generic update post

Just after getting started on this I end up taking a break.  Certainly not in the plan, but that’s the way things go sometimes. Best intentions and all that… Life got very busy for a bit. To be honest it still kinda crazy. However, I have a some spare time and want to get a quick update about what’s been going on in the last couple months.

Work:  Well I’m not going to bore anyone (including myself) with the gory details of being a zombie in the evil empire. Suffice it to say that this is where the bulk of my time has been dedicated of late.  It is an exciting world of documentation emergencies and long discussions about the phrasing of procedures. I sometimes doubt that anyone actually reads these documents after they get approved. Adding to the thrill factor is he exciting world of group policy management.  OK, I’ll grant that making changes that impact thousands of machines all around the world is kind of cool. Unfortunately, it does not generally make for interesting reading. Maybe I’ll put up some group policy info in separate posts somewhere along the lines. Occasionally, I do some strange things and I’ll be one of the early people doing anything with Win7 policy. There might be something there.

Deva: We threw our Afterparty event.  It went well, although we didn’t get the attendance we were hoping to get. For a first attempt at something other than a convention party, I think it was a success.  For one night, we took over Sodopop, south of downtown in Seattle, and threw a party.  Rolling into the location in the afternoon, setting up decorations and everything else, and then tearing them all down right after the event made for a busy day. I don’t think I’ve done anything like that since college when I was involved in a traveling theatre performance. The theme was post-apocalyptic so there were a lot of neat costumes and decoration. I used the theme as an excuse to go to the surplus store and add to my goggle collection. Of course, in all the excitement I forgot to take  pictures of anything.

Birthday:  The day after Afterparty was my birthday. I’m not really one to make a big production out of them, but this year’s was pretty good.  It started off with dim sum with friends. Later there were cupcakes and beer. Afterward, it was off to a park to hang out and be social. Yep, not bad at all.

Raiding: The guild I’m in, Machiavellis Cat, is working through Ulduar. There are a lot of neat fights there and it is good to see the new content.  Everyone was pretty burnt out on Naxx, I think. I’m really glad that the Cats decided to take time before starting to raid after Wrath hit. It would have been tragic to have been done with the Naxx content 2 months earlier. Sadly, wrk has been interfering with raiding significantly of late. At least I’m still having fun with the new instance when I do get to raid.

Moving: This last one has been taking up a lot of my time, energy, and focus of late. For a very long time I’ve wanted to get a place of my own.  I’ve been living in rentals since I moved out here years ago. Honestly, I’d never intended to stay out here in the Seattle area long term. I’d always kind of planned on moving back to the Midwest where all my family is or at least to somewhere that has more sunlight than the rainy Pacific Northwest. With that kind of attitude buying something always seemed crazy. For now, any notion of getting out of the PNW is on hold. I’m in the process of buying a condo.  We’ll be moving to Shoreline, WA just north of Seattle. This will get us much closer to people (sure there are people on the Eastside, I just don’t socialize with any of them).  The commute will be longer and my days will likely start earlier. At least to start, I’ll be driving to work when Mari needs to go in to work. This will keep Mari employed, it will let me get home at a reasonable time in the evening, and I’ll miss a lot of traffic. Mostly that is a winning plan. The thing is, I am not a morning person. Not at all.

I’ll probably make a longer post at some point about the whole condo buying experience. It has been interesting and things seem to be going well. I have been putting occasional updates about where it is at on Twitter. However, I don’t think I’ll have a lot of perspective for anything longer until I see how it all turns out.

Assuming that everything works out and I get the place there will be moving and doing some repair work around the condo.  I’m actually looking forward to doing the work around the new place. I’ve wanted to live somewhere I could make changes for a long time. On the other hand, I’ve never liked moving. At this point, I’m committed to rent my apartment through the end of July so hopefully the condo will close quickly and I can just take my time with the moving process.

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Welcome to the party, Mr. Specter. I think.

Well today Senator Arlen Specter (PA) switched from the Republican party to the Democratic.

Specter To Switch Parties – The Caucus Blog – NYTimes.com.

Personally, I have some mixed feelings about this. I think it is good in the short term but does seem to prevent a more progressive candidate from taking the seat in the next election.

