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Why You Can’t Talk To An Expert

My father is a professional concert conductor.

It must be great to attend concerts with him.

No, it’s terrible. He hates to go.

I like talking to people. I like to think I’m not too bad at it.The key to talking to people is to ask interesting questions and then just listen and let them talk. It’s a weird thing, but if you meet people and you let them talk, afterward, they will think you are a very smart person.

Honestly, everyone is an interesting person. Every personal has an interesting story. Everyone has a favorite movie, a favorite vacation, kids, pets, hobbies. Everyone has something they like to talk about.

But, there are some people that you just can’t talk to. There are some people that if you get them talking, it’s terrible. They won’t shut up. And talking constantly isn’t a bad thing. It’s the subject.

You cannot talk to an expert. Not unless you are also an expert.

I hope you enjoy the festivities. There’s talk of a blizzard.

Well, we may catch a break and that blizzard’s gonna blow right by us. All of this moisture coming up out of the south by midday is probably gonna push on to the east of us. And at high altitudes it’s gonna crystallize and give us what we call snow. Probably be some accumulation. But, here in Punxsutawney, our high’s gonn get up to about 30 today, teens tonight.Chance of precipitation, about 20% today, 20% tomorrow. . .Did you want to talk about the weather or were you just making chitchat?

-Groundhog Day

Experts are boring. Experts have their own language. And most experts love to talk about their expertise. My friend’s father really is a professional conductor. And she hates going with him to a concert. He cannot enjoy a concert. He is too busy critiquing the conductor.

John Williams is one of the most famous composers in Hollywood. He’s done the music for dozens of films. He’s the one who wrote the Star Wars “da-da-da dut-da-da dut-da-da.” John Williams has never watched one of the movies he wrote the music for. Johnny Depp has a similar aversion to seeing his work. Maybe it’s because they are professionals.

I’m an IT guy. I understand computers. I don’t know everything about computers. When I started 30 years ago, that was possible. But, having lived and breathed this industry for three decades, I have stories, and I have experience. The two often go together.

Hey, Doc, how are you doing? Haven’t seen you since high school.

Yeah, I’m consulting now. Doing IPv4 to IPv6 migrations.

Really? Are the two going to be able coexist? I mean can you have IPv6 addressed devices and IPv4 addressed devices on the same network?

You know what? Let’s just focus on the reunion.

Watch for it the next time you are talking to someone. Or better yet, when they hear other people talking. Pay attention to the experts. They can teach you a lot. But, only if they are not allowed to talk to each other.

Oh, and if you are an expert, realize that you need to be careful how you talk to people. Don’t be too smart.

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
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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Dear Touchy-Feely Guy, I Don’t Care!

My therapist gave an exercise. She wanted me to write a letter from my emotional side to my intellectual side, and one from the intellectual side back to the emotional side.

Yesterday I posted the letter from my emotional side. My emotional side called my intellectual side an idiot. Here’s the response.

Dear Rod,

You called me an emotional idiot. Well, I have some news for you. I DON’T CARE. Yes, I’m analytical. Yes, I do cost/benefit analysis and risk/reward studies about decisions. But, you know what? It works. It definitely works better than letting you be in charge.

We’re out of debt, except for the house. We HAVE a house. No one is coming to repossses our cars. We’ve got a good paying stable job that we like. None of those things were true when YOU were making decisions for us.

Remember Wisconsin? You pressed us to take that job because you were too scared to be unemployed any longer. It was a “lets run away and play rafting guide” plan. And it sucked!

Don’t you DARE ever ask me “what’s the worst that can happen?” That was close to the worst, foreclosed house, $80,000 in debt, people coming to take the cars. And we ended up unemployed anyway. We ended up in a 3 stall horse barn with a port-a-potty outside and 12 kids to care for. THAT is what can happen when you “follow your BLISS.”

I know you’d rather be free to ride around the country on a Harley Davidson wearing a Rolex. (Did I leave out any bucket list items?)

So, yes, we are going to do things MY way. Your way is too dangerous.

Remember that scout camping trip through Western Colorado? Driving 70 MPH through the dark Colorado backroads. Doug was driving, we were in the passenger seat and five scouts were in the back watching a DVD. Doug didn’t realize the highway went down to a single lane in each direction. The first car barely missed up us and Doug froze. What would YOU have done? It’s precisely BECAUSE I’m the “emotional designated driver” that we are still alive. I told Doug, “You are in his lane. You’re in his lane.” He then cut back into our lane.

