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When W@Ho Teams Meet

I hadn’t seen Greg in weeks. I still talked to him often, but we were in the same room for the first time in several months. It was at a bar in Salt Lake City. We were getting our extended team together for a conference. We had people from all over the United States.

Greg used to work in our salt Lake City office. But, several months ago he and his wife chose to move back to Ohio. It was there that he started working at home, (WaHo.)

What is the least amount of clothing you’ve worn during an online conference call?

I refuse to answer. Ha Ha

I would to. That is the only answer I think is accurate. Y’all notice you never see my webcam in online meetings.

My house in Ohio is small. My office is my bedroom. Not a good look for a meeting background.

The discussion moved on to other topics. Greg pointed out that what he missed most was the informal meetings with coworkers.

I used to just walk across the hall, or down the hall and ask people questions. Now, it’s just email and Skype.

Those hallway conversations are vital to a successful team. No one sends an email to say, “How was your weekend?” or “Did you see that game last night?” And yet, it is exactly these conversations that tie a team together.

And that’s what brought us to tonight. Here we are all gathered in Salt Lake for a three day team conference. We have an entire full day agenda each day. But, the real work will happen between the sessions. The hallway conversations.

The end

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
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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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We Create That Which We Hate

If you build it, he will come.
– The Voice Field of Dreams

But, what if he didn’t build it? Was he coming anyway, or did building it cause him to come?

The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979. They left in 1989. Ironically they invaded on Christmas and left the day after Valentines day. Guess those Russians were romantics after all.

The Soviet invasion was met with resistance, the Mujahideen. The Mujahideen existed as a loose collection of extremists. It was the invasion that brought them together into a cohesive force. The United States, looking for a way to confront the Soviets indirectly, armed the Mujahideen. The US helped to build the group, but only as a reaction to the Soviets. Without the invasion, American military training and technology wouldn’t have flowed into Afghanistan.

After the Soviets left, the Mujahideen looked for a new enemy, and they found it in the United States. The most famous leader of the Mujaheen was a Saudi named Osama bin Laden.

President Obama was elected following eight years of Republican presidency under President George W Bush. Many Conservatives were worried that a Democratic president, together with the Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, would limit certain rights, especially the right to keep and bear arms. President Obama, during the campaign, only heightened these fears when he made an ill-advised comment describing those supporting his opponents as “clinging to their bibles and guns.”

And interesting thing happened during Obama’s presidency. He did not, as feared, confiscate people’s guns. In fact, just the opposite happened. Gun manufactures did record business under Obama. Gun stores put up the president’s picture and called him “Salesman of the Month.” He was the salesman of the decade.

If the Democrats wanted to reduce the number of guns in America, electing Obama and a majority in Congress had just the opposite effect. The opposite effect again happened when President Trump was elected. People were no longer worried about the government taking their guns so they quit buying them. And gun manufactures stocks tanked. Some even filed for bankruptcy.

President Trump regularly attacks the news media. He’s fond of labeling any news outlet that disagrees with him as “Fake News.” He attempted to ban a reporter from the whitehouse because he didn’t like the station the reporter worked for. Not surprisingly the president hates liberal media sources the most.

Traditional print media is trying to figure out how to make money in a digital age. They’ve tried ads. They’ve tried subscriptions. They’ve tried paywalls. Apparently all they needed to do was elect a Republican president.

The New York Times is known as “The (Old) Grey Lady.” The president refers to her as “the failing New York Times.” It’s one of the epitomes of the Mainstream Media, also known as the liberal media. It’s the type of media that President Trump hates. And it’s doing great. Their subscriptions are up dramatically. And their stock just hit a 13 year high. They’ve increased their dividend and they are in the process of buying their house back. Ten years ago they had to sell their headquarters for a quarter billion dollars and lease it back.

President Trump attempted to destroy the media he hated and just ended up making it stronger.

I guess the moral may be, if you build it they will come. If you don’t want them to come, put down your hammer.

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)
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LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Carbonated Lemonade And Life

It was great the first day. By the second day it was getting old. By the fourth day we’d had all we wanted. And we still had days to go.

I have adult ADHD. I discovered it late in life. Part of the reason it took so long was that I managed to hide it for so long. Although, that’s not right. Hiding it implies that I knew about it. I didn’t. I just learned to cope.

One of the ways I coped was to use medication. You treat ADHD with stimulants, Adderall, Ritalin, or caffeine. I found I worked better when I drank caffeine. Coke a Cola was my drink of choice. I especially liked Cherry Coke. But really, any of the full strength ones were good with me.

