news

by dichroic in daily updates

It’s been ettling at me this past week, not to be able to talk in public about an upcoming change, just because people had to be told in the right order. But now I can say, I have been assimilated by the Borg. Which is to say, I have accepted a position as a Software Quality Engineer for the biggest employer in these parts, a place famous for its pervasive corporate culture.

I’m a bit nervous; that culture tends to be a love it or hate it thing, so here’s hoping I love it. There are all kind of little perks (gym, excellent cafeteria, etc) but of course those things come at at the expense of being expected to work long hours. But most people in my current job work even longer hours; I don’t, as a Quality person, and that’s actually symptomatic of a big problem here. I’ve been feeling for too long like I don’t have enough to do because I’m always working on process improvement in the background, not able to be part of our day to day project work. (Many companies have an issue with the quality group being too much of an ivory tower; this is just our particular manifestation of it.) In the new gig, I’ll be getting back to software engineering and out of architecture and engineering – I think I’ll like that, and I’ll be working directly with project teams.

Also, there’s a lot more flexibility – I’m wondering if it might translate to more time at the lake, even if that means we need to get real WiFi there instead of just using our phones as hot spots. Working in a beautiful location can still be productive!

My boss is here this week, for her first visit in a couple of years, so I hit her with this news first thing Monday morning – it didn’t feel like a nice thing to do, but doing it in person seemed best. So far, she’s shown an odd lack of desire to discuss any transition or negotiate my last day.

The nice thing is that they really seemed to want me. They cold-called me, and the whole hiring process went very fast. I haven’t even worked around software since approximately 2004, and I was was absolutely honest on that both in the interview and on my resume, but they just said “It’ll come back to you.” I won’t be writing code (though there might be an opportunity to build some tools) but I do need to be able to understand and analyze defect reports.

Anyway, I really hope I like the new job – I start it the same week I turn 50, so with luck this will be my last employer.

assorted WTFery

by dichroic in politics

The White House’s web page had now posted descriptions of each item of the Bill of Rights (“summaries” about as long as their originals) in which they consistently replace “the people” with “citizens”.
Whitehouse.gov page
Original Bill of Rights

But I’ve just had the most graphic proof that political delusions and ridiculous euphemisms are no new thing.

WTF, Louisa May Alcott? In the second edition of Aunt Jo’s Scrapbag, she’s in the French city of Dinan, where she’s discussing how the local women seem to do the hard work of the town, and how strong and capable they are while never complaining:

The washerwomen were among the happiest of these happy souls, and nowhere were seen prettier pictures than they made, clustered round the fountains or tanks by the way, scrubbing, slapping, singing, and gossiping, as they washed or spread their linen on the green hedges and
daisied grass in the bright spring weather. One envied the cheery faces under the queer caps, the stout arms that scrubbed all day, and were not too tired to carry home some chubby Jean or little Marie when night came; and, most of all, the contented hearts in the broad bosoms under the white kerchiefs, for no complaint did one hear from these hard-working, happy women. The same brave spirit seems to possess them now as that which carried them heroically to their fate in the Revolution, when hundreds of mothers and children were shot at Nantes and died without a murmur.

Having no idea what had happened at Nantes, I looked it up. I find it horrifically unlikely those ‘hundreds of mothers and children …died without a murmur”. Or maybe they weren’t heard because many of them drowned. But I did come up with a way to avoid argument with Trump supporters: instead of comapring him to the early days of Hitler, you just compare him to Jean-Baptiste Carrier instead. I’m certain the administration that came up with “alternative facts” would admire the elegant obfuscation of “vertical deportation” (i.e. drowning). (If you’re wondering about the shootings she mentioned vs the drownings in the Wikipedia article, LMA is just a little confused. People definitely were shot all over the Vendee region – it’s just that Nantes is specifically known for the drowning of prisoners.)

