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The Stupidest Person At My Company (And The Most Important)

I could hear the phone ring all the way across the basketball court.

Hey, Walter! You’re in for me.

I headed to the sidelines and dug my phone out of my gym bag. It was 6:15am. We generally play twice a week. I’d missed several weeks because of work and was really looking forward to finally getting back on the court and running up a sweat.

I made it downcourt one time before the phone call.

Hi, this is Rodney.

Yeah, we recieved reports about an issue from your agents in Rockport. Could you check and see if you have an issue?

Normally when my phone rings, it means at least an hour long call. I might actually escape this call in time to rejoin the game. I picked the number from my frequent contacts list. 

Rockport Mission Control desk. How may I help you?

This is Rodney. Are y’all getting any reports of agents with password problems?

Hang on. Let me check.

The games are to 21 points. A regular basket counts for one point and a “3-pointer” counts for two. I watched the teams move up and down the court as the score slowly climbed into the low teens.

Hey, Rodney? Thanks for holding. We haven’t had any reports of problems.

I’m gonna get back in the game!

Thanks. If something comes up let me know.

I called the client back and told them that none of our agents were having a problem. The game score was 18-12 as the team wearing white started to pull away.

I subbed back into the game and chased the teams to the other end of the court.

Ten minutes later, my phone rang again.

David! You’re in for me.

Hi this is Rodney.

Yeah, this Rockport Mission Control. Apparently the agents hadn’t actually tried to open the tool you asked about earlier. Now they are telling me that they can’t get into it.

I’m not getting back into this game.

Okay, go ahead and open a trouble ticket. Get a phone bridge set up. I’ll inform the client and I’ll see you on the bridge

I unlaced my shoes as I dialed the client back to start our outage bridge. As I made my way out of the church building, snow was starting to fall on the parking lot. I thought,

I’m either the most important person at my company, and they can’t live without me, or the stupidest one for always giving up my personal time for my job.

The truth is probably somewhere in between.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2016 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

I Only Listen To Voicemail To Get Rid of The Notification Icon

I could hear my phone ringing in the other room.

Ring

Almost there.

Ring

Got it. No! Dropped it! Got it again.

Hello? Hello?

Just missed it. And now comes the part I hate. I could see it was a call from a supplier. I even know what it’s about. He needs updated numbers for our latest build out. I have them right here next to the phone waiting for his call. He’s right now leaving me a message. And now I’m waiting for the Voicemail Icon.

There it is.

Now, I’m dailing my Voicemail, because even though I know it was him, I can’t stand it when the icon is on my phone.

You have. . .one new message. Message received. . .today. . .at 7:05. . .am. . .from phone number. . . 8. . .0. . 1. . .5. . .5. . .5. . .1. . .2. . .1. . .2.

Hey Rodney, this is Dave, just calling to get those build out numbers. Give me a call back.

At least Dave didn’t make me sit through him giving me his phone number. As it was, it took 30 seconds to get through a message because I was 2 seconds too late to answer the phone. I like Dave. Dave’s a nice guy. The problem is not Dave. The problem is that we misuse voicemail.

I remember the olden days, before smartphones. Before mobile phones, even. You had a dumb phone that was chained to the wall. When someone called, you didn’t know that you missed a call until you dialed into voicemail. And then, you didn’t know who it was until you listened to the message. You had to leave a lot of “This is me. Please call me.”

We don’t live in the 20th Century anymore. We all have smartphones. My phone does a great job of telling me that someone called. It also tells me who called. And I’m smart enough to know that if you called me, you probably wanted to talk to me.

My best friend has a cell phone. He’s had the same number for 10 years or so. When I call him and he doesn’t answer I get a message.

The person you are trying to call has a mailbox that has not been setup yet.

Ten years and he hasn’t gotten around to setting up voicemail. Smart guy.

My family knows that if they call me and I don’t answer, they don’t need to leave a message. I’ll call them back when I get a chance, or right away if I just missed the call by a second.

I just need to get Dave to learn that.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2016 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

75 Years On – We Still Remember

Commuting With Captain Kirk

Captain Kirk is a bad driver. I don’t mean that he runs the USS Enterprise into planets, or tries to warp through a star or anything. Although, he does manage to get the Enterprise destroyed in nearly every film. But, I’m just convinced that when he gets into a motorized vehicle that he’s a terrible driver. In the Star Trek movie that came out in 2009, we even see a young James Kirk destroy a classic Chevy Corvette by driving it off a cliff. Of course, young Kirk leaps out at the last moment and survives the experience. That is not a good driver. That is a terrible driver.

