Unfriendables

When I lead with, “you’re probably going to unfriend me for this…” I need to remember to grab a screenshot so that I can either apologize later for being an asshole or reuse the proven effective content. Though offending someone is never my intention, I’m leading with an apology.

I led with that line early this morning and – sure as shit – was unfriended by someone I genuinely respect. He’s a brilliant writer and has been through hell and back. I actually hoped we could collaborate on a project. It’s a bummer that the relationship turned.

This is where we all (meaning me) need to learn how to say, “while I disagree with you, we can still chat over coffee and be friends. Your opinion gives me perspective, and that makes me a better person.”

I also need to publicly state that my level of sarcasm is an acquired taste. If you don’t find my level of sarcasm funny, that’s totally ok. It’s not directed at, near or even remotely related to you or your beliefs. It’s mine. I find myself hysterical and I understand I’m usually the only one laughing at myself first. I rest assured knowing I beat everyone else to the punch by laughing at yours truly first.

I stopped taking myself seriously a lifetime ago. It’s helped me deal with the rest of your crazy asses since.

That why we’re all still friends. See? It works! So make a joke. Come at me with your best roast or one-liner.

Lighten the fuck up. Aim it at me. I’m your buddy, bring it.

Shitbag 🙂

Get Your Royal Name Here! (Please Don’t!)

These little apps that give you your pretend royalty name are so cute except THEY’RE A HORRIBLE IDEA! Stop it! Don’t do these!

Many of the apps include questions that either expose your current information or – worse – expose answers to questions from financial institutions as security questions. Ultimately they all lead back to identifying you in ways you don’t want to have used against you.

Listen, when you participate in polls, questionnaires or fun little apps on this social network, you begin by exposing your name, maybe your college or high school, then a few pictures of yourself, your friends and family and maybe your kids just by starting. You’re immediately handing all of your profile to the app developer, whom records the data you just delivered.

A little side hint: changing your profile name when you break up with someone doesn’t matter, we log you by your internal ID, not your name.

That basic information is just the entry point of cross-referencing your identity against other sources: public, leaked, hacked or otherwise. Data criminals are just warming up at that point.

If an app asks for your (current or first) street name, your grandparent’s name, your first pet’s name, or any digits of any phone number you ever had, or birth dates (month, date, year of you or your family members), to the name of your oldest niece/nephew…. STOP! That’s a terrible idea. Don’t answer that. Just … don’t.

With 2 data points, you can be found. It will take a lot of time but it only requires 2. Every additional detail is a bonus of less time until you’re literally handing over every intimate detail of your life, instantly. It will be available for sale in no time.

Give less. Protect you and yours.

Need help? Ask. I’ll find you. We can go from there.

A Male #MeToo Experience

I was once the CTO of a company that operated clinics across the country. One day during a routine visit to the corporate headquarters, and during a routine conversation with the director of billing and a vendor of our billing software – both of whom were women – I had to diagnose one of the billing computers that was having issues connecting to the network.

That was when the director of billing grabbed my butt while I was under the desk replacing a network cable. She did this in front of our female vendor. The director laughed, the vendor chuckled. I walked out of the building and left for the day.

I approached the director the next day and explained that the event was totally unacceptable. Had I done the same to her, I would have been fired on the spot. To make things worse, I had to now deal with the vendor to explain that this was not acceptable company behavior. I was furious because I had to apologize for a co-worker’s misconduct towards me. But with those two conversations out of the way, and an apology accepted, I dismissed the matter as water under the bridge, never to be repeated.

Right up until the CEO called me into her office. I sat as she wrapped up a phone call, smoking a pencil-thin Capri cigarette (this was her company, she could smoke anywhere she damned well pleased).

“I heard there was an incident last week” she began.

“Yeah, I dealt with it.” I explained, and described how I addressed it with the director, then the vendor and how I wasn’t intending to bring it up further. This was all really embarrassing, but it was over in my opinion.

“She came to me,” the CEO explained, “to confess about it. I obviously told her it was wrong.” She exhaled a cloud of smoke, “But I can’t say that I blame her.”

I just sat there for a moment, not breathing, before asking if there was anything else to discuss.

I was laid off by the company 3 weeks later.

Workplace harassment is wrong, period. It does have its own nuances based on gender, though. For a man amongst other men, the norm implies that he should consider himself so lucky, even if the female is a direct supervisor. Even better if she’s attractive. I know this firsthand because most men I’ve told this story to ask immediately, “Was she hot?” One once asked if I punched her, as if that was somehow an acceptable response.

I’ve held off mentioning this in light of the #meToo movement because – in my opinion – I wasn’t victimized, I wasn’t abused, I didn’t have to endure anything that I couldn’t address in person with the individual who was not my supervisor. Except for the CEO. That part blew my mind. To me, this was dismissed until the CEO turned it into something completely different. The only reason I’m bringing this up now is so that other men who have had to deal with this kind of situation understand that they aren’t alone. As men, we don’t have a network of support when things don’t go our way. We have to man up, get over it, quit being such a bitch and move on.

It happens on both sides of the desk. While men are less likely to deal with being the unwanted recipient, it does happen. The reaction of corporation and the law should be the same, regardless of gender.

