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User Journal

Journal Journal: The Tyranny of "The Intellectuals"

Oscar Wilde once wrote "you cannot reason a man out of a position he has not reasoned himself into", and so I did not respond this last Saturday when I was privy to a conversation that desperately begged for a response. Perhaps I should have; but in the end, I wasn't convinced that it would result in anything positive.

There were 5 or 6 of us gathered around when conversation turned to politics. This particular group of men leans very conservative, so I left my centrist self to listen. But the subject of liberal universities and left-wing nutjob professors arose. That led directly into a condemnation of intellectuals in general. They were seen as thinkers at the expense of doers. They were leeches, thinking themselves so smart; but providing little benefit to society. They pontificated arrogantly to the hard-working citizens who built this country. This went on ad nauseum.

It offended me greatly for a number of reasons. First, there was bit of the strawman in how they related intellectuals to liberal nutjobs. It's a strawman argument useful for dismissing said intellectuals. It's a method of minimizing them and their opinions. It's a mechanism for elevating one's opinion to "the right opinion" when there is conflict.

The other thing that struck me was the willfull ignorance of the historical contributions to our society of the "intellectuals". It's quaint and uplifting to our pride to say that this country was built on the backs of the American worker; but it's not the complete story.

Intellectuals wrote the Declaration of Independence.
Intellectuals wrote the Articles of Confederation.
Intellectuals argued for months throughout the constitutional convention, hashing out mechanisms and political philosophies that they pulled from political studies and histories written by men none of us now know from memory. These were smart men. They were studious.
The intellectuals spilled their blood alongside of the farmer and the trapper in the war. They implemented the strategies that allowed us to defeat the British. Who can forget Nathan Hale's statement that "I regret that I have but one life to give for my country" or Patrick Henry's challenge to "Give me liberty or give me death!"?

It was intellectuals who cured Polio
It was intellectuals who sparked the industrial revolution
It was intellectuals who took us to the moon
It was intellectuals who developed the exotic composites and materials that protect our troops
It was intellectuals who developed the training that make our military the strongest and the smartest in the world
It was intellectuals who developed our incredibly safe cars with their airbags, anti-lock brakes and crumple-zones
It was intellectuals who designed the computers that make so many of our other accomplishments possible

It will be the intellectuals who one day cure cancer and aids.

T.J. Watson, the founder of IBM gave his employees notepads on which he had printed "Think". This wonderful little laptop I'm typing this from is named after those "Think" pads.

When intellect becomes a bad word in this country, we have seen the beginning of the end of our strength, our elevated society, and of our very character.

Work hard. Think hard. Make us better.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Spreading Democracy

"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union...

The 13 colonies didn't necessarily get along all that well. There were disputes over water navigation rights. There were trade disputes, and there were some condescensions from the Eastern states against the more rural Western and Southern states. We had gained enormous attention abroad for our secession from Brittain and our experiment in governing under the Articles of Confederation. But we'd also attracted more than a little derision for our disorganization and non-payment of debts.

Much of the world watched to see if we would succeed in forming one or more solid governments or devolve into anarchy and be swallowed by some creditor nation. Or would Brittain resume governance over its errant children?

It was clear that as things were going, the Articles weren't sufficient to keep the organization of states peacefully cohesed as a single entity. Shay's rebellion in particular highlighted the fragility of the governments that made up the Confederation as well as the whole itself. So a meeting was called to discuss changes to the Articles. Any action, of course, would have to be approved by the member legislatures, etc.; but it was obvious that something had to happen to change the direction in which our young country was headed.

50 delegates were invited, though no more than 30 were ever present at one time for the convention. They came from all walks of life and worked together in the sweltering heat of summer, cramped into a surprisingly small room with the windows shut to keep secrets in and insects out.

It soon became apparent that amending the Articles would not be sufficient. The secrecy of the meetings then sprang from the fear that if it became common knowledge that a new form of government was being proposed and drafted the delegates might all be called back to their states and chastised. So over the next 3-4 months the delegates hashed out a common form of government, debating such things as the value of a strong judiciary, the necessity of a military, and how these things would be paid for.

