A few kind words go a very long way

So often we only hear negatives in life.  People in customer service only hear complaints.  In the office you likely only really ever receive commentary when you forget to put the cover sheet on your TPS report.  In Emergency Services, all to often you only hear about pain and suffering and death, anger and sorrow, but seldom ever praise.  In software, you hear how your code is wrong, not about the parts that are right.  As a mechanic, you hear about how you didn’t do something the way the other person would prefer, you seldom ever hear how those newly rebuilt brake calipers and new pads just saved someone from a horrific accident.

Just the other day, I received a rather simple email from a colleague in response to a release announcement I had sent to a distribution list that I maintain for internal and external customers:

Your emails are a joy to read.
Clear, informative and well written.

I guess you get that feedback pretty often, but in case you don’t
(because I guess we tend to not praise that often), here it goes.

I always think it, but I think I had never said it.

Pretty simple praise about something completely ordinary and part of my day to day work.  But in context they are so much more.  First, the colleague who sent me that note is not a native English speaker.  For her to state that my emails are clear, informative and well written is pretty high praise.  It means I am doing a good job of reaching my audience, many of whom are NOT native English speakers.

Sadly, like so many others in this world I actually do not get that kind of feedback, ever.  Every once in a blue moon I hear something positive, but most of my interactions are of the typical sort:

“Why hasn’t X been completed yet? What’s the holdup?”

“This doesn’t work. Fix it!”

And so on.  This is made even worse in my case by the fact that I work alone, from my home office, with limited physical interaction from anyone at all.  Most of my interactions with colleagues are via e-mail, IRC or video conference from time to time.  Once or twice a year I get to see some of them at a company event of some sort, but most of my travel is to customer sites so I seldom see my work friends.

The point is that when I read her email, I experienced a few moments of true happiness.  To get something so simple, yet so unexpected was pure joy.  Her email brightened my day (well, my week actually) and had me smiling and actually made me feel a LOT better about some other things I’ve been dealing with at work lately.  We often forget these simple niceties, not realizing just how much of an impact they can have on other people.

So I’d like to challenge anyone who reads this to do the same.  Send a note of thanks to someone random.  Tell them briefly why something they did was GOOD, not bad.  Tell them that you appreciate the good things they’ve done.  Spread just a bit of positivity around and make life just a little better for someone else.  Just like buying a cup of coffee or a drive through meal, paying it forward can be as simple as saying “Thank You” and meaning it.

Porn protest: Mass sex simulation and ‘facesitting’ to take place outside Parliament

Wow. The Brits really DO know how to hold a protest…

More than 500 people are expected to sit on each other’s faces and simulate sexual acts outside Parliament this week.
The #PornProtest will use mass ‘facesitting’ to protest against new UK porn laws brought in earlier this month.
Under the new Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014 rules, facesitting, spanking and female ejaculation are among a number of sexual acts now banned from being shown in paid-for porn watched online.
The new rules – which will not affect porn created outside of the UK – have attracted huge amounts of criticism.
Protesters are now organising mass action outside Parliament on Friday, where they will try to break the Guinness World Record for facesitting, and will hold a ‘Sex Factor’ game show – while remaining fully-clothed.

Read more at the link…
Porn protest: Mass sex simulation and 'facesitting' to take place outside Parliament – Telegraph.

Geographic Gymnastics

Someone posted something on Facebook recently indicating that a sign that you’re from NC involves the song Wagon Wheel:

32. “Wagon Wheel” will never, ever get old.

Whenever this song comes up, you turn the radio (or your iPod, you techies) up and sing along because it reminds you of home.

You’re also territorial about it and don’t appreciate non-North Carolinians loving it so much.

However, having lived in two of the places that song sings about, my head still can’t wrap around the geographic gymnastics used in the lyrics… this, in particular is patently impossible (unless you’re driving the long way around the earth):
“Walkin’ to the south out of Roanoke
I caught a trucker out of Philly had a nice long toke
But he’s a-heading west from the Cumberland gap
To Johnson City, Tennessee”

First, lets consider the premise of the song. He’s headed south towards his baby in Raleigh, NC. Fair enough, I’ve done essentially that many times coming back from Boston, DC, Baltimore, NYC, Montreal and parts of Virginia.