I do wonder if, maybe, the French Revolution would be a more accurate comparison for Recent Events than the Holocaust.

my design “career”

by dichroic in clothing and style

I have mentioned previously that I’d designed a jacket for Betabrand, who do crowd-funded clothing and executive designs. That jacket will *finally* be launched for crow-funding Feb 23 – I’ll let you know when it’s up and you can see the prototype.

But in the meantime, I’ve entered their contest to “Hack the Dress Code”. My entry is a mini-capsule wardrobe of my favorite work ‘uniform’: a long-sleeved fine-knit t-shirt, matching leggings (which makes me feel like I’m in my jammies, or dressing up as a superhero!) and a skirt to make it off-appropriate. Plus a scarf, for a little extra flair. I love wearing that outfit because it’s totally comfortable yet flattering and worksafe, so I feel like I’m getting away with something. You can see my entry here, or all of them here.

If you want to vote, you need to be logged in, but can log in with your FaceBook account. (And if you like my outfit enough to vote for it, thank you!)

Arthur, W.S., and Lin-Manuel

by dichroic in daily updates

I finally got around to something I’d been meaning to do for some time: googled “Hamilton Miranda Gilbert Sullivan”, to see if anyone has noted the (IMO) very obvious similarities between Gilbert and Sullivan’s work and Lin-Manual Miranda’s Hamilton. And…. nope. Yes, they list G&S as one of Lin-Manual’s influences, and they note a reference or two in his lyrics, but they don’t do an overall comparison. (Maybe it’s just so obvious that no one else thought it needed to be said? My 11th grade Spanish teacher said I was a mistress of the obvious. She meant it as a sneer (Sra Valchin was not a nice person) but so often it actually does need to be said, because it’s not that obvious to everyone.) There are so many correspondences:

  1. It’s operetta. I’m not entirely confident I’m using the term correctly, but what I mean is that all or almost all of the story is carried by the music. You could do a musical like Oklahoma or Aladdin without the songs – it would be boring, but you could do it. There’s nothing that you couldn’t explain with maybe an added line or two of dialogue. You can’t do that with Hamilton or Penzance.
  2. The cleverness. Quick patter and ingenious complex rhymes paired with catchy tunes, a matched mastery of language and popular music.
  3. The topical references. Both kinds – quick glancing references to events and music of the day as well as exploration of bigger timely issues beneath the badinage.
  4. And finally, the stardom. I don’t know: maybe Rodgers and Hammerstein were this popular in their day, but I think theater as a whole was much bigger then. G&S were as hyooooge (sorry!) in Victorian England as Miranda is now.

Probably either no one cares, everyone thinks this is obvious, or no one else thinks the correspondence is anything unique, but I’m still surprised it doesn’t get said more often.

My status otherwise: almost but still not quite all over the bronchitis / pleurisy. Might try erging again this weekend, I guess.

if I can’t sing, it’s STILL not my revolution

by dichroic in daily updates

We need songs to march to – I’m not enough of a musician to create new anthems from whole cloth, but filking I can do. Feel free to improve it further, especially if you’re familiar with the original (well, the original was written for the Bread and Roses march in 1911, but the video I linked is an update the original marchers would have been proud of).

As we go marching, marching
Through cities nationwide,
From fact’ry, home and lab floor,
From town and countryside,
From coffeehouse and office,
From minaret and steeple,
We join our song together,
We are people, we are people.

As we go marching, marching,
We stand and stake our claim:
We each own our own bodies,
Though different, we’re the same,
All disrespect and hatred,
We bury in one deep hole;
We march and sing together,
We are people, we are people.

As we go marching, marching,
We bring the better days,
For able and disabled,
For straights and trans and gays,
For baby girls and elders,
We reach out and we keep whole,
Together we’re proclaimimg
We are people, we are people.

I think the Battle Hymn of Women is probably due for an update too.

