May 2007 Archives

Clowns, Whistlers : underground


As the plot intensifies, I've decided to stop using nicknames when referring to parties involved, or colleagues I've talked with. Instead I'll use nothing but a single letter or combination of letters to refer to people. It has become quite clear that the game played is one with very high stakes, and today new crucial details have surfaced. Details that will have an impact for sure, but I am unaware what impact. One thing remains the same though : some people are struggling hard to hold on to their position, move up, or avoid termination.

I talked to P. today and got a very strong feeling of general unpleasantness. Not so much towards me or most of the other colleagues, but rather towards Those In Charge. I also had a 45 minute talk with PDL and we seem to think along the same lines.

Sorry for being even more vague as before, but when "monitoring" of certain network traffic rears it's ugly head, I would be totally naive to assume no one is (closely) reading this blog. I will not post on this topic till it all comes to a close, or I am in such a position where I nor others can be hurt by my posts.

Passion/Anger : The Return

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I've got about 30 minutes before I head off to work - aka Soap Hell - and I'm gathering everything work and contract related I can find here. I'll be studying the details of my contract quite closely over the following nights, paying special attention to severance clauses and times to take into consideration when getting fired or quitting.

I've always stated quite openly that I refuse to work a job that I don't enjoy. If push comes to shove, I will know where I stand and what my options and rights are. Much of it will however depend on how "Clowns, Whistlers, Those In Charge (Part 3)" plays out. Expect that sequel later this week as I'm awaiting the outcome of some other meeting(s) bound to take place in the next couple of days.

It's been years since I was so infuriated and angry. Somewhere during the last century I took the decision to spend my time on things I could change and influence, and let the rest be. I was happy with that conscience call, though I felt I had lost a lot of my drive and passion doing so.

The passion and anger are back : I'm not one to shout and scream, make noise or tear things apart. Instead I will observe, calculate and decide. No warning, no turning back, no doubt - once my decision is made, I'll follow through with it.

I'm not yet at a decision making point. You'll know it when it unfolds.

Clowns and Whistlers (Part 2)

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Maybe trying to get this second installment of the story right now is not the best of ideas, as I just got off the phone with a colleague, and before that I had a long talk with The Clown. But... let me keep all that for later while I finish the story as it was up until a couple of hours ago. I'm too furious to see it all in perspective I guess, and I guess that's also what they are counting upon.

Anyway, back to the story for now :

5 teams, one of them now without a leader. I wouldn't mind working closely with The Tongue, or Middle of the Road. Jarhead and I, we can work together professionally but we'll never be friends or even close colleagues. The good thing is that we both realize it and have come to an agreement that works. He does his job, I do mine and we get along. Nothing less, and definitely nothing more.

That leaves The Whistler... The Whistler joined the company years and years ago, and has been working on the same job for centuries. He's very laid back, doesn't care much about anything and unless you ask him upfront, he won't give anything away. No one wants to work with The Whistler as far as I'm aware, and then team he leads is usually one that excels in nothing but mediocrity. Partially that would be due to the people that are part of the team, but mostly due to The Whistler not caring a bit. You know how one attracts another, and it all goes down the drain, that's exactly what happens when people move into his team.

The Whistler became a team leader because in the old days, that is the way it was done. Stick around long enough and in the end you'll end up in a position of leadership. Whether or not you're fit to lead, didn't matter. That's where The Whistler is right now.

If anyone was to be removed from his position, it shouldn't be The Clown. However, not everything that should happen, happens, that's clear by now. There is more to this story than I fully realize yet, and I doubt if anyone will ever know the complete truth since some people may be playing a very dirty game, even if they are not aware yet they're part of it.

Forget "Neighbors", or "Bold and the Beautiful"... The work politics at my job beat all the intrigues and backstabbing in any soap with two fingers up their nose.

Maybe this is a good time to start and look back at what I've accomplished so far, and where I'm heading. I've always said that I'd quit if I didn't like my job anymore. That time is getting dangerously close, especially if it all turns out the direction it's heading in now.

