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Getting Paid Is Not About The Money

It was a crappy project from the start. It was il-defined and complicated.

We needed to update a key driver on our computers.

That shouldn’t be hard. IT departments all over the world do it all the time. Your IT department does it monthly. You generally don’t even know it’s happening unless maybe your computer reboots unexpectedly overnight.

We had actually updated this driver just a year earlier. It took a lot of time for my local engineers, but it wasn’t hard.

And then COVID hit. We spent two months putting everything else on hold as we moved our agents home. Once everyone got moved home we went back to our updating project.

But, this time updating the driver was going to be different. This time we needed to update a driver on computers at our agents’ homes. And not just a few. Fifteen hundred agents all across the country.

I’m the “IT Guy” in my team. But, the frustrating thing is that I can’t actually fix anything. I know the people who can fix things. In this case I knew Jerry. Jerry is one of our engineers.

I won’t go through the details of how he managed to build a solution. But, he did. It was pretty elegant. All it required was for our agents to work their normal shift and then at the end, logout and then log back in, lock their computers and the upgrade would happen during their offtime.

We spent a couple weeks testing it and we were ready to start migrating agents. We divided up each of our sites into two groups. No one upgrades everyone in one night. Despite testing, there is too much chance for an unexpected error. The upgrades went smoothly. The worst part was our first shift starts work at 5:30AM. And if there was going to be a problem it would showup at the start of the shift.

Every day after a migration I had to be on the phone at 5:30AM with my team prepared to resolve any issues. There is a reason I do audio and not video calls.

It worked. It worked amazingly well. Those were some fo the most boring conference calls I’d ever been on.

In fact, we went too fast. At one point we had to push our migration off by a week to accomodate our client’s schedule.

We finished this week. We completed the last site. We identified the groups that got missed. (There are always groups that get missed. It’s expected.) And finally, I can move the hundreds of emails associated with this project to the COMPLETED folder.

And then, I got paid. I didn’t expect to. It started simply. An email from my counterpart at the client.

Rodney, thanks for your great work on this.

And then, of course, a note from our VP. But, then, an email from one of the client executives. One of the hardest to work with, telling us what a great job we did. And then, the Senior VP at the client who is also hard to please with more praise. And an email from our own division president talking about how he sees this project and it’s successful resolution as fulfilling a promise he made to the client executives a year ago. And then, of course, my boss and his boss.

Nothing succeeds like success.

We have a few maintenance tasks to still do, but essentially the project is complete. We’ve wrapped it up and everyone got paid.

I have the emails to prove it.

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) 2020 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Can I Borrow $1000 For Ten Minutes?

I’m back to working on cars.

One of the fun things about working on cars, is the opportunity to collect new tools. Of course I have a collection of regular tools; sockets, screwdrivers, hammers, ect.

I recently got a set of tools that I have wanted for a long time. I had to buy it over severals months.

It’s a 21 gallon compressor, a 50 foot retractable air hose, and most importantly a 1/2″ impact driver.

This is important to me. An impact driver is like a really, really powerful electric drill.

All of these tools were from Harbor Freight. Harbor Freight is a discount tool supplier. Their tools are generally cheaper made and therefore less expensive. But, I only use some of my specialized tools occasionally. I’m not going to be using these tools daily.

It’s worth it to me to have that occasional access to a special tool.

The impact driver is a very specialized tool. It has a lot of uses. It’s great for taking lug nuts off a car. I used it to drive 5/8″ 10″ bolts through 4×4 posts.

But, what I really wanted the impact driver for was for removing pulley bolts. They are on engines. And they are really, really hard to get off.

A few years ago I had an old Lexus. In trying to work on the engine, we couldn’t get the pulley bolt out. Nothing worked. I didn’t have an impact driver, well not a very good one. And there are other techniques. Nothing worked. And that was the end of that engine rebuild.

But, next time I needed to do a similar repair I wanted to be ready. And now I am. And now I needed it. My daughter’s car needs a new timing belt.