Without that emotionally bankrupt response we’d be dead. You, me, the scouts, Doug. We’d be one more gruesome statistic. Instead the boys never even knew there’d been an issue.

You know what the designated driver gets to do? He gets to go home every night. Is any amount of “partying” worth risking that? I don’t think so. You might say, “Yeah, but it’s a rare thing that something like that happens.” It only takes once. Screw up one time and people can die.

Embrace life? What do you think I’ve been doing? House, cars, kids in college, and missions. THAT is life. It’s the messy, unglamourous bits. It’s getting up at 2:00AM to deliver newspapers for $1600/month and trying to pick up extra routes. It’s driving old cars that are fully paid for. It’s finding the joy where you can and not necessarily chacing somewhere else to look for it. It’s realizing that a lot of times it can be a slog.

If the tradeoff is being an emotional idiot, an emotional cripple, then that’s a tradeoff that I’d make every single day and count myself lucky to have the choice.

Yes, I’m having an argument with myself and posting it on the internet. I did mention I was in therapy, right?

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

Dear Emotional Runt: You Are An Idiot

Yesterday I talked about an exercise that my therapist asked me to do. I was to write a letter from my emotional side to my intellectual side and one from my intellectual side to my emotional side.

This is the letter from my emotional side to my intellectual side.

Dear Rodney:
You’re an idiot. No, you’re not stupid. Not in terms of intelligence. You might even be a genius. But, emotionally you’re an idiot.

You pride yourself on “Standing Outside The Fire” as Garth Brooks would say. You work each day like it might be your last. Why? So you won’t be emotionally hurt when you get fired.

I’m sure you have a nice cost/benefit analysis, or risk/reward workup, or pro/con strategy all worked out. It’s fake. You’re scared to care too much. Don’t want something too much and you won’t be too disappointed when you don’t get it. You’re the emotional designated driver, so concerned with not getting hurt that you never really get to enjoy the party.

Is there really anything that can emotionally reach you? Death of a child? A child’s mission call? Spouse sickness?

You always have to have a clear path to the exit. Don’t want to get trapped. I wonder why not? What’s the harm in shooting for the stars? You might miss? You might crash and burn? You might look foolish? You might come to depend on someone else, really need them and they will let you down?

Take a chance
Live
Laugh
Love

you might as well already be dead if you aren’t going to embrace life.

Signed,

Your Emotionally Suppressed Other Half

Not sure if I get to argue with myself over it.

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

The Fight Between Love And Brains

I want you to write a letter from the emotional side of your personality to the intellectual side and another from the emotional side to the intellectual side.

The request came from a therapist. She was my therapist. I’d been dealing with anxiety issues. Therapy and a mild prescription for Lexapor, and I was doing better. Doing better at working through my issues. But, I still had issues.

The thing about therapy is like going to the doctor for a mild cough and during the exam they diagnose high blood pressure, a cancerous mole and a fractured tibia.

You start working on the cough, but naturally you also start addressing the other issues.

People meeting me would not describe me as emotionally distant. I’ve had lots of practice working with people. I’ve done training, hours of it. I’ve performed in front of people, hundreds of times. I’m really good at conversation. (BTW, the key is asking questions and then really listening to the other person’s responses.)

But, it’s an act. What’s weird is that it’s a really good act and it’s an act I at out every day.

Know how you feel good about something? You act like you feel good about it and hope no one notices.

My therapist thinks I keep my emotions repressed. She’s right of course. But, hey, it’s worked so far.

Well, I’m sitting in a therapists office getting ready to write letters to myself personifying two sides of my personality.

So, maybe it didn’t work as well as I think.

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

Saying “OK” When You Want To Say So Much More

It’s not my fault.

Those are four words that should never be spoken in a work environment. You probably shouldn’t say those words in any situation, but certainly not at work.

This is not a “customer’s always right” post. Well, maybe it is, but it’s really about controlling what you say.

Several years ago I was working with a client on a big project. The project team was pretty big. I was the program manager on our side. The client team had a new project manager. We were at the beginning of the project.

