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It’s 110 Degrees, But 99 Was Hotter

It’s hot. It’s even headed toward record hot temperatures. It was 110 on my way home from picking up my daughter this week. Our Suburban has an onboard thermometer. It tends to heat up if I’m sitting and idling. But, in this case it didn’t. It was 108 when I picked her up and went up from there.

But, that’s not really the whole story. I live in Utah. It’s a desert. Weird when you consider that we get some of the greatest snow on earth. But, it’s definitely a desert and gets hot in the summer.

I grew up in Lacey, Washington in the Seattle area, known for rain, not heat. But, there are a couple of key differences between Seattle and Salt Lake City: It’s hotter in Seattle.

I don’t care what the thermometer says. It was a lot hotter growing up.

Growing up I didn’t know a single person with automatic sprinklers. And yet, the lawns in and around our neighborhood were always green. Thanks to the rain. Here in Pleasant Grove, not only does every house have automatic sprinkler, but the city pays for the irrigation water for the sprinklers. We pay a flat utility fee and not a per gallon fee like we do on our culinary water.

All that rain in Western Washington not only keeps the lawns green, but it also raises the humidity. . .a lot. There really is something to be said for dry heat. In fact, because we get dry heat, many houses here in Utah have what’s called a swamp cooler. It’s basically a big fan that pulls air through a saturated filter. The air picks up water on it’s way through the filter and cools your house. It does raise the humidity in your house slightly.

No one in Western Washington had swamp coolers. Swamp coolers need a low humidity to work. If the air is already full of water, it cannot pick more up on the way through the filter.

Here in Utah, we have air conditioning. In fact, every house has either AC or a swamp cooler. It was over 100 degrees outside, but I didn’t go out much today. Instead I sat in my office and worked. And when I did go outside I actually drove with the windows down. The dry air kept me from getting too hot.

Growing up, when it got above about 80 degrees, things got miserable. It was not only hot, but sticky. 90/90 days were practically unbearable. Ninety degrees and 90% humidity.

I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a 90/90 day in Utah.

So, while the thermometer might hit triple digits this week, that’s not the hottest I’ve experienced.

Stay safe (And drink water)

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 Support Black Lives Matter, But Not BLM

BLM Utah was in the news this week. BLM put up a post on their website saying,

“. . .the American flag is now a hate symbol. . .I feel like the person fling it is racist. . .I feel as if I should avoid that person because they may be dangerous.”

Naturally, people were outraged. The BLM Utah chapter explained that they were trying to make people uncomfortable. It was for our own benefit.

I won’t argue the merits of the organization’s statement. I’m not a member of BLM, but I absolutely think black lives matter. How could I not? My family has more black people in it than white people. OF COURSE, black lives matter. Last year my lovely wife made a homemade black lives matter flag and placed it on our porch.

Is it possible to care about black lives but not BLM? Of course. BLM Utah doesn’t represent me, and I’m certain they don’t represent my black kids. But, can you separate the two?

I grew up supporting the Boy Scouts of America. I was a scout. I became an Eagle Scout. I became a scoutmaster. I was supportive of BSA. That’s the new name. It’s not the Boy Scouts anymore. It’s Scouts BSA. Are Boy Scouts of America and Scouts BSA the same thing? Not at all. One came from the other, but Scouts BSA allows girls. And Boy Scouts of America doesn’t really exist anymore.

You’ve probably heard of the NAACP. It’s a wonderful organization that supports the black community. But, did you know it has an antiquated name? It uses a phrase that hasn’t been acceptable for decades. The name of the organization is the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. But, you would NEVER consider using the term “colored” to describe a black person. But, NAACP is NOT the same as AN organization of “colored people.” The the name is not just the collection of words. Juan as supporting BLM and supporting black lives are not the same thing.

There are even IT examples. Microsoft once released a version of Windows called NT. Originally, the NT was supposed to mean “new technology.” By the time the oft-delayed product shipped, Microsoft kept the name, but dropped the words. Their official policy was that “NT” never stood for anything. It was just two letters that happened to be next to each other. On the other hand, Windows XP did stand for Windows eXPerience.

My dad’s name was Lloyd V Bliss. V was not his middle initial. It was his middle name. There literally was nothing else. His middle name was V.