Well, I think she needs a new timing belt. I hope she needs a new timing belt. Her car wouldn’t go faster than 45 MPH. That could be several different things, a blown head gasket, a clogged fuel filter, a misaligned piston. Or a bad timing belt. The list is almost endless.

Yesterday I was testing the compression in her cylinders when the timing belt failed completely. So, we are going to replace the timing belt and the tensioner pullies.

And you have to remove several other pullies, one of which is accessible with an impact driver. Finally I could use my new setup. I was like a kid at christmas. Except I’d already opened my presents and now I got to use it.

The pulley bolt is 22mm. I put a nice black impact socket on, stuck my impact driver on it, pulled the trigger and. . .nothing happened.

Well, not exactly nothing. The impact driver makes a load “knocking” noise when it’s working on loosening a bolt. It was knocking it’s brains out, but the bolt wasn’t moving. I kept the driver on there until the pressure in the compressor dropped too low and the compressor kicked on.

This was not how I thought this would go. While I was waiting for the compressor to build up pressure again I noticed that I had my driver set on the “Medium” setting. Ah, that was probably the reason. I switched it over the “High” as the compressor finally quieted down.

Again, I put the driver to the bolt and confidently pulled the trigger. Lots of knocking, but no progress.

There’s another way to loosen a pulley bolt. You put a large socket on it, brace it against the axle and then Try to start the car. The starter should kick it over with enough force to break the bolt loose. We call it, “Don’t be a wimp,” because you have to commit to letting the engine turn the wrench. We committed, but all the engine did was bang the wrench handle against the axle. We added additional battery power with jumper cables. Still no go.

Well, now what?

I’d bought a tool, in fact a whole set of tools for just this moment. And even at Harbor Freight prices they weren’t cheap. About $500 total for the set up.

I have this neighbor. He’s a Snap On salesman. He literally has a big truck full of tools. I try not to ask his help too much, but this time I was desperate.

I described the issue and my neighbor disappeared into his van. From the depths of the van I heard, “What size is the bolt?”

“Twenty-two millimeter.”

He emerged with a ray gun. It was large. It was heavy. And it was red. It had a 22mm socket on the end of it and the word DEMO engraved on the side.

“Here. This will take it off.”

He literally lives across the street from me. So, I took this ray gun and walked back to my garage. After the disappointments with my own impact driver, I didn’t have high hopes. And my neighbors DEMO tool was battery driven, not pneumatic.

So, I was surprised shocked even, when not only did the bright red ray gun take my bolt off, it did it as if it wasn’t even hard.

Tools make the difference. Good tools make a good difference.

I walked back across the street where my neighbor was still packing up his trailer for a summer vacation.

Thanks for letting me use this.

How did it go?

Amazing. Came right off. How much is this, by the way?

You don’t want to know.

No, really.

About a thousand dollars. $936 to be exact.

I’m glad I have neighbors who will lend me a $1000 tool for ten minutes.

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) 2020 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

NO! You Cannot Punch Nazi. Here’s Why

I thought of what quote to start this with. I had several choices. This one seemed most appropriate.

First they came for the socialist, and I did not speak out – because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Jew

Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.
– Martin Niemoller

Niemoller was anti-Nazi. Incidentially, he was also antisemitic. Niemoller was one of the most vocal critics of the complicity and guilt of the Germany for what they did to the Jews.

The point of his poem though, is to point out that we cannot simply abandon those who are not “us.” No one is safe. No group can safely be dismissed because once we start dismissing or marginalizing groups who is to stop them from eventually marginalizing you? Or me?

But, what about Nazis, or neo-fascists? Why should we defend them? Why not just attack them whenever and wherever possible? Didn’t we fight a war to rid the world of fascism?

No. We did not fight a war against fascism. We are talking about World War II, of course. On one side were the good guys; America, Britain, France. On the other side were the bad guys; Germany, Italy, USSR, Japan. Except that eventually the USSR became one of the good guys, after they got kicked off the bad guy’s team. And Italy kind of went from bad guy to “less bad guy.”