Sure enough, I realize that all the rumors and gossiping should be taken with a grain of salt, but as they say : if there's smoke, there's fire.

Keep your eyes open for... Part 3!

Blue Tits

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As I was waiting for my computer to finish installing some updates - when did you last visit Windows Update or run the Secunia Software Inspector? - I had the door open and I was listening the the birds sing their song. Suddenly I realized I hadn't heard the Blue Tits in a while, and especially the young ones were rather vocal about their presence.

I grabbed my camera, opened the lid of the nesting cage and snapped a shot. When I transferred it to the PC and enlarged it, I noticed only one young Blue Tit. Wait a second... that doesn't make sense, does it? While would only one be left, as there had been 4 or five, like previous years. That called for an investigation : I grabbed a pair of rubber gloves, stepped outside and lowered the nesting cage to the ground. Nothing squeaked or flew off, so that could only mean one thing... As I opened the lid, it became quite apparent that the nesting cage was deserted, apart from one young Blue Tit that didn't make it. Was it the heat, was it something else, I'll probably never know. I'm not about to do an autopsy on it, and even if I did, I'm not a vet.

I cleaned out the nesting cage, freeing it up for yet another couple looking for a place to breed and raise their young. I've never had nests twice a year, but with it being available again this soon, who knows?

Thanks for the comment on the previous post, Nadia, glad to see that at least someone is wondering what is happening. Your comment about lycanthropes and wolves was pretty interesting, though you referred to the role and position of the Alpha Dog in relation to the pack itself, whereas I was more interested to see how the pack would react towards to the killer of their Alpha Dog.

As you probably realize, we are not a pack of wolves - though we can become one when the situation calls for it - and while there are a couple of options to replace the Alpha Dog (one of them being one of the pack becoming the new leader) I think we are not yet at that point in time, though it is probably not that far away.

OK, enough vagueness and crap now. Let's take this to meatspace :

Five teams, all of them lead by their own chief. I'm not going to call names here, as that would lead to no extra information for readers that don't work the same site as I do, yet could lead to trouble up ahead. Instead I'll all give them a nickname. The team of which I'm a part has been lead by The Clown up to two days ago. Then we also have a team lead by The Tongue, another one is lead by Middle of the Road, one is lead by The Whistler and finally the fifth team is being lead by Jarhead.

The Clown didn't steal his name : Young, often a bit stubborn and overenthusiastic he had run into trouble with Those In Charge several times before. Every time he pulled through and was granted immunity for his actions. While they may have been foolish or not well thought through, they never were malicious nor wrong. He knew his job very well, loved it, but refused to take it al that serious at times. There is a time of work and a time to play, and in our team those often coincided. We tried to take everything in jest, while still performing above par, and we usually had tons of fun doing it. Those In Charge often took offense when we joked and laughed in tense situations, but exactly that attitude kept us going and relaxed.

The Clown however, was getting fed up with the constant bickering and petty remarks and had been looking for another job for a while. He was even asked by a different department within our clients company to come work for them. Knowing this could lead to trouble, The Clown decided to only tell a few close people - basically his own team - and one Big Shot of the company that employs us.

Wednesday evening I received a call from Those In Charge 2 that The Clown had been removed from our clients site and was not to be given access anymore. This would probably only be a temporary measure, for they wanted him to meet with Big Shot. Apparently they didn't know that The Clown and Big Shot had already talked that afternoon and had set up a day and time to meet next week.They didn't know, or didn't care... who'll ever know?

I talked to The Clown later that evening and got a different story from him. He also had gotten a call from Those In Charge 2, but towards him they played it a lot more serious. When The Clown called Those In Charge 1 and asked for an explanation and some extra information he got the answer "I can't tell you that, blah blah blah" after which Those In Charge 1 turned the subject onto something else. The Clown replied by calling Those In Charge 1 "vijg" and hanging up the phone to get in touch with Those In Charge 2.

So far the story goes for now. There is more to it, but that'll have to go into another entry.

Alpha Dog

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After it being quite a tense and stressful day - see my earlier entry - I just received some even more unsettling news, that was rather unexpected. How it will affect everyone in the team remains to be seen, as it is quite unclear what the implications are on mid and long term, but it will definitely have a major impact.