We didn’t have a project schedule yet. We were barely into the planning phase, although we were doing some early prototype testing. The client dev team was building the custom app that we were running, and they were way behind schedule. The software was coming on a CD. We were a little sensitive about security. We were a lot sensitive about security.

I was attending a weeklong conference. The conference wrapped up on Thursday. Friday was a travel day. But, the conference was in Seattle. And I was living in Seattle, so Friday was a work from home day.

I got an email Friday afternoon,

TO: Rodney Bliss
RE: You have a package at the front desk

I didn’t think much of it. Monday, I went into the office and was caught up in the usual “been gone a week need to catch up” work. I got in early so I could head out early. I grabbed the package on my way out the door.

Late Monday afternoon I got an email from the project leader,

TO: Rodney Bliss
RE: Rodney, we want to start the pilot tomorrow morning. We’ll need the users at both your sites ready at 9:00AM with the updated app installed.

Tuesday I had a lunch meeting in Maple Valley. I was going to be home on Monday, and I didn’t have a way to get the CD to my tech team. It’s about an hour from my house to the office. There was no way it was going to work to try and get to the office.

TO: Project Manager
RE: Testing Tomorrow
We aren’t going to be able to do the testing tomorrow. We’ll try to get things setup for Thursday.

Wednesday was a bit of whirlwind. I was in the office early. I got the CD to the tech guys first thing. They got started installing the software and sharing it for our Denver site to also download. I also identified the 10 workstations we were going to use. The test stations could only be used for testing. We had to take them out of production.

By Wednesday EOD we had everything in place to test on Thursday. I wasn’t particularly happy. In my week back after being gone for a day, I’d just sucked up two days on testing that I had no clue was even planned. I figured a 48 hour delay on less than 24 hours notice was pretty good.

Well, no good deed goes unpunished. Thursday morning I got on our conference call with the client.

Rodney, will Cleveland be joining us?

What do you mean?

We need testers from the Cleveland office as well. It’s the only office that has design staff.

Ah. . .they will not be joining us on this call.

So, another round of calls to get the software to the Cleveland team and get more workstations moved out production. Friday morning we did another call and another set of tests. Fortunately, the new app ran flawlessly. My annoyance at having to run a fire drill was offset by the fact that my team had done a fantastic job of pulling stuff together on short notice.

Remember me saying no good deed goes unpunished?

Monday I got an email from my Executive Vice President. He was about three levels above me. It basically was a long email chain starting from the project manager up through her management chain to senior managers and then across to my senior management chain. It gave great detail about how I had screwed up the project.

I don’t get angry at work. It’s never worth it. But, here I had the Senior VP telling me to stop screwing up the project. The sad thing was, it really wasn’t my fault and I honestly couldn’t tell anyone. I certainly couldn’t tell the VP.

You might be thinking,

But, Rodney, it really WASN’T your fault. Just explain that to the VP.

The thing is, the VP doesn’t care. People at his level get paid to not care. Well, he cares about the project. But, he doesn’t care who screwed it up. He just wants it fixed.

I emailed the VP,

TO: Senior VP
RE: Do you want me to respond to the issue, or just make sure it’s fixed?

TO: Rodney Bliss
RE: I already apologized to them and gave them a commitment. Just make it work.

So, you know what I did?

I responded with a simple: “Understood.”

And that was it. Sure, it wasn’t my fault, but no one cared. And I needed to not care either.

Customer always right? No. But, if they are wrong, you can’t tell anyone.

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

Investigating Someone You Can’t Name

We’d like you to grant one of our investigators access to an account.

Sure. What’s the name?

We can’t tell you that.

Oh, they knew the name. But, they couldn’t share it with me. I was the team manager for the email team at a major non-profit. Actually, I was the manager for the email and SharePoint teams. But, the SharePoint guys never really got much love. Everyone wanted to talk about email.

We had just migrated from Novell Groupwise email to Microsoft Exchange. Exchange had a pretty powerful “big brother” feature. Actually, it was a suite of features. With Microsoft Exchange, the company had access to anything and everything in the system. And we could access those features without the user ever knowing about it.

The problem was that it was necessary to actually know what mailbox you needed access to in order to access it. The investigators knew this of course.

You know I have to know what makilbox to grant access to, in order to give you access, right?