But, the war wasn’t about fascism. Not really. In fact, the United States didn’t even want to join the war. Sentiment was pretty high against the war at the beginning. If we were fighting fascism, why was it so hard to get us into the war? Roosevelt and Churchill came up with the “lend-lease” program to try to keep the UK afloat while Roosevelt tried to convince the American public that they should go back to war in Europe.

It wasn’t until Germany started attacking their neighbors that we started to get concerned. Had Hitler simply rebuilt Germany, even as a fascist, American would not have gone to war to remove him.

Instead we were fighting Germany. And Japan, of course. Not all the enemies were fascists. But, all the fascists were enemies.

And then the war ended. But, when Germany surrendered, an interesting thing happened. When the war ended, the Allies quit killing Nazies. And even during the war, we took Nazi soldiers prisoner, but we didn’t kill them. We didn’t punch them in the throat.

Because the war wasn’t with fascism. It wasn’t a war against Nazism. It was a war against Germany who happened to be run by fascists and Nazis. We tried and convicted the war criminals. We tried the guards. We arrested those people who were “just following order” and killed innocents. That wasn’t about fascism, Nazism, or any ism. It was about murderers and criminals.

And those people should be arrested, tried and if convicted, punished.

So, we didn’t fight fascism we fought Germany. And we are certainly not still at war with a country that we’ve been allies with for 75 years.

But, is it really okay to say hateful, racist, horrible things?

Yes. Yes, it absolutely is. And the reason is the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress ofgrievances.

There is no “hate speech” exception to the “freedome of speech” clause. Some will suggest that hate speech is the same as assault. It’s not. Assault is assault. And just as we have a problem with Niemoller’s story of marginalizing groups, we have a real problem if we start trying to police “hate.” Is all hate speech created equal? We can condemn hate speech against “good” people. But, literally every group has someone who hates them. Or even disagrees with them.

Who deserves to be protected? Only those we agree with? That’s impossible. So, we either have to protect everyone or we can protect no one.

Evelyn Beatrice Hall wrote a book called Friends of Voltaire. She wrote the phrase,

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

There is an old story about a farmer who had a problem with rabbits. The rabbits were getting into his crops and doing terrible damage. The farmer tried everything. But, no matter how many traps he set. There were also more rabbits that continued to devastate his fields. Finally, in desperation, he captured a tiger and released it in his fields. It made quick work of the rabbits. In only a few days the tiger had killed and eaten every last rabbit. In a few days the tiger again grew hungry.

And it was then that the farmer realized he still had to deal with the tiger.

Trying to attack those we disagree with, trying to strip them of their rights, trying to marginalize them, is as ineffective as inviting in a tiger to deal with a rabbit 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
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2020 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

The Inconvenient Amendment

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
– Amendment I, United States Constitution

I have the problem with the First Amendment. In fact, I think I have a problem with almost every part of it.

Congress Shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

What problem do I have with the “establishment clause”? I think churches are just as essential as businesses. There are many who have rightly claimed, “It’s possible to worship at home.” And for many people it is. In fact, that’s what my church has chosen to do. But, not everyone worships the same. And just as I don’t want anyone telling me how to worship I don’t feel I can tell anyone else how to worship. If someone considers it essential that meet in person, I don’t think we can say they cannot.

With that said, I don’t think churches should have special rights. But, if an essential business can operate at 50% capacity with social distancing and masks, there is no reason a church cannot operate at 50% with social distancing and masks.

Lots of people disagree with me.

. . .Or abridging the freedom of speech. . .

My “problem” with freedom of speech? Hate speech is protected speech.

In fact, hate speech is the most important speech to protect. It’s easy to protect and support speech you agree with. It’s more difficult to protect speech that you disagree with.

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
– Evelyn Beatrice Hall “The Friends of Voltaire”

If we cannot protect the speech of those we disagree with, who will protect our free speech when it becomes inconvenient?

. . .Or of the press

I think my “problem” with the press is one that many people have. I hate the partisanship. I hate that Fox News is the Republican station, that MSNBC is the Democrats station.

Tell me, if you are a Conservative do you believe anything that MSNBC broadcasts? If you are Liberal do you think Fox Newss gets anything correct?

