My Evil Twin Brother

When I was a kid and did something wrong, I would proclaim my innocence and my mom would tell me rather jokingly (since I was a only kid):

I know. It was your evil twin brother that did it.

I decided since then I wanted to have an evil twin brother inside my skin. A person that could get away with things, say things, do things and I could proclaim my innocence with the same claim that my mom used years before.

Now I feel empowered to perhaps tell certain people that I think they are no account shitheads and the only idea they ever had died of loneliness. Then I can blame it on my evil twin. But instead of it being some real twin, its my evil schizoid twin that lives deep within and does these things I am normally ashamed of.

Every so often he comes out and does something good and all his so-called friends will comment,

That was so good. What the hell is the matter with you?

Then he will say, before I take over the real estate, that it was his good twin brother that did the deed.

So lets see if you can guess if its me or my horrible twin saying these things. No clues. Just see how far you can get?

  1. I don’t much care for most people and some people I even care less for.
  2. Don’t ask to borrow crap from me. Loaning things causes amnesia.
  3. I’m selfish, narcissistic and asocial and those are my best qualities so “f” off.
  4. There is no question that is stupid besides a stupid question. Just forget about it.
  5. I may say things I don’t mean but I never mean things I don’t say (go figure that one out).
  6. I lie sometimes for no good or bad reason.

So my life is some horrible twist of me and my bro. He takes over at inopportune moments like when my ex-wife asks me something stupid. Then I bite my tongue figuratively of course and try to take back over from that evil one. It don’t work all the time.

When I write this blog, its a battle. Evil and good trying to vie for position on the written page. Of course this is all BS or I can easily say its because I am human. Human of course. So I lie, cheat and steal. I do stupid things for the best of reasons and say things which I may be sorry for at some later date or not.

Its all confusing except to me. I blame it all on my brother. Either the evil or good one.

RIP Frank

Seems like just in time to get this blog back and I find out an old friend passed away. Things seem so shaky when time and space act on a life. I first met Frank as a child perhaps just rolling into teenage years. We lived together in the Antelope Valley in the midst of the grand western spur of the Mojave Desert. We did the school thing together, wrote poetry and music, sat at Denny’s over coffee sometime after a bottle of cheap wine. We ended up in jail a few times and the cops let us out after sobriety checked in. Frank also lived with my mom and I and we had grand evenings each in our own bed talking, dreaming, wondering about life. We were perhaps mystics on the cheap, rapscallions in the spur of the moment, poets and philosophers of a most wondrous time.

I rode the Grayhound bus up to visit him once perhaps in Oregon. I stayed for weeks and I remember the bus back. Seeing the desert rise up in its solitude.

Then the time apart began. I went off and did other things for a long time. Lost track of Frank. Never forgot though. One day my wife of then and I ran into Frank at a Goodwill store in Lancaster and it was like we never had parted. We laughed and talked and smiled those conspiratorial grins we always had.

Then more time apart as life is wont to do even with the best of our primate intentions. In 2008 or so I found Frank on Facebook and we started that last part of our friendship. From then until about 2014 we met on Facebook every so often. I was busy traveling but we still had time to get updates. In 2014, I think Frank was getting sicker from COPD caused by his lifelong cigarette addiction.

Then end of January 2015 he passed on. A gentle yet rambunctious spirit was quelled. And the world without this unique spirit. Now he’s gone and nothing will be the same. I only have one friend left from those days now. There is a silent ache now that I will never accept. Just like when the DaveR went away. So few people that have mattered and so many that have crossed the prow of my life that in the end matter not.

Bye FDW. Until another day. You were always more then the sum of your parts. Others I have known that are still in my orbit are considerably less. I’d give them all away for a single cup of coffee at Denny’s. But, alas, it’s not to be. Those lesser souls still careen my orbit and you have have sailed away.

Thanks again Frank for everything. It was a long road just like that certain Neil Diamond song.  From those days to this day. You were right that the good things are worth waiting for and the bad things just go away. Sometimes the good things go away too though.

its back

I changed hosting to something cheaper. I put in the somewhat old content. I’m still playing around with the install on the VPS provider I chose. The layoff did not seem to affect contractors for IBM. I still don’t trust them and I’m still looking for other stuff. When the CEO can get a bonus and payraise for the last year; something ain’t right.