Sen. Specter was facing a serious challenge from the right wing of the Republican party. He probably wouldn’t have been the nominee unless the Republican challenger completely self-destructed somewhere along the way. This wold have turned the race into a contest between a far right ideologue and probably a moderate Democrat with possibly a independent run by Specter. Now, the Democrats are going to back Specter which does really limit the chance of moving that seat to someone more progressive.

However, in the short term it seems to be a good thing. Once Al Franken is seated, it will put the Democrats at 60 votes, enough to stop a filibusterer. Honestly, if Sen. Specter  just casts vote to stop debate and votes against the Democrats on nearly everything else it will be a win. Of course, even that level of support is not a given.  He  voted against the Republicans pretty frequently and will I’m sure vote however he wants as a Democrat. Hopefully, now he will side with the Democrats a bit more often.

The other part of this is that it demonstrates how broken the Republican party is. The Republicans have moved so far to the right they have completely lost the center. They’ve been losing the moderates for a while now. The last moderate Republican Senators are in Maine. The rest of the party is running to the right as fast as they can and alienating everyone else.   In some ways it is satisfying to watch the party that has caused so much of what is wrong with our country fall apart. The voices from that side of the political spectrum only get more angry, desperate and extreme. Unfortunately, this makes the idea of any kind of working together or middle ground impossible to reach.

My concern with the Democratic tent getting bigger is that as the Democrats hold the center, and at this point even the center-right, of the political spectrum the progressive values espoused by the left may not remain core to the party. Just making the tent bigger does not necessarily mean that the newest Democrats will actually help advance progressive values. It just means there are more competing views in one party. Ideological purity like the Republicans have tried to enforce isn’t the way to go. I’m just not sure the giant party of people who get elected and then bicker amongst themselves is ideal either.

Trading a chance at getting a someone who actually shares most of the values of the Democratic party for an unreliable 60th vote is not unnecessarily a good thing. Maybe Sen. Specter will surprise us all. I really hope this all works out well in the end.

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Norwescon

This past weekend I went to Norwescon. It was a really busy and enjoyable weekend.

We stayed off-site across the street from them main hotel again this year.  On the upside the La Quinta is cheaper than even the con rate for the Doubletree. The downside is of course walking outside in the rain to get back to the hotel room.

Thursday night, I saw the video presentation put on by Star Trek: Phoenix, a new indy Star Trek web series being produced in the Seattle area. To be honest, I went in curious but kind of skeptical.  They had a documentary about the making of the project instead of the actual premiere as it is running behind schedule. This show included several clips in various states of completion. Yes, it is a fan production and is being done with a minimal budget. Despite that it looks like it has potential. It is way better than any fan production I’ve ever seen for anything.  I have to admit, I’m looking forward to checking out the show when it is done.

Friday, we wandered around con and generally slacked off most of the day. I picked up Declare by Tim Powers in the dealers room. One of the book sellers had a nice 1st ed hardcover and I’d never gotten around to picking this one up. Later, we dropped in for the Steampunk fashion show  It was neat to see all the costumes. It made me regret not dressing up a bit though. After the MoD people started arriving we headed out to the party wing and started setting up for the party.

Friday night was dedicated to fairly epic amounts of drinking at the party. It was great just relaxing and talking with people. It wasn’t the like the crazy, giant parties of Deva history. The party was a lot of fun though. I really meant to go check out the other parties. That didn’t happen. I was just enjoying myself at our party and lost track of time. Oh well.

Saturday, I woke up really early. 9 AM was significantly earlier than I’d intended on being awake. We hit the art show and a couple of the Steampunk panels, costuming and prop making. I have to admit there wasn’t a lot of the programming that I really wanted to see this year. There were a few things that looked interesting that I didn’t make it to but generally I was kind of indifferent to most of the panels.

Saturday night was more Deva party. When I got back from dinner (and stopping in to look at the Gnome party over at the LQ) I was asked if I would be interested in working the bar for part of the evening. I was kind of surprised by this since it sounded like it was all covered earlier in the evening.  I’ve never worked the bar at a Deva party. It was quite a bit more fun than I had expected. Maybe the thought was if I was going to be so involved in the group I should know how to run the bar. Whatever the reason, I had a great time. I got to see everyone who came by the party at least briefly, I met some people I never would have spoken with otherwise and poured a lot of punch for them all.

Part of the crowd that came by for the Saturday night party was the from the Star Trek: Phoenix production. As it turns out they are all pretty nice people. A lot of them it seems had never been to a con before. I’m glad I could be a part of them having a good first con experience.

