Complicated Calendar

Noticed “Election Day” was in the wrong place in my work calendar. It was on November 1st when it ought to have been November 8th. This is because the date is the first Tuesday after the first Monday giving it a potential range of November 2nd through 8th.

The Microsoft Outlook / Exchange pattern for recurring dates has nothing to accommodate this. The closest pattern Outlook has is “on the first Tuesday of November” which leaves the date that occurs this year as the lone exception. Looks like it will happen again in 2022 (non-presidential) and 2044. It last happened in 1988.

I think this came from a Microsoft list of United States holidays I added. Certainly, looking at that, I have “United States” checked for the locations shown in my calendar. All the entries appear to be entered for each individual date rather than patterns set to handle regular recurring dates and just individuals for the crazy ones.

The only other calendar entry that I can think of that is so complicated is Easter. OK, actually it is far more complicated. Well, Easter is dependent on Passover. Passover depends on the full moon. And Orthodox churches have a different calculus than than Catholic/Protestant churches. Everything else is on a date or first/second/third/fourth day of week of the month. These are all easy to program with a rule.

Becoming Ununique

Growing up my names were strongly identifying. If someone learned of my first or last name, there was a fair chance they knew of me. Almost no one else around was named Ezra. In college, there was a guy whose last name was “Esra” that caused a bit of confusion. But, all I had to say is “I am not Billy. My first name is Ezra.” And a woman in HR at my first job had a nephew named Ezra. Anyone with a last name of Freelove was related to me.

Of late not so much…

  • A place where I do business confused the two Ezra clients. The conversation made no sense to me. Eventually, it came out the guy I was talking to meant the other one.
  • There is a young boy named Ezra who is at the age where his parents call his name as he goes running away from them. A couple times over the past few month I have heard my name called only to realize it is the same woman who is his mother.
  • A friend’s new nephew is named Ezra.
  • A friend of my girlfriend’s son is named Ezra.

There are a few of us in town according to Facebook. I am getting less and less unique. My identity is getting more hidden in the crowd.

That is a good thing.

Social Minimalism

Listening to C.G.P.Grey talk about too much stuff in a room making it difficult due to the visual noise. I agree. But I also have an issue with chatter. Lots and lots of people talking over each other bothers me.

The inability to follow all of them is part of what I dislike about them. One-on-one conversation? Sure. A bunch of strangers talking? Okay. Apparently I can tune them out. But, people I know talking? My brain refuses to as easily tune them out.

Maybe one reason why I prefer social media is that I can follow the conversations in an asynchronous multi-tasking way. They can persist longer and cite sources and be better thought out. There are all things I love.

Resolution Progress 2016: Third Quarter

Here is an update on my progress for each resolution with a quarter of the year remaining. In other words, it is crunch time.

  • Read 75 books. Three Quarters is 56.25. I have read 57.
    • Hit 25,000 pages. Three Quarters is 18,750 pages and I have read 18,286 which puts me 464 behind. That is not terrible, but I slid further behind rather than make up ground.
    • Finish series already started. (25 of the 75 books.)
      • Earthsea Cycle Read books #4-5. Still need to read #4-5.
      • Ender’s Shadow Read book 5. Done.
      • The Expanse Read book #2-6, 0.1, 0.2, 0.5, 2.5, 3.5. Still need to read #3.5, 4-6.
      • The Magicians Read books #2-3. Done.
      • Millennium Read book 4. Done.
      • Robot Read books #0.2-0.6,1-4. Done.
      • 25 total. Three Quarters is 18.75. Read 19. So for this one, I am slightly ahead.
  • Lifting.
    • Bench 240 pounds (1RM equivalent). The actual 1RM that I did during this period was 225. That gives me 15 to go.
    • Squat 300 pounds (1RM eq). The actual 1RM that I did during this period was 285 . That gives me 15 to go.
    • Deadlift 335 pounds (1RM eq). The actual 1RM that I did during this period was 365. That exceeds the goal, so it is done.
    • After getting to these, I will shift to reaching the “essential benchmarks” of bench 1.5x body weight (360 lb), squat 2x bodyweight (480), deadlift 2.5x bodyweight (600).
  • Drop to 20% body fat. No progress.
  • Do the White and Orange trails in under an hour. Did nothing towards this during our brutal summer. I plan to get back at it this month since it will be cooler.
  • Attend 12 social events when invited. I am going to count having a party as 3. And going to a movie with friends as 1/2. I hosted a party in April which is 3. I attended a  couple movies with friends in a group. And then a cocktail party, birthday party for a 20 year old cat, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day. That puts me at 9 which is perfect progress.

(First Quarter, First Half)

“Random” Failure

Got an update to a ticket asking if it could be closed. I clicked the link in the ticket to get to the web site to close it. The web site told me before I could do anything I needed to provide my email address. “Um, the same one you used to email me to get here?”

I closed the browser window and tried again. Same thing. So I provided it. Next it informed me it already has that one. If this is in error, then I should email the administrator. The administrator tells me this sometimes occurs. They have no idea why.