The blog and its costs

Effective tomorrow I’ll be out of work most likely. I’ll be slimming down expenses. This blog is hosted on linode and it will be taken down after I take a backup. I don’t really know what I will do about maintaining a blog after tomorrow. I may move to a free space on wordpress.com or I may just stop for awhile. Its not a lot of money that this thing costs but when you’re not working it becomes a factor.

I’ve been waiting for and dreading tomorrow and I’m probably one of thousands of full-time IBMers and contractors that feel the same. I’ve come to the conclusion that IBM is somehow broken. I’ve been with them for almost 1.6 years and they were good years. IBM saw me through moving out of the house finally, being able to have a place of my own. A bubble so to speak away and apart from a family life which took me to a new low. Once my daughter asked me if I were happy there and it dawned on me I had not been for years. IBM let me move out and get a room and meet a friend.

As a person ages, it becomes really difficult to bond or make friends. I think the whole friend thing is important when one can see what each person offers and the trade is worth it. If only you or he give, its not friendship. Its something else entirely.

So, I’ll leave this post up for my one or two readers to see. The blog will go poof around Saturday when I quit my subscription to Linode. I’ve enjoyed the new space and maybe I’ll come back to write again in the future. I have a feeling another job is waiting but it may take awhile. I am lucky to have some of a safety net of funds that should last me until the next thing comes along.

So from me and my Nexus 9 buddy, sayonara for now. Thanks for reading along. If the blog maybe asked a question or questioned an answer, I’ll count it as a success. Take care all.

Work changes

I have this feeling that this week will signal my end at IBM. Its been an interesting 1.5 years there. I’ve liked it overall and felt I made a difference there but a single person cannot battle the disparity between the company and its befuddled and confused messaging. I had hoped to last until the end of this year. I would have then taken a month off and traveled in Asia. Now this seems in jeopardy. I will need to use the safety net money I have to survive and see what I do next. I’ll file for unemployment next week my gut tells me and then will start the job search fresh again. I want something for another 2 years and then another plan kicks in when some things are met and achieved.

I would not really mind some time off and it seems based on my numbers I can survive three months with what I have and will get from income tax returns, final paychecks, and unemployment money.

I don’t feel really bad. Its just like the natural progression of my life. Nothing stays in balance long and perhaps its the will of the destiny machine to make me wander longer and have to find new things.

IBM has some longstanding problems I think with how they do things. I figured out work arounds for a lot of the things which may have pissed off people but got the work done. A lot of my IBMer friends are anxious, worried, not knowing what this week will bring. I feel for them each one. They are all good folks and I’ve enjoyed the work with the AIX, Linux and Windows teams, the storage team is top notch, and most recently the SoftLayer folks have been great. The best team folks have been the chief architects and down to storage and infrastructure level architects. These guys are beasts and get the work done. Kudos to all the technical teams I have worked with in all endeavors. These guys were able to get things done when confronted with a giant that moved so slowly and had so many bureaucratic machinations to contend with.

Just removing either 8000 or 80000 does not really fix the borked things though. We suffered through bouts of contractor furloughs which affected our abilities to get sensitive work done. You cannot simply take away the critical resources and expect the things to get done. Yet we did get them done time and again. How? Not sure.

It feels like its time to punt the ball down the field a bit. Live a bit simpler. Find a next challenge. Maybe enjoy some time without work.

Futon Moments

Its a beautiful day here in Fremont. Decided today to air out my Japanese futon to keep it fresh and fluffy. Folks in Japan do this quite regularly and perhaps beat it with a futon tool. I’m a bit more lazy and tend to just let it sit and perhaps beat once with a wooden tennis racket or something. I want to leave it out all day today with the temperatures budging the 70s here. I’m still pretty much in love with the futon and how its improved my sleep. I used to have some lower back twinges but the futon has also taken care of that. It is a harder mattress and I think that’s what makes things better for me sleep wise. If you think that this futon is like one of those college wooden platform things, you would be wrong. I used to sleep on one of those way back when and its no great alternative. The only positive thing about it is that it folds up out of the way easily. The wooden slats used to dig into my back even with the futon mattress and I would hear it creaking through the night. Not a recipe for a good sleep!

