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Trusting Everyone Except Me

Fair warning. This is a geeky post. WordPress blogging geeky.

I scribble these posts each day on my iPad. I use the WordPress app to post them. You get to them either by pointing your browser to http://www.rodneymbliss.com, or following a link from Facebook or Twitter, or even in your email.

And you can leave comments. But, I’m not a trusting person. The comments section is moderated. The first time you post a comment, I have to approve it. I appreciate comments. And the majority of them are great.

The second time you make a comment, WordPress remembers that I already approved your first one. And it just lets the second, and subsequent comments get posted automatically. Note to scammers, WordPress will let you put your scam comment, if you first write something reasonable. (I’ve seen too many scammers to worry they would ever be this patient.)

Sometimes I link to other entries. Like this link to yesterday’s post congratulating the new President and Vice President. And the first time I link, it makes me approve that I want to link to my own writing.

And the second time it makes me approve the link.

And the third time it makes me approve the link.

WordPress can figure out that my dear mother should only need to be approved once and be allowed to comment on my posts. But, for some reason it refuses to give me that same trust.

As I said, I’m not a particularly trusting person. At times I wonder if maybe WordPress is right. Maybe I’m can’t really be trusted to link to my own writing without someone validating that I’m not posting spam or something.

I mean, you guys trust me, right? Guys?

Stay safe

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) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Congratulations President Biden and Vice President Harris

Especially to VP Harris:

– first woman

– first black woman

– first Asian woman

my daughters,

– my Asian daughter

– my black daughters

– my granddaughters

– my black granddaughters

. . .wish you all the best of success. Years from now, they will tell their daughters and granddaughters of the woman who was the first.

Stay safe

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) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Coming Back To A Bad Manager

Alex was a bad manager. I know because I’ve had bad managers. I tried all the normal techniques. I tried “managing up.” I tried everything.

Eventually, I was “rescued” by a senior manager, Jacob. Jacob was an executive VP. He talked to me. He talked to the client (who said wonderful things about me, fortunately.) Then, he moved me to a different manager. Actually, he put me under him, but effectively reporting to David, a Senior Director of Operations. My job didn’t change.

And suddenly I had the best job I’ve ever had. I worked effectively with David. We did great together. He trusted me and I trusted him. But, things change. They always do. David moved on and Monique took his place.

Monique thought it was somewhat odd having a Technical Program Manager reporting to her. But, the job went on great.

And then I got a call from Jacob.

I think we’re going to mkae a change.

Oh?

Yeah, we’re going to move you back to Alex’s team.

I think that’s a bad idea.

Yeah, I figured you wouldn’t be too happy with it. But, it’s the best decision for the company.

Well, I’m sure it will be fine. We’re both professionals. I’m sure we’ll work it out.

That’s not what I wanted to say. In fact, it was the exact opposite of what I wanted to say. But, Jacob wasn’t asking for my opinion. And it was obvious he’d already made up his mind. My reaction to the news was going to have a big effect on my job. Even if I immediately went looking for another one, which was my intention, I still needed to maintain a professional attitude.

So, I went back to work for the worst manager I’d ever had the misfortune to work under.

An interesting thing happened. Well, two interesting things, actually.

First, Alex had been promoted during the years I wasn’t on his team. He now had team managers under him. I was assigned to Parley’s team. I still had to work with Alex, but most of my interaction was with Parley. And Parley, didn’t have the history that I had with Alex.

But, what was most interesting, was that my relationship with Alex improved. I’m not sure if he was a better manager or not. And frankly I didn’t really care.

Forwarned is forearmed

I knew what to expect going back to work for Alex. I had no illusions. I did my job, and didn’t expect much from him. And if I did need something from him, I made the request very clear and made sure it was entirely following protocol.

Did Alex suddenly think me a model employee? I have no idea. And, as I said, I didn’t really care.

But, I knew what the worst possible was in each interaction. And knowing that, I could steer it toward the positive. I guess I was still managing up, but doing it with a clear understanding of who I was dealing with. And, of course, most of my interaction was with Parley.

I decided I liked my job well enough to stay. Alex wasn’t a making my life or my job hard. And while it wasn’t as great as my interactions with David used to be, a job that you enjoy is worth keeping.

Now, if Parley had turned out to be one of the worst managers ever, then I’d have a problem.

Stay safe

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) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Going Forward To Go Back

Never give up. Never surrender.
– Jason Nesmith

Dr Seuss wrote a story called “The Zax.” It’s part of the book “The Sneetches and Other Stories. It was even turned into a film in typicaly surrealistic Dr Seuss. The story is simply, like many Seuss stories are. It’s the story of a South-Going Zax who only goes South. He (at least I think it’s a he, who knows with Seuss’ characters) only ever walks South. That’s how he got his name. Unfortunately, he meets a North-Going Zax who has the exact same singlemindeness, except he only goes North.

