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Off To Charlotte Today

I went to Charlotte today. Several times. In between I went to lunch in Pleasant Grove. I watched my granddaughter this evening. Also in Pleasant Grove. But, I had plenty of meetings in Charlotte. And the rest of the people in the meetings were in Texas, or Florida, or Utah.

Of course, we were all connected via a Zoom meeting. The meetings were part of a site visit. We called it a virtual site visit. We used to do them in person. We have a lot of sites. Two years ago, I achieved Gold Status on Delta Airlines. And as soon as I did, we plunged into the pandemic and everyone went home. For over a year.

It’s like someone told us all “go to your room.” And now we are waiting to hear if we can come out.

Our meetings were with various teams and groups. People joined and left. We did troubleshooting and we gave presentations. At the end of the day, I was exhausted.

I’m not sure we’ll ever go back to normal. This is normal. Now is normal. We can jet across the country and be back in time for lunch.

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.

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(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

I Work For A Lifeguard

My boss is a lifeguard. But, we don’t work at a pool. I’ve never seen him a swimming suit. In fact, I’ve never seen him in person at all. He lives in North Carolina, I live in Utah. But, he absolutely is a lifeguard. Or maybe an umbrella. Or a shield. He might be a shield.

When you work in business, it’s important to be good at managing your team or teams. it’s equally important to manage up as well as down. Obviously your immediate supervisor is the most important person in the entire company when it comes to how well you are going to do. But, there is more to being a good manager than proper coaching and helping you overcome obstacles. Your immediate supervisor is also your connection to the rest of the organization.

Not everyone knows how to be a good manager. It’s not an innate skill. Like everything it takes practice. It takes aptitude. And it takes courage. We’ve all had managers who were only out for themselves, who took all the credit and shifted all the blame.

Or, we’ve had micro-managers. Managers who told you exactly how to do every little thing, and then became upset when you did it wrong.

But, an effective manager also needs to be courages. He (or she) needs to have the courage to let you do your job. They need to have courage that letting you take credit for your work won’t reflect badly on them. In fact, ironically the more credit you give your team, the better you look as a manager. But, that takes courage.

And your manager has to have the courage to stand up to upper management, including his or her manager. That’s were lifeguarding comes in. Think about a lifeguard’s job. The lifeguard lets you swim, or play on the beach. You can surf. Or you can go out beyond the breakers. The lifeguard will warn you if there are sharks, or riptides or rocks. And if you can handle the waves and the rip tides and the sharks, the lifeguard lets you.

But, if you get into trouble, only then does the lifeguard step in. (Or typically swim in.) They will help you anyway they need to. Maybe it’s a simple tow back to shore. Maybe it’s CPR. They will provide you support at the level you need.

And when you are recovered. They let you go back to swimming with the sharks.

As a manager, you should try to be a lifeguard. As an employee appreciate it if you happen to work for one.

I know I do.

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.

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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

And Then He Jabbed A Needle In My Arm

“I have been in the revenge business for so long that now that’s it’s over I don’t know what to do with the rest of my life.”

– Indigo Montoya

I was strangely nervous. We have been careful for so long. I was afraid of jinxing it.

Did you know that the American WWII General Patton was famous for putting himself in the battle? He was part of some of the bloodiest, and most successful campaigns during the war. Clearly, he was a big part of the Allies winning the war.

Do you know how he died? He was killed in an auto accident shortly after the end of the war. Survived the bloodiest conflict in history only to die from a car crash.

Maybe that’s what I was thinking about.

I got vaccinated today. (Do I even need to say vaccinated for what?)

Our local Walgreens got a shipment of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine today. And they were taking walk-ins. I gave them my information and then the pharmacist asked me to have a seat for a few minutes while he helped some other customers. While I was sitting there, my reaction was surprising to me.

I was nervous.

I don’t like needles. But, that wasn’t why I was nervous. I just look away and think about something besides the piece of needle piercing my skin and jabbing into my muscle. Yeah, anything but that.

And it wasn’t the vaccine itself. I have some friends and family who are anti-vaxxers. They wouldn’t describe themselves that way, but everyone else would. We don’t discuss vaccines much. The discussion typically ends after I ask how many people they know who have been infected with smallpox or polio. No? Yeah, vaccines work.

No, I was nervous because of the story of Gen Patton. I’ve managed to avoid becoming infected for over a year. My lovely wife is still dealing with the after affects of her bout with COVID. My son had it while living at home. My daughter and her family had it while she was giving birth to my grandson. He was COVID free. I’ve had friends and family who had COVID. Fortunately none died. I was always worried that I would get it and bring it home to my family.