He’s “walking to the south, out of Roanoke”. That means he’s on one of two roads. Interstate 81 South, or US 220 South. If he’s as familiar with how to get to Raleigh as the song indicates, then he HAS to be on US 220, because ANYONE who knows where Raleigh is in relation to Roanoke, or SW Virginia in general, knows that I-81 doesn’t take you anywhere near Raleigh, especially if you hope to get there anytime soon.

Next, our narrator says that he “caught a trucker out of Philly”.

If you’ve done ANY sort of road travel at all, you know one thing. Truckers know where the fuck they are. And they know how to get from Point A to Point B the fastest. And a trucker headed out of Philly, passing through Roanoke, only really has one choice considering the rest of the lyrics. He has to head south on I-81. Unless he’s gone the long way around town through Charlottesville and US 29 south towards the lake, or south via Richmond then US 460 W.

But the song indicates he was out of Philly, headed to Johnson City TN… and there’s no way a trucker headed to Johnson City from Philly would be on 220 South. Well, there’s a chance, but slight.

Then we REALLY take some leaps on the map. It turns out our friendly, Ganja smoking trucker (and perhaps this is why he’s so lost) is “a-heading west from the Cumberland gap To Johnson City, Tennessee.”

Really? Because it’s impossible to meet a trucker heading west out of the Cumberland gap, if you’re in Roanoke, since Roanoke is better than 210 miles east of the gap.

And Johnson City, TN is 78 miles ESE of Cumberland Gap, so if you’re driving west from Cumberland Gap and headed for Johnson City, you’re going to be driving essentially all the way around the globe before you come back to JC, TN.

And if you’re walking south out of Roanoke hoping to make Raleigh, you’re on 220 headed to Greensboro, NOT I-81 headed to TN, as I-81S actually runs WEST through VA, and 220S takes you even farther away from the Cumberland Gap where the mysterious trucker is supposed to be driving from. Even more so if that Trucker is out of Philly, and if he’s headed to TN, he’s on I-81 South, not 220 South.

So anyway, while I LOVE that song, and I love Old Crow Medicine Show, and that song really does make me feel homesick when I’m out and about in the world, as someone who notices little details like that, (You should have heard my wife’s reaction to my picking apart the show “Bones”), the lyrics make me cringe every time I hear them…

Sometimes I really hate being a pedant.

Is there anyone on the plane with medical training?

Flight Attendant: Excuse me, but is there anyone on-board with medical training?
Me: Yo.

Well, that’s not exactly how it went, though I have had that happen before on a flight. But this time it started with people in my section looking to the starboard aisle. At first, I thought someone had just fallen in the aisle but when I noticed no one moving, and everyone staring, something in me started yelling “Get up!” Before I knew it, I was up and across the plane and at the side of a guy who was in a bad way.

I honestly don’t even remember getting that far. It was all automatic, reflex from years of EMS. For a long time, I was an Advanced Life Support provider as both a volunteer and professional. I worked for a private ambulance company as well as two clinics and an Emergency Room. I took classes, I was certified and I lived it 24/7. Then I left it all behind to move to North Carolina and a more lucrative career in computers. But all that training, all that experience, it never really left me. Not in the least.

And there I found myself, kneeling next to an unconscious white male in the starboard aisle of a Boeing 777-200, half way between Tokyo and Washington, DC.

It was amazing to me how it all came back. How effortlessly I started an assessment and made sure all the basics were covered. Airway? Yep, it’s clear. Breathing? Yes, but shallow. Circulation? No distal pulses, but carotid is there. Sternum rub, shake the shoulder. Nothing. Diaphoretic. He had all the symptoms of hypovolemic shock. But he obviously wasn’t bleeding to death, unless he had something nasty like a ruptured aortic anyeurism, but if that was the case, there wasn’t much I could do.

So treat the shock to start with. Elevate the feet and start checking vitals again. And then, almost like magic, he opened his eyes, took a deep breath and sat upright. At this time, the flight attendants had arrived.

“Are you a doctor?”
“No, but I play one on TV.”
Well, that’s what I thought, but in reality, I just told them I had training and let it go at that.

After the guy had a moment to get his wits about him, I asked about a history of seizures, because despite the shock symptoms, he looked as though he had just had one (and with the mild twitching when he was out, seizure did cross my mind). But then, perhaps something related to meds? Ah hah!