Breakfast News and Views

I did the breakfast thing this morning after a night of binge drinking until about 1am. This is the usual course of events for me on a Friday when there is no work on Saturday. Today it dawned on me while sitting in Carl’s Juniors eating my breakfast sandwich just how lucky I am. I saw “regular american family” enter. Wife, two kids, and husband. The kids running all around claiming all the open floor space as their play ground. The wife and husband carefully not speaking. What was it I am missing now sitting alone but not lonely eating my breakfast? I cannot recall. There must have been something I left behind that I’m missing. Not my kids. They are not kids any longer. Not my wife for sure. I look at that whole thing over the meals I enjoy and wonder what the heck ever kept me involved. Love is a strange thing folks. Or like that old rock and roll song says “Love sucks”.

I also read news on my Nexus 6 on flipboard at Carl’s. I wonder why people are so apt to denigrate the android flagships and so smoochy lovey dovey on the apple stuff. Lets be honest. For a tinkerer like me its like sentencing me to solitary confinement when you tell me what I have to accept to use an apple product. No you cannot change the default anything. No you cannot change the icons or launcher. You can only have widgets in the notification screen. No custom kernels or file system exposed to replace things, mod things, make it yours. All of this creates a locked in thing for me where there is no value. Its like I am renting the thing and apple still has rights to it. I simply cannot believe that apple users put up with that from the vendor.

I ended reading some news from Singapore and the NFL here. Singapore news says someone was fined $15k Sing for throwing out smoke butts. I hate smoke butts and I think there should be some island where people have to live where only other smokers live. Breathe that air all the time, subject yourself to the continuing presence of all those smokers. The only way to leave would be to have some medical procedure that removes the desire for butts.

Then there is the NFL and its vast stupidity over “deflate gate”. Of course, the Patriots should be banned from the super bowl. Of course, they cheated. We all know it. The NFL is in denial. How many quarterbacks does it take to say that something basically was wrong there? The whole NFL thing is stupid and I prefer the college football leagues for their sportsmanship and game value. Lets just get on with the superbowl that probably less people will watch and then we are in football desert.

Finally, the group of GOP presidential candidates and who will run from the Democratic party seems ludicrous. We are in a period of no real leadership at this point. No candidates which have a platform which strikes me as representing all or even some of the needs. I guess I start edging out of the whole political thing as soon as I start hearing who will run from both parties.

I have been using the Nexus 9 more and more and flashed the Rastapop ROM on it just recently.  I watch my Roku hours a day now and the chromecast and nexus player sits gathering dust. The roku is a better deal for me. I want streaming couch potato life. No limitations and I don’t mind paying a bit for stations if I get what I want. I want old sci-fi, westerns, dramas, and new movies and some TV. I have about 30 channels now on my roku 3 and I get it all.

Closure is good

I’ll close this out now and wish you all a happy weekend wherever you are and whatever you are doing. I plan on not thinking about work or some of the more recent disturbing things there and just get on with getting on. Cheers to you and yours!

Wednesday Morning Early

I guess this is a good time for writing stuff down. A failed meeting which was supposed to happen at 5am and then wide awake with coffee and thoughts that follow. When you work with international colleagues and one of them happens to be in Ireland, no good times besides way too early or carving out a 30 minute block of time a bit later. I missed a counter offer for a meeting change so was up this morning early on to get ready for a meeting that would never happen.

I’ve been working more on the Nexus 9 and the folio keyboard and getting used to the best method for typing, the overall responsiveness of the keyboard, and how it locks in the bluetooth connection when its docked. I think of all the accessories, this one is the nicest and most expensive. For the Nexus 9 and its 4:3 aspect ratio, typing and reading is much easier. I always felt cramped on the Nexus 7. Others complain about the black bars when watching HD video. Let me just say if you are staring at the black bars which are skinny on the top and bottom you are missing the movie.

It also seems to me that news outlets complain about android and swoon happily over apple products. I think that most people do not get the nature of android; just like some did not get and still do not get how Linux works. There are notable open source projects which mark how Linux has succeeded such as Apache, Debian, Mozilla, LibreOffice, GIMP, and on.