No, and that’s a shame. I think it all started down hill when broadcast companies decided to make news divisions profit centers. That led to the efforts to attrack eyeballs and later clicks.

It’s Constitutional, but that doesnt’ make it right.

. . .or the right of the people peaceably to assemble. . .

Black Lives Matter, KKK, Gay Pride, WestBro Baptist Church? Name your least favorite group. They all have a right to protest. They all have a right to police protection while they protest.

Sending troops into the streets to disperse protests? Not cool.

. . .and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. . .

Actually, I don’t have much of a problem with this part.

I guess it’s not such an inconvenient amendment after all.

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) 2020 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

When The Most Important Thing In YOUR Day Is Not The Most Important Thing In HIS Day

I need you to put your Skype status on Do Not Disturb and clear everything from your calendar for this meeting. No multi-tasking. I need your undivided attention.

I was surprised he didn’t ask us to turn our webcams in order to check on us. The meeting was a mandatory two hour training. Actually, it was a two day training. Two hours each day. No interruptions.

Of course, everyone is working from home, so our attention couldn’t be monitored. But, there were exams as part of this training. They really wanted us to pay attention.

I did. . .sort of.

The problem was the training was of no interest to me. Was it beneficial? Maybe. It was well written and well delivered. But, the concepts didn’t relate to my job. My manager thought it did. It related a lot to his job. But, I’ve done my job for 7 years without his four hours of training.

There are 25 people on the three teams that attended. Twenty-five people, four hours works out to 100 hours. At roughly $50/hour, that’s $5,000 that we paid in “lost” hours for this training.

What’s the role of managers? Especially if they are managing knowledge workers? Shoudl they be able to do the employees job better than the employee? Should they be experts on the needs and the skillsets of the team?

Or, should they be experts at, well, managing? Able to listen to the team and remove roadblocks or provide support?

I’ve been on teams and I’ve been in charge of teams. And my answer is unequivacle. Managers are not in their role because they are the smartest, or the most skilled, or the most important.

Managers have a role to play on a team. But, if you are smarter than all of your team members, you need to hire smarter employees. If you know how to do team members jobs better than they do, you need to train them and give them opportunities to become the expert at what they do.

Managers who decide they know best, who decide that whatever they say is naturally more important than anything the team might say, or do, are hamstringing their teams.

If you are in charge of people, don’t treat them like sheep. Don’t assume that you know how to do their jobs. Don’t assume that you know better than them how to do their jobs. If you hired smart people, they know how to do their jobs. Let them.

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) 2020 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

I’m Sorry. What Was That?

At least that’s what I wanted to say. Instead I scrambled to try to remember what we had just been talking about. I was early in my career, working for WordPerfect Corporation. I was in a meeting that included Alan Ashton, the company president, and he had just asked me a question. Unfortunately, it was that opened ended type,

Rodney, what do you think?

Had he seen my attention lapsing? My management chain was in this meeting. We were designing an entirely new support offering. An offering that would allow us to go onsite with customers.

I had been the first WordPerfect employee to attempt this. It had been a bit of a clandestine operation done without the knowledge of the Executive Vice President. Later he found out and fortunately for me, was deemed less important to the company than the new support strategy. A strategy that I had pioneered. . .and the company president had just asked me about.

Meetings have changed a lot in the 30 odd years since I sat in that office in Orem, Utah. Tomorrow I have an important client meeting. I won’t have to worry if the VP might see my attention wandering. We will all be remotely connected. We’ll be dialed in remotely.

Modern meetings, remote meetings, are often filled with comments like, “I’m sorry, what was the question?” Or, “Sorry, I was looking at something else.”

I think in some ways, our remote meetings and the ability (the freedom? The temptation?) to multi-task has made us less attentive. Tomorrow’s meeting will probably not be like that. It’s a pretty high level meeting. And yet, each section will delivered by a different person. So, during the portions that aren’t mine, I might get distracted.