Brigham Young, was the first governor of Utah, and the second leader of the Mormon church. There’s a folklore story told here in Utah about Brother Brigham trying to hire a wagon driver. He interviews three potential candidates.

I want you to take this wagon and drive it up the windy road into Cottonwood Canyon. The one who drives it the best will get the job.

The first driver, anxious to display his handling skills, drives with the wagon wheels only a few inches from the edge of the cliff.

The second driver, determined to rise to the challenges, puts the wagon wheels even closer to the edge, and actually sends dirt and rock off the edge to fall to the canyon floor below.

The third driver goes to take his turn. He puts his wagon as far from the edge as possible and hugs the inner wall.

Brother Brigham hired the third driver.

A recent report by QuoteWizard, a website that compares auto insurance concluded that “Utah’s drivers are the worst in the nation.” We are second-worst in the accidents and speeding categories. We are fourth-worst for minor citations. We are even in the top 10 for DUI citations. No mean feat for a state where half the population has taken a temperance pledge.

I drive with these terrible drivers everyday. (I’m probably one of them, although I don’t like to think so.) And here’s the crazy part. Those drivers, the terrible ones, don’t know it.

This morning during my commute traffic was moderate. I was coming in for a 7:00am product launch, so it was about 6:00am when I left home. The roads are bare and dry although it’s still dark at that hour. We were all happily driving along at about 78 mph. (Behind the state patrolman, also driving along at 78 mph.) Eventually the state trooper turned and speeds picked up. The speed limit is 70mph. When suddenly a car doing about 90 starts to weave through traffic. First he’s in the outside lane, then he darts over two lanes just sliding in front of a pickup truck. Then, it’s inside to the fast lane and then back across traffic to the outside lane.

Here’s a question: Was he a good driver or a bad driver?

All of us who had to keep from hitting him would say he is definitely a bad driver. But, think about it from his perspective.

I’m an awesome driver!

How can you say that? You were weaving through traffic.

Of course. But, it takes someone with great driving skills to be able to drive like that and not cause an accident.

He’s the wagon driver skirting the edge of the cliff. He’s Captain Kirk, who does everything wrong and still manages to complete the mission, save the day, get the girl (in the original series) and jump out of a Corvette that is plunging to it’s death.

The bad drivers think they are good drivers for exactly the same reasons the rest of us think of them as bad drivers. It’s the ultimate case of “the ends justifying the means.” The worse they drive and survive, the more convinced they are of their own prowess. And even when they do ultimately end up crashing, they will be convinced that “had that minivan not pulled out in front of me, I would have been just fine.”

The next time you are feeling like Tony Stewart, or Mario Andretti, or Captain Kirk, remember that lack of failure is not an indication of competence. Roll the dice enough times and eventually they will come up snake-eyes.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2016 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

How To Feel Like A Failure By Accomplishing More

Hey Dad, can I stay out an extra half hour past curfew tonight?

That would put you home at what, 11:30? Okay.

Could we make it an hour then?

It happens all the time. Kids are conditioned, it seems, to keep asking questions until they get a no. It’s really frustrating as a parent. You want to give your kids things. You want to help them. You want to give that extra cookie to a 7 year old, or that extra half hour on the X-Box to a 13 year old, or that extra time past curfew to a 17 year old.

“One more thing.” It’s not just kids that do it. As someone who struggles with ADHD, I love lists. I make lists to keep me on track. To give me minor accomplishiments when I can mark something off. To give me an idea of what my current workload is.

But, that “one more thing” concept that kids have, we as adults also tend to do it. We keep tacking things onto the end of our list. The TODO list never becomes a TO DONE list. (Okay, that title makes no sense, but you get the idea.)