Speaking of first con experiences, Jessica and Adrian came down from the great white north, or rather Vancouver, to visit and party with us.  I know they didn’t get the full con experience but it seemed like they had a good time. It’s always great to see them when they come to town.

I ran into several people I haven’t seen in a while. Jeffery was running Reg again this year. I also bumped into, Callie who is getting out and being social again. Tom was running a booth in the dealers room making chainmail. I saw a bunch of people form Red Square and just long time con people. That is one of the best parts of con, running into folks that you hardly ever get to see.

The only real regret I have for the weekend was that I never managed to catch up with Jessie and Kerry. I don’t get to see them nearly as often as I would like. Apparently Saturday night they were all dressed up in their Venture Bros. costumes. I would have liked to see that.

Overall the weekend was a success. The parties went well despite a small bit of predictable hassle from the hotel. We managed to get some promotion for the Afterparty event. I even had a chance to catch up with people and  see some of the con itself. One weekend is never long enough to do everything I want to do at a con. All the same, I packed about as much into this weekend as I could. Win!

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Zombie Politics

For the most part I don’t plan to put much political stuff on this site. I might occasionally. Probably nothing very serious though.

Why avoid politics? Well… the truth is that off and on I have kept a place for political rantings, er rather a political blog. It has been tragically neglected of late. With my recent drive to get my sites going and actively updated it is getting attention again.

Unfortunatley, it has been moved a few times and I have managed to lose most of the posts I ever made on there. It is almost like starting over, again. One day I may figure out how to recover the old posts but I have my doubts.

I’m still working on restoring links, site formatting and what not (it isn’t really done here either) but the interested can find my political thoughts over at American Theocracy.

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"Tubes" saved

This week a major figure in internet history, Ted Stevens of Alaska, was saved from jail time because the prosecution screwed up so badly as to be potentially guilty of misconduct themselves.

Dismayed Lawyers Lay Out Reasons for Collapse of the Stevens Conviction – NYTimes.com

What did Ted Stevens ever do for the internet? It isn’t like he invented it or anything. True, however while heading the Senate committee responsible for regulating it he provided us with the image of the internet as a “series of tubes”  as part of demonstrating his grasp of the intarwebnets.

Was he guilty? Who knows, I wouldn’t be surprised. Either way it looks like there was more than enough questionable stuff done by the prosecution to ever be sure. It would have been a real shame to let a lot of legal issues overshadow his true internet fame. All the same, I’m glad he’s not still in the Senate trying to regulate the internet.

As poorly as it was presented, the  Tubes isn’t a horrifyingly bad concept by itself. It really is all about the presentation.  I have to admit back in my days of IT support I occasionally described my job as that of a digital plumber. The difference was, having done both networking and plumbing, that I understood what I was talking about for the most part and was using it to be humourous.

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Not this kind of change!

President Obama was elected to clean up the mess created by the previous administration not to make it worse. Generally, I think things are moving in the right direction. I’d prefer that they were moving farther, faster but it is improvement all the same.

Unfortunately, on warrantless wiretapping this administration is not getting it right. The continued defense of warrantless wiretapping using “states secrets” is disappointing. The assertions of sovereign immunity, arguing that the government is protected from legal action in regards to this spying,  is taking this in completely the wrong direction.

In Warrantless Wiretapping Case, Obama DOJ’s New Arguments Are Worse Than Bush’s | Electronic Frontier Foundation

If Americans are being or have been spied on illegally by our government this needs to be brought to light and addressed appropriately. This should not be hidden away forever under state secrets and sovereign immunity.

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Torture is not an American Value

Reading through this article and the actual report makes me ill.  This is not the America that I believe in.  Yet, sadly, it happened all the same. The Red Cross says the United States tortured detainees.

The Red Cross Torture Report: What It Means – The New York Review of Books

Giving up our values in the name of security is not acceptable. If we sacrifice who we are and what we stand for as a nation while trying to protect ourselves we have lost all the same.

I’m certainly in no position to judge if any of these men were good men caught in the wrong place. However, for the sake of argument assume they were the bad guys. What did we gain by sacrificing our ideals, violating international law, and damaging our credibility internationally? As it turns out not much at all.

Detainee’s Harsh Treatment Foiled No Plots – The Washington Post

President Obama has said that we do not torture. Hopefully, that is in fact true today. Unfortunately, that was not the policy of the previous administration. Something needs to be done to right the wrongs of the last eight years.