I remember as a teenager when Russian President Boris Yeltsin visited the Seattle area. This was shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union. Yeltsin was the first democratically elected president of the new Russian republic. While in Seattle he announced that the soviet missiles were no longer targeting locations in the United States, including Seattle.

All my life I had lived with the threat of nuclear annihilation. Living in Seattle, we had

  • Boeing aircraft factory
  • Microsoft
  • Bangor Submarine base
  • Fort Lewis Army base
  • McChord Air Force base
  • Hanford Nuclear facility
  • Everett Shipyards
  • Bremerton Navy base

We lived in what you would call a target rich environment. And being the state in the lower 48 closest to the USSR, we knew that if a war ever broke out we’d never hear about it. We’d already be dead. It was a fact of life, like hurricanes in Florida, or Tornados in Kansas. It was something that you just accepted.

And then President Yeltsin said, “We are not targeting you anymore. We have pointed all our missiles at locations out at sea.” Of course, they could retarget them, but no one was going to accidentally blow us up.

It was a weird feeling. Later North Korea announced their nuclear missile program and as Dory in “Finding Nemo” said,

Good feeling gone.

But for a while it was as if a weight was lifted that we didn’t even realize we were carrying. That’s how I felt waiting for my shot.

The pharmacist delivered the Johnson & Johnson shot a few minutes later. It’s a single shot rather than the two stage vaccine with some of the other manufactures. Frankly, I would have done whichever one was available.

He warned me that I may experience flu like symptoms for a few days. And I won’t be considered fully vaccinated for a couple weeks.

But, in the meantime, it’s good to know that the cloud is starting to lift.

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

A 42 Year Anniversary In The Future

Today’s a special day. Well, it will be a special day 42 years from now. You might wonder how I can predict such an event so many years in the future? I can predict it because it’s already happened.

April 5, 2063 will be First Contact Day. The day when citizens of planet earth first make contact with an alien species. The events are depicted (documented?) in the movie Star Trek: First Contact.

So, what makes me so sure that an event depicted in a movie will actually happen? Because it’s Star Trek.

Did you know that the first Space Shuttle was named Enterprise? It was named after the USS Enterprise in Star Trek. Incidentally, the USS Enterprise was/will be named after the first space shuttle.

One of the most uncool things you can have is a flip phone. Smart phones aren’t flip phones. Do you know why flip phones actually flipped? Because on Star Trek the communicators have flip up screens.

The iPad was the initial tablet PC. Did you know that when the iPad was first announced Apple and Steve Jobs were ridiculed for the name? We had seen tablets before the iPad. Star Trek is a paperless society. But, several times we see them use tablet devices.

We are experimenting with teleportation. We are a long ways away from the transporter, but we continue to work on it.

We all know what warp drive is. Is it possible to travel faster than light? The Enterprise can do it. And physicists are doing some tantalizing theoretical experiments around faster than light. The theory might prove impractical or impossible, but we are working on it.

So, don’t be surprised when Star Trek and science fiction fans celebrate First Contact Day April 5 for the next 42 years.

Stranger things have happened.

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

Today I Remembered My Son Was Black

I got a text:

So, I got pulled over. What do I do?

If you are a parent, you probably would read the text with a mix of dread and anger. Not me.

Mine was all about the fear.

See, my son is black and it’s the first time he’s been pulled over.

I gave him the same advice I’ve given him for years.

  • Be respectful
  • Keep your hands in plain sight
  • Sign the ticket when he hands it to you
  • ASK before you reach for your license
  • Call me when it’s over

My son is a good kid. But, tonight, more than ever before, I became acutely aware that he’s also black.

It turned out fine.

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

The Two Most Exciting Words In Sport (2021 edition)

Waiting on an 8:05pm first pitch on opening day is like having to wait until noon to open your Christmas presents.

Statistics say that a good portion of you, fair readers, are not baseball fans. I’m not one of those baseball fans who insists that others should join my obsession. And make no mistake I’m a fan. In fact, I’m probably a bigger baseball geek than anyone you know. If you don’t believe me, send me the contact information for your friend who is a bigger fan. I’m always looking to expand my group of friends who share my passion.

But, despite knowing that some of y’all think baseball is a boring game, and knowing what an insane idiot I am about the game, I appreciate you staying through my baseball posts. I really do.

As I was driving my son to work yesterday, I said,

Do you know what holiday tomorrow is?

.

Ah. . .I don’t know April Fools Day?

.

Oh. . .yes, of course. Not sure why I thought it was May Day. I completely forgot about the month of April.

My son is not a baseball fan. He would not have picked “Opening Day” as the “other” holiday that April 1st ushered in.

