Morning: Nov 10

So I’ve had some sort of character encoding issue here at the ol’ website that I’ve been dealing with. After a little investigation it seemed to only affect the last few posts so I manually edited them after tweaking a configuration file to which hopefully makes it clear to WordPress, my database, and anything else involved that, yes, UTF-8 everywhere. Please and thank you.

As I was editing those posts I was like, good lord this is all very depressing. I promise I’m generally not so morose though it certainly appears that way. Maybe I’m only motivated to type out a bunch of nonsense when I’m in a mood. I’ll try and do better about that. Assuming, that is, that I begin writing here with any regularity. Wouldn’t bet the ranch on that.

Also realized I had wrote about my hiatus from working back in Feb of ’21 but neglected to write anything down about my return. Maybe I’ll write something longer at a later date but for now just mention that I’ve been back at the keyboard since July of this year and really enjoying being back. I actually started fiddling around early this year with some microcontroller and IoT development and it was a blast. Especially working so close to the metal. I think it rekindled that spark. Though I’m pretty far away from the metal in my current role at work, it’s been very rewarding nevertheless. 

Alright, I’m going to go do some more tidying up around here. There are something like 300 broken links that I’m slowly going through and fixing or removing for some reason. 

Still Alive

Every now and again I’m like, oh right I have a blog. Like when you’re watching Twitter implode and wondering whether or not it’s worth caring about and if an alternative should be considered. That equals: Oh right, I have a blog.

So, Twitter. These days, or the the last several years really, Twitter is the place I go if I’m in a pretty good mood and want to do something about that. That’s what it feels like anyway. I expect that’s by design or perhaps simply the natural progression of any collection of humans. Nothing fuels engagement like outrage. And I’m inclined to think that’s just the way that people work. They naturally begin to coalesce into these groups and, well George Carlin said it best when it comes to groups:

People are wonderful. I love individuals. I hate groups of people. I hate a group of people with a ‘common purpose’. ‘Cause pretty soon they have little hats. And armbands. And fight songs. And a list of people they’re going to visit at 3am. So, I dislike and despise groups of people but I love individuals. Every person you look at; you can see the universe in their eyes, if you’re really looking.

– George Carlin

There are still times where Twitter doesn’t really have an equal. Live events and so forth like sports, breaking news stories, Apple announcements, awards ceremonies (if that’s your thing). Otherwise, not a whole lot. It was way better back in the day when it was just a bunch of nerds. I’m having an old man yells at cloud moment.

I’ve given Mastodon a try hoping it might recapture some of what made Twitter so much fun in the early days. Several times in fact, but I’m just not feeling it. Maybe that’s the the thing they need to push them into the mainstream. My skepticism that is. I think I also said similar things about iPods, iPhone, reality TV… Trump. Actually I had my doubts about Twitter too, way back in 2007.

Anyway, so Twitter is a slow motion car crash right now and we’ll see where that all winds up. Meanwhile the universe spins on.


I’ve spent a good bit of this morning wading through some of the commentary about the impeachment trial vote. That went pretty much exactly as predicted. I don’t know that I have much to add there except to say that the constitution is pretty much broken in that regard. I don’t really know what the solution is. A public referendum? Push it all over to the supreme court? Some sort of bi-partisan panel? I don’t know. I just know that I’m hard pressed to think of any actions that might convince members of one’s own party to vote against them especially if the outcome can be used to paint that party as a whole in a negative light or interpreted as a rejection of your party.

It’s also, yet another, indictment of the party system in general. Any solution to which is a long way down the road if it happens at all. A couple of really good solutions are out there. Jungle primaries and ranked choice voting basically. With widespread adoption of those two things then we should see the election of more centrist and less polarizing candidates which might be less beholden to party. Or at least a little more willing to put duty to the country above pure partisanship. Maybe not much but just a nudge in the right direction would go a long way I think. Perhaps Newton’s first law could take over once momentum were shifted just that little bit. I believe Alaska has recently implemented something like this so it’ll be interesting to see the sort of candidates it produces there.

There’s a lot of chatter about third parties right now but I don’t see it getting very far. At the end of the day survival is more important than anything as illustrated by the impeachment vote. My guess, assuming that something shiny doesn’t distract us before the next election, would be sort sort of center right caucus within in the Republican party. For now Kodos and Kang are the choices unless there are some significant changes in election systems, like Alaska, or even less likely, a change in the attitudes of the electorate. Everyone knows that you can’t elect third party candidates which is why you can’t elect third party candidates.

In any case, now that the trial is over, it would be nice if politics could at least become boring again for just a little while. I don’t expect it will, sadly. That new normal that everyone’s been talking about since the pandemic began is more likely to eventually refer to what passes as political discourse than anything else.


Tomorrow will mark three months since I began what I’m calling a career hiatus. This is what I’m calling it lately anyway. Or just now really. It has been a pause, break, sabbatical, semi-retirement, probably some other things that I can’t remember but what it boils down to is that I’ve not written any software or really even opened Xcode in nearly 3 months and I still don’t know if I ever want to again.