Eventually I figured out that I had ADHD and that the caffeine was helping. Once I figured it out, I could treat it. Coke has a couple of drawbacks. One it’s not cheap. Well, it is relatively cheap, but not free. In fact, my current favorite is what is called Mexican Coke. That’s not a derogatory comment. It’s actually bottled in Mexico.

It’s made with real sugar not corn syrup. And it’s delicious. But it’s also about $2 per bottle depending on where you buy it.

The second problem with treating my ADHD with Coke is the sugar and carbonation. I guess that’s the second and third problem, but still, drinking too much soda is not good for you.

I found another option. Energy packets are just a fancy way of saying, “Caffeine packets.” These are not energy drinks. They don’t have the extra ingredients that energy drinks have.

A few years ago my cousin had a stroke at age 42 from drinking two 5 Hour energy drinks while out snowboarding. She nearly died. I’m not saying energy drinks are bad. I’m saying that they might be bad for my family.

But these are just flavored caffeine. They don’t have sugar and they don’t have carbonation. Even with multiple flavors they get kind of tedious.

I recently saw a different flavor. As Bill Murray says at the end of Groundhog’s Day, “Anything different is good.”. I also noticed that the new flavor had carbonation.

The new flavor did have a mild carbonation. Carbonation is C02. I’m not sure how you put that into a powder form. Maybe it’s like Pop Rocks. Anyway, it was different. I’m not sure if I like it or not yet.

I am sure of one thing. If I had to drink the carbonated version multiple times per day I’d quickly grow tired of it.

That’s exactly what happened when I was 15 at Boy Scout camp. One of the Assistant Scoutmasters worked at a bottling plant. He was the Quality Control officer. That’s ironic. Because while switching from a line of soda to Country Time Lemonade, someone forgot to turn off the carbonation.

Country Time, like all lemonade, is normally uncarbonated. These cans were never going to be saleable. The bottling plant canned 25,000 cans before they found the mistake. What do you do when life gives you lemons? You make carbonated lemonade.

There was just one problem. The camp had to get through 25,000 in 8 weeks of camps. There was plenty. . .for everybody. More than we could want. More than we did want.

I don’t plan on making the same mistake with the new energy drink flavors.

I’ll make lemonade. Just not too much carbonated.

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
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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

“Geez, We Were Lucky To Get Away.”

The line, “Geez, we were lucky to get away,” comes from the classic movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Sundance is reading the list of lawmen chasing them and is surprised they managed to escape.

That line came to mind today as I was reviewing the weather patterns over the past 24-48 hours.

You may know that I spent the weekend in Olympia Washington. My lovely wife and I flew in for a family event. While there, I bought a car from my brother. It’s a 2005 Tahoe all-wheel drive. My broken down truck is just not inspiring confidence in the Utah winter.

We changed our flights. My lovely wife decided to fly back and I was going to drive from Olympia to Pleasant Grove Utah. It’s a trip I’ve made at least two dozen times in all kinds of weather and all times of the year. It’s about 900 miles and takes about 14 hours. In fact, when we were young college students attending BYU in Utah when we decided to get married in Seattle. . .in December.

We drove there and back with only minor discomforts.

Oh, and it snowed in Olympia last week. More than a little. In fact, more than a lot. It snowed more than at any time in the past 70 years. It was a record snowfall.

In Utah we would have called it just another Thursday.

Anyway, in planning my trip, I decided to skip Snoqualamie pass, just east of Seattle. I’d be dropping my lovely wife off at the airport and pretty close to I-90 that goes over Snoqualamie, but there are times it gets a little dicey.

I opted to drive south and turn left at Portland to go up the Columbia. In hindsight it was a good decision. Snoqualamie got four feet of snow and has been closed for days. Two hundred cars got stuck. I counted myself lucky to not the the 201st.

Typically the issue with driving up I-84 along the Columbia river is it can get a little windy. And that was the case this trip as well. At least I think it was the Columbia winds that were blowing the snow all over the road. I made it about 60 miles on Monday and decided I wasn’t going any farther that day.

I found a Walmart parking lot in Hood River Oregon. Walmart parking lots are a great place to camp. They have food, bathrooms, camping gear, and free wifi. I shared the parking lot on Monday night with about 20 semi trucks. They weren’t going anywhere either.

It dumped 4 new inches on my car overnight. In the morning, I found out that Deadman’s pass, the pass I was headed for the previous day was closed. And would stay closed for the foreseeable future.

Complicating my travel plans was that a new round of storms was headed in off the Pacific. If anything, conditions in the passes were going to get worse over the coming days.

Camping out one night is not bad, camping out a week in Hood River was not my idea of a good way to spend my February.

