Reverence

Tonight’s post is sponsored by the letter R and the word “reverence.”

I teach my kids that we harm no animals unless we are feeding ourselves or (less likely) defending ourselves. But we eat the muscles and soft tissue of animals. That’s a daily part of our diet.

I don’t hide from my kids that we participate in the wholesale, clinical slaughter of cows, pigs, fish, chicken and occasionally sheep. This is how we have our proteins available for purchase, neatly packed with blood absorbing inserts, wrapped in tidy leak-proof plastic. I have no shame in informing them that someone else does the dirty work of killing the animal, and then another person slices it up into the parts that we purchase by the pound.

I would slaughter, gut and feather a chicken in front of my kids if only to show them this is where chicken strips come from. Or a turkey for Thanksgiving. Not for shock value, but to guide them that a clucking, thinking animal lost their life for your dinner.

I was perhaps 5 or 6 when my father first taught me to catch a rainbow trout from a fresh water stream and then demonstrated how to knock it out (or kill it) against a stone, then to insert a pocket knife into the anus, slicing up the belly to the gills. Cross slice from below the gills down and remove the intestines, then toss the intestines to the other side of the stream for the wild life to eat.

That’s food. That’s how an animal lands on your plate. Someone is doing that ugly work for you every single day, nearly every single meal.

As much as I appreciate television hosts who are willing to tread into darker waters of humanity, they lose me when they back up, horrified, watching goats, sheep and cows slaughtered in front of the camera in 2nd or 3rd world countries. Seriously? You ate a cheese burger before you departed LAX. You had lamb chops outside of O’Hare. Now you’re horrified?

Self righteous hypocrites.

“Human Up”. You’re an omnivore. Stop pretending that this is some terrible 3rd world ghetto shit that you can’t even handle watching while a local thanks the animal then bleeds, guts and breaks down with a rusty knife, all the while praising their kill for its loss and their benefit, with actual reverence for the sacrifice the animal had no choice in making. Reverence makes these people more respectable than us because they looked into the eyes of their dinner and said thank you before they slit its throat. Meanwhile we got pissy at the register for having to pay an extra $0.10 for a plastic bag to keep the pre-packaged sirloin separate from our fruits and vegetables.

We continue to lose touch with the reality and humanness of what we are. That’s not a good thing.

Fruity with a Hint of Cesium

Interesting and slightly terrifying impact of the Fukushima nuclear meltdown of 2011: California red wine prior to 2011 had no noticeable trace (outside of background “noise”) of Cesium-137 radioactivity. After 2011? Cesium-137 appears by a factor of two (meaning double the background noise).

How did it get here? The ocean, the wind. From Japan to Seattle, then down along the west coast of North America where it was absorbed by agriculture and – potentially – every living organism in its path.

What does it mean? We’ll find out eventually once it’s too late.

There were significant problems with the meltdown that could have been prevented if we had functional, radiation shielded robots or R/C systems to mitigate the exposure as reactive systems. We weren’t ready for it. It happened and we’ll pay a price far beyond the initial “573 non-exposure” deaths. Researchers have just started to report findings that are tied to date and agriculture.

I still believe in nuclear energy. Outside of renewables like wind and solar, nuclear is necessary. But it comes with the overhead and preparation for the inherit risks. The Fukushima melt down could have been prevented, even when the tsunami could not have been, and the resulting disaster could have been better mitigated. We failed.

That sucks. It’s going to take its toll eventually. We’re at the initial steps of measuring how. We have to learn from this and invest in better management, over-site and response.

When to Call Out a Liar

Brutal honesty is difficult. It’s something I’m not very good at because conflict REALLY makes me uncomfortable. But a couple years ago I had to stand in front of a grown adult, a person I had entrusted the professional care and safety of at least one of my children to, and called her a liar…to her face, in the presence of other adults who were also her clients.