When you only make one or two products and don’t even let people make changes to the browser, its easy to say  “quality is number 1″. Android seems to me to be more a decentralized model where all the vendors produce their vision and its easy when its in so many different devices to simply blame Google. Its why I buy Nexus devices and I would gnash my teeth and weep uncontrollably if this program went away. Most of all though, its fun and these things are toys. I love me some toys and I am pretty opportunistic with getting them. I think the toys come down to a few things with Nexus. Timely updates and factory images. Rooting and unlocking. All of these create a reference platform that a developer can use as a baseline and always return to the baseline. AOSP means we all can make adjustments, changes, or make commits to the base that materially affect the OS or its pieces. Very cool stuff and empowering compared to the closed garden of IOS. One cannot even create a home screen widget or change the browser and the IOS desktop is blah. Wallpaper changes are nice but one cannot make an icon look different? No way to have a different launcher? I guess for people that are inveterate tinkerers like me its a lose/lose situation where I get bored way too soon. I want things to look like they are mine and not some loaner. In truth though, I got turned off with iTunes and its historic method of owning my music and just loaning it to me for up to 5 or whatever devices. I mean I paid for it didn’t I? Maybe its different now but I don’t care because Amazon digital music came along and changed it all. Now I buy and own what I want.

The final Wednesday thing is work. Everything comes back to work. When do you know when you reach the end? I think the end is the start of another thing. I quietly activated my Dice profile again only to see what kinds of positions I would start seeing. I would like something different that I could take for a year. Money is important but so is my happiness with what I have. I’ve uncovered when I start feeling unhappy or less than positively charged, I start having problems internally. They never affect my work deliverables but the inner spirit seems to be flagging.

So these are my Wednesday ramblings on my Nexus 9 with its cool keyboard. Hope you all don’t have to awaken early (grumble, grumble) for meetings and then find out the other person could not make it after all. Have a good one you all.

Sunday Morning and its Reading Time

More and more, I am using the Nexus 9 32gb model and the folio keyboard for my tasks. I still boot up the chromebook and my debian laptop on occasion. The chromebook is great for those compute tasks which I want to attend to quickly while the debian laptop provides that seamless and great android experience with ADB and Fastboot and not the stupid Windows USB driver issues which I always seem to descend to. My debian laptop boots a windows 7 VM so if I need something, its there for me.

The real thing is the usability experience on the Nexus 9 and how quickly I can get use with the keyboard and the tablet. Most of all, the tablets and stuff are toys to me. I tried the iPad Air 2 toy and it was burdensome. I like the Nexus 7 2013 model but its the screen that gets me. Too small for these old eyes. The Nexus 9 fits inbetween and offers a great use experience on a Sunday morning when I want to capture the news, read some websites, perhaps peruse Jonas’ and Setuid’s blogs to look for updates. I also like to visit Doc’s blog on occasion because he still posts often. Seems to me on this Sunday that the whole blog thing has taken some other path and I really don’t line up a lot of RSS feeds in my feedly aggregator. In fact, I don’t really like RSS feeds at all. I would rather physically visit each site and read there for some reason. Perhaps its more of a design and purposeful act to visit the site. RSS seems rather alien and does not link me to the site.

Other news on a Sunday morning with my coffee is we are approaching the end of another NFL season. The college football season is gone now unfortunately. No more close games, no more 2 minutes to go with only 3 points separating. No exciting finishes to keep me glued to the screen. I guess I’ll have to start watching more on my Roku which is a couch potato’s answer to streaming. Never have I found so many streaming channels to go use. Old sci-fi, westerns, murder mysteries, international films. I spend most evenings evolving between my big-time subscriptions like Netflix and HuluPlus and then these other channels like Digital DriveIn and the so-called retro channels. Very cool. I also get Amazon Instant Videos, HBOtoGO, etc. Its everything for me and the Roku 3 with its wired ethernet and quick responses is the best I have found yet. The Chromecast is cool and geeky but no way does it match the nature of my couch potato streaming needs.

Soon I will leave for another breakfast and look around at all my roommates which all have their issues and fixes. I experience my issues every day. Fixes take longer to implement. I do know that on a Sunday we should strive to do less and not let the yesterdays take away from our todays. Once we cross over and start weighing and measuring previous Sundays to today Sundays we’re at a loss. Instead, my flawed advice is to let the current day speak for itself. I have skeletons and ghosts and I still cannot simply accept things. Its easier to learn how to live with a thing to me than forever try to simply accept a thing which I cannot.

Another great Sunday to go do nothing and do it well. Make your move!

Coffee Saturday – An Early Morning Hot cup of Tradition

On a Saturday morning early, you need a cup of Joe to get the wheels turning. Not the coffee that comes from an automatic drip thing or some expensive $300 pot unless that grinds your beans. What you need is the cup from a French Press with a good bean that you grind. This is probably the cheapest way to make the best cup of coffee out there and the reward is a cuppa which makes the world look better even if its not really better and just the same.