I obviously moved on but the events definitely changed how I interacted with my co-workers and later my staff over the years, for the better I think. I hope something helpful came out of it. I hope me sharing this makes a difference for you, too.

Mentor.

I’ve been approached by a friend who has asked if I would mentor her teenage son in tech, development, hardware, etc. I really like the idea but I’m not sure yet where to start.

I put it to a group of friends to see where they’d recommend beginning. At first I struggled with tasks as if he was an intern, but that’s not what a “mentor” means to me. I had a mentor when I was in my 20’s, and he’s been a life long friend, but that relationship began when I became his employee.

When I began in tech, I had already grown up around computers throughout elementary school. That was unusual in the early 80’s and definitely gave me an advantage over time. Starting with Apple Basic in 4th grade helped me to understand coded logic, the difference between files and folders, the internals of computers. That all worked to my advantage shortly after I graduated high school and started building desktops and servers for myself. Then my second bench tech job introduced me to the industry in greater detail, in sales, customer service, margins, more complex systems and the consequences and vulnerabilities of our data over time.

For this fine young man, whom I met for the first time last weekend, I’m recommending that he start off in two areas: installing Linux on his desktop, and Arduino projects for remote data collection (sensors, mostly). Since desktop and server hardware are a thing of the past, the ability to collect and aggregate data in the cloud is where I see the next series of trends continuing. He’ll never have to swap out a video card or exchange a SCSI drive (yeah, I’m that old) unless he choses to tear apart his laptop… even their days as user-configurable systems are numbered.

Looking forward, I’m excited. This could be a new direction for myself, my kids and our future.

Bri

“Something tasty from behind the counter?” The hottest woman working the coffee shop asked me. It’s the first time in the months that I’ve been coming here that she apparently noticed me. Rarely has a week gone by that I didn’t notice she was wearing a different black sweater, a different knitted bracelet, a new pair of her earrings.

We smiled at each other for a few moments, before it became uncomfortable, appreciating the innuendo.

It must be a good hair day. I’ll take it.

A love letter

Dear Power Pressure Cooker XL,

I know we’ve never met in person but I’ve been really distracted by you lately. I can’t tell you how often I’ve been in the middle of work, dealing with clients, and thought, “Wow, I could really go for a juicy plate of Ossobucco right now, but who has the time?” Then I think of you and my mind goes numb. Your stainless steel, your non-stick easy clean liner… The thought of your Power Chopper, included free, just sends me over the edge.

You want to grab a bite sometime? You bring the heat and I’ll bring the meat (and vegetables and sauce). Let’s chill. Or chili or stew. Whatever. HMU. But keep it discreet. My NuWave thinks she’s my BAE.

Txt me.

Bad Dad

This probably makes me the worst dad ever, but when the boys are horsing around and someone inevitably gets hurt….I’m usually unsympathetic. After assessing that it isn’t a serious injury, I ask 3 basic questions:

1. Are you bleeding?
2. Is it broken?
3. Do I need to cut it off?

If the coast is clear, as insult to injury, “You going to do that again?”

“Fundamentalists”

Can we all please dispose of the word “fundamentalist” when we’re talking about sociopathic behavior in the name of some archaic mysticism, and start calling it what it really is: criminality (e.g. criminal Christianity, criminal Islam, criminal Hinduism)?

This is not to be confused with the incorrect practice of a given faith, but the justification of criminal activity in the name of a religion.

Killing someone in the name of an imaginary deity doesn’t make you a fundamentalist, it just means you’re a fucking murderer.

Jude’s First Custody Exchange

Tonight’s custody exchange was the first time Jude was out of his car seat where he could watch the entire process. Rylan and Caed gave hugs goodbye to Jaimi, Jude and me; then stepped into their mother’s car and drove away.

After a long weekend of playing nonstop with his brothers from sun rise to sunset, I could see Jude’s confusion as his big brothers drove off. Jaimi strapped him into the car seat. Jude began to cry.

Jude cried for nearly ten minutes. He was so upset that Jaimi climbed into the back seat so that he wasn’t alone. He was inconsolable.

I stared ahead, listening to Jude’s frustration while choking back my own emotions, and thought about my first custody exchange. Rylan was four then, Caed hadn’t yet turned two. I hadn’t been allowed to see them for over a month and even then had to file for an emergency hearing with the courts. Rylan didn’t understand why he had to leave after his weekend with me. There weren’t adequate words to explain it then, just like there weren’t words to explain to Jude tonight that his brothers would be home soon, but they were going to sleep somewhere else this evening. Saying goodbye just didn’t make sense to anyone in either events.

We’ve suspected that saying goodbye to his brothers would eventually become difficult for Jude. Returning home to the deafening silence of a house sitting lifeless in its own disarray has always been difficult for us. But now there’s a toddler whose big brothers are just… gone. We didn’t expect it to affect him so soon.

We returned home and Jude settled. He ate and was happy. He spent lots of time in our arms. He was fine as the alternate reality set in and the house temporarily became a home for three – instead of five – again. We tucked him in and said goodnight, then curled up together in the glow of an old, forgettable movie.