I never take such an accusation lightly. I’ve had to fire staff for the same. It always makes me nauseous. But this was deeply personal. I offered her the opportunity to prove me wrong. I knew she couldn’t, or I never would have made the accusation to begin with. I already knew the truth. It had to be said because this could no longer continue without me being complacent to the misdeed.

All of this directs me, baffled, as to why those in the industry of independent reporting of facts – actual journalists, not “media personalities” – aren’t willing to stand up and say, “Mr. President, what you just said is factually untrue, those are not the words or the meaning you implied less than 24 hours ago or over the last few months of your own tweets. Sir, you are a liar. You are lying to your employer, the American people. How should your employer respond to your flagrant deceit? How do you respond to your staff who you find are guilty of lying to you? We have sworn affidavits of many of them, but the American people would like to know just how stupid you think we collectively are? How much of your deceit and bafoonery do you expect your employer to tolerate?”

Citronium is NOT Ibex

In 2014, I had a client named Todd. Todd was a friendly but socially awkward guy and we had done a fair share of business together in the past. He came to me with a new project that sounded interesting and we accepted the work. It was a civil issues project, focusing on local city ordinances and elections, allowing citizens to “upvote” issues that were important to them, all done via a mobile app. Todd would sell the reports back to the city, then the county, then the state. The project was partisan neutral and the reports would be available to anyone interested in purchasing a copy.

My company’s role would be to harvest massive amounts of data from various city and county websites and provide a back end to the mobile interface to collect user data and their upvotes for any given topic. We would also generate the reports. It was a lot of work because city websites are generally awful, without standards, lacking quality or any consistency whatsoever. At least back in 2014.

Another company would be creating the mobile app. They were known as Citronium. I interacted with their owner and a couple of their lead developers and engineers throughout the project. We were all making progress and were looking towards the impending launch date. Things were going well.

Not long before the launch date, Todd ran out of money and stiffed my company for more than a few thousand dollars. He did the same to Cintronium. The project halted and we all eventually went our separate ways.

The owner of Citronium contacted me a few months later and we chatted about collaborative projects as well as our options for what we could do with the existing codebase of the Meocracy project we essentially “owned” (my contract is crystal clear in this department) and we bounced a few ideas around.

Citronium asked if Ibex Data would represent them contractually here in the U.S. because they were losing sales by not having a domestic presence. You see, Citronium was based just outside of Moscow. Keep in mind this was still 2014.

I respectfully declined the invitation. Ibex has always been about hiring U.S.-based developers, engineers and designers. We have never hired offshore. This has always been a key tenet of my company so I couldn’t make an exception.

That was the last I heard from Citronium, at least until this weekend. I discovered while doing some “research” that Citronium had been using the address and one of the mobile phone numbers associated with my company as their own. While I’ve never received any mail or calls for them, their search engine presence along with my company’s information was nothing short of an alarming discovery. This was mostly SEO tactics, but if Russia-located Citronium appeared in search results above Ibex Data for our contact details, my company’s reputation was very likely damaged. It may have cost us any number of contracts over the years. It might also explain a few of the mysterious “thanks, but no thanks” declines I’ve received recently because my name is personally tied to both address and mobile details.

Now I have the miserable task of dealing with Google to try to disconnect their names from MY company and the reputation I’ve spent 10+ years solidifying.

The irony of the project and its participants in 2014 – in light of current political discussion – is not lost on me. I’m really glad I stuck to my guns and our core standards. But, damnit, I’ve got more important things to do today.

No Place for a Poop

Riddle me this: the local news will cover a comical story of a grown woman taking a dump in the middle of an isle of a grocery store, chuckling that they “won’t dare show any images of the act.”

Yet the horrific scene of a father throwing his infant to the ground in front of his mother during a domestic dispute is replayed over and over and over again.

I’ve developed software robots with a better sense of humanity than the jackholes who are deciding what and how the morning news is covered.