Federal Express was a popular shipping company. But, people kept shortening their name to FedEx. Two syllables instead of five. Eventually, the company decided that they would officially change their name. FedEx is not an abbreviation for Federal Express. FedEx is it.

My lovely wife’s first name is Annie. It’s not short for Annabelle, or a nickname for Anne. Her legal name is Annie. I have a daughter named Angie. Again, not short for Angela. Her legal name is Angie.

Miley Cyrus is an international pop star. But, her name wasn’t Miley. It was Destiny. But, people called her Miley. Eventually she changed her name officially.

My point with all these examples is that names are not always the same as the sum of their words. So, can I support black lives? Can I proudly say that I support black lives matter but I’m not supportive of BLM?

Of course.

Oh, and I can fly a flag without being a racist too. Just in case that wasn’t clear.

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

Are You Going Back?

I got to take a long weekend for the Independence Day holiday. Actually, it’s pretty much been a long month. My company did layoffs in May. COVID. So, I’ve been looking at new opportunities and interviewing for various IT positions. I was in a similar situation 8 years ago. When I was ALSO laid off.

One of the differences this time around is that jobs are more plentiful. And there’s a new interview question.

We are currently in a work from home model, but anticipate going back to the office later this year. Would that be an issue for you?

What was so common, so understood and accepted that it wasn’t even mentioned in previous years is one of the early interview questions now.

I spent the last 17 months working from home. I have a nice, if somewhat small, home office. My family knows to (mostly) leave me alone when I’m working. And, like most remote workers, it’s worked out well. I put in more hours, and had more time with my kids. (My commute to Salt Lake City was an hour each way.)

One of the differences between the jobs I interview for and the jobs my kids interview for is the “compensation package.” To my kids, that just means how much they get paid. For white-collar jobs, the compensation package starts with salary, but includes things like paid time off, health benefits, 401K matching, and now work-from-home options.

You can’t look at any one element in the package and base the decision to accept a job just on that. Salary alone is a poor choice, if it means other areas of your quality of life suffer. So, would a work-at-home option be a make or break addition?

Not necessarily.

But, like everything, it figures in the mix.

There are now reports that some workers are refusing to go back to the office. They would rather quit than give up their new work/life balance. Being out of work currently it’s an interesting question. Like most people, I’d rather work than not work. The thought of turning down a position because it requires work in an office building is. . .an unusual thought. Sure, I like working from home, but have i really become entitled enough to feel I somehow DESERVE to work from home?

Hardly. But, then, I’m kind of old school. I’m certainly older than those just now entering the workforce.

How about you? Are you going back to the office when your company makes that decision?

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

Do You Have A Motto?

Recently I was asked if I had a motto.

This question bothers me. And I’m not sure why it bothers me. And that also bothers me. There has been a lot of screwups in my life. Many by me. Some by others. I know what my motto is NOT. It’s not, “Whatever doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” That idea is not only silly, but stupid. I’m more likely to adopt the motto offered by my friend Howard Tayler in his “Seven Habits For Highly Successful Mercenaries.”

“Maxim 35: That which does not kill me has made a tactical error.”

I’m certainly stronger from the experiences. But, I’d hate to think my life is defined by stuff trying to kill me. That’s not my motto. More likely my motto has to do with family. Family has defined my life. I was adopted when I was 16 years old. I wanted to be adopted by my step father, Lloyd V Bliss. I was searching for a family. For my entire life I had a different last name than my father. My family was always a blended family. I wanted a “normal” family. Of course, there is no such thing as a normal family.

Now, forty years later, I feel bad about the effect it had on my birth father, John Richard Keeney. I reconnected with him a few years ago. We’re in a good spot in our relationship.

When we started our own family, my lovely wife and I had three birth kids. But, we knew two things. First, we were not going to be able to have any more birth children, and second, we definitely wanted additional children. So, my families growing up, we all looked alike but had different names. Now, my family has the same last name (except for the married ones, of course) and but we all look different.

So, I guess my motto would be “Family.”

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

The Politics Of Independence

It’s unfortunate that the United States Independence Day has become political. It should be a chance for the country to come together. We just came through a brutal campaign season. We are coming out of a pandemic that locked us down for more than a year. And now, we had a chance to celebrate.

