better unless you’re not white, not straight and not an adherent of a Trump approved religion.

You’re also allowed to practice Freedom of Speech,  unless he finds it offensive, or it hurts his feelings.

I’m tired of being told that the President of a foreign country is my defacto leader.

I’m disgusted at the thought of Donald Trump being called “Leader of the Free World”.

It’s time to tell journalist and bloggers everwhere to stop this!

Please sign my petition!

 

 

Amateur Theater: Notes from the Tech Ppl

Please Note:    This blog post was the result of conversations I’ve had with other amateur theater techies from all over….Ontario,  Idaho,  Alberta, and Nova Scotia.

So literally “TECH PEOPLE EVERYWHERE”

I reached out to find out if I was out of line with letting a particular incident bother me.
The consensus was that I wasn’t.
The other techies didn’t want to raise issues out of fear of not being invited back.
I decided to post this publically after one girl said, “I go into every production hoping they won’t forget about me…again.”
I don’t have any issues with my group as a whole.  The incident that irritated me is an isolated one.

Hi there amateur theater performers!

Let me start by saying that we think you’re fantastic!  We’re in awe of your acting and singing abilities.  We love watching you perfect your craft during rehearsals,  then dazzle audiences during the actual run!

But, at the same time, we have to be honest.

Do you people actually know we exist?  If you do,  are you aware of what we contribute to the production?

A lot of us suspect that you don’t….

We’re the “behind the scenes” tech crew that you rarely have to interact with.  You know sound and lighting…you do know who we’re talking about right?

Let me amplify:

We’re the people you see coming in as your show gets closer to open.  You may see us taking pictures, and/or furiously jotting down notes as we watch you rehearse.

It might surprise you to hear that these notes and pictures aren’t precious keepsakes,  but rather to help us in our design work between rehearsals.  (We sometimes show them to our friends to convince them to buy tickets)

When you’re belting out your amazing solo during cue to cue’s–we’re the ones stopping you mid-aria so we can fix a light or sound issue—then asking you to start over…several times.  It might sound like the stage manager…but no….its us!

We’re the ones you see hard at work fixing things while you socialize before and after dress rehearsals.  We do this so we don’t have to interrupt your rehearsals.

Once opening night comes, we’re also the ones you might notice slipping out quietly through the after show crowds gathered to tell you how fantastic your performance was.

We just want to take a moment to point out some things….

  • We are volunteers,  which means we don’t get paid for showing up and helping you look and sound fantastic
  • We suspect that no one really knows we exist unless something goes horribly wrong
  • If, after a rehearsal, we ask that you give us the theater so we can get stuff done,  please move along…we want to go home too!
  • If we ask you to (not) do something,  there’s a reason,  and believe it or not,  that reason has nothing to do with wanting to make you look bad
  • Remember that we care about the show just as much as you do, also
  • We are as much a part of the production as you are
  • You receive accolades at the end of each performance,  ours come on closing night–from you,  so take a moment and acknowledge our hard work (and existence)  and say thank you.

We do what we do because we love theater,  we love being part of it,  we love watching you shine.

We know you perform because you love these things too…but would you keep performing if the audiences didn’t show their appreciation?

Thanks,

Tech People Everywhere

Working in Healthcare vs IT

I turned 51 a couple of weeks back.

I’ve had a few different jobs over those 5 decades.   The majority of the first two were pretty much being a major pain in the rear to my parents and any associated adults.

I think the two careers I’ve had where I’ve been most useful to society was my time as a military medic,  and  the last 16 years or so working in healthcare IT.

 

There are advantages to being a front line clinical worker.  You get to drape a stethoscope around your neck and yell “STAT” at various people.   If you’re dressed in scrubs leaning against a wall looking pale and haggard,  people just assume that you’ve pulled a 36 hour shift and not that you’ve only been at work for 5 minutes,  but are very hung-over.

If you work in IT,  and you look haggard,  people presume  you’ve been at work for 5 minutes, but pulled an all-nighter raiding in World of Warcraft……even if you’ve just pulled a 36 hour stint trying to solve a critical issue.

Don’t even ask what happens if an IT guy dons a stethoscope and starts yelling “STAT!”

But there are some distinct advantages to working in IT instead of healthcare.

In healthcare, if you have a patient that you’re having problems diagnosing,  there’s no way in the world you’d get away with telling your patient this…

Look,  you’re baffling the crap out of me,  so I need you to sit here and wait while I go get a coffee and think about what’s wrong with you.
I might end up googling you,  and/or talking about you with my friends.
It might even come to discussing you and your condition online in forums and chat-rooms…..maybe someone there can help me figure out WTF is wrong with you.

Yeah…trying saying that to a patient….

We’ve all heard stories about surgical mistakes where somebody literally hacked off the wrong leg,  or a case I remember reading about years ago where a teenager went in for brain surgery and ended up with a vasectomy….

In the IT world (if you’re smart),  mistakes of this magnitude are embarrassing,  but not fatal (career or otherwise).   That’s because we can always revert to the last good configuration!