And we didn’t used to have PowerPoint. There’s much debate whether PowerPoint presentations have made us better or worse at meetings. Some have tied the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster to the use of PowerPoint in NASA meetings. We’ll use it tomorrow. And for most of our presentations.

For one thing it helps you to know what someone was asking you about when they say,

Rodney, what do you think?

A quick look at the slide deck and I’m back on track.

As it was, I don’t remember what I responded to Alan Ashton all those years ago. I know I didn’t say, “Can you repeat that?” But, my response was probably less insightful than it would have been if I’d had a PowerPoint presentation to look at.

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) 2020 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

d10 Roll For Initiative . . . In My Garage

I was tired. I’d been on an outage call all day. And not only that, it was a stupid call. By that I mean that someone made a mistake. They missed a step in the process we had run a week earlier. Now the error was showing up.

And now, I was sitting in my garage. The door was up due to the heat. The thermometer showed 90 degrees. At 40% humidity, it was not uncomfortable. But, I was tired and simply sat and stared.

And I noticed the trim around my garage door was coming loose. Maybe I should fix that?

Instead I just sat and stared.

And I noticed a set of golf clubs I meant to list for sale online. Maybe I should post them?

Instead I just sat and stared.

There were other things. Maybe I should spread that bug poison on my lawn? There was my broken shop light. I could fix that, maybe? Or maybe build a storage shelf for my drills? Oh, and I needed to repost the fish tank and terrarium online. And there was an inside door panel on my Suburban that needed fixed. Oh, and that stroller that showed up in our yard? Yeah, I needed to post in the neighborhood group asking if anyone was missing one. And there were weeds between the patio bricks that needed spraying. And the bugs. I needed to spread that bug poison on the lawn. Oh, wait. I mentioned that one already, didn’t I?

ADHD can be a bear at times.

In the mean time I sat. I sat and stared.

Maybe I should write down all the things I need to do. That would require getting up. Maybe I should put “Make a list” as the first thing on my list?

Finally, I decide I had to do something. I drug myself off the chair I was on and found a shipping receipt. My list looked like this:

  • Bug Poison Lawn – 30 min
  • Build Storage Shelf (design) – 20 min
  • Spray Poison on Walkway – 10 min
  • Fix Suburban Door Panel – 30 min
  • List Golf Clubs – 8 min
  • Relist fish tank/Terrarium – 20/15 min
  • Fix Garage Door Weatherstripping – 20 min
  • List Stroller with 2nd Ward – 5 min
  • Fix Light w/ Liquid Nails – 10 min
  • Gas car / take Old Oil – 40 min

I added the times to try to motivate myself. But, once the list was complete I just sat and stared at it. Everything needed done and I didn’t really feel like doing any of them.

Because I couldn’t decide, I let someone else choose for me. I decided to roll a die. There were ten items so I needed a ten-sided die. They exist. They are used in role playing games, especially Dungeons and Dragons. They are referred to as a d10.

I no longer play D&D. I don’t actually own a d10. So, I did the next best thing. I opened my Clock app and chose the Stopwatch option. I let it run for a few seconds and stopped it. It read 4.23 seconds. I looked at my list and found the third item,

– Spray Poison on Walkway

I found the RoundUp and spent a few minutes spraying the stray dandilions and grass that had sprung up between the cement pavers.

I finished and put away the RoundUp. I then rolled again. This time the number was 3.56. I found the sixth item,

– Relist Fish tank/Terrarium

Well, this was a more involved task. I retrieved the fish tanks that had not seen a fish for over a year, and the terrarium that had housed hermit crabs over a year earlier. I cleaned, organized and photgraphed them. I’m sure my estimates were off.

As I worked on staging the pictures for my post, the Mariners game started. I “turned on the radio.” By that I mean I opened the MLB.com app and selected the Mariners game at the Aneheim Angels.

As the innings past I added the golf clubs to my “for sale” posts. And fixed my shop light with some liquid nails. And since I had the Liqued Nails out, used it to secure the weatherstripping.

Many of these items have been on my list for weeks. Some for only a few days. I have four items left, but I’m out of time, and the Mariners lost their game to the Angels.