While waiting on the administrator to respond, I happened to click on the link from another ticket. That one worked. I think all the prior updates to the failing ticket worked until the issue, but they all fail now, which is kind of good.

But it made me curious, so I started looking closer. I like root causes. What is the one thing that caused a failure. Even as I accept that many times the root cause is a scapegoat. Many things contribute to a failure, so often times it is a cascade of events leading to the thing we label the “root.”

First, I compared URLs of the failing link versus the link in the next update for a different ticket which works. I copy both to my text editor. There is a pattern. The URLs sent by the ticketing system have one variable provided. There is a pattern to them that I should be able to determine. The obvious part is the ticket number is first. The non-obvious part is code after. The ticketing system has areas for tickets of different types. It looks like the URLs that are failing have a type code inconsistent with the type of others. When I change it to the right area type, I get in.

But, it is easy to make a typo and end up in the wrong work space.

The question is why would it do this? I looked at the frequency. Only 28 times was the wrong code sent out of 4,480 messages.They only affected five tickets. All five are ones I opened. They happen on all messages for those tickets. They all have the same failure.

Also, it might be a bad assumption that the ticketing system is what is sending the corrupted URL. It could be an anti-viral server scanning email, something on the email system “fixing” a problem, or the security software work runs on my system. Hard to pin down what system in helping caused the corruption. Maybe not worth the effort.

Also, this kind of thing could be like chasing the White Rabbit down the hole. It probably just leads to more questions and surprises than actual answers.

Daily Show Chrome Ad

Very strange to be getting an ad that works against the displayed content. The Daily Show web site gave me an advertisement to use Chrome. Yet, Google is actively dissuading its users against using Flash. And the daily Daily Show uses Flash in its video player. I was only using another browser because the Daily Show has not reached 2014 and switched to HTML5 videos yet.

Chrome is my browser of choice. However, I stopped not use Flash in Chrome even somewhat before Google’s recent blocking the video technology. It was a strategy to improve performance of the browser. And Flash constantly has serious vulnerabilities which Adobe was slow to fix.

Even Adobe killed Flash nine months ago. When the company making something says, “Damn, we give up,” it is time to move on to better technology.

Outage FUD

A gas pipeline running from Houston to New York had a break in Alabama over the weekend. My understanding is the owner has crews working to route around the problem. By the end of the week the flow should resume. Their second line for other fuels is apparently being used to help. The governor of my state declared a State Of Emergency in order to allow truck drivers to work beyond safe hours to ensure gas gets to places.

I hear of places running out of gas which I am sure fuels the panic. (Get it?) My guess is people scared of not being able to fuel up hit the gas stations over the weekend when the cars were at over half full. “Just in case.” In other words their panic caused a gas panic.

People’s fear of losing their money caused them to withdraw their cash out of banks caused banks to fail. People’s fear of not being able to get gas caused the fuel panics of the 70s. This is no where near that bad if the reports are correct. Just stay calm. Drive a little less. And get a hybrid.

Collected Quotes 2016 Election

Since the United State presidential election is right around the corner, I have been thinking quite a bit about qualities in the head of the executive branch. Here are some quotes I ran across in dwelling so much.

You have to remember one thing about the will of the people: it wasn’t that long ago that we were swept away by the Macarena.
Jon Stewart

Every election is determined by the people who show up.
Larry J. Sabato, Pendulum Swing

The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.
Winston S. Churchill

Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.
Abraham Lincoln

I do not know if the people of the United States would vote for superior men if they ran for office, but there can be no doubt that such men do not run.
Alexis de Tocqueville, Tocqueville: Democracy in America

We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.
Thomas Jefferson

Oh God, the terrible tyranny of the majority. We all have our harps to play. And it’s up to you to know with which ear you’ll listen.
Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.
Benjamin Franklin

Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’
Isaac Asimov

I predict future happiness for Americans, if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.
Thomas Jefferson

What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or in the holy name of liberty or democracy?
Mahatma Gandhi

As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.
H.L. Mencken
Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.
John Adams

I sincerely believe that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies, and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.
Thomas Jefferson



Marco Polo and the Llama

Why is there a llama in the ‘Marco Polo’ Geico commercial? from NoStupidQuestions

Noticed a llama in a commercial and was confused because Marco Polo did not go to South America. Googled “Marco Polo llama” and found a Reddit discussion on the topic. Lots of people saying the same as I was thinking.

Eventually, I realized that while llamas were not anywhere on Marco Polo’s journey, the premise is that he is in the USA in an above ground pool in modern times. He’s not in the Thirteenth Century but the Twenty-First. So, a llama is odd but reasonable.

The surprisingly good thing about running into that post was, “Surprise Is Still the Most Powerful Marketing Tool.”

Review: White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son

White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son
White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son by Tim Wise
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Back in college, I was part of an anti-racism group. We worked with a local group and took their People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond. Tim mentioned them near the end of the book, which made me think part of why I liked this book so much is his perspective and approach to white privilege is very similar to how I have been taught to think of it.

I think given the current climate on race relations in this country, this is important for people to read and understand.

View all my reviews