Toby Keith is one of my favorite country singers. He has a song called My List. It includes the lyrics:

Under an old brass paperweight is my list of things to do today
Go to the bank and the hardware store, put a new lock on the cellar door
I cross ’em off as I get ’em done but when the sun is set
There’s still more than a few things left I haven’t got to yet

We, the list makers, condemn ourselves to a never ending line of tasks stretching out to infinity. And what are we leaving out? What is the Faustian bargain we’ve struck? Again, truth from a country song,

Go for a walk, say a little prayer
Take a deep breath of mountain air
Put on my glove and play some catch
It’s time that I make time for that
Wade the shore and cast a line
Look up a long lost friend of mine
Sit on the porch and give my girl a kiss
Start livin’, that’s the next thing on my list

My lists are supposed to help me accomplish things. They are supposed to make me more productive. But, at times, I’m trying to create a hole in the ocean. I pull out my cup of accomplishments only to see the sea rush in to fill the void. If I’m good about writing things down, I end the day with a longer list than I started with. That’s not success. That’s the opposite of success.

This year has become incredibly busy. My client’s infrastructure is growing, where three years ago I had one site and two lines of business, now I have four sites and 80 lines of business to keep track of. I continue to volunteer with the boy scouts, but they’ve now started to work on advancement. There are literally hundreds of requirements that I need to help them keep track of. In addition to a house full of teenagers, we added an 18 month old baby. Believe it or not, a baby is way more work than a teenager.

So, what’s the solution? How do I stop feeling like a failure because my list seems to grow and grow and never get smaller?

I make the list smaller.

One more piece of lyric from Toby Keith,

Wouldn’t change the course of fate if cuttin’ the grass just had to wait
‘Cause I’ve got more important things like pushin’ my kid on the backyard swing
I won’t break my back for a million bucks I can’t take to my grave
So why put off for tomorrow what I could get done today

As we approach the new year, I planning to make non-resolutions. I’m planning to cut back and focus on doing a few things well instead of doing a lot of things. . .less well.

First up? This year, at least at the start, I’ll take my monthly Masons and weekly Toastmasters meetings off the calendar. I’ll look at more as I get further along in the year. There are many good things. But, like too many sugary sweets, too many good things can make up miserable. 

My list is getting shorter already.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2016 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

If You Want Something Done, Ask A Busy Person

Dost thou love life Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.”
-Benjamin Franklin-

I haven’t always followed the advice of Dr Franklin. But, I have discovered that the more I have to do, the more I get done. If I have only one thing to get done today, I might not complete it. If I have three things to get done today, I’m probably going to get that one thing done. If I have 30 things to do today, I’m going to plow through at least 10-15 and make a real run at that last half.

The key, of course, is that I better prioritize my time. I take fewer breaks (otherwise known as distractions.) I create a plan. I love lists. As someone with adult ADHD, lists are the greatest thing in the world to keep me on track and focused.

Who makes a list and puts a single item on it? If I have only one thing to get done, I don’t make a list. I just remember it. And I’m going to work on it. . .eventually.

But, I can’t remember 30 things. I have to write them down, and the process of writing them down means that I prioritize them. And by prioritizing them, I make a place for them in my schedule. And once I have a schedule, I’m off and running.

I don’t know why other people get more done if they have more to do. Maybe they’re like me. Maybe they have their own system that works for them. I just know that if you need something done right away, you should find a busy person.

I’d write more, but I have to move on to number 12 on the list right now.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2016 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

May You Live In Interesting Times

What does that mean, “May you live in interesting times”? I always heard it was a Chinese saying. (That’s not true.) I’ve also heard it was not a blessing, but a curse. (That’s true.) I’ve also used it far more than I ever thought I would to describe my own life. 

I’m always conscious when I’m writing these entries, that while I have people who are interested in hearing what I say each day, (By the way, that thought still surprises me. Thank you.) I am also throwing these words out into the void. I have no idea where or when they might resurface. That thought keeps me cognizant of need for discretion. I try to tell my stories and let others tell theres.

My life got a lot more interesting yesterday. I went to court for what was supposed to be a routine court update for someone I know. The review went a way that none of us expected and the result was that the judge placed an 18 month old child in the care of my lovely wife and myself.

I’m a grandfather. I’m a dad. I like being a dad. I like being a grandfather. My youngest child at home is 14 years old. When kids get to be teenagers, they have different challenges. You worry about curfews, and internet access. Dating and respect.

We were well past the diaper stage.

Last night, we woke up a couple of times to a baby crying for the first time in decades. This morning, I got to play “airplane” with spoons full of applesauce as I attempted to feed a small child who preferred to be entertained rather than fed.

Interesting times indeed.

Buckle up, Buttercup!

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2016 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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