It would seem, that on a long flight, at 38,000 feet in the air, taking a vasodilator while dehydrated is not such a good idea. What happened is that he took the pill an hour or so before. It kicked in, and he started feeling nauseous. Thinking he was getting airsick, he got up quickly and headed to the lavatory. So add in standing up quickly to all of the above, and the blood drained from his head and over he went. Luckily, this went well. He woke up after a few seconds. I escorted him back to his seat to make sure he was OK and the flight attendants brought some water.

I suggested he re-hydrate well and not get up too quickly for a while. I think it was probably a combination of dehydration, altitude and meds that bottomed his blood pressure and caused him to experience a nice syncopal episode.

What really surprised me, though, is how quickly it all came back to me. It’s been a LONG time since I was an active EMS provider, and yet all that training came flooding back to me as soon as the adrenaline started flowing. In hind-sight, I was lucky. I really didn’t want to work a code there somewhere over Alaska, half-way though a 13 hour flight. It all worked out for the best and everyone gets to go home to their families tonight. The flight crew were very thankful that I had jumped in to help out, and to be honest, so am I. I miss that part of my life sometimes. I’m glad that I still have it, and that I know, in an emergency, I can still do what needs to be done, at least to a basic degree.

OMGGWTF ur defriended LOLZ!!1!

Given that it’s national election season again in the US, the expected upswing in idiotic ramblings from uninformed party-line partisans has kicked into high gear. People on all sides of the political polygon feel it is their duty, nay, their divine mission to bring those poor uneducated fools on the OTHER side over to the light. Politics is the other religion and it is alive and well here in the Colonies.

An interesting result of the advent of social media sites like FaceBook, MySpace, Friendster, Flixster and the infinite multitude of websites that act as anonymous watering holes or family reunions is that anyone and everyone feels free to post even the most insane ramblings. This, in turn, is visible to their “friends” or connections and in some places, appear on those people’s personal pages and on and on in a sort of Six Degrees of Lies, Damn Lies and Lying Liars.

The truth is, NONE of them are completely right. In this election, the Romney supporters spout all sorts of nonsense about Barak Obama while the smug pseudo-intellectuals on the other side throw back masturbatory barbs of their own in equally inane ways. The fringe party supporters like LIbertarians, Communists, Socialists, Green Party and so forth, the ones who collectively make up the political middle are left somewhat in the crossfire watching the Zingers lobbed back and forth. Poste, reposte.

What is somewhat disturbing, however, is how we treat each other at times like these. I see so many people posting things to their Facebook walls these days that sound a lot like this:

I am so sick and tired of your political views that are not my own that I will now remove you as my “friend” and never listen to your insane, stupid, incorrect ramblings again. I will only see items posted by people who believe the same as I do! Nana nana boo boo, stick your head in $PRESIDENTIAL_CANDIDATE’S butt!

And this got me thinking. For starters, groups of friends usually share some sort of common bond. Generally, humans are gregarious and flock to each other naturally. The “recluse” is the outlier in any human society, from the dawn of man, huddled together in small familial units in caves to clans comprised of extended famlies which eventually grew to villages, towns, cities and nations.

So given that, if your “friends'” beliefs and desire to talk about those beliefs are so repugnant that you feel the need to “de-friend” them, were they really your friends to begin with? More importantly, however, is that if YOU were such a good friend, would you really sever ties with someone based solely on one aspect of them? I, personally, do not. In fact, I welcome diverse views and beliefs among my friends, close or otherwise. I enjoy the different points of view, the personal opinions, the differing ways of looking at the same thing.

I learn so much from NOT solely hanging around people who think and act like me. That opportunity for growth would be denied me were I to just “de-friended” people because they said something I didn’t agree with. And so I think it’s sad to see people severing ties over someone else’s political views. If we only associate with people who believe the same things we do and sit back and smile while smugly fellating each other with our moral and intellectual superiority over “those other guys”, how can we really grow?

If neither side is 100% right, then both sides are at least somewhat wrong, and that will never change as long as we refuse to listen to someone else’s view points. If everyone’s political and religious beliefs and affirmations are taken in aggregate, EVERYONE is an illiterate, uneducated, blind fool following an equally stupid chicken fucker down the highway to hell.

That’ll do, Patches. That’ll do.