They meet and neither one will yield. Life goes on around them as they stand stubbornly facing each other. Neither one willing to yield and therefore both doomed to defeat.

It’s a sad tale in many ways. But like many Seuss stories, it has a deeper meaning.

I’ve often thought of that unwavering, unyielding stance. Stories sometimes paint that unyeilding staunch defender as the hero, a person to be looked up to.

And there are times when we should stand strong, unwavering, unyielding. But, most times, it’s a mistake. A terrible mistake.

My daughter does service at a thift store in American Fork. She doesn’t drive, so I take her and pick her up. American Fork is North of where we live in Pleasant Grove.

Sometimes, we are running late. What’s the best way to get their from here? Go North, right? Why should I head South? South is the opposite direction. It’s the wrong way. I should be a North-going Zax.

The problem is that going North winds through a bunch of neighborhoods. If I go South for just a couple of blocks, I can catch State Street and head North much quicker.

I studied judo for a while when I was kid. I quit when I realized my brother who was two years older than me was using it as an excuse to “practice” beating me up. (Not really, but it felt that way.)

Anyway, the point of judo is not to be a stone wall, but to be a rubber band. (Clearly I didn’t stay long enough to learn the best analogies.) The object is to use the attackers strength against him. (Probably definitely a him if you are truly defending yourself.) You attack by defending. You go North by going South.

The lessons apply in life as well as driving and Zax walking. I enjoy political discussions. Not arguments. Actual discussions. But, to have a discussion, or even an enjoyable debate, you have to be willing to give and take. You have to admit when your opponent makes a good point. And you have to see the person you are debating with not as an opponent. Not as a North-going Zax to your South-going Zax, but instead as a fellow traveller. Someone you might enjoy talking to.

Or, you can stand facing off with those you disagree with while the world revolves around you.

Sometimes you have to go backwards to go forwards.

Stay safe

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) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Don’t Cheat Children. . .Especially If They Don’t Know It

I do car work for friends as well as family. A young man came to me for help with his first car. It wasn’t a great car. It had about 175,000 miles. It had a standard transmission. No working radio. But, still he liked it.

He’d bought it from his foster parents for $500. I’d say he paid about the right price.

After driving it for a while he had a problem. It started as a small problem, but eventually became a big problem. He blew his head gasket and bent a couple of valves. He brought it to me to look at.

I can replace a head gasket. I cannot do anything for bent valves. That has to be done at a machine shop. And while my labor is cheap for friends and families, there’s not much I can do about the prices a machine shop charges.

Well, it’ll be about $250 for a new head gasket. But, the machine shop work is going to be about $500.

You know I only paid $500 for it.

Yeah. Typically the thinking is you look at the cost of the repair vs what you could get if you spent it on a new car. So, for $750 you will have your car running with a rebuilt top end. Or, you can take the $750 and buy another car. Not a great choice, I know.

No, but I think I’ll go ahead and have you fix it.

I felt terrible as you might imagine. I was donating the labor, but it was still a bitter pill for him to swallow. I did the work and at the end the engine ran beautifully. The car still had issues, of course, but the engine was running like a top.

Eventually, my friend decided that he wanted a newer car. So, he went to a local dealer and made an offer on a 2014 with 50,000 miles. A beautiful car that he will probably not need me to fix anything more than an oil change and new brakes. My friend didn’t ask me to go with him. But, his foster dad went with him.

The dealership offered him $250 as a tradein for his old car. Again, I think that was probably the right trade-in value. So far, it was fine. He was going to lose the money he invested in the repair. But, he decided to not tradein his car. I’m not sure, but I think his foster dad suggested it.

If the trade-in value is $250, the private sale value is closer to $500. And any car that runs is worth between $500 and $1000.

So, what happened to the car? My friend sold it. He sold it to his foster parents. These are the same foster parents that originally sold him the car for $500. And the foster parents who knew he’d dropped $750 to fix the car they sold him. (Not long after they sold it to him.)

Great, how much did they give you for it?

The same as the dealership was offering; $250

I didn’t have the heart to tell him. He still thinks fondly of his foster parents. I’m not sure the feelings are reciprocated.

Don’t take advantage of people just because you can.

Stay safe

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) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

2021 Word Of The Year

Every year I pick a word.

2018 – Resolve
2019 – Focus
2020 – Gratitude

The word becomes a sort of theme for the year. The first year it was resolve. I wanted to become better at checking things off my list. I was good at making lists, I wanted to become better at finishing things off;resolving them.

But, resolve also had to do with making decisions. We resolve to do better. We resolve to exercise. We resolve to be nicer, kinder, smarter. So, the word had a dual meaning.

