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Playing A Cartoon Fish

Excuse me. Excuse me. Just trying to get home.
– Marlin “Finding Nemo”

I went to Chattanooga today. I didn’t intend to. In fact, I fell asleep and woke up in Chattanooga.

Atlanta was closed.

Not the city. Just the airport.

My flight home from Shreveport diverted to Chattanooga to wait out the thunderstorms sitting over the Atlanta airport. Chattanooga’s airport was surpringly crowded for a regional airport. Probably because we weren’t the only diversion.

If you were on the flight from Tulsa to Atlanta you must get on the airplane at gate 4 now. You are in danger of missing your flight.

People were concerned about leaving their bags on the plane. The flight attendant tried to be helpful,

You can leave them hear while you stretch your legs in the terminal. Don’t worry. We aren’t going anywhere. . .YET. I mean, we aren’t going anywhere yet!

As it always does, the weather eventually cleared up and we all got back on our flight to Atlanta. Goodbye Tennessee, hello Georgia.

Atlanta’s airport is one of the busiest in the world. Millions of people go through their every day. If you close it, there’s going to be a buildup. Like kinking a waterhose, the pressure will build up behind it. Chattanooga is only about 45 minutes from Atlanta. We were one of the first flights in.

It was structured chaos. The terminal was literally wall to wall people. We had to thread our way through the crowds standing 20 people deep at the gates. And that’s when I had a flashback to watching Finding Nemo.

I’d been travelling all day. I was tired and as I inadvertantly bumped into people next to me, I just thought,

Sorry. Excuse me, just trying to get home

Eventually I made it to my gate. The flight to Salt Lake City was delayed. . .and then delayed again. We finally boarded around 8:00 for a 4:51 flight. Then, we sat in an airplane traffic jam for another hour.

We landed at Salt Lake around 10:30. As I shuffled off the plane with the rest of the clown fish headed home, I was met by a wall of humanity. Atlanta’s weather trouble had backedup the entire system.

I got my bag. Caught a shuttle to my car and headed home. . .through the construction at point-of-the-mountain. Six miles of bumper-to-bumper stop and go traffic.

Sorry. Excuse me. Just trying to get home.

It’s good to be home safe. How was the trip?

Successful.

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) 2019 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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No Longer Just A Training Exercise

I’m really busy this week. There are two full weeks crammed into one week. We are doing a major software migration. It’s taking 12 hour days. I’ve walked miles and miles everyday. I don’t even count steps and I’m way over my step goal.

We are also doing a security audit. Even though we run our business on a daily basis as if we are being audited everyday, there’s still plenty of work that goes into the audit. We have pre-audit meetings. Pre-audit walkthroughs. The audit itself is about 10 hours of nonstop exercises and interviews.

Oh, and all day Monday I had a system outage. It was one of the worst we’ve ever had. I spent 12 hours on multiple phone bridges. Often two at the same time. Even though we have Incident Managers responsible for managing the troubleshooting, I need to be on the call as well.

When we have an outage I need to send a report to our client. It has to be to them in 48 hours. I don’t generally have to write it. Oh, I give input. But, we have a team and a lead who write the report. And it has to be to the client within 48 hours. . .and the outage was on Monday. . .but it was a really big outage

So, on Tuesday I got an email from the client asking for more details on the outage. Because it was a large outage, it’s not surprising they wanted more information and they wanted it within 24 hours. But, I was really busy. So, I pushed back. I explained that I’d get to the email as soon as I could, but I was really busy.

Not surprisingly the client escalated. This isn’t a bad thing. And it’s not an unexpected thing. Unfortunately, no one else could answer the client questions. I don’t say arrogantly. Seriously, I am the only one who understand all the aspects of the outage and how it impacted the client.

But, they escalated. They really wanted an answer. The escalation bounced through a VP, bounced up to a Senior VP, got assigned and then got assigned to a different VP. He didn’t have any of the details. Naturally he needed that information.

Guess who he decided to ask?

Yep. He went to the only person who actually had all the details of the outage.

Rodney, I’m trying to set some details for the outage on Monday. Can you help answer the questions below?

