Category: Work

Burgled

So the main reason the blog's been kinda quiet this week is that my house was broken into on Monday. I don't really want to say anything more about it publicly at this point. Stuff was stolen, it sucks, we're okay but shaken-up and stressed-out, we'll get through this and things will be back to normal eventually.

It's been a pretty lousy week -- mainly due to the burglary but also because there's been some turnover on my team at work, and today I came home early with a headache. I've been getting headaches all my life, but they didn't used to happen every single fucking time it started to get cloudy out. If this is what happens when you turn 30, I can't wait for all the myriad health issues that will crop up at 40, 50, ...

Anyway. I'm bound to get back to more regular blogging and Zappa posts somewhere down the line, but I'm not quite there yet. Still got a lot else to do.

But for now, I think I'm going to take a break and play some DuckTales.

Password Restrictions are Stupid

There are few things more infuriating than submitting a randomly-generated password and seeing it rejected based on some stupid asshole's stupid asshole idea of what constitutes a strong password.

Yesterday I encountered a site that rejected K"Nb\:uO`) as weak but accepted P@55w0rd as strong.

And my first day at my current job, we had to take mandatory security tutorials that, among other helpful hints, suggested that we satisfy the requirement for a capital letter and a symbol by putting the capital letter at the beginning of the password and an exclamation point at the end. Which, for those of you who are as bad at basic arithmetic as whatever moron put that suggestion in a security tutorial, defeats the entire purpose of requiring a capital letter and a symbol.

Which is, of course, why requiring capital letters and symbols in the first place is stupid, because "make the first letter a capital and put an exclamation point at the end" is what pretty much everybody does to satisfy that requirement anyway, even without official company-sanctioned security tutorials assuring them that this is okay and totally better than just having an all-lowercase password because math class is tough.

Day in the Life

Woke up this morning with a nasty headache. After some coffee and ibuprofen I managed to get it manageable enough that I made it to work, but I was still achy, and the extra coffee made me jittery besides.

Felt better by around lunchtime, and the second half of the day wasn't so bad. Aside from having some tedious tickets. The good news/bad news is that I've become the go-to guy for putting together websites for extra-difficult or -particular sets of requirements.

Latest OpenSUSE upgrade gave me a KP on reboot, but rolling back a few versions let me boot okay. Then my speakers were making horrible noises; inexplicably, rebooting and removing and reconnecting the audio cables didn't do anything but removing and reinserting the USB cable for the external sound card did.

Went out to my in-laws', played with my nephew, and ate a calzone from Spinato's, my favorite pizza place. Watched Jack the Giant Slayer on DVD. Entertaining if forgettable action flick.

Got home and saw the black widow who lived under my door was out. I first saw the little fucker a few weeks back; back then I tried to find something to smash it with but by the time I did it was gone. (I wear sandals in the summer, and I'm not about to try to step on a black widow with an open-toed shoe.) I vacuumed up its webs, sprayed Raid around the area, and hoped I'd killed it, and didn't see it again after that, but tonight made it clear that either that hadn't killed it or another one had moved into its spot.

Tonight I managed to get into the house and get my hands on a shoe (closed-toed) without disturbing it, and gave it a good and thorough smashing. Sprayed Raid around the threshold afterward, just in case it laid eggs. If it didn't work last time, I don't know if it will this time, but while I have stronger poisons I'd really rather not sprinkle them in an area where they're certain to be tracked into the house, so hopefully Raid will do.

...I just noticed I'd been reflexively writing "RAID" in all caps and went back and fixed it. Funny the things your mind does.

(The last time I took a typing test -- which was sometime around late 2005 or early 2006 -- the only error I made was writing "Thad" instead of "That". Obviously it's a word I write fairly frequently.)

Anyway, got a good 25 minutes left in the day; guess I should probably go find me a Zappa something to post.

Car in the Shop, Wife in the ER

Welp, missed a Zappa post last night, for the second time since, what, last June?