Next was focus. The words kind of go together; resolve and focus. You can complete more as you focus. You get better at staying on task. But, focus had a dual meaning as well. Focus makes things clear. They go from being confused to well defined. I wanted to get better at that; to understand my roles and responsibilities better.

Last year my word was gratitude. I had no way of knowing about COVID at the start of the year, none of us did. Gratitude lacked the dual meaning of my previous words. But, as 2020 wore on, it became clear that it was a very apropriate word. I was able to do my job from home. My family, while a few contracted COVID, survived the year in good health.

Yes, much to be grateful for.

This year, my word is balance. My hope is that I can balance family, work, hobbies and church. I have some goals that will require I do a better job balancing my time. And even in my job, there are competing initiatives. Balance will be important.

But, there’s a dual meaning. I don’t exercise a lot. But, this year, I hope to do better. My son made me his exercise buddy for the past two weeks before he left to start his mission. He asked me to keep it up. To try to be exercise buddies from across the United States. Like I said, balance.

I’ll work on being in better shape. And the better shape I’m in the better I’ll be able to balance. I’ll practice balancing exercises. Stand on a ball? Balance on one foot? We’ll see.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Stay safe

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) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

How Can I Possibly Complain?

How’s it going?

Oh, I can’t complain.

And if you did, who would listen, right?

Two of my friends just tested positive for COVID. I was in a meeting with them last Thursday, so I’m in quarantine.

That sucks. Not as bad as my friends who have COVID, of course. And, thankfully they are not likely to join the hundreds of thousands who have tragically died.

What was your worst day? I’ve had days were I was tired, exhausted even. I’ve had days were I was in so much pain, I couldn’t sit up. I’ve had days when I was barfing my guts out. I’ve had days when I was so depressed that getting out of bed was a challenge. Where all I wanted to do was crawl under my desk and hide. (Those days come far too often at times.) I’ve watched family members die.

All of those led to some horrible days.

What was yours?

Let me tell you about my friend Marty Hill. Marty’s been dead for several years. He died of cancer. A very slow moving and painful cancer. It took him almost 10 years to die.

Horrible, right?

Marty had a son. His son was just a little kid when he was diagnosed. Marty’s hope was that he’d live long enough to see his son graduate from high school. What a tragic race with death.

I can’t imagine what Marty was going through. When I first met him, he was only a few years into his sickness. He was a scouter. Our love of Scouting is what first brought us together. Marty didn’t hide his illness, but he didn’t advertise it either. To meet him, talk to him, you wouldn’t know that he was dying. He knew.

I lost of track of Marty for several years. I ran into him again at the premier of one of the Star Wars movies. A mutual friend was hosting it at a local theater.

Marty didn’t look good. In fact, I hardly recognized him. He probably weighed about 98 lbs. His clothes hung on him like a well dressed scarecrow. I sought him out to say hello.

Marty, it’s good to see you again. How are you doing?

I’m vertical. Any day I’m vertical is a good day.

Marty was as he had always been; optimistic.

Marty passed away not too long later. I attended his funeral. I wore my Boy Scout uniform. He had requested it in his final wishes.

Marty died in the summer. The summer after his son graduated from high school and was accepted to college.

I was thinking about Marty recently. And I realize that my worst days were not that bad. Certainly not as bad as his worst days. And in fact, probably not as bad has some of his best days.

Certainly gave me a different perspective. And a fond memory of my old friend.

Stay safe

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) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Didn’t Expect That To Happen Twice

I’m a Dilbert fan. I identify with the geeky engineer who is slightly, okay, more than slightly socially awkward. A few years ago, I wrote about how I Learned Everything About Being A Manager From Dilbert’s Pointy Haired Boss.

I indulge my fandom with an annual Dilbert desk calendar. A desk calendar is one where you get one cartoon per day. It’s not particularly useful as a calendar. Sure, when you look at it, it will tell you what day of the month it is. But, so will your watch, your phone, and your computer. And a wall calendar will at least show you the days of the month.

No, a desk calendar is mostly just to look at the funny pictures once per day. I was introduced to desk calendars, and the Dilbert one specifically when a member of my team had one. I would wander by his desk and randomly read through it. I never understood why he didn’t read a head.

Once I got my first one I got it. If you read tomorrow’s comic today, what will you read tomorrow? So, I strictly limit myself to one page per day.

Calendars make great Christmas gifts. They are fairly inexpensive, and the end of the year is a great time to get a new calendar. Every year I would put it on my Christmas list.

In my family we draw names for Christmas. You don’t know who has your name. And everyone posts a list of Christmas gifts they would like. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to get what’s on their Christmas list. In fact, typically we put much more on the Christmas last than would be reasonable to expect for Christmas, both to give be a chance to be creative, and also to make sure people have gifts that are in a range of different prices.