And down below in the email was the exact email that I’d been sent a few hours earlier.

I could push back on the client. I was less sure about pushing back on a senior VP. I guess I really do have time to do this. Sure, I could just send email back to the VP. But, in that case I might as well simply do the work myself.

This was no longer just a training exercise. (Imagine it spoken by James Earl Jones in The Hunt For Red October.)

Sometimes, trying to escalate an issue doesn’t actually help. Or, maybe it did. They got their questions answered within 24 hours.

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) 2019 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Lies My Father Told

John, you make the BEST popcorn.

My dad didn’t give complements easily. He was a man who did not suffer fools.

But, he loved popcorn. And he appreciated the way my little brother made it. This was in the years before microwave popcorn.

My parents owned one of the first microwaves I remember anyone having. We did our own popcorn experiments. We got some popcorn and put it into a big red plastic bowl. We weren’t sure how long to set the timer to. We set it for five minutes and waited.

The corn didn’t pop. But, it did get hot enough to melt holes in our plastic bowl. I now know based on experience that we could have put a 1/4 of corn into a paper bag and it would have popped up nicely.

We didn’t know that then.

But, like I said, microwaves were new. The idea that we could place glass, plastic and even paper into a box and the food would cook without destroying the container? That was a revolutionary idea and it took us awhile to get used to it.

One night when I was about 16, my mother made a cassarole. She made it in a glass bowl. She then covered the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in the oven.

Not the microwave oven.

The REGULAR oven.

Mom? What are you doing?

Rodney, I don’t want to hear it! Just leave me alone.

I was probably pretty obnoxious as a kid. I probably deserved to be told to quiet down on many occasions. So, I did what she asked. I left her alone. I didn’t say a thing.

An hour later, dinner was ruined. The bowl, now covered with melted plastic, was ruined. Even the oven was in bad shape.

Why didn’t you stop me?

You told me you knew what you were doing.

We had pizza that night.

Making popcorn was a chore. We typically cooked it on the stove, in a frying pan. You added a little butter or oil, you put in the popcorn and then you shook the pan. . .forever. Or at least it felt like that.

Yep, my dad loved the way my younger brother made popcorn. And he wasn’t shy about complementing him on it. It wasn’t until I was older that I started to realize that typically my dad complemented my brother on his popcorn skills right before he asked my brother to make him some.

And my brother never failed to rise to the occasion. Or, more accurately, he’d rise from the coach and head into the kitchen.

Was my dad lying? No. He did love the way my brother made popcorn. Mostly, because my brother was making popcorn. Did he make it the best?

Well, he made it and my dad got his popcorn.

I think that was enough to qualify as “the best.” At least it was to my little brother.

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) 2019 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Essentially Useless

I normally don’t set an alarm. But, I also don’t normally get up at 3:45 in the morning. But, today wasn’t a normal day.

What is a normal day, anyway? If a “normal” day means “like most other days” that’s kind of boring sounding. Today wasn’t boring.

I arrived on site about 5:00AM. I was planning for 4:30, but yeah, I guess I’m not really a morning person.

I was at our location in Louisiana for a migration. We have to update 600 computers over the next three days. Meanwhile, the client will migrate, or “flip” our agents. If a “flipped” agent sits at an updated computer, they can log into the new version of VMWare, a program that allows my clients to log into a virtual desktop on the client’s system.

This is our forth and final migration.

I once took an airplane ride. Well, I’ve taken a lot, but on this one, after we’d taken off and started to climb to our cruising altitude the captain come on and said,

We’ve now completed the most dangerous portion of journey.

The most dangerous portion of our migration is the the very beginning of the first of the three days. We cannot upgrade the computers until after the agents log off. And once we do the migration, only “flipped” agents can use the migrated computers.

But, if we screw up that migration piece, if we miss a step in the install, the agents won’t be able to log in. We’ll have to redo the migration. It takes a couple of hours.

We start taking calls at 6:30 in the morning. Our desktop engineer needed to be there at 4:30. Two hours. The math was simple.

That explained why the desktop engineer needed to be there. But, why was I there? I was essential. And useless.