And yeah it was because somebody was in the ER. I'm not saying your default assumption the next time I miss one should be that someone's in the hospital, but that's what it was this time.

It was a busy and stressful day. And it is kinda funny -- not laughable funny but, y'know, a bit of an odd little coincidence -- that it started with taking my car in to the shop and ended with me taking my wife in to the ER.

The good news is my wife's all right. (My car's all right too, which is a relief but not that damn important compared to my wife.) The bad news is they're not really sure what the hell was wrong with her; it was one of those nights where you spend 6 hours in the ER and they run a bunch of tests and tell you everything looks normal and they don't really know what the problem is. Which describes every trip to the ER I've made (as patient or accompanying a patient) in my adult life, really.

Still, the good news is she was better by the time we left the hospital than when we got there. She got the help she needed, and we ruled out anything serious. That's the thing to keep in mind when we get the bill. But it'd sure be nice if people were as easy to diagnose and fix as cars -- yup, the tread came off your tire; you'll be wanting a couple new tires.

Stayed home from work today to make sure she (and we're back to talking about my wife again now, not my car) was all right. Should be able to get back in tomorrow. Meantime, while she's lying down I'm seeing what I can't get done on one of my freelance projects -- hopefully that'll make up the money I'm losing from missing a day of work.

How I Became a Corporate Sellout

I don't think I've ever told the story of how this site got its name. Bits and pieces, maybe.

I think it must have been my freshman year of college. I was chatting online with a friend from high school -- she'd graduated a year before I did, we'd gone to different schools and pursued different majors.

I was studying computer science and engineering; I wanted to be a programmer. She was studying English; she wanted to be a writer. And I was telling her why I thought that was a mistake.

It's not that I don't like English or writing -- you read this blog, you know I like them quite a lot. But it's tough as hell to make a living at them. I loved college but I also saw it as a means to an end -- and I thought she was wasting her time and money on something that wasn't going to get her any kind of work.

I explained that, rather more rudely than was necessary. I had it all figured out, as only a college freshman can. She called me an asshole. I retorted that I was going to be doing work I loved and earning six figures at it.

She said, "It sounds to me like I'm studying to be an artist and you're studying to be a corporate sellout."

It's been a dozen years. We're older, mellower, wiser, and things haven't turned out quite as either of us expected.

So was either of us right? Did my degree open up opportunities that hers closed off to her?

I don't know. Maybe I'll ask her if I see her at work on Monday.

Paycheck

The other day I was telling my family about my new job.

My wife chimed in, "I haven't heard him complain once. I've never seen him like this."

And I must say I'm enjoying it. It's not perfect but it's pretty good. It's challenging without being high-stress; it's corporate without being pretentious. It's crowded but the people there are people like me -- to my left, a guy with Batman figures on his desk talking about Kevin Smith movies, to my right, a guy with Daleks on his desk talking about Saga.

Got my first paycheck today. More than half of it, straight away, went to my bills. But the other half still made for significantly more money than I made in a week on unemployment.

I dunno if it's the best job I've ever had. But it might very well be the best job I've had since the summer of 2004.

Bobby Brown Goes Down

This seems like another one I didn't post because of the title -- but then again, it didn't stop me from headling a post "Crumpet-Munching Assholes: The Story Behind Bobby Brown Goes Down.

This is a pretty poor-quality video with pretty poor-quality audio, but looks like one of those rarities that's worth sharing. According to uploader Dave David it's from a 1978 special called Ohne Maulkorb.

(You know, since I mention it, I heard a coworker talking about how great Zappa is today, too. Like I say: starting to dig this place.)

Obits

Roger Ebert's going to be getting most of the press today. But some other important folks died these past couple days too.

You know who writes great obits? Mark Evanier writes great obits. I'll start you off with his post on Ebert.

Then there's George Gladir, unsung Archie scribe, co-creator of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and 2007 recipient of the Bill Finger Award, an award that recognizes great comics writers who don't get the attention they deserve.