I headed back down the highway toward Portland while my lovely wife searched for alternate routes. My thought was perhaps to drive to Sacramento and go across Donner Pass on I-80. The problem was that a Winter Storm Warning was being issued for Donner pass. And it would be just about the time I got there.

Even getting into California was going to be a problem. I-5 southbound goes over Grant’s pass. It was to the “snow tires and chains” stage.

Finally, we found a route over Wilmette Pass east of Eugene Oregon. It seemed to be just South of the Seattle/Portland storm and just North of the California storm.

The road wasn’t great. Well, it was at the bottom. It was just raining.

But, as we got above 4000 feet, the rain turned to snow and the roads became snow packed. I picked out a semi and followed him for miles.

Semi trucks have better visiblity and typicaly good traction. And any place a semi can go, my SUV can go. At times, I lost sight of the shoulders. I almost lost my semi-guide.

And taking my new route took me through some desolate sections of Oregon and Nevada. I went for two hours at one point on a two lane highway without seeing another car, a building of any kind or even a road sign. I’m not a nervous traveller, but the thought of breaking down in that desolate valley kept me on my toes.

My route also involved multiple summits. I lost track of how many signs I passed announcing we had topped out on another summit.

Finally, I ended up in Elko Nevada and I-80. I had managed to outrun the storm. The freeway from Elko to Salt Lake City was bare and dry and had an 80 MPH speed limit. After crawling over the mountains at 15 MPH, it was a nice change to push the needle to the upper end of the speedometer. I finally arrived home at 2:00 AM on Wednesday morning. I left at Seattle at 11:00 AM Monday morning. I’m not even sure how to count the time, but it was about 1300 miles travelled.

I knew the storms were all around me, and I considered myself lucky to find a window. After I got back I checked the weather site. You know the ones with the swirling green images representing storms that compress an entire day down to 12 seconds? Yeah, the window I drove through opened and closed in less than 1.

Geez, I was lucky to get away.

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
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LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Fleeing The Storm

I’m not ashamed to say I ran. . .well, I drove. And I drove like I stole something. But, really I was running from the Pacific storms.

After a 700 mile chase, the finish line is in sight. I’m pulled over to the side of the road in Elko Nevada. I’m 300 miles from home.

I’ll tell you all about it. . .tomorrow.

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) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Stranded In The Snow On The First Day Of Spring

You can argue if you like. And I won’t try to convince you that you’re wrong. But, today, February 11, is the first day of Spring.

I started the day in Olympia, Washington. . .in the snow. I then drove south to Portland. . .in the snow, and then east up I84. . .in the snow. I had thoughts about getting to the nasty Dead Man’s Pass out of the Blue Mountains of Eastern Oregon before it got dark. I’m headed home to Pleasant Grove. I needn’t have bothered shooting for Dead Man’s pass. I didn’t make it to the Blues. I didn’t make Pendleton, about 20 miles from the bottom of the pass. I didn’t even make it to the Dalles. The snow forced me off the road at Hood River, Oregon.

Fortunately, Hood River has a Walmart. If you are going to camp in your car in the snow, a Walmart parking lot is not a bad camping spot. They have food, bathrooms, camping gear, and free WiFi.

The roads are closed in both directions. I couldn’t leave if I wanted.

I’m sharing the parking lot with at least a dozen semi’s and a handful of 5th wheel trailers. The storm is supposed to blow itself out sometimes tomorrow. I might be home tomorrow. I’m only 747 miles from my house according to Google. Utah has snow, but the roads are open.

I found it ironic that on the first day of Spring I was stuck in the snow. Now, you’re probably trying to do the math in your head and coming up a few weeks short of Spring. The calendar says March 20th is when Spring officially begins. However, the calendar isn’t a baseball. And that groundhog in New York isn’t a baseball fan.

Every baseball fan knows that Spring officially starts when we hear the four magic words.

Pitcher and catchers report

Today is the first day of baseball Spring Training.

Welcome to Spring! (Don’t forget to bundle up!)

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) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

What Scares You? Nothing?

I go to therapy for the same reason I take my car to a mechanic, if something is not working correctly, I want it fixed. . .Except I’m my own mechanic, so I do the repairs myself.

I can’t do that with therapy. I don’t have the skills to fix some of the issues that I can address in therapy. Specifically I’m working with a wonderful therapist to address anxiety.

Anxiety and fear are not the same thing. Anxiety is a feeling of unease. The thought that something just isn’t right, or it might suddenly go wrong.

Anxiety is a pain.

Recently my therapist gave me an assignment.

I want you to think about what scares you. Come next time prepared to talk about that.

Let me ask you dear reader, “What scares you?”

Do you want to know what I came up with?

Nothing.

That’s crazy, of course. Everyone is frightened of something. Aren’t they?