I’ve been hesitant to write about this because I don’t want it to misinterpreted in a way that it reflects poorly on my former employer. I really enjoyed working with the people there. Really I’ve been fortunate that most of the people I worked with throughout my career have been very nice people for the most part. Also all my stuff is still in my desk back in the office so I’ll still need to be able to get in and get that once the office opens back up again. Though I am also holding a laptop for ransom.

Yesterday I was contacted not once but twice by friends on the lookout for developers to add to their rosters. This isn’t the first time that’s happened and it is nice to feel that I have a reputation as not being a complete idiot when it comes to writing software. And it kind of got me thinking again about where I stand and how I got to this point. ‘m still no closer to understanding. Last year was certainly a year of years and maybe a psychiatrist could help me puzzle it all out and understand what role, if any, the events that have unfolded since November of 2019 and perhaps earlier, had to play in all of this.

It may simply be that I’m done because I’m wired that way and tha’s that. That’s what my wife says anyway. She says iT’s just how I am. When I’m done with something, that’s it I just move onto the next thing. This is true. I can rattle off a list of things, some of them that required a good deal of effort to get into, which simply stopped once I reached a certain point. Flying airplanes is one example that comes to mind. At some point I apparently reached a goal I didn’t realize I’d set for myself, stopped flying and never went back.

It seemed like software was always a little different that my other interests. I’ve been writing software in one way or another since 1982. Nearly 40 years! Although no one bothered to pay me for it until 1990. But development isn’t just writing “a software” then you write that same thing over and over again. Each project is like a brand new puzzle to assemble which will likely have some missing pieces that you’ll have to create yourself once you have enough information to determine their shapes. Especially during the early days you were simple handed that box with the picture of what it was supposed to look like when it was done and assemble it in whatever way seemed best. There are some that claim that these were the bad old days of our profession and maybe they were from a management point of view but from a creative point of view, which is something I very much enjoy, it was wonderful.

To continue the puzzle analogy sometimes today it can feel like you’ve got a group of people over your shoulder advising you which way to rotate each piece or wonder why you’re not working on this section over here. Why would you assemble the edges first and not work from the middle out? And every week we’re going to talk about how many pieces remain in the puzzle and guess how long it will take to locate and place each one. Well this is a bit of sky so that piece make be a bit harder so we’ll call it an “8” and we’re missing a corner piece here so that’s surely a “1”. I mean maybe, who knows? Perhaps that piece has gone missing. And after you’re done placing each piece you need to get a couple people to confirm that it does indeed fit correctly or wonder if another piece over here might be a better fit. Worse yet you may encounter someone who insists you place a piece that very obviously does not fit correctly. Then another person to make sure that the rest of the puzzle didn’t explode as the most recent piece was added and then fill out some paperwork. Fun! In extreme situations it can become hard to continue care whether the puzzle works out the way it should and instead just focus on making sure you meet your quota of pieces.

It’s a bit of a conundrum because some of the process junk is definitely necessary because ultimately someone is trying to run a business and fashion some sort of plan. But I think human nature almost guarantees that eventually process itself become the most important part and the actual work secondary. Note the salaries of those whose job it is to track which puzzle pieces are being worked on as compared to those actually putting the puzzle together to get a sense of which is deemed more valuable. Kind of like HOAs maybe. What starts as making sure the neighbors front yard isn’t littered with dilapidated cars up on blocks turns into people roaming the neighborhood with clipboards and rulers making sure lawns are mowed to the proper length.

Again I want to make clear this isn’t my last employer but a general industry wide trend, at least from my point of view. In fact my last employer was quite good at trying to remove as many distractions as possible and allow their developers to focus on the work. And I don’t even know if that trend factors in my decision to take a break. Because, despite this, there are still plenty of those moments that we’ve all experienced (or at least I hope you have, if not consider another career), hopefully with some regularity, where the thing you’ve been working on with fingers crossed compiles and actually does exactly what you wanted it to on the first try. Those “holy shit it worked!” moments. Bonus points on those occasions where a co-worker remarks that’s pretty freakin’ cool. So even with the bureaucratic bits today there is still plenty of joy to be found in software development.

I’m not sure where I was going with all this except to say that, while the desire to write hasn’t yet returned, I sometimes find myself thinking that I know it’s what I was built to do and wonder if I’m not squandering a gift that I was so fortunate to be given.

A Weary World

A few days ago I was passing through the living room where the television had been left on. Willy Wonka was on and it was getting close to the end. It was right where Willy Wonka was about to say “I SAID GOOD DAY!” I had to stop and watch that bit. After this I started to walk away as Charlie lays the Everlasting Gobstopper on Willy Wonka’s desk, or half desk really. Then, as Wonka places his and over it, he says to himself: “So shines a good deed in a weary world” did not remember that line but it stopped me.

A weary world.

Exactly that. I, and I’m sure millions of others, are just weary. Just want everything to stop. Just for a minute. I’m tempted to try and cut off my connections to the outside world and just pretend. In the meantime, while I resist that temptation, try to remember just how much illumination the smallest of good deeds give off in this weary world and see if there aren’t some I’m able to do.