Why would anyone want to protest today?

Some are criticizing the fact that when we declared our independence 245 years ago, the founders left slavery in existence. They denied women the right to vote, and most other things. They started the country on a period of expansion that destroyed entire Native American cultures.

In fact, none of the advances we’ve made over the past two centuries were not in place in 1776. Just as none of the advanced we will make over the next two centuries are in place today.

Our country was just in its infancy. This Fourth of July my family came over including one of the granddaughters. She’s eight months old. She can crawl great. She can pull herself up. But, she can’t walk yet. She is a very cute baby. Seriously, she’s a baby model on Amazon. She’s that cute.

How would it be if 10 years from now I were to look back on this weekend and refuse to celebrate her accomplishments because she wasn’t walking? Or talking?

Why would we insist that a country, especially one forged in blood and fighting such long odds should be formed fully built? And when my granddaughter learns to walk and then run, talk and then sing, should I say “But, you used to be a baby?” Of course she used to be a baby. And then she got older. (Well, she’ll get older.)

If there were a country in the world of 2021 that had the Constitutional as originally written, without the amendments, we would rightly call it backward. We would call for equal rights for women. We’d insist that they abolish slavery. We would push for equal rights. But, 245 years ago? Everyone allowed slavery. No one granted women rights.

So, our country was not perfect when it was formed. And it’s certainly not perfect now. But, the fact that our country has endured 245 with it’s original form of government is a testament to just how inspired the founders were.

So, happy birthday America. I’m proud to know you.

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

The Pleasure Of Mindless Work

I went to work today. I’m still looking and interviewing for a fulltime job. But, today I also signed up for a Bacon shift. Bacon is an app that matches you with shift work. It’s sort of like Uber, but for jobs. You get to pick what shift and what company you want to work for.

If you are curious how a startup managed to the bacon.com, they didn’t. It’s the first app I’ve used that has a .work extension. Bacon.work. Anyway, I signed up with Bacon and had a morning shift working at a local Pleasant Grove company putting flavor packets into larger packages.

For four hours straight, from 8:30 to 12:30, I took five from the watermelon box, five sleeves from the lemon box and then six from the berry box. Why six berries instead of five? I have no idea and it was great to not need to care.

“Orientation took about 3 minutes. After that, I didn’t have to talk to anyone, or ask any questions. Someone was playing music on another part of the floor. It helped to pass the time. So, what did I think about for four hours standing at a table covered with drink mix packets?

Nothing.

Seriously, absolutely nothing.

I tried. I tried to calculate my rate per minute. But, the math distracted me from counting 5, 5, 6, so I gave it up. The guy working the table with me had his earbuds in. But, it wouldn’t really have mattered if he hadn’t. I wasn’t there to talk. I was there to work.

Okay, there were some thoughts that invaded my distraction. And they had to do with Project Management and the years of training I’d been through. I kept looking for areas to improve. I looked for process improvements.

If this were my project, what would I do differently?

I don’t really think I can help it. It’s a weird form of business muscle-memory. I found at least three areas that could be improved.

So, what did I do about it?

Nothing. And it was great.

I didn’t need to be the smart guy. I didn’t need to improve the process. I listened as a couple of young workers talked about how the process could be better. I think they were mostly interested in making it better for them.

It was a refreshing change to be in a role where I knew exactly what was needed and exactly what to do.

Sometimes there is comfort in a repetitive task.

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

What Do Masonic Chaplains Do?

Today’s Educational is on the different roles within Masonry.

Masonic lodges have a specific list of roles. Each has it’s own responsibility.

  • Worshipful Master

  • Senior Warden

  • Junior Warden

  • Senior Deacon

  • Junior Deacon

  • Secretary

  • Treasurer

  • Tyler

  • Senior Steward

  • Junior Steward

  • Marshall

  • Chaplain

We didn’t go through all roles, of course. The stewards explained their role. The Junior Warden explained his role. The Tyler gets an actual sword. he explained his role.

We only have a few minutes left, I want Rodney to explain the Chaplain role.

Chaplain is an interesting role. It’s not elected like many roles in a Masonic Lodge are. The Chaplain is chosen by the Worshipful Master. Our current Worshipful Master chose me. Naturally, I bought a book. I’m a writer. There’s always a book.