A comics creator who did get plenty of attention also passed today: Carmine Infantino, one of the most important artists, creators, and editors in the history of the business. He's best known for ushering in the Silver Age between the co-creation of the Barry Allen Flash and the design of the New Look Batman. And he was art director during an era noted for stories written around crazy covers.

And I learned something about one of my coworkers today: when I told him Ebert and Infantino had died, I got a bigger reaction for Infantino. You know, I'm starting to like this place.

Last, but not least -- and I'm going with the New York Times here because Evanier doesn't have an obit for her -- yesterday marked the passing of Jane Henson, Jim's widow and earliest collaborator.

Sad times -- we lost some real talents. But they all had a good run.

Ditko Kickstarter

There are lots of reasons I'm happy to be back to work.

It's something to do during the day. I'm working with good people. It's fun and it's challenging. It's the shortest commute I've had since 2010, the closest thing to a programming job I've had since 2004, and the highest-paying day job I've ever had. I don't have to stress out about how I'm going to pay bills and buy groceries; I can sign up for a new healthcare plan instead of worrying about when COBRA's going to expire. I can post Zappa songs with titles like I Promise Not to Come In Your Mouth without worrying that'll be the first thing a hiring manager sees when they Google my name.

But you know what single thing has made me happier than anything else now that I've got an income?

I got to contribute to the Ditko Public Service Package Kickstarter.

I've been meaning to buy some of Ditko's creator-owned work for literally years at this point, and this is the easiest it's ever been. The Kickstarter, as the name implies, is to reprint the 1991 Ditko Public Service Package, and various levels of backing get you various other Ditko goodies courtesy of publisher Robin Snyder. At $20 plus $5 shipping, you get the book plus a selection of back issues of The Comics!; for $40 plus $6 shipping you get lots more Ditko material. I spent the $46 and look forward to getting my comics. More than that, I hope that the success of this endeavor leads to Snyder coming back to Kickstarter with more out-of-print Ditko material in the future.

And it is a success; it's already exceeded its goal by thousands of dollars. And that money's not just going to independent publisher Robin Snyder -- it's also going to independent cartoonist Steve Ditko.

I talk a lot about creators' rights here, and comic book creators' in particular. I talk, even more in particular, about Marvel's shabby treatment of its creators.

If you buy a Spider-Man comic, movie ticket, DVD, action figure, pajama set, Ditko doesn't get shit. But if you buy a creator-owned Ditko comic from Robin Snyder, you're buying from the only publisher Steve Ditko trusts -- and you're supporting Ditko himself, at his most raw, unfiltered, and personal.

My thanks to Robin and Brigit Snyder for the opportunity. And my thanks to Steve Ditko for being Steve Ditko.

There's about a day and a half left -- if you want some creator-owned Ditko comics, you've still got time.

And if you miss the Kickstarter, you can always order from Robin Snyder by mail; see the Steve Ditko Comics Weblog for details.

C-C-C-COMBO BREAKER

Welp, I didn't post anything yesterday.

That's the first day I've missed since last June.

I didn't miss a day of posting when I went to Montana. I didn't miss a day of posting when I got married.

But, the server went down for a couple days, so here we are.

It happens. My hosting is comped by a former employer. And I know my old boss has had a busy day or two getting everything back up and running. He's a good guy, and it's not an easy job -- I think they've fixed a lot of what was wrong when I was working there, but I'd wager he's still overworked and underpaid.

For my part, I started at a new job today -- coincidentally, the same company that I refused an offer from to go to work for the aforementioned hosting company back in aught-six. I suppose it remains to be seen whether I'll be overworked and/or underpaid there -- but I wasn't today. Easy setup stuff today.

And then I came home and, for the first time in a month, felt good enough to hop on the elliptical.

It's good to be getting back in the swing of things. In both cases.

I think tomorrow I'll even get up early and hit the elliptical before work.


Reading: Rapture of the Nerds, by Stross and Doctorow.