I've decided not to inform my team mates yet as there is little hard info I can relay to them, and I'd rather do this in person opposed to by phone. While I'm not pleased with the current situation, I hope it can all change for the better in the long run because I "know" that we are a solid team that works as one and tackles difficulties in unity.

A few hypothetical questions :

- How does the pack react, when one shoots at the alpha dog?
- How does the pack react, when one kills the alpha dog?

Vegging out

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I feel like a vegetable right now, after a mentally quite tiring shift. Calls and alarms just kept on coming in, requiring attention, handling and closer inspection. Combined with the increased workload, we usually also have more people in the field to dispatch to those alarms, and while that may be good in itself, it also increases the workload as they need to dispatched, followed up and feedback received from them.

All of that results in a stream of phones ringing, beeps, calls and radio chatter - a stream that never ends, it merely slows down at times. When in a timespan of less then 30 minutes three additional situations requiring immediate attention were thrown into the mix, I may have yelled for a minute or two as I struggled to resolve one incident when the next one occurred. I've been at this job for 3 years now, and I've learned that it pays off to remain calm, but it's not always that easy. At the end of my shift, the three incidents were resolved, reports were filed and my colleague that took over was handed a clean - though filled to the brim - slate.

Right now I'm laying on my couch, and I'm going to pop in another Green Wing DVD and catch episode 4 of the second season. Too bad the sexy and every lovely Sarah Alexander left for Canada at the end of episode 3, I wouldn't mind seeing more of her.

The Fresh Prince

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About two weeks ago I was at work and one of the colleagues had brought some fruit to make a salad. As he'd worked in a kitchen as a sous-chef before he joined us, he's full of tricks and knowledge about food that I just don't possess. It's so interesting to see him prepare things, and to hear him explain as he goes along. One thing that grasped my attention this time, was how he cuts his oranges. I usually just peel off the skin and eat it - though I admit that wouldn't make it part of a fruit salad - but he took a different approach to go from a full fledged orange with skin to yummy orange pieces in under a couple of minutes. And without too much of a mess!

Today after I got up - too early if you ask me - I was looking for something to drink and noticed I had no liquids at all in the fridge. As I bought a bunch of fruit and veggies yesterday, the solution appeared before my eyes : squeeze a couple of oranges and have some fresh juice.

Instead I grabbed two oranges, my sharpest knife - which after all didn't turn to be that sharp at all - and I started cutting at it using the techniques I had previously visually stolen. To my surprise, I ended up with nice fresh orange parts without skin and I even managed not to chop off my fingers. Yay!

More about oranges is to be found here : All About Oranges.

I'm so lucky

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I got home about thirty minutes ago, after going out for a drink with the colleagues of the team at work. As usual, a very fun time was had with lots of laughs and jokes, often at other team members' expense :)

That's just the way we all are : we give and take, make fun and are made fun of... balance is essential. I love my team, I really do. (Now I sound like my team leader after one too many Duvels, when he gets all emotional, but he's got a point.)

This'll be a mixed entry, as I've got a few subjects I want to touch briefly mention :

First off, we'll start with an interesting read titled "observer's instinct (JLDR - Just Doesn't Look Right), written by Jim Goding. The article was mentioned on the always interesting Schneier on Security blog. It tries to explain that gut feeling that experienced observers have when observing their surroundings, and how to act on those instincts. While I don't work in a casino - though I wouldn't mind, they usually have state of the art equipment - the tips and mechanisms mentioned in the article work in every security related job : if you don't feel right about it, investigate! Never ignore that feeling.

With Second Life being down for maintenance, I'll be deep into the CRM software, updating customer details and completing missing information. There is nothing more valuable to a customer than a liaison that knows what they are talking about and who has all data available instantly. The same goes for a service oriented business : a good customer relation beats any problem that may arise.

tor got a 2-3 page article in the latest CT Magazine, I hope that'll make more people realize that anonymity is not just a buzz work on todays internet.