Today, baseball returned to “normal.” Teams returned to their home stadiums, like the Mariners, or travelled to “open on the road” like the visiting San Francisco Giants. Fan returned to the stadiums. The Tigers held their home opener in Detroit. It snowed. They played anyway.

But, we really don’t have normal. We have a new normal. Fans returned, but the Mariners home stadium of T-Mobile Park holds about 30,000. They allowed 9,000 to enter the ballpark. The Washington Nationals held their home opener in Washington DC against the NY Mets. The game was postponed. Not due to rain (or snow) but a player tested positive for COVID. The entire game got postponed.

I stayed up late watching the Mariners opener. They fell behind early, but rallied for six runs in the 8th to briefly take the lead before giving it up in the 9th. And then it was off to extra innings.

The great thing about baseball is that ties aren’t really a thing. You just keep playing until someone wins. When, you are tied after 9 innings, you play another and another and so on until someone is ahead at the end of the inning.

Again, normal is new. Now, when a game goes to extra innings, teams start the inning with a player on 2nd base. That rule was implemented during last year’s COVID shortened season. It’s a whole new ball game.

Oh, and the two most exciting words in sports aren’t Opening Day, although that could be a close second. Finally, we can say,

PLAY BALL!

Stay safe

(Just before midnight the Mariners got a walk-off walk to win it 8-7 in the 10th)

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

Why 70’s Kids Couldn’t Spell Relief

My daughter does volunteer work six days per week. It’s about a ten minute drive from our house. Despite the fact she’s 21, she doesn’t have a drivers license so I drive her. The CD player in my 25 year old car is broken, so I listen to the radio. And I listen to the Oldies station.

I love music. I have for years. I know most of the songs on the Oldies station. And often several are played without a commercial break. This morning I was offering her trivia about each song and artist. Many I also sang along to.

Is this a CD?

No. I just know all these songs. Because, you know, I’m old.

The final song that came on while we pulled into her parking lot was RESPECT by Aretha Franklin. I explained what a pioneer she was in the music industry. She exited the car before the song got to the first chorus and the distinctive,

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

I thought about how I would never forget how to spell that word. Sure, it’s a simple word, but the song has burned it into my memory.

Travis Tritt has a song called T-R-O-U-B-L-E. The song features the lyrics

What are you doin’ A-L-O-N-E?

Yeah, hey good L double O-K-I-N-G

I smell T-R-O-U-B-L-E

I’m sure everyone my age also remember’s Jenny’s phone number from the Tommy Tutone hit of the same name: 867-5309. Songs and ads make us remember.

It’s also why those of us who grew up in the 70’s couldn’t spell the word relief. It’s an easy word, like respect, or trouble. But, just as kids will learn the right spelling from a song, they will also learn the wrong one.

When I was in 5th grade many of us spelt relief as R-O-L-A-I-D-S. Rolaids, the antacids company ran a commercial. The tagline was “Rolaids spells relief.” Interesting that as 10 year olds we weren’t even the target audience. In fact, the people buying Rolaids knew how to spell relief.

So, here I am almost 50 years later. I don’t remember class lessons, but I remember Jenny’s phone number, the spelling of respect and remind myself on the right spelling relief.

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

That’s The Wrong Math Formula

A few months ago I talked about a mistake that my 6th grade teacher made. (A Response To My 6th Grade Teacher.) Even though it was decades, I still remember a lot of what Mr Michalek taught me. Of course, the parts I remember best were when he was wrong.

In 6th grade the teacher covers all the topics. The next year, in 7th grade, we got to move between classes. But, 6th grade was still like elementary school. The teacher has to know a little history, a little English, and of course a little math. I don’t think Math was Mr Michalek’s first love.

The problem with 6th graders, are they are just starting to aquire a few critical thinking skills. And they are obnoxious. I know. I was an obnoxious 6th grader. I suppose I have some excuse. I had what you might describe as a tumultuous childhood. We moved a lot. You are thinking you know what that means. You don’t. I went to 5 different schools in the 5th grade. I finally ended up at Lakes Elementary.

Finally, I had stability, although I didn’t know it at the time. We lived in that house for the next 7 years. I finished up 5th grade at Lakes and then moved on with my classmates to Nisqually Middle School, where they had grades 6, 7 and 8. Eventually I went to Timberline High School where I despite my best efforts, I managed to graduate.

But, back to 6th grade. We were having a math lesson. Mr Michalek informed us that given a set circumference, the volume inside the circumference is always the same. Maybe you are good at math and you are now thinking, “Well, that’s not right!”

You’re right, of course, but as a 6th grader, I didn’t understand how to calculate area. Well, that’s not exactly true. I knew that you could multiple the width times the length and you’d get the area. But, what if I cut the width in half? No, that won’t work. The length doubles and the area is the same.