Been sick, still/again

by dichroic in daily updates

I thought I was finally getting over the cold I’d had since about January 5. Wednesday I took the day off (to do a supersecret thing I’m afraid to jinx by talking about it). Unfortunately by the time I was done doing the thing, which involve talking to a lot of people (and apologizing for my hoarseness and lingering cough) I was feeling like the best thing to do would be to go back to bed. Which I did, which is where I found out I’d spiked a101.4 fever. I was able to get an appointment at my doctor the next day luckily (just to see the PA, but I figured that was fine) and she diagnosed bronchitis. So I’ve been at home since then, doing some telecommuting and mostly just taking it easy.

Between the thing where it took me three tries to fill in Wednesday’s time sheet (which was just 8 hours of PTO) and the time when Ted asked me Thursday night whether I’d actually intended to put a box of dry noodles in the fridge (nope!) it was pretty clear I wasn’t exactly functioning at my best. I pointed out to Ted that, in recent years where he’s been working a lot more overtime than I do, even though he’s always pretty good about doing his share around the house, I had taken on a lot of the responsibility of running the house – not that I was doing all the cooking, but that I was doing more deciding what to cook which day (we decide together, ahead of time, on a few major meals for each week, but we don’t tie them to a specific day), and when, and making sure we had the ingredients, and that we didn’t run out of cat litter, and so on. I told him that while I’m down, we need him to step up and take over – make the decisions, consulting me for opinions as I usually consult him, figure out the timing and make sure it all happens.

I think he’s taken it more to heart than strictly needed, or he thinks I’m in worse shape than I currently am (after my 4th day on antibiotics). We just discussed when to have dinner, he suggested an hour, and I said ok but could we actually eat in an hour instead of just atartying to cook then. Next thing I know I hear him taking stuff out of the fridge and pantry. I pointed out that if I make the salad while he does the main course it will only take us half an hour to make dinner, but I got shooed back to bed and told it’s “all under control”.

Can’t complain – except that I feel like a bit of a freeloader, especially as he had the cold too, though not the bronchitis, and is still coughing.

Back to work tomorrow, hoping that’s not pushing things too far. It’s less than ten minutes away, so if I start feeling bad I’ll go back home. I do miss the Dutch way of doing things, where the doctor just says you can’t go back to work til you’re completely well – and sometimes you even need to be checked by the doctor onsite.

a week for nesting

by dichroic in daily updates

It’s been a weird week, between cold (the illness kind) and cold (the weather kind). After spending all weekend firmly planted on the couch, a roll of toilet paper and trashcan beside me to deal with the nonstop nasal discharge), Monday I worked from home because I woke up with a fever of 100.6. Tuesday I managed to get to the office, then Wednesday I was at home again for Portland’s snowpocalypse. I know they got over a foot downtown; it was probably closer to 8″ by us. Today a lot of people are still out, as is Ted who now has my cold, but I decided to come in because it was just all getting a bit silly. Since I’d have had to completely clear off his truck anyway to get my car out of the garage, I just ended up taking the truck. Its advantage is, not only does it have 4WD, but the way you drive a behemoth like that is pretty much the way you drive in snow anyway: careful gradual stops and starts, wide easy turns, no sudden movements.

Tomorrow I was supposed to take a half day off, but the thing I was taking off for is being postponed, because the cold weather will continue a few more days and many people still won’t be able to get to work. Also, between ice and illness, I think we’ll probably stay in Hillsboro instead of heading out to the lake this weekend. I have plenty to read, plus enough tea, popcorn, pretzels and yarn, so I’m good no matter what. I may even venture back onto the erg today. Or maybe tomorrow.