Tomorrow maybe I’ll try this again. D&D players use a d4 as well.

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) 2020 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Baseball’s Hypocritical Racists

I love baseball. Most baseball fans are wonderful people. Baseball fans are like Country music fans.

What kind of music do you like?

I like all kinds of music.

What about country?

Okay, I like almost all kinds of music.

The Country music fan is much more tolerant than most music lovers. He’ll listen to your Justin Timberlake, and Beyonce, and also listen to Toby Keith and Miranda Lambert. Country music fans are tolerant.

Baseball fans are the same way. We’ll watch the Super Bowl. We’ll watch the US Open. We’ll watch the NBA Championship. We’ll even watch NASCAR and MMA. But, we’ll also spend three hours watching 9 guys standing around trying to hit a ball with a stick.

So, why am I calling out my fellow baseball fans as racists? Because they have an opportunity to show their true colors, and they aren’t measuring up.

Baseball has started up again. We will get 60 games and an expanded post season. It’s a far cry from a normal 162 game season. With the start of the shortened season, baseball has made a lot of changes. They’ve implemented the DH, the Designated Hitter, in both leagues. They’ve extended the number of hitters a relief pitcher must face from 1 to 3. They’ve changed extra innings to start with a guy on 2nd.

Oh, and one more thing, Major League Baseball, MLB, has embraced Black Lives Matter, BLM. Each team has chosen how to support the cause. The Red Sox displayed a large banner on the Green Monster. The Houston Astros drew BLM in the dirt in the back of the pitcher mound for their opening game against the Mariners. Some teams have kneeled prior to the playing of the National Anthem and then stood for the Anthem. Other’s kneeled during the Anthem. The Mariners raised a fist during the Anthem. Other teams have included a “Black Lives Matter” patch on their uniform.

Black Lives Matter is not a movement without controversy. Some BLM groups have published goals that not everyone agrees with. Not everyone is appreciative of the BLM protests.

Reading the message boards of many teams and you will find comments such as,

Quit with the politics and just play baseball.

If they participate in these protests I won’t watch anymore.

Why does it have to be about race?

All lives matter, not just black lives

The comments go on and on. And these people consider themselves baseball fans. True fans.

They don’t know anything about the history of baseball. Not really.

In 1947 the season started on April 15. That day a player took his spot at first base and changed the game forever.

The player was Jackie Robinson. He would go on to win Rookie of the Year. He was slightly older at 28. But, it wasn’t he ROY award that changed the game. Even though the Rookie of the Year award was started in 1947. Robinson’s speed made him a natural shortstop. But, the Dodgers had Pee Wee Reese at shortstop, so Robinson moved to 1st Base. And it wasn’t his new position that made him noteworthy.

What made him unique was the color of his skin. As any baseball fan knows, Jackie Robinson was the first black man to play Major League Baseball in the modern era. The last black player to play in what we know as the Majors was Moses Fleetwood Walker. He was chased out of baseball in 1884. Baseball, like the rest of the country became segregated. Blacks played in the Negro leagues, whites played in the Major Leagues.

A man named Branch Rickey who was president of the Brooklyn Dodgers organzation signed Jackie Robinson to a Major League contract. And just like that the color barrier was broken. . .and they all lived happily ever after.

Well, not quite, but more on that in a minute.

Fifty years later, April 15, 1997, a player named Ken Griffey Jr, the son of a Major League player, asked the commisioner, Bud Selig, if he could wear Jackie Robinson’s number 42 instead of his own 24 for a game. It was significant because that was also the year that Jackie Robinson’s number was retired in all of baseball. Nothing like that had ever been done, before or since. No one would ever again wear number 42 as their uniform number.

Ten years later, April 15, 2007, the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s first game in the Majors, Ken Griffey Jr again had an idea. He asked Bud Selig if he could again wear the number. Selig liked the idea. In fact, he liked the idea so much he made it a rule throughout all of baseball. On April 15 each year, every player, every manager, every coach, every batboy, everyone in uniform would wear number 42.