I didn’t believe Mr Michalek. I couldn’t prove it but it didn’t feel right. I just couldn’t prove it. You probably can. And today, it would be simple. The area of a circle is pi times the radius squared. And today I also understand that the maximum area for a given circumference is a circle. It’s one reason that barrels are round.

But as a 12 year old we hadn’t covered circles. At least not to that level. But, I kept thinking about it. All weekend I went over the problem in my mind. And finally I came up with a simple, non-mathematical solution. Had I lived in Utah instead of Washington, I would have figured it out sooner, I think.

I mentioned I was an obnoxious kid, right? Well, on Monday, I raised my hand eagerly in class,

Mr. Michalek!

Yes, Rodney.

Last week you told us that for a given border the area inside was always the same.

That’s right.

You’re wrong.

Oh really? Care to show the class?

I proudly walked to the blackboard. (Okay, it was probably more cocky than proud.) It turns out that Utah was the solution to my problem. Draw a square. Now, fold down one corner. The length of the circumference stays the same, but you have just “removed” some of your area.

That’s two you got wrong, Mr Michalek. And probably thousands that you got right.

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.

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(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Who Are You Calling Old?

I’ve never been old. I’m guessing neither have you.

Oh sure, there are people who call us old. But, they’re wrong. We’re aren’t really old.

And don’t get me wrong. There are old people. I know some of them, in fact.

I once went with my dad to help do some service. My dad and his friend were meeting up with his friend’s dad. So, here I was a 15 years old kid, hanging out with my father. He is 33 years older than I am. His friend was about his age. His friend’s dad was about 20 years older than both of them.

– Me: 15 years old

– Dad: 48 years old

– Friend: 48 years old

– Friend’s dad: 68 years old

Who was the old person in this group? As it turned out, none of us. We were going to help stack wood for a man who was a friend of the friend’s dad. The guy we were going to help was 90 years old.

The friend’s dad talked to me about it.

“Old” is just someone who is 15 years older than you are.

I’ve thought about that conservation and I think I’ve rarely heard anything more profound.

From that day on I was never old. And I suppose as long as there are truly old people around I never really will be.

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

The Meaning Of Family

Ohana means family. Family means no one gets left behind.

– Lilo and Stitch

Lilo and Stitch was released almost 20 years ago. My family was just getting started. We had four kids. We added a fifth in 2002. Over the coming years we would add eight more.

Thirteen is a large family by any measure. My lovely wife is one of 15 children. I have a friend who has 23 children. But, just because I know about bigger families doesnt’ mean I don’t understand my family is very large.

I’ve often thought about what makes a family. Like many people my age, I was a child of divorce. I have a full brother, a half brother by birth, a half sister and two half brothers by adoption. I guess technically, there are three other half sisters by adoption from my dad’s first marriage. One of my brothers has a half brother by birth and a set of step-siblings that are no relation to me.

I don’t think Lilo and Stitch had it correct. Family doesn’t mean that no one gets left behind. Lots of people get left behind. For example, using my own example, of the “siblings” I mentioned, I claim two brothers and a sister. Am I right? Are the others not my siblings by blood or law? Maybe. But, I decided a long time ago to choose my own relatives.

My family has been touched by horrible abuse years ago. It’s driven a wedge between family members at times. In fact, I have family that doesn’t want to be in the same room as certain other family. Everyone is adult about it and doesn’t make an issue of it.

I saw a picture today of my family shortly after we completed our final adoption. As far as I know it’s the last picture of all my kids and us. It’s from about 15 years ago. Well before our oldest got married. Before any grandkids.

I look at the picture and think about how much potential we saw. We had hopes and dreams and ideas about what the future might bring. Looking at the picture, everyone is smiling.

We have a lot of family pictures since then. Each one has some subgroup of our kids, and now grandkids. Some of my grandkids have been adopted out of the family. It’s okay, I still count them. We pick our family, remember?

I know some families that are more fractured than ours. I know people who never speak to their parents. Parents that disown their children. That’s not me, is it?

I have a daughter I haven’t spoken to in months and don’t even have a current phone number. And when I was adopted by my step father at 14 I turned my back on my birthfather. I didn’t speak to him for almost 40 years. It’s okay. We reconnected and talked again.

So, the family breaking habits that I condemn in others, are in my history as well.

What is family? Is it defined by blood? Marriage? Association? Adoption?

I’m not sure what the ultimate definition of family is, but I do know that Disney got it wrong. Family is complicated. It’s messy. And it even means that sometimes we leave people or things behind.

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

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