Patches and I the night after I brought her home

Friday night, I took Patches on one last Hurrah, a road trip, just like the two of us used to take, to the beach… In our early days, she’d accompany me on my “Guy Weekend” which really amounted to little more than me going to the Outer Banks to drink beer and surf fish at Oregon Inlet. We always camped in the state campground there at the inlet and spend our days on the sand, me pretending to fish, her not pretending at all to want to eat everything she could find that washed ashore. So it seemed fitting that I give her that one last night on the beach, just Patches and I, like it used to be.

She seemed a little distant on the trip down until I rolled down the windows to let the fresh country smells into the truck. Almost like a magic elixer, she lifted her head and started the scent radar, swiveling her head this way and that, smelling the late summer crops, the fresh cut grass, the hint of smoke from an occasional backyard fire.

Saturday, I spent most of the day just laying with her on the floor of my parent’s house in Calabash, kissing her forehead, stroking what remained of her silky fur, soaking in the deep, intelligent brown of her eyes. That evening, once the tourists had departed, we sat on the sand of Sunset Beach, just outside the reach of the encroaching tide watching the blue moon transit the sky, listening to the crashing waves and the occasional dog and human passing by. A few complete strangers walked up to us, lavishing her with praise and love and affection, just like she’s always seemed to get from total strangers. She was a beautiful dog. More so than most, and I don’t say that because I feel I have to.

We sat on the beach until after Midnight when I finally packed us up and headed for home. Sunday, we loaded up in the truck and made the trip back, but at this point something was different. She had stopped drinking as much as she usually did and I had resorted to adding water to her bowl of food to trick her into hydrating herself. She didn’t perk up much on the 3 hour drive back to our home of 10 years but she did keep her eyes on me, staring into me, keeping me fixed with her Border Collie Laser Gaze.

The two of us on the Outer Banks

Sunday passed languidly, with me spending most of my day on the floor with her, stretched out on a king sized comforter that I had folded in quarters to make a nice bed for her to spread out on. Just as earlier, she was disinterested in water but kept her healthy appetite, so I continued giving her “soup” with the rice and chicken I had been feeding her. Dana wanted to know if our trip had perked her up enough to go back this coming weekend, but I had to tell her that no, it was time.

Labor day proceeded with me not attending cookouts, nor sitting with my buds drinking beer and doing whatever it is people do in groups on Labor day. Instead, I worked that morning and some of the afternoon, then spent the rest of my evening on the floor in my now accustomed place with Patches stretched out at my side. Dana had managed to find a kind soul at work who covered the holiday shift so we could spend the evening at home together with our First Dog. Together we sat or laid in the floor with Patches until 2 am when I finally had to call it a night. I gently scooped up The World’s Best Dog In The World and carried her into the bedroom. For one last night, she slept between us.

Early on, she learned a sneaky trick. She’d hop in the bed and sleep at my feet, but she didn’t really sleep. No, she waited. Then she would inch herself up between us, just a few inches at a time, sometimes taking up to an hour to get to the right place. She had the patience of a military sniper, crawling through no-man’s-land until she reached that perfect spot. Once she got to where she could get the best leverage, she’d put her back against mine, and her feet against Dana, and push with all her might until she had created a Patches sized valley between us where she would sigh deeply, lay her head on me and finally fall to sleep for the night.

So Monday night, we put her in her spot, right between us, and we slept like we did before. And sure enough, as weak as she was, she rolled over and pressed her back against mine and spread out her legs. She may have lacked the strength of youth, but she gave it her best effort and snuggled between us with a deep, happy sigh.

This morning, I didn’t want to wake. I wanted the night to go on forever, unstopping because I knew what had to be done today. Reluctantly, I crawled from bed, used the bathroom, let the other dogs out. I started a pot of coffee. I looked at a magazine. I crawled back into bed to rub on Patches some more. Anything to avoid the harsh reality ahead. But finally, I made The Call to our trusted vet who promised to come all the way out to our house in the sticks to send Patches over the bridge. We spent a very special morning, petting her, kissing her and stuffing her full of all her favorite treats, whether they were safe treats or not. She got two small steaks, which we cut into bits and fed her by hand. She got her chicken and rice, which I’m positive she preferred over her kibble and veggies anyway. She got M&Ms and a bit of a chocolate bar I brought back from Europe on one of my recent trips overseas. She got crunchy bacon, cooked just for her. She ate a LOT of ice cubes… it wasn’t drinking, ice cubes were a treat! And most importantly, she got a cupcake. Her very own cupcake, which she wolfed down almost whole. You see, it’s just into September. Her birthday was in August and with everything going on, I had missed it. So today, her very last treat was her 12th Birthday Cake which she ate as I sang Happy Birthday to her.