It’s one of my favorite baseball traditions. It’s called Jackie Robinson day. The TV broadcasts on that day show everyone in the same number. When you consider that Baseball’s Rookie of the Year award is also now the Jackie Robinson award, and he was a first ballot Hall of Fame inductee and you can see that Jackie Robinson is one of the most honored men in the history of baseball. He has earned his place among the greats of the game.

But, it wasn’t always that way. His introduction to the league was anything but welcoming. First off the 15 other baseball owners voted to exclude blacks from playing. Fortunately for Branch Rickey, the new commissioner Happy Chandler, overruled them.

Not all the players on the Dodgers were happy to be playing with a negro. Some of the players circulated a petition to have him kicked off the team. Instead, manager Leo Durocher arranged to trade the one most opposed, Dixie Walker.

Opposing pitchers threw at him. He led the league in hit by a pitch. Some clubs threatened to boycott games against the Dodgers. Ben Chapman, manager of the Philadelphia Phillies was one of the worst offenders. He and his team showered Robinson with racist taunts. Some of the players used their bats to pantomime shooting at Robinson, and especially unnerving tactic to use on a combat veteran. Robinson also received numerous death threats.

Robinson was not only a great player. He was a great man. He knew that had to accept the abuse and play through it without fighting back. Instead he did his hitting on the field. He finished fifth in MVP voting and of course, won the inaugural Rookie of the Year award.

So, let’s get back to my original point. The fans who are opposing the Black Lives Matter movement are hypocritical racists. I’m sure that back in 1947 there were plenty of people who couldn’t understand why the Dodgers had to bring race into it.

We are told that somehow saying Black Lives Matter should instead by All Live Matter. That it’s wrong to single out black lives as more important.

And yet, don’t All Players Matter? Why do single out Jackie Robinson? Why did we retire his number even on teams he never played for? Why does all of baseball wear his number on April 15? Why is the Rookie of the Year Award named for him? Why is April 15 named Jackie Robinson Day?

Other black players quickly joined the Major Leages after Robinson broke the color barrier. Aren’t those men important? What about those men who played all their career in the Negro Leagues and never had the chance that Robinson did?

Are not all of these men important?

And what about the other players? The white players. The Asian players? Aren’t we minimizing their work, their worth when we venerate Jackie Robinson so highly?

Of course not. Of course all players matter. However, Jackie Robinson is honored for what he accomplished, but also in recognition of the horrible treatment black ballplayers were subjected to for decades.

When we say Black Lives Matter, we are not saying they are more important than other lives. We are recognizing the mistreatment that black Americans were subjected to for decades.

And I say baseball fans who object to baseball’s embracing BLM are hypocritical racists because they are the same type of fans who opposed Jackie Robinson joining the Dodgers in 1947. But, I’m sure if you asked them, they would tell you how proud they are that baseball broke the color barrier decades before the Civil Rights movement. They would talk about the courage of Robinson and what he had to overcome.

And then they would ask why baseball has to get all “political.” Why do they have to make it about race? Why can’t they just focus on playing baseball and leave all the politics out of it?

Because baseball has always been about race. Sometimes they’ve got it right, like Branch Rickey in 1947. Sometimes they got it wrong, like Ben Chapman in 1947.

So, if you are a baseball fan and you support Jackie Robinson Day. If you are proud of the history of integration baseball has shown. If you admire stars like Griffey and Rivera and Ichiro, not because they are players of color, but simply because they are great ball players, you should be supportive of MLBs support of BLM.

Our history is our future. And there’s no more room for racists in 2020 than there was in 1947.

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) 2020 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

And Baseball Is Back. . .Sort Of

Yesterday was Opening Day for Major League Baseball. I watched the Dodgers play the Giants in front of a group of cardboard cutouts. But, my beloved Mariners didn’t start play until today. So, it didn’t count. . .not for me.

Today I paid $25 for a month’s worth of baseball via MLB.TV. It’s the only way I can get Mariners games. In the past, I’ve paid for the entire year up front. This year, I’m going month-to-month.