I’m not saying I’m particularly brave. I’ve never run into a burning building to save someone. I’ve never put my life on the line on the battlefield and risks death to accomplish an objective.

So, can I honestly say that nothing scares me?

I thought about the common ones:

  • Public speaking? I never met a microphone I didn’t like. I have to remind myself to give others a turn
  • Flying? While I’ve had a panic attack that occurred on a plane, it had more to do with what was happening in my head than flying. I’ve flown close to a million miles
  • Intruders in my house? I have a baseball bat next to my bed and I’m quick to investigate anything that goes bump in the night
  • Spiders, snakes, creepy crawlies? You can eat most of those, right? I mean they are good nutrition
  • New people? Open spaces? Heights? Claustrophobia? Clowns? Ghosts? I got nothing

But, we can all say we aren’t afraid in the comfort of our home, right? It’s when we get into a stressful situation that we find out what we are really made of. I had two situations that happened that made me think, one recent one longer ago.

Several years ago I was taking a scout trip with a friend. He was driving and we had five boys in the back of his Suburban. We were driving through eastern Washington on a state road. At one point the road went from two lanes on our side to one.

David didn’t notice. He continued driving in the oncoming traffic lane. In the dark it was difficult to see the markings on the road. I thought he was attempting to pass a semi. The oncoming traffic was about a mile away. A closing time of 30 seconds at a combined speed of 120 mph. As the cars got closer I wondered when David would move over. Finally, the first car was upon us and swerved to the shoulder.

At this point David was confused. The next car was only. seconds away.

David! You’re in his lane. You.are.in.his.lane.

I didn’t yell and I didn’t panic. Somewhere in my brain I realized that if he didn’t move to the right in the next two or three seconds, we were going to die. And I certainly didn’t <i>want</i> to die, but I’d done what I could and it was up to him.

It’s taken longer to read it than it took to do it. Fortunately, he quickly merged right and the danger was passed. He took an extra hard grip on the steering wheel to keep his hands from shaking.

I didn’t know. I thought our lane kept going. If you hadn’t said something. . .

I did tell you I’m not a nervous passenger. Here’s the deal. If you want to tell this story, that’s up to you, but no one will ever hear it from me.

I just. . .I thought the lane kept going. . .

It took David several hours to calm down. I thought maybe I was just in shock. Right? It all happened so fast, I didn’t have time to react and later it would “hit” me. Nope. The boys were fortunately oblivious and I went back to talking about sports or jobs or whatever it was we were discussing.

I’m just glad I didn’t choose to sleep during that drive.

Recently, we had a police action in our little town of Pleasant Grove. About a block from my house there was a hostage situation earlier this week. A guy took two women hostage and threatened them. They managed to call the police and we had dozens of cop cars all over our neighborhood.

Our town has a text alert system. You sign up and the city will text you when stuff happens. . .Maybe the city offices are unexpectedly closed. Maybe the traffic signals went out. Maybe there’s a man with a gun loose in one of the neighborhoods.

The city went on lockdown. Citizens were asked to “shelter in place.” Lock our doors and windows and don’t go outside.

The fact it was about 25 degrees and snowy made it an easy order to obey.

The suspect escaped. We were all warned to be on the lookout. Meanwhile the police staked out his house. The next night he came back. My sons and I were across the street helping an neighbor clean some furniture out of her basement. The first indication we had that something was wrong was a loud BANG from the direction of the hostage house.

We looked and could see City trucks and police cars at the end of the block. Quite a bit of excitement for our sleepy little town.

Do you think that was a gunshot, Dad?

Maybe. But it sounded more like an explosion than a gunshot. I’m guessing the police threw a flash-bang grenade to disorient the suspect as they rushed the house.

We continued hauling stuff up from the basement. And then we got the text from the city. Lockdown was ordered again.

I guess I’ll take my boys home. We can come by tomorrow and finish up if you still need help.

Rodney, I’m SO grateful, but you need to go. I’m locking up the house. Hurry. I hope you arrive safe.

My boys and I walked across the street and up the steps to our frontdoor. It was locked, naturally, so we knocked.

What are you doing? They ordered another lockdown.

I know that’s why we came home.

Apparently, I did it wrong. I was supposed to stay at my neighbor’s house, I guess. I reflected back on the events. I distinctly remember thinking about the sound of a gunshot vs the sound of an explosion. The fact it was a block from my house was not a worry. Certainly not a fear.

Fortunately the police captured the suspect. The explosive device was described as a “door breaching device.” So, still an explosion, but possibly not an actual flash bang grenade.

During my next therapy session I had to admit that I couldn’t name a single thing that frightened me.

My therapist agreed that sounded crazy.

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) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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