That smile I will miss for the rest of my life

When the vet called to let us know they were about 30 minutes out, we packed up the how and moved outside to the shaded space between the trees in our back yard that Patches would always retreat to on hot days. We spread out her comforter so we could all lay on it and we all sat there, as a family, sobbing, sniffling, crying, laughing and smiling as we remembered the good times and all the love that Patches had given over the years. We all were there, Dana and I, Patches, Jazz and Faith.

As the vet arrived and began setting up her equipment, I blubbered out the last few things I wanted Patches to know. I told her how she was the first dog that was 100% mine. How grateful I was that she chose me that day 12 years ago when I went to look at a litter of Border Collie pups. I told her how proud I was of her, and how brave she was. I told her how much I loved her and how I would carry her in my arms to the bitter end… I told her to tell Jack that we miss him, and that she should wait with him on their side of the bridge. And as the Vet administered the shot, I kissed her on her forehead, and whispered into her ear as she breathed easy at last, “That’ll do, Patches. That’ll do.”

 

I wanna new… Truck

Pickup trucks are funny things. Many people who own them really don’t need them, a lot of people who do need them use them pretty heavily, and most of your friends will never own one but insist on using yours every time they need to haul something they don’t want to put into their own cars.

I fall in between. I could probably get by without one, but find life in the country a LOT easier with one. I can haul trash to the dump site without having to ride in a car that reeks of old food. I can move dirt, rock and lumber around as I need it to work around the house. I can haul things to the thrift shop that wouldn’t fit in the car. Anything you can do I can do better… I can do anything better with a truck!

For the longest time, I had a decent truck. It was a 1989 Ford F-150 that has seen a LOT of miles. It was my dad’s truck before he bought his newer Silverado. It has been camping, mudding, and on the beaches of the Outer Banks. It’s been fishing, hauling and on vacation. It’s been grossly overloaded with gravel or dirt more times than I care to admit to, WHILE towing a fairly overloaded trailer as well. It hauled a 23 foot boat with no trailer brakes and three nearly flat trailer tires from Richmond, VA to my home. In short, it served me very well over the years, and I have a special place in my heart for that old Ford.

But as with all good things, they must come to an end. Ol’ Red started developing weird electrical problems. I spent hundreds, possibly thousands over the years with mechanics, each one who claimed they had “Fixed the Glitch”. Then one day, on a trash run, Ol’ Red just died on me, right in the middle of the road, with only enough inertia to get us into a gravel driveway.

It was some time before I started looking for a new truck. The intention was to fix the old Ford, but as time went on, fixing yet another problem became a debate on when it was time to stop putting money into the old, worn out Ford and put that money into a newer truck instead, that will, hopefully, be problem free for a few years. As time wore on, going without a pickup became a problem. We were hauling trash in my wife’s new Hyundai. We hadn’t taken the larger things to the thrift shop because they don’t fit in her car. The driveway was developing really bad potholes because I no longer had a way to haul gravel in without paying someone for a dumptruck load. Projects around the house were not being done because we had no way to haul lumber and dirt and mulch.

So I started looking. I looked high and low, to and fro, for a truck that met my special needs. I wanted a V-8. No pansy V6 for me. It had to be Four Wheel Drive. A RWD truck would probably have been fine, but honestly, there are just times when you need all four wheels turning. It had to have a extended cab. The old Ford was a regular cab, and when taking dogs to/from places, that regular cab could get crowded quickly. It had to be full-sized. I liked the idea of a smaller truck, but I know myself, and I know that I’d quickly overwhelm a lesser truck simply because I like loading them up with as much stuff as I can squeeze in.

New truck comes with DOUBLE RAINBOW

I would love to have picked up a 3/4 or 1-Ton model, but the only ones available in a price range I was willing to pay for a vehicle I’ll drive no more than 4 times a month were either super high mileage (200K+ miles), beat to hell, or both. The ones that DID fit my mileage requirements and all the other requirements mentioned before were way more than I wanted to pay. I’m not using this for my daily work, so I don’t need to spend that kind of money. In the end, I found a nice, used 1/2 ton truck that should do what I want it to do.