This was not your typical baseball game. First, is the lack of fans. A typical baseball stadium will hold 40,000 fans. They make up a fuzzy backdrop to the TV broadcast. A mixture of colors and shapes that all blend into a mosiac backdrop. Tonights game was row afer row after row of empty green seats.

Typically a homerun or foul ball causes a scramble as fans via for a souvenir. In the best of cases, the ball is then handed to a young fan almost too small to hold it. I miss that. Tonight homeruns and foul balls bounced around the empty stadium like a badly designed pinball game.

And there were lots of masks. Some players wore them, but the coaches all wore them.

The game was played in Houston. However, the broadcast showed the Mariners home stadium. That’s where the Mariners broadcast team was. They were sitting in the press box of an empty stadium watching the video feed of a game played 2000 miles away in another empty stadium, so they could broadcast the game to the fans who were at home.

Surreal.

There are rules changes this year too, that most casual fans wouldn’t notice, but change some of the fundamental strategies of the game.

  • Relief pitchers must now pitch to a minimum of three batters, unlike the single batter they could face in previous seasons.
  • The designated hitter has been expanded to both leagues.
  • If a game goes to extra innings each team starts with a runner on 2nd base.
  • Games that have gone 5 innings and then delayed are not going to be made up.

Also, baseball has embraced the Black Lives Matter movement in a big way. The back of the pitchers mound has baseball’s logo with the letters BLM.

The Mariners dropped a laugher 8-2 to the defending American League *Cheaters, I mean Champions. It broke a string of 11 Opening Day wins in a row for the hapless M’s.

But, it was baseball for now. I’m reminded of the saying of the great relief pitcher Benjamin Franklin,

What have we got Dr Franklin?

A season, if we can keep it.

Finally, a breath of normalacy, even if it’s anything but normal.

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) 2020 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

*The Houston Astros were found to have stolen opposting team’s catcher signs for the past two seasons in violation of the rules of baseball.

A Most Odd Off Season

Strange wedding.

Yes. Very strange. Come along.
– The King and Queen from The Princess Bride

Well, baseball started today. . .I think. It’s been a most unusual off season. Baseball ends with the last out of the World Series. This is typically in October, but occasionally spills over into November. (Exciting times when the team plays in an open air stadium in a Northern climate.) It starts with the first pitch on Opening Day. Typically in April, but occasionally as early as late March.

That means that the off season is 5 months long. Typically about 150 days.

This year? The Washington Nationals won their first World Series on October 31, 2019 by beating the cheating Houston Astros. (Seriously, they cheated and lots of people are still upset.)

Today was opening day, July 23, 2020. It’s been 267 days. It’s been so long I don’t even remember when opening day was supposed to happen. I think it was sometime in March, but frankly it’s still too painful to go back and look.

Being a Seattle Mariners fan, I have two annual traditions. Each year I spent $120 for the ability to watch all 162 Mariners games over the internet. This year, I spent my money, but of course, opening day was postponed and they gave me back my money. (I would rather have had the games.)

The second tradition is I import the Mariners’ schedule into my calendar. So, I have 162 appointments, each with an meeting notification telling me who the Mariners are playing.

And for the last three months, about 5 days a week I get a pop up reminder that we are still not playing baseball.

You would think that I would be looking forward to Opening Day. . .Delayed.

I was. . .and I wasn’t.

My first child, a daughter, was born in 1989. My second child, also a daughter, was born four years later in 1993. Six years later, my lovely wife was pregnant with our third child. The ultrasound said it was a boy. Being a lifelong scouter, you’d think I would be excited.

I was. . .and I wasn’t.

I refused to let myself believe our third child was a boy. It’s not that I DISbelieved. I just didn’t allow myself to accept that it was really happening. That was until 2000 when my son was born.

That’s what Opening Day 2020 has been like for me. I didn’t pay for the broadcast ($45 now, since at 60 games, it’s less than 1/3 of the regular schedule.) I also have not imported the revised Mariners schedule. Their first game is tomorrow and it will happen, but I’m mostly going to wait and see.

Tomorrow’s not promised to anyone and in 2020 who can say what the next sunrise will bring?

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) 2020 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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