CNC for Fun and Profit

I walked into an aerospace manufacturing shop back in 1996 and introduced myself. I spent the next 8 months developing a paperless software solution for managing every detail of every part the shop built. From inspection reports, routing, treatments, to inventory. It was my first comprehensive solution that unexpectedly turned my career 90 degrees in a different direction.

I’m still helping them today. And 22 years later, their entire operation is still relying on what I built for them (with major updates along the way, of course).

As I was sweating buckets on their shop floor today, I recalled back when I worked at Boeing in Long Beach, managing all of the desktop computers for the C-17 division, as they were likely using the parts my client was manufacturing. There is a stark difference between the filthy, hot, shrapnel covered machine shop environment compared to the Foreign Object Damage (FOD) prevention obsession of the pristine assembly space for those aircraft with shiny painted and immaculate concrete floors and organized work spaces.

They are two sides of the same coin. I love both environments. I’m totally comfortable in either, minus the heat. Just need to step up my game on hand-coded CNC instructions to the skill level my client demands. You know, if I needed to go mill some robot parts.

Fun shit.

Bizarre interview moment, #38

Sitting in the conference room with the in-house recruiter who is whispering secrets about the company to me when the CEO enters. I stand, we shake hands and exchange pleasantries, and he then stares at me, emotionless, for 1…2…3…4… seconds, then sits.

I sit and smile, looking to the recruiter to direct the conversation or at least make the first move. Instead? Silence. I guess this is my meeting to run, then. Ok, I launch with my understanding with where the product is at and the short term upscale trajectory that needs to deliver in nearly 60 days.

The CEO sat and just looked at me, mostly without emotion, for nearly 30 seconds. He scratched his nose (there’s a tell), rolled his head to look at the recruiter sitting next to him, and said nothing. Then he rolled his head back towards me and waited for at least another 10 seconds and said, “You look different than your picture.”

After 30 minutes of rambling questions that were really nothing more than an opportunity for the CEO to speak, he departs and another gentleman enters. A COO of some sort. Suddenly, we’re engaged. Hard hitting questions with no nonsense answers about leadership, tough decisions and managing the unique personalities of a diverse development team struggling with an antiquated code base. This is my realm! Yes!!

At one point he asked how comfortable I would be doing a code review of software written in PHP v4. I deadpanned my expression and paused while waking up some neurons from 15 years ago.

“Bring it. That’s ancient but so am I.”

We talked for nearly 2 hours. He had to run having gone grossly over schedule. The recruiter had been fighting to stay awake throughout it all as we went deep on the tech. Once the COO left, the recruiter asked me, “you know who he was, right?”

“Yeah, James, the COO, right?”

“No,” he whispered, “That was James, this company’s founder and original developer.”

Planting the Seeds of Revenge

Every action has short and long term results. Today, we’re planting the seeds for the next generation of enemies of our country. As these children whimper themselves to sleep on hard mats, under loud emergency blankets, in a cage surrounded by armed guards, we’re growing permanent enemies.

Regardless If they ever find their families again, these children will never be the same. They will remember the cold heartless void of humanity on our side of the wall and we will become the target of their revenge. They are hardening at this moment, and collectively we are the cause.

I don’t want to be a part of the problem, so I need to be a part of the solution.

You Have the Gullible Virus

An associate of mine – who is not a technical person by any means – just called to let me know that Apple called him alerting him of a virus on his computer. The story just goes south from there in flames.

If you get a call like this, even if the number appears to come from Apple or Microsoft or Dell or anyone else, you are being scammed, victimized. Here’s what to do in the event someone says you have a virus and needs access to your computer:

Step 1: hang up.

End of scam.

Dear Mr. Bourdain

Damnit! I hoped to share a beer and a story with you some day. You had a mastery of word and an intimate knowledge of the texture that makes us all human. I’m so sorry it was too much to bear. That part I understand. But I’m admittedly angry that you made your closest friend find you like this.

You’re going to genuinely be missed, Tony.