The weirdest thing has been that I’ve had no sense of smell for the last several days, even though most of the time I’ve been able to breathe through at least one nostril. I sniff and just smell nothing, not even very strong scents (we’ve been using a vaporizer with some Vicks’ stuff in it. I’m told its scent is overpowering but I totally can’t tell). It’s oddly disconcerting – it’s nice not to have to gag because I got too strong a whiff from the cat food sack, but I hadn’t realized how much pleasure I get from the scents of soaps, sweaters, teas, wine, and so on. My sense of taste isn’t gone, but seems to be impaired: I can taste sweet and salty just fine, along with some woody, earthy or bitter flavors, but I seem to be missing out on subtle flavors and aromatics. For instance, someone gave me a tea blend with just a hint of berries; I can taste the tea and sugar just fine, but the faint fruit flavor is gone. And either I’ve got a particularly tasteless box of pretzels going, or I can’t taste sourdough either. Last night’s shrimp and broccoli tasted fine, though, as did the supermarket sushi I had at lunch. Apparently it’s possible to look your sense of smell with a cold and have it be gone for weeks, years or forever. Here’s hoping that doesn’t happen!

slightly ill and also sad

by dichroic in daily updates

Vacation was very nice – I spent days and days organizing my books, ate well, etc. But apparently my body is not so happy to once again be around people other than Ted, because I’m sick (ill, not nauseous). I hab a code in by head. I haven’t been ill for years and years, and apparently I’ve forgotten how – I keep being surprised I don’t feel worse. Mostly I’m being a giant mucuous faucet, with occasional headache from sinus congestion or sore throat from drippage and maybe a lowgrade fever (99F), plus a sore and swollen gland on my neck and that’s about it. I don’t feel achy (except my nose is sore!) or lethargic. I probably could even erg, but I’m not going to.

It’s kind of upsetting to find out about instances like the shooting in Fort Lauderdale by phone notification that friends are checking in to say they’re OK. Of course I’m very glad they are (though whenever I say something like that, Jo Walton’s line “Someone else’s friends died that day” haunts me) but it’s not a pleasant thought that we actually need systems for this. But on the third hand (because I am a metaphorical Shiva) I remember the big California earthquakes of the 1980s, and what a blessing it was for people to be able to share notes on the nascent Internet about who was known to be OK, when the phone systems went down. Mass shootings still suck, though.

arrived

by dichroic in daily updates

I almost forgot to say that Ted’s present arrived Monday! So I don’t have to worry about faking something up for him to open. Now I just have to hope he likes it – it’s an original painting by an old friend, loosely based on a photo I took, so he will certainly like the idea of it. I just hope he loves the painting in esse, as well as in posse. (Assuming that’s the right way to use those phrases.)

That’s his birthday present. His Christmas present is a thumbdrive made to attach to an iPad. You can apparently store movies on it and play them directly from the drive. We don’t have wifi at the lake house, so he loads up a few movies before heading down; I have already craftily pointed out to him that if we watch the movies he’s already got loaded early in our holiday, he can load up more while we’re visiting his parents (assuming his mom either hasn’t changed the wifi password or remembers what it is – she favors long and complex ones). So having this drive to load extra movies on should be welcome.

There’s only one package yet to arrive before we head south tonight: my present for the cats. At least they won’t feel deprived if it’s late.

odd things I miss from the Netherlands, part #9234

by dichroic in daily updates

At this time of year, when I’m getting read to take a long vacation from work, I miss the phrase “t/m”. It is very useful, and we have no good equivalent in English. It stands for “tot/met”, literally “to/with” and is used in the sense of “up to and including” as in “I will be on holiday from tomorrow t/m January 2”. There’s no easy way to say that in English that doesn’t involve a lot more typing!

But the thing I think we both still miss most is still living in the center of town and being able to walk to millions of restaurants within a 10-15 minute stroll. (Even if they all serve so slowly that every dinner out takes two hours!) OK, maybe not millions, but I bet there are over a hundred bars and restaurants within that distance from our old flat. We could live in the Pearl here, but even there the restaurant density is not nearly as high, plus our house would cost three times as much as the one we bought in Hillsboro and our commute would be forty minutes instead of five (except when there was bad weather or accidents, when it could double). And the rowing club – we miss the rowing club a lot. Portland has them, they’re just a bit far to make rowing on workdays practical.