Of course, but we can’t tell you the name.

Why not?

Well, someone was walking passed the office of one of our senior executives. . .you would know him if we said his name. . .and they thought they might have seen something on his computer. We want to check it out.

Without causing suspicion if it turns out to be nothing?

Exactly.

So, we had a problem, my team had the skills to grant access. They were good at their jobs. Just as the investigators were good at theirs. But, the investigators couldn’t grant access. . .and my team couldn’t know the name of the suspect.

The solution was to break some of our security protocols. Is it still a problem if you break the security protocols with the security officers?

In any case, it was the only solution I could think of.

The process was pretty simple. My engineer met with the security officer alone in an office with a laptop.

Even though you’re with security, as you know, our policy of least privilege means you don’t have access to the email access control lists.

Right.

If you’ll look at my screen I’ll show you how to grant access to Rodney’s mailbox from the list of users. Then, I’ll leave the room and you can find the person you want to investigate and grant yourself access to that mailbox.

And when we’re done?

I’ll show you how to remove your access from Rodney’s mailbox and you can then do it for the other one.

I guess I might have been concerned that security was technically investigating my mailbox too, but I wasn’t worried. As with most investigations, security was extremely close-lipped. We never found out if the person had been doing something unethical or illegal.

But, I was just happy that we’d found a way to investigate someone without actually knowing their name.

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

Why So Serious?

I have a good friend who is an anti-vaxxer. I’m not even sure if that’s a politically correct term, or is offensive. (If someone knows a better one, let me know.) She’s a very smart woman and certainly not someone who would be accused of conspiracy theories. In fact, she’s less anti-vaccines and more a skeptic, especially of the vaccination schedule and the contents of vaccines.

She has done extensive reading on vaccines over the past several years. This post isn’t about vaccines and how effective they are or are not.

She’s a very good friend and that allows us to have what might otherwise be contentious conversations. You see, I think vaccines are safe and effective. We are on opposite ends of the spectrum on the issue.

But, again, this isn’t about the effectiveness of vaccines.

My friend couldn’t understand why I thought it was okay to force people, especially kids to put chemicals in their body. . .even if it’s for their own good. It seems to fly in the face of conservative principles of less government and fewer laws.

My friend and I are both politically conservative. And she’s right. But, there’s a more important principle than personal choice.

As conservatives, my friend and I are both opposed to abortion.

Pro-choice advocates give many of the same philosophical arguments as anti-vaxxers. Their arguments are not about conception or clinics or doctors. Instead they talk about privacy. They talk about “my body, my choice.”

Many pro-choice supporters don’t understand why pro-life people are so emotional about the issue. “Why should they care what I do with my body?” is the question we hear.

Anti-vaxxers remind me of people who believe the earth is flat. There’s lots of science to suggest they’re wrong, but they insist that the true story, the real evidence is being surpressed.

I think flat earthers are wrong. You probably think they are wrong too. But, I don’t really care if they are wrong. I mean, I don’t spend any thought or time trying to convince them that they are wrong. And if I had a good friend who was a flat-earther, I think we’d just agree to disagree.

Why? Why do I care about the vaccine discussion and abortion but not flat earth?

Because, it’s not about opinions. I care about the first two for the same reason I don’t care about the flat-earthers.

A flat earth believer isn’t going to hurt anyone. I guess, if they were a rocket scientist, that would be a problem, but for most everyday things, a flat earther isn’t a threat to anyone.

To a pro-life supporter, the same can’t be said about an abortion. Pro-life supporters believe that there is no difference between a fetus and a baby. If one deserves protection, so does the other. If someone suggested they could kill their 6 month old child because “my child my choice” everyone, pro-life and pro-choice people alike, would rightly be outraged. To a pro-life supporter, that same outrage is warrented to protect a six month old fetus.

And that’s what makes pro-vaxx people so passionate. It’s not about privacy. It’s not about choice. It’s about putting other people, especially the very young or the very old, at risk for preventable diseases. People who choose to not get vaccinated, or not have their children vaccinated, increase the likelihood they could spread disease to people who cannot be vaccinated.

And that’s the important point. When it comes to discussions of vaccines and abortion, why so serious? Because it’s literally a matter of life and death.

For the flat-earth discussion? Not so much.

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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