The engineer was running a set of scripts. The scripts had been written and tested multiple times. They were the exact same scripts we had used at the previous two sites. They were not the same scripts we ran at the first migration, but you learn from your mistakes.

I was not going to be able to run the scripts. Honestly, I don’t even know the names of the scripts or the commands to launch them. I wasn’t going to be any help with that. If the scripts failed, I wasn’t going to be able to help debug them. I might be some help if we had to try to do the upgrade manually. We did that the first site because the scripts weren’t working.

But, lots of things would have to go wrong for us to switch to manual. It would represent a big problem. I wasn’t expecting one.

No, I wasn’t there to do anything. I was there to be. I was there to be a support. I was there to be a representative from management. I was there to be with the engineer while he did the work.

It was my call to ask our engineer to get up at oh-dark-thirty and come into the site to work. The least I could do was show up and put in the time that I was asking him to.

So, there I sat. This morning, well before the crack of dawn I was sitting in a supervisor chair trying to not distract our engineer and watching the clock as the seconds ticked down to 6:30 and the chance to see if our prework had paid off.

Whether it worked or not wasn’t really going to be up to me. It was all in the hands of the engineer. I was useless. Or, essentially useless.

(Oh, the migration went flawlessly. The engineer did his job brilliantly. I was no help.)

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) 2019 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Rain, Rain. . .Where’d You Go?

It’s the first hurricane of the season.

Hurricanes are named based on the alphabet. Every year they change the names. They used to be all female names. All hurricanes from 1953 to 1979 were named for women.

It became obvious this was NOT a complement. Now, they use men and women names. For 2019 the names are

    Andrea
    Barry
    Chantal
    Dean
    Erin
    Fernand
    Gabrielle
    Humberto
    Imelda
    Jerry
    Karen
    Lorenzo
    Melissa
    Nestor
    Olga
    Pablo
    Rebekah
    Sebastien
    Tanya
    Van
    Wendy

If we have more than 21 named storms they switch to the less interesting Greek alphabet

  • Alpha
  • Beta
  • Gamma

On through to Omega. There are 24 Greek letters.

I don’t think the World Meteorological Organization is worried about running out of names. The most named stores was in 2005. There were 28 named systems and 15 of them became hurricanes.

The 2005 was famous for one storm in particular. My daughter was in elementary school. She thought it was very exciting to have a storm named after her. . .all the way up until Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, the levees broke and it became one of the worst disasters in our nations history. The jokes got old quickly.

The World Meteorological Organization sometimes reuses names. But, when a storm is particularly devastating, they retire the name. Katrina got retired. Dozens of names have been retired over the years.

Not every name gets assigned to a hurricane. The names get assigned to Tropical Storms. If the storm turns into a hurricane the name goes with it. If the storm never becomes a hurricane they move on to the next name on the list.

Storms start as tropical depressions. They are describes as cyclones. Interesting bit of trivia. The greatest baseball pitcher of all times was a guy named Denton True Young. He played from 1890 through 1911. How good was he? He won a total of 511 games. The second place player has 417 wins. Modern pitchers rarely break 300 wins.

At one point during his career he was warming up by throwing a baseball against a fence. When he was done someone said it looked like a cyclone had hit the fence. And “Cy” Young was never again known as Denton. Today, the best pitcher in each league is awarded the Cy Young award.

But, he has nothing to do with hurricanes.

A tropical cyclone with sustained winds above 38 MPH but below 74.

  • Tropical Depression: sustained winds below 37 MPH
  • Tropical Storm: 38 MPH to 74 MPH (This is when they get named)
  • Category 1 Hurricane: 74-95 MPH
  • Category 2 Hurricane: 96-110 MPH
  • Category 3 Hurricane: 111-129 MPH
  • Category 4 Hurricane: 130-156 MPH
  • Category 5 Hurricane: Greater than 156 MPH

Tropical storm Andrea never developed into a hurricane. Barry did. In fact, it came ashore near New Orleans as a Category 1. It quickly was downgraded to a Tropical Storm and then a depression.

The issue with Barry has been its speed. The storm is moving at about 5 MPH across the ground. And it’s dropping a lot of rain.