When can we have the long overdue investegation into the activities of the Bush administration?

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Iowa Gets It Right

I have to admit I’m surprised that a Midwestern state has overturned a gay marriage ban. However, Iowa recently has seemed more progressive than a lot of the rest of the region.

Today’s announcement really does put Iowa ahead of most of the country not just the reasonably conservative Midwest. The Justices recognized that it was their duty to act in this case.

A statute inconsistent with the Iowa Constitution must be declared
void, even though it may be supported by strong and deep-seated traditional
beliefs and popular opinion.

An article on the case  with reactions and links to the ruling can be found at:

Unanimous ruling: Iowa marriage no longer limited to one man, one woman – Des Moines Register.

The ruling does not require religious organizations to perform same sex marriages. Rather, it addresses the rights of individuals to have civil ceremonies recognized by the state as marriages. If a religion does not support same sex marriages they will not be forced to perform them.  Religion is protected from the influence of the state. Equally, the state is protected from being forced to discriminate based solely on the religious views of part of the populace.

Hopefully, this ruling serves as a model for other similar cases across the nation.

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Treasurer? Really? Sweet!

This morning I woke up to find myself the new Treasurer of a small nonprofit, The Merchants of Deva! (Yes, I know the site needs updated). To be honest, I’m pretty excited about this. I’ve been friends with people from MoD for a long time and have been active in fandom off and on forever. I started helping out with MoD a couple years ago for a party at Norwescon. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a lot of activity since then because of the rather draconian restrictions placed on parties by the hotel where Norwescon is held.

In the last few months MoD has been transitioning from a loosely organized fan group that throws a party at Norwescon to an NPO that does events.  There are plans in the works to do events to help out some charitable groups in the future along with some other random fun stuff. All in all, it is pretty awesome stuff.

I really wanted to help make this group a success so after some consideration I volunteered to take over the Treasurer position when it came open.  I had some reservations about this as I’m not some sort of finance guru or anything like that. I can handle my taxes and personal finances alright, but really, I’m a computer guy. I think the handling finances part of the deal kept a lot of people who otherwise would have stepped up from volunteering.

There was another volunteer as well and I kind of thought she would get it as she has been part of MoD much longer than me. I’m not sure how the discussions went as I was sick last night when the decision was being made. I kind of had the impression she was volunteering to do it because no one else was. Hopefully, there aren’t any hurt feelings there if it was something she genuinely wanted to do.

I’m really thrilled to be helping out this group. Also, I’m looking forward to the challenge of learning the official finance stuff so I can get it right.

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New role… Just add water

I’ve been on the same contract for quite a long time. It has been just over 3 years which is kind of weird in itself considering when I started it was supposed to be for 90 days.  It isn’t like I’ve been doing the same thing for the last 3 years. That would have been deadly boring! In that time what I’ve been responsible for has changed multiple times. By this point the work I do has very little in common with the rest of the people on my team or what I was originally hired to do.

Not surprisingly, this is happening again (sort of). Always in the past it has come with a directive of go manage this migration, handle this new stuff we are supporting, or go clean up this mess. However, this time it’s a bit different. I report to a different manager and have been given plenty of rope.

One of my initial projects is to define what my new role does.  This position doesn’t exist. I am making it up as I go along.  There will be some input from my managers, but at the end of the day it will be whatever I manage to create for myself.

One would not be unreasonable in wondering, “That sounds like a great deal. You get to just define your job and do whatever you want, within reason. What’s the matter with that?”

It’s not really a bad thing. The trick is I’m not totally getting rid of all my previous responsibilities. Some of them are getting rolled up into this new gig, and I am getting an opportunity to hand off some of the old work as part of this process. Unfortunately, if I keep too much or define my new responsibilities too broadly I run the risk of drowning. If I hand off too much or define everything too narrowly I run the risk creating something that is irrelevant. No one wants to be irrelevant. It is hard to judge where to draw these lines because no one is doing most of this new work right now.

Today, as I make up my new job description, I think I’m erring on the side of taking on too much. It will probably be easier to hand off extra work if it becomes necessary than to scramble to find something to prove what I’m doing is worthwhile. I fear that a fair bit of political capital has been used in getting this spot created and I don’t expect to have a second chance to do it right if I’m wildly off the mark.

Hopefully, I’ll manage to get it right.

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