A Chaplain has a few enumerated responsibilities and a lot of unlisted ones. Not surprisingly the Chaplain says prayers. Masonic meetings are non-denominational. The only requirement is to belief in a Supreme Architect of the Universe. You can call him God, Jehovah, Allah or Flying Spaghetti Monster. (Okay, Pastaferians might have trouble getting in.) So, the prayers are non-denominational.

I’m a person of faith. In my faith we typically don’t offer memorized prayers. Oh, there are a few associated with specific ordinances. But, for the most part prayers are offered from the heart.

That’s not the case in Masonry. The prayers are written down, not necessarily memorized, but definitely preplanned. That was a change for me. I’m not used to reading prayers. And not writing them either.

But the Chaplain also has a counslor role. The Chaplain is tasked with bringing spirituality to the Lodge. I provide ministry services to the members in all ways and offer moral conscious experience as the officer of the lodge who is responsible for the spiritual and often emotional care of the Lodge, its members and their families.

That’s a lot more than just offering prayers. I don’t know how well I’ll do in this role. But, I do know that I’ll do my best to be there for the members of the Lodge.

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

Gwen Berry Illustrates What Is Best, Not Worst About America

You’ve seen the picture. Gwen Berry, the silver medal winner in the Hammer Throw at the US Olympic trials turns away as the National Anthem is played. Horrible, right? Disgraceful!

I recently saw a Facebook post calling for anyone who disrespects the flag being banned from representing the United States in the Olympics.

I think that’s a horrible, terrible idea.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a flag guy. I’m an Eagle Scout. I mounted an American flag on my grandkids’ playset. I own two other flags that I display on holidays. My daughter and son-in-law are active duty Army. I stand for the flag, proudly. I volunteer with an organization, Follow The Flag, that hangs the largest free-flying American flag in the world across a canyon in Utah every Fourth of July.

I love the flag and what it stands for. Did you know that the flag should always be on a speaker’s right? I once explained to a bailiff that the flag in the courtroom was on the wrong side of the judge. The next time we arrived for court the flag was moved to the correct side.

So, you would think that I would be first to condemn those who disrespect the flag. Especially, by someone wanting to represent my country and my flag at the Olympics. You’d be wrong.

Did you know that it used to be a tradition during the Olympic opening ceremonies for the flag bearer for each country to dip their flag to the country’s ruling monarch? We don’t do that anymore. In fact, we didn’t do it for very long. In 1908, flag bearer Ralph Rose, a shotputter, refused to dip the American flag to the British King in London. (There’s no record of him saying, “This flag dips to no earthly king,”)

Rose received a lot of criticism around the world. He actions were viewed as an example of “ugly Americanism.”

The flag did dip a couple of times in future Olympics. But, Berlin was not one of those times.

Then, in 1936, the US Olympic committee made it official. The American flag would never again dip to honor a foreign dignitary. Did the world think we were ugly Americans? Maybe. But, you know what? I don’t care.

I don’t care if the entire world condemned us for refusing to dip our flag to honor kings and queens, presidents and prime ministers of other countries. I like the fact that we value our flag, and what it represents more than being polite to other countries.

That would seem to contradict my defense of Gwen Berry. It doesn’t.

Our country values, or should value, our freedoms above all else. Gwen Berry is expressing her freedom of speech, her freedom of expression. And while I wouldn’t personally disrespect the flag, part of what makes America the greatest country in the world is that I have the freedom to disrespect the flag if I choose. And so does Gwen Berry.

Suppose we did have a rule that athletes had to be respectful to the flag and the Anthem to be included on the Olympic team? Suppose that Gwen Berry had to choose between competing in the Olympics and exercising her rights? What would YOU choose if the choice was yours? Would you accept fame, glory and financial rewards in exchange for giving up just a little of your freedom?

It’s a tough choice. And as an American it’s not one you should have to make. And it’s not one that Gwen Berry should have to make.

Do you know who does have to make those choices? Citizens of countries like North Korea, China, Iran. Countries where everyone is patriotic because to not be means your life becomes dangerous.