I’m in Louisiana this week. I had to plan what to bring. I generally bring a black leather jacket. But, it doesn’t do great in the rain. I packed a gore-tex jacket and at the last minute threw in a rain hat. I even packed wool socks just in case.

As we flew into Louisana, I looked out the window at the overcast sky. . .and the dry pavement. Not a drop of rain. All my preparation appears to be in vain.

I’ve never been so disappointed to not have it rain.

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) 2019 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Baseball Isn’t For Everyone

My layover in Dallas was 3 hours. I’m not sure why. Typically our corporate travel office booked my flights so that my layovers were less than an hour. But, for some reason this trip I had a long layover.

Good layovers can be either short or long, long enough to visit the city, or short enough to just barely get from one plane to the next.

Three hours is neither long nor short.

I made my way around DFW, taking the train to the terminal where my plane was leaving from. I found a restaurant and settled in for a nice lunch. . .and a baseball game on the TV.

It was the first game of the second half of the season. We just had the All Star break. All 30 teams of MLB shut down for nearly a week. The best and the brightest players head off to the All Star game. It was held in Cleveland this year.

Every team is represented in the All Star game. The fans vote for their favorite player at each position. Those become the starters. And then the managers for each team pick the rest of the players, making sure they pick at least one player from each team.

The managers are chosen the previous year. The managers for the All Star Game are the managers from the previous year’s World Series. It’s actually viewed as one of the less desirable aspects of getting to the World Series. The managers have to try to manage the All Star game while making sure eah player gets a chance to play.

In baseball, once a player leaves the game they are not allowed to return. It becomes especially challenging when dealing with the pitchers. The danger is that the game will be tied and go into extra innings and require a pitcher to pitch too long, affecting his ability to play in upcoming games.

The All Star Game was last week. Today was the first day of that regular play resumed. The game playing on the TV at the airport was the first game of the day, Cubs at Pirates.

A baseball game takes about three hours. It can finish in as little as a couple of hours. There is no limit on how long the game go. Baseball games don’t have a time limit.

But, they typically take about three hours. . .and conveniently I had about three hours to kill.

It was a great game. Through four innings, both pitchers had a no hitter going. Eventually the Cubs offense pushed across a run, but the game was still close. I was watching the clock as I watched the game. It looked like I’d be able to watch through the end of the game.

And then they changed the channel. . .TO GOLF!

I watched the rest of the game on my phone at the gate.

But, then, some people just don’t like baseball.

(Cubs won it 4-3.)

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) 2019 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

The Hurricane That Hit Utah

I’m in North Carolina. I’ve been here all week. I fly home tomorrow. But, my eyes are on the storm forming in the Gulf of Mexico. I’m hundreds of miles from it. Tomorrow night, I’ll be thousands of miles from it. And yet, it’s dictating my travel choices.

Next week I’m supposed to be in Louisiana. Should I try to get in on Sunday? Wait for Monday? By Tuesday it would be too late. Our company has offices all over the United States. My centers are in Utah, the East Coast and Louisiana. Next week we have visitors from the client meeting us in Louisiana. We have meetings scheduled all week. They’ve been on the schedule for months. In fact, it’s the final week of a project that has consumed most of the summer. No one wants to delay.

So, this afternoon we looked at the weather map before the client left our North Carolina office. During our team meeting later in the afternoon, we started with a map and the projected impact areas.

We debated the potential impact. We drew up contingency plans. We set timelines for when to call in additional people from other sites. We double checked our flights. The client is driving in from Oklahoma, so they don’t have to worry about cancelled flights. The fact they are driving also means they will for sure be there.

So, I’ll for sure be there.

And rain is going to be there.

Ultimately, I decided I’d leave my Sunday flight. If I get bumped, I’ll let Delta find me the next available flight. My flight to Louisiana starts in North Carolina, has a layover in Salt Lake City, then routes to Atlanta and hopefully flies over Tropical Storm Barry into Northern Louisiana.

I might be the only one in Utah who’s being affected by the hurricane.

Guess, I’ll be packing an my rain gear.

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) 2019 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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