It’s got some issues, sure. But they’re all cosmetic. The doors have some rust on them and there’s a rust spot above the exhaust pipe. But the rest of the body is rust free, as is the frame, undercarriage, floor pans, and cargo box. Mechanically, it’s in great shape. There are no leaks around the transfer case or diffs. The axels and joints look good. Brand new Bilstein shocks on all four corners. It shifts smoothly and 4WD works like a champ.


And the best part, it’s the truck I always wanted. It’s a Dodge Ram 4X4 Quad Cab in Forest Green. It’s a bit older, a 2001 model, but it only has 111K miles AND not only has a V8, it’s got a 5.9L (360ci) V8. So welcome New Truck. I’ll be sad to see Ol’ Red go, but he’s destined for Craigslist now. Maybe someone can fix the gremlins and have a decent truck to use for work, farm or whatever. or perhaps his old organs will be used to resurrect another truck or more. But for now, I have a new truck, and I’m itching to haul some dirt, fill some pot holes and get some lumber to fix some things on my deck that have been bothering me. Dana wants some trees and I want some seedlings for the garden. And now we, once again, have a way to haul all that.

What exactly do you DO for a living?

I’ve got a long list of things that I’ve been meaning to write about. It’s an ever growing linked list of items that I thought would make good fodder for the interwebz but I’ve been so busy for so very long that I really find it difficult to take time these days to just sit and write. Sooner or later, however, I have to start. I’m funny like that. I’ve got dozens of projects waiting in the wings, just waiting for the time or energy for me to get them started. This reboot of jefflane.org is one of those things and it’s something that is long overdue.

So I thought I’d start off with something that seems fairly innocuous. Title says it all, really. And this should be a simple answer, right? Well, things aren’t always as you’d think.

As most everyone knows, I’ve worked for Canonical for some time now. Canonical is the company behind Ubuntu, a Linux distribution based on Debian. My part in the ecosystem is that of Hardware Certification Engineer, now part of the Professional Services and Engineering team within Canonical. So going by my title alone, you’d imagine that I do some sort of engineering related to the certification of hardware. And you’d be correct. Partly.

But in this business, as in many others, the truth is often far different than the impression. People often think that because I work mostly from home and travel internationally that I spend a lot of time on the couch in my boxers playing video games and eating Cheezits, or drinking in bars, carousing with foreign women and exploring strange new landscapes. Well, that’s partially true, but only just.

So lets start with my daily work. I read and respond to e-mail. A LOT of e-mail some days. Part of my function is the external voice of Hardware Certification. When someone, be it a Canonical employee, an Ubuntu community member, a potential or current customer or anyone, for that matter, has a question about the Ubuntu Hardware Certification programme, I am the one who responds by pointing them in the right direction, answering what I can and helping explain policy and test procedures.

I also sit in on several ongoing projects and that generates a lot of background work, researching technology, equipment, investigating tools and other things. I write testing tools that become part of the checkbox test suite and are used in the Ubuntu Friendly programme, a community driven hardware validation initiative. The tools I write could be anything from simple shell code to complex programs and manual test cases.

From time to time I also make improvements to the two websites my team is based around, the outward facing Ubuntu Certification Site and an internal site that we use for hardware tracking and as a customer portal.

I’m not immune to meetings and may at any time be on the phone, in a meeting on either Freenode or Canonical IRC, or perhaps on a voice conference using Mumble. We’re not doing video conferencing yet but that may happen sooner or later.

Somewhere in the middle of all that I also review hardware certification test submissions, both internal and external. I pass or fail certifications based on what I see. I write the planning for the Server certification program and help steer its direction. I maintain relationships with several vendors and help them get their hardware certified and published to the web.

I also do a lot of community oriented things. I perform ISO testing at development Milestones. I have a Freescale i.MX53 ARM development board that I use to test and tinker with embedded Ubuntu and Linaro images. I have a server that I used to develop server related tests as well as monkey around with virtualization technologies like Xen and VMware and KVM. I answer questions and participate in discussions on mailing lists, and occasionally forums and places like Ask Ubuntu”. All that doesn’t even start to cover the travel.

The travel isn’t anywhere as near as glorious as it may seem. Yes, I’ve seen some amazing things. I’ve been to Stonehenge. I’ve crossed London Bridge. I’ve drank pints and eaten a LOT of meat pies at the Eagle and Child Pub, the place where J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis gathered with the other Inklings and developed stories that would end up enthralling generations of readers. I’ve walked the streets of Prague, Taipei, Brussels and Bruges. I’ve seen Switzerland, Germany, and France. But the thing no one seems to really understand is that all that is really only a very small part of my travel. The vast majority is getting from point A to point B and then sitting in a lot of meetings.