So, you will not find me advocating any rules requiring people, any people to act patriotic. Americans rights should always be protected. I will stand for the flag, but I will also fiercely defend your right to not stand.

I would hope you do the same for me.

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

It’s RAINING!

Well, not right now, but it was raining earlier today.

I grew up in a little town called Lacey, which is just outside of Olympia, which is just south of Seattle. Seattle is famous for rain. It doesn’t rain as much as people not from Seattle thinks it does. And it doesn’t rain as much as people from Seattle say that it does.

But, it does rain a lot. We got used to it. We just didn’t cancel stuff because of rain. Picnics, sporting events, campouts. We just did them rain or shine. Seattle sits next to a rainforest.

I don’t live in Seattle, or a little town outside of a small city just south of Seattle. Instead, I live in Utah. Utah is a desert. It doesn’t rain here much. and this year it’s rained less than normal. Last year we had a regular drought. This year we have an extreme drought. That’s like when your drought has a drought.

We got a little rain two weeks ago. And then the forecast was more of the same: hot and dry. Not as hot as Seattle is currently, but on average hotter than Seattle. Today I was working outside. I was building a playset. The book says it will take two people 12-14 hours. I worked on my own and in about 12 hours I managed to build just about all of it.

But, just as I was placing the highest piece in place, and before. I had a chance to bolt it in, the rains came. And the wind. Lots of wind. Working alone, I didn’t want to risk my creation falling apart. So, I did what anyone from a small town outside a small city south of Seattle would do. I worked through it. Wind blowing, rain pelting.

And I loved it. Rain here in Utah has been too rare for too long. It was uncomfortable. It was cold. (I hate cold.) It was a little scary since I was perched up on a ladder. But, considering it was RAIN, I wouldn’t have traded it for anything.

Pray for rain.

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

When People Go On Vacation But Forget To Actually Leave

It was an interview question I hadn’t heard before.

How do you handle people who go on vacation?

Um. . .

Project members who don’t deliver on time.

It’s an excellent question. And one I may use next time I’m interviewing someone for a project manager position. The answer really depends on what you want the outcome to be. Of course, you want the project to complete on time. That’s absolutely true.

But, what about your relationship with the person on vacation? If you want to continue to work with them, you use the carrot approach. If you don’t care about the relationship then you can use the tank driver approach.

The carrot approach means that you have to figure out how to work with him. Maybe he needs constant reminders. Maybe he needs shorter deadlines. In other words, always build in a couple day buffer around his deadlines. Maybe he needs smaller pieces. In other words, you have to figure out how to work with him.

But, if you cannot afford to use the carrot approach, you have to go with the tank driver approach. The idea is that if you are in a tank, you generally don’t care about the people around you. You get to pick your destination and head for it, overriding anyone who gets in your way. The good thing about being a tank driver, is that you don’t have to worry about the people around you. You’re only objective is to get to your destination. Tank driving leaves a a lot of collateral damage.

So, why do it?

Because sometimes you have to.

I had a project where my team needed to work with a Microsoft team to configure our system. We had to schedule the appointment two months out. My team scheduled our database team to build a database. The day of the configuration arrived. It was supposed to be a three day engagement. On the first day my team member came to me,

The database isn’t ready.

You requested it, right?

Yeah, two months ago. Do you want me to reschedule with Microsoft?

It would be another two months, right?

Yeah.

.

Tell you what, push configuration back a day. Focus on training today and I’ll have your database by the end of the day.

I got into my tank. I went to the DB admin. He told me that I couldn’t have my database. It didn’t fit policy or something. I didn’t waste time arguing with him. I didn’t have the time to waste. I pulled his boss out of a meeting,

Steve, I need a favor. I need you to approve a database for my team right now. I’ll explain everything later, but I really need a database today.

You’ll take care of paperwork?

Absolutely.

Okay. I’m trusting you on this.

I went back to the DB Admin. He still didn’t want to make my database. I showed him the email from his boss that said to make a database for me right now. Later, Steve went back through the requests and realized we had filled out all the proper paperwork two months prior.

The DB Admin left the company not too long later. I’m not sure how much I had to do with it. But, he was not happy to work with me in the future. Tank drivers are rarely popular.

How do YOU handle team members who go on vacation?

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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