That's it for today, I'm off to the shop (again) to pick up some things I needed but forgot to get during a previous trip. If the brain forgets, the feet pay the price, right?


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I've just gotten out of bed and will only be popping in here shortly because I've got an whole lot of cooking to do. Today is the last graveyard shift and tradition says that means someone of the team prepares a meal for the colleagues and today is my turn. I'll be making a simple but delicious dish consisting of chicken, applesauce and fried rice with nuts. We're quite limited when it comes to our options as we're not allowed to fry anything at work, just heat up.

Nadia asked how the building was going in SL, and well... pretty good I'd say. Here are the snapshots of the rental houses with a pond and a swimming pool, the latter being sLwim enabled. Click the thumbnails for a larger view!

Horowitz PG Sim rental house 1 with Pond Horowitz PG Sim rental house 2 with sLwim enabled swimming pool

Note : I started cooking about an hour later than expected, but due to some creativity and allocation of more resources, I was able to get everything done with 10 minutes to spare. I'm getting dressed as I write this and then off to work it is!

Big Trouble in Little Laptop

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Yesterday I booted the laptop (an Amilo L7300) into Ubuntu and when checking for updates, was promptly given the option to upgrade to version 7.04, the latest release. I had already read on A Geek In Korea that the upgrade from Edge Eft (6.10) to Feisty Fawn (7.04) was quite painless, so I gave it a shot. The update went without a hitch indeed : after downloading about 62MB of files, it installed, removed obsolete packages, cleaned up the system and rebooted.

One little snag though... I can't set my desktop resolution any higher that 800x600, where I'm very certain it was at 1024x768 earlier. If anyone has the solution to get Feisty Fawn running at that resolution on an S3 IGP Unichrome Pro videocard, I'd like to hear it.

I have a similar problem when running Second Life on the laptop by the way : after the latest update to, text is pretty much unreadable and very hazy. Yet the card works without a hitch at 1024x768 in windows XP Home. Solutions? Tell me!

Note : there are no newer drivers for the videocard as far as I'm aware.

Prims in the sky

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I just got back from the vet where I got a new bag of food for Tai. Last time I picked up chicken flavor, this time it's Ocean Fish, and going by his reaction he loves it. The minute I had filled up his bowl and put it down, he started eating, and afterwards - full of energy - he wanted to play.

My building skills in SL are increasing as I spent some hours yesterday completing the pond on the first rental lot, and I had put in the basics of the swimming pool on the second one. Today I finished most of that, though I still have to figure out a way around some terrain limitations that I ran into. I think creating some kind of stairs in the corner will be the best option, covering the land underneath and providing easy access. Alternatively, I can create a small section where plants and such grow, sort of a pond inside a pool. I'm not sure that will work, but once my creations are completed, I'll post some pictures here.

For the SL'ers that are interested to come check out the rentals in their current - unfinished - state, use these SLURL's : Vibrant Group Rentals - Lot 1 and Vibrant Group Rentals - Lot 2.

Building things

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Today, I'll be building a swimmingpool and a pond. I've got experience building ponds in real life, but I'm not sure it'll help me do the same in Second Life. However, I wrote "will be building" not "will try to build", so that shows determination and confidence, even if I have no clue on how to start it.

In fact, I think the pool will be easier as the pond, since it'll be large square chunks mostly, and for the pond I'll need to create rocks somehow. There is no such thing as a predefined "rock" shape in SL, so I'll have to be creative :)


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Where did the month of April go? Maybe it took the same path as my life : down the drain. Well it can't have gotten far then with the extreme drought here. This is just some pointless entry to let you all know I'm still alive and at the same times hopefully keeps me awake for a couple more hours.

I should be out shopping for food, I should give the car a wash, and I should get some sleep. If I sleep now, I won't be able to get up early tomorrow as I'd pull (yet another) all nighter. On the other hand, if I don't sleep now, I'll probably start doing things that in then end up being expensive and pointless. Last month was full of not enough sleep or no sleep at all nights according to my credit card bill. Ah well... at least I had/am having fun!

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This page is an archive of entries from May 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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