In an average year, I travel about 8 to 10 weeks. At least 4 of those are week long meeting events. Some of them are specifically to provide hands-on testing in one of our three labs. Others may be for team sprints to accomplish a set list of goals in a short amount of time. Some of them are mostly so I can check up on my labs.

Oh, did I mention earlier that I also oversee the Lab Operations for the Hardware Certification team? I purchase equipment, make sure things run smoothly, poke IS when I need to get something done quickly. I plan out updates to the labs and try to cope with the ever-growing influx of test hardware.

So while I may find a day during a weekend, or a few hours at night to go out, my going out is mostly limited to dinner, walking around the city I happen to be in, and maybe, MAYBE catching something cool, like a museum. And I’ve seen some pretty cool museums.

But the travel isn’t all as glamorous as people who don’t travel think. There’s the hours spent standing in line. First at the ticket counter to check my bags. Then at the Airport security. Then the lines to board the plane, take a piss or just buy some food while I wait for that next flight. The lines to pick up my baggage at the other end. Lines to get the shuttle bus or taxi to the hotel. Lines everywhere. There’s the hours spent sitting on my butt in random airports just waiting. There’s my personal favorite, the line to get back into the US.

So all in all, while it may seem like an easy job with James Bond style world travel, off on secret missions, meeting up with gorgeous spies and thwarting the nefarious machinations of bald yet mustachioed villains, it’s really far more pedestrian. Enjoyable, but pedestrian.

And that’s a brief glimpse into what I do. Now I must head off to bed. I have another day of work ahead of me, and a few more days until once more I’m headed out of the country. I’m headed back to my favorite place in the world, Taipei. But more on that later.

A date which will live in infamy…

Today marks the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The devastating attack led America directly into WWII after years of ignoring what was happening in Europe and then helping our allies without “technically” being involved by providing them materiel via the Lend-Lease program.


But on this day, seventy years ago, Japan dragged the United States kicking and screaming into a two theaters war that would last until the final surrender on the deck of the U.S.S. Missouri in 1945. It was a war that would span the globe, be fought on many continents and two main theaters. It was a war that brought the US together in a way that has never been seen again. It brought us into the nuclear age and showed us the devastation that we were capable of.It was fought by what’s been dubbed as “The Greatest Generation”, whether they fought on the battlefield, on the sea or in the air. Some fought by building the airplanes, tanks, guns, bombs and other necessities of war. Others fought by buying war bonds and it was at time when “Support our Troops” meant so much more than a yellow magnet on the back of your mini-van.

On 8th December, 1945, President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave this famous speech, urging the declaration of war:

Yesterday, Dec. 7, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with the government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.

Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleagues delivered to the Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. While this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or armed attack.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time, the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. Very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yesterday, the Japanese government also launched an attack against Malaya.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked Guam.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.

Last night, the Japanese attacked Wake Island.

This morning, the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.

As commander in chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense.

Always will we remember the character of the onslaught against us.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.

I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces – with the unbounding determination of our people – we will gain the inevitable triumph – so help us God.

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, Dec. 7, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire.

So today, even if only briefly, take a moment to think about your grandparents. No matter where they are from, it’s highly likely that they were affected by World War II in some way. Think about those who died, the soldiers, the civilians, the six million Jews who were killed in Nazi concentration camps, or simply shot in the streets or in the forests, buried in mass graves or burned in large furnaces.

Think of the millions killed by the Japanese across Asia. Estimates of civilians killed by the Japanese range anywhere from 5.5 Million to over 20 million.

Think about those people the next time someone says war never solved anything. Going to war stopped the total extermination of the Jewish people. War stopped the German military and Adolph Hitler from taking over ALL of Europe. War brought freedom back to the people who lived in German occupied countries like France, Belgium, Holland. War stopped the Japanese march through China, Malaysia, the Philippines and thousands of other places in the Pacific theater, preventing the torture and murder of millions more civilians.

War is not a thing to be taken lightly, but despite cries for peace, sometimes fighting is the only way so end an evil act, After all, who’s more evil? The evil-doer, or the person that allows the evil to be done without trying to stop it?