I will admit that I miss my days as a medic.  There’s great satisfaction in seeing someone walk out of your facility who otherwise might not have.

I might have a similar blog in the future as I’m contemplating another career change….I just need to figure out how one goes around becoming part of the Idle Rich.

 

RTOD: Ending a tech support email to a user

If you work in tech support,  or any customer support function,  you might write emails like this:

Dear User;

Thank you for bringing this issue to our attention.
We have resolved the issue.

Please let us know if you require further assistance.

Thanks,

David

Has any one ever been tempted to type

You’re Welcome,
David

What I learned about “Living in the Now” from my two aging dogs

I’ve noticed that Colorado’s vision has been getting worse.

A while back I noticed that when I would throw her ball for her,  she’d often go right by it several times as she excitedly searched for it.   I knew she had cataracts,  but honestly,  I wasn’t sure if she was just too excited to see it.

Then,  a few months ago she started bumping into furniture in dark rooms.

A couple of weeks ago,  I gave her a treat and even though I was holding it right in front of her, she didn’t see it until I moved it slightly to the her right.

I imagine that many human beings in this situation would despair at the loss of their vision.

Colorado is not bothered by it.

Several times I’ve witnessed her come barrelling through the livingroom, only to run into something.

Each time, she picks herself up, and continues on whatever quest she is on.

She does not stop and think, “WTF?!”

Thoughts of a life without vision don’t seem to intrude.

This became evident when I was throwing her tennis ball for her.  Normally I throw it from living room to dining room.   It is not a rare for her to lose track of it and end up weaving around the dining room table in search of it.   She likes that game,  she is always very excited and happy and when we play.

This time she couldn’t find the ball.   It was in the middle of the floor.  I pointed at it and she still couldn’t see it…..until I put my finger on it.

Her reaction…..”OMG!  I FOUND THE BALL!!! YAY FOR ME!!!!  AGAIN!AGAIN!AGAIN!!!”

The fact that she needed help didn’t diminish her joy one bit.

She didn’t become consumed with what would happen when the time came that she couldn’t see at all.

She rejoiced in the moment.  Nothing else mattered.

…and that is the purest example I can think of for “Living in the Now”

It is something I’ve struggled to achieve since the concept was introduced to me years ago by my then therapist Roberta.

Essentially,  Living in the Now means not worrying about what could happen in the next moment,  or obsessing over what happened in the last.

In the example Roberta gave,  imagine the van you are driving is stuck in the mud.

Worrying about what will happen if you don’t reach your destination in time,  or obsessing over the circumstances that got you stuck will not get you unstuck.

I will point out that this doesn’t mean shirking responsibilities or not learning from mistakes.

In the past year there have been many changes in my life.  Happily I’ve made great strides toward this whole living in the moment thing.

I am better at taking each day as it comes.   But there are things that I still need to work on.

I think fear is one of the strongest forces in nature.  Especially when the fear is one of the biggest an individual faces.

That is why this lesson on Living in the Now is a hard one for me.

Both my dogs are getting older.

Even though it is an unavoidable aspect of nature, the thought of losing them terrifies me.

It is not that the fact that they will someday die that worries me.

The darkness that looms large and often makes me feel small and helpless is that when they are gone that I will be alone.

And that my friends,  is my biggest fear.

It might surprise a great deal of you because I often seek solitude,  and am well known for not being able to stay in large gatherings for very long.

But,  that solitude has always included my girls.

When these musings are coupled with depression,  the thought of not being able to reach over and run my fingers through canine fur reduces me tears….even when I’m actually doing just that.

That is the anti-thesis of Living in the Now.

The passing of Shelby, my cocker spaniel almost destroyed me.

It was a week before I could return to work,  and nearly 6 months before a day passed without me crying over his absence.

That was during a difficult time in my life.   I wasn’t ready to let him go,  but he was ready,  and I made him a promise.   And I keep my promises no matter how badly they cut.

In the immediate time after.  People kept their distance.  Close friends and family told others that I would want my space, and to grieve in private.

I appreciated it, because that’s what I thought I needed.

It was only years later that I realized how very wrong that was.  My isolation exacerbated the pervasive emptiness in my life.

Now,  even though both my girls are healthy and happy,  that fear is back.

While most of the time I enjoy the time with my girls without any thought of what happens,   there are times when the future intrudes and cannot be pushed away.

My life is much better now.  I have more friends, and am better at being social.

I know in my heart  that my friends and family will be there whatever the day brings.

But one of the things about mental illness is that your head sometimes injects false and terrifying  realities that are not easily banished.

Shelby: Pro Zombie Cocker Spaniel
Shelby: Pro Zombie Cocker Spaniel

Post-script:
I’ve been working on this for awhile.
A bought of depression sprang up sometime after I first came up with the idea for this post.  
 I don’t know if working on it is what caused my current bought of depression.
It was very difficult to finish….