In the past, I would sit in a hotel in Singapore or India drinking the instant coffee in the room. Often before flying out yet again and would enjoy the instant coffee smell and the early morning. I would often relocate to the Changi International Airport in Singapore and sit patiently in a coffee bar with a Blueberry muffin and a Latte waiting for the long haul flight first to Hong Kong or Incheon and then back to SF. Or perhaps I’d sit in the Raintree Hotel in the room I had kept that evening with the TV news droning on and drinking a cup of coffee. I’d consider the stay in India and what was accomplished and the challenges faced at home.

The coffee though would often propel me to the next place and no one should ever downplay the importance of that morning cup which shakes and bakes your day. Way back when, the smell of coffee cooking over an open fire on a glassy cold morning in the Mojave Desert would wake up us slightly hungover archeologists to another day in paradise. The coffee would cool off quick and we would sit around and talk about the day’s activities with RWR. He would joke and I still remember him holding the cup he used in his big bearish hands. We would all enjoy that moment and the moments yet to come that day. Walking at the increments, thinking of the next sand dune. Perhaps dreaming of finding that one prehistoric archeological site which we would discuss the next morning during coffee.

Then my coffee time machine grinds to the present day. Here I sit in the house of Al watching the clock go ticking by on a Saturday. I got up early because I wanted to be around for work but it turns out I was not really needed so I now have a longer Saturday to go work against. Its only 645am and the French Press Stainless Steel carafe gave me yet another in its unlimited number of great pots of coffee. Its selfless nature at always providing that cup and the next is always appreciated and the smell of the fresh bean grinding and the press cooking invades the corners of the house. Its such a subtle joy in my little bubble.

Perhaps its advancing years but I tend to also dwell on the previous goods and bads and I remember so many mornings in the house drinking coffee on Saturday mornings before the kids came down and when the house had quieted and our Misty dog would sit and stare at me with those Golden Retriever eyes. It seemed she understood, related, knew better than most. Resting that great red knob of a head on my lap always let me know what it was about being a “dog guy” that kept me coming back for more. Unfortunately, the coffee and Misty stopped. Misty of the greyish red head with the still same dog love greeting me first at the door when I returned. Elbowing and pawing her way in front of my daughter to be the first to say hello.

Now I sit and listen to the heat going off and on here in the room. Is this what its meant to be with the coffee? I wonder if there is more. There is always more my secret and sometimes sinister conscience tells me. There is another cup of coffee around the corner that will let me wander and wonder. There are the walks that let me test and enjoy the wet, dry, wind. Its all goodness and the French Press knows its time is up each morning when the boiling water gets poured in to the bean I have chosen.

That’s the other part of the coffee in the French Press that I grind experience. I can pick and choose different bean to grind in my burr grinder. Never am I bored and the essence of grinding, drinking, watching, wondering never leaves.

I hope your coffee Saturdays are filled with all the above. We need to have doubt, uncertainty, fear to make the good stuff better I think. Coffee bridges that and I think its a thoughtful drink that lets us step down. Become less and more.

Enjoy that cup!

Nexus 9 it

Every so often I come across tech that just works for me. A thing that multiplies my enjoyment of both tool using and play. Both are important to me. I need a tech which lets me enjoy the escape, the fun, the use. A way to still be engaged for work calls since I used Google voice and run Hangouts and it’s dialer app. I can let the Nexus 9 answer those calls when the voice number rings and I’m not at home. But the main ingredient is the Nexus 9. It provides the tools, the access, the fun to get things done.

One factor for the 9 is the screen size and the 4:3 screen factor. It makes web pages easier to read. Another factor is the access to the other apps I use. Chrome, Evernote, calendar, gmail Flipboard. I switch between those very often so the recents menu is very good for me. The ability to share across a wide group of apps is key too. Simple things like a weather widget help me not only find out conditions but also weather warnings and alerts.

All of these spell productivity to me. The habilis in me resonates. The tech is good. I’m rewarded by enjoying more, reading more, using Google Now more. It all wraps up into fun and use and enjoyment.

I also tried using an ipad air 2 tablet. It was uncomfortable and made me unhappy. The tech did not resonate. The spirit flagged. I felt at a loss. Could not share in the garden. So I have given it to a roommate. Now he is enabled and I am happy. My Nexus 9 and me. Doing the things like this blog post.