My lists were always a little longer than others’. My birthday is at the end of December, between Christmas and New Years. My Christmas list and birthday list were combined. Naturally I included Dilbert’s Desk Calendar on my Christmas list every year. And every year I would end up buying my own copy. Every Christmas, I would get a wonderful assortment of gifts. Some extremely expensive. But, no desk calendar. And then, on my birthday, when everyone was buying a gift for me, I’d open each one with great appreciation. Each was given in love.

But, still no desk calendar.

So, I’d buy it myself. Some years I lucked out, I’d find one half price at Walmart in January. But, the last few years I’ve had to order it online.

Christmas this year was no different. I received amazing thoughtful gifts. My son-in-law gave me a Dewalt planer. I’ve always wanted a planer. They are a specialized woodworking tool that I just could never justify purchasing. They take rough boards and make them smooth. (It’s cooler than it sounds.)

Anyway, wonderful gifts, but no calendar.

Three days later we had my birthday. And as you might have guessed, I finally got my calendar. My daughter bought it for me. As you might imagine I was pleased. It hadn’t happened before, and my daughter knew how much it meant to me. And then it came time to open my lovely wife’s gift. And it happened again.

After years of getting none, I then got two. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas. . .and birthday, you know if it was your birthday. . .and a Happy New Year.

Stay safe

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) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Under House Arrest

How have you responded to the pandemic? Are you one who hid in your house, afraid to step outside your door? Or, did you decide it was all a hoax, and you refused the mask and just did whatever you choose?

Chances are, if you are like most people, you chose somewhere in between. Taking some precautions, but also choosing to live your life. As a species, we aren’t really good at hiding. Americans have an reputation of running into danger.

Americans are good fighters with nerve and recklessness.

– Arnulfo Osterman, (WWI Lieut in the German army)

We kind of like that reputation. So, its sits ill with many of us to be told what to do, even by our own government, especially by our own government. Even when it’s for our own good.

Reckless is a pretty good description.

Personally, I’m in favor of masks and social distancing. COVID is not some grand conspiracy.

But, I also have that independent streak. That recklessness that Lt Osterman described so many years ago. It means I live my life, but take precautions.

One of the parts of my life that goes on is Masonry. Free Masons have been around for hundreds of years. We’ve survived numerous plagues over the centuries. Not that the history helps me any.

Our monthly Masons meeting was last Thursday. It’s the first one of the year. We take precautions. Masks are required. We try to social distance and the meeting cannot be longer than one hour. (I’m kind of hoping that last bit carries on past the pandemic.)

I’m the chaplain for my lodge. During one of the prayers I prayed,

…these are troubling times and important hours for the fraternity and for each of us

It turns out we could use all the prayers we could get. On Friday one of our brothers lost his sense of smell and taste. He tested positive for COVID. So, the rest of us have to follow the COVID protocols. Quarantine and get tested in seven days.

I feel fine. I wore my mask the entire time. But, still, I’ll follow the protocol. The thing is, none of the rest of the people in my house need to follow it. They weren’t potentially exposed. I was.

So, I’ll spend most of my days in my tiny office.

Yes, it really is as small as it looks. It’s about 4×7. I’ll use the right-hand sink in our bathroom that no one ever uses.

And I’ll wear an N95 mask until the test results. Until them, I’m under house arrest.

Stay safe

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) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Our Last Christmas. . .One Of Many

COVID kept us from the Christmas we wanted. My dear mother wanted to come and see us, one last time. She’s, fortunately, in excellent health. But, she fits clearly into the high risk category. But, she understood as did we, that this Christmas was an ending.

My lovely wife and I were married December 19th, many years ago. We were married in December because we were on break from school at BYU. We were both from the Pacific Northwest. We drove home for winter break, got married and then drove back to school to prepare for the start of the next semester.

Our first Christmas was just the two of us. We bought a simple 2 foot Christmas tree.

We still have it and. Put it up every year.

Over the years, our family grew, of course. Adding children through birth and then through adoption. Later through the marriage of our children and the addition of grandchildren.

But, this year is different. This is the last year we have kids in school; high school. We have five kids actually living at home right now. Two high schoolers, a college student, a local service missionary, and a son about to leave for a two-year mission.

Next year? Who knows. But, the college student will probably be on his own. The two high schoolers will likely be either off at college or on missions themselves. It could be just the local service missionary will be at home. We may go from five at home to just one.

Our older kids will be even more involved with their own families.

This is what the future will be like, I guess. Just as our family grew over the past years, we will continue getting smaller. It’s what my dear mother understood and why she wanted so desperately to be here this Christmas.

I’m not complaining. . .too much. My family is all healthy, even though several have been COVID positive. We got to see more of them then we might have. And everyone had a wonderful Christmas. We even Facetimed with grandma.

Welcome to the New Year. May it be happy and healthy for you and your family.

Stay safe

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) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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