There was even a serious debate about whether or not George Washington should be appointed King and his heirs given hereditary rights to the throne.

As the convention wore on intermediate drafts were made of various positions. Toward the end of the convention the "Committee of Stile and Arrangement" drafted what whe now know as the Constitution. At the top of this Constitution was the now familiar Preamble excerpted above. It had not been agreed upon. In fact, the Preamble was a bit of a surprise, and had not been discussed in the larger "Committee of the Whole". Gouverner Morris had drafted it himself. But it struck a chord with the delegates. Particularly striking was the bold declaration of Unity referenced twice in the first sentence alone. It redefined the delegates who had thought of themselves as former British citizens, or revolutionaries, or Virginians. To these things, and perhaps around them, they added the idea that they were citizens of the whole. They were citizens of the United States of America. Strange that it had not been so plainly put before as it was the very root of the need for some new government.

Despite their differences and indeed through their differences, these men recognized their common purpose and existence. They and their fellow Virginians, New Yorkers and Carolinians were a society. They had a consensus that although they wouldn't always get what they wanted from government individually, they were a common group that would benefit by governing themselves as such. They were all of them people of the United States of America.

The Constitution, our branches of government, our elections; these are all expressions of that unity, that democratic consensus and spirit. Our democracy didn't spring from the Constitution. It happened the other way around. How then, do we best export democracy to other peoples? How do we give them this consensus that was so vital to our own nascent Union?

Looking back it all seems so obvious. But how do you get a people to see it in themselves? Can you simply tell them? Can you repeat it until they believe it? Alternatively, could you replace the government they have with one that looks like ours and rely on those mechanisms of our own democracy to work backwards and create the Unity from which they sprang in our own nation?

The former seem too simplistic and naive. But what about the latter? Would it work? We've tried it before. In the last 100 years we've tried it in a handful of South American states, in Haiti, and we're trying it again in the Middle East. The Brits tried it in Arabia during World War I. They gave military assistance to the Arab resistance under Prince Feisal and helped them to defeat the Turks who held them under slavery. They might have formed one Pan-Arab nation under Feisal but for religious and historical differences they could not put aside. In South America, Wilson pursued the goal of making the continent "safe for Freedom and Democracy". We used political pressure, financed oppositions, and even made targeted assassinations to get the governments we wanted down there. And those governments we wanted were not merely democratic; but were also governments that would deal with American businesses favorably. The term Banana Republic resulted from this practice. Our government used whatever influence it could wield to secure profits for the United Fruit Company. Decades later South America is a hodgepodge of pseudo-democratic states, socialist states, and communist regimes. Pity that Wilson's ideal of democracy was so perverted into something so base as greed. It's not likely that it would have worked anyhow. One thing history has shown us over and over is that a people who want and are ready for democracy will create it on their own. These lessons were played out again in Haiti where anarchy prevails despite our stopping a coup attempt and forcing elections.

The answer then, to my question of how to export democracy is that you can't. Democracy is a consensus and that is not the sort of thing that you can gift to a people.

The better idea, it seems to me, would be to do our best to foster consensus here at home and to spend more time examining the commonalities of our own society. We should spend less time tearing each other apart, and more time displaying those traits we're trying to foster in others.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Entry 5... On Christian Fundamentalism

There has been a lot of talk lately about the evangelical movement and Christian Fundamentalism. They're generally credited with the success of George Bush's reelection campaign, and they're increasingly pushing a very conservative agenda. Everything from gay marriage bans to Attorneys General trying to open abortion records, the conservative agenda is being pushed hard by the Christian fundamentalist base. My own small hometown has somehow become a microcosm of the situation, with no less than Time magazine proclaiming it the "Homophobic Capitol of the U.S.".

At a population of 140,000, it's hard to imagine Topeka as the capitol of anything larger than the state of Kansas itself; but there it is in writing. The article does in fact center on a single family in Topeka, the Phelps family. But later in the article is a telling quote from a state representative. She says "A lot of people don't outwardly agree with what Phelps is doing, but behind the scenes they do."

This is a reference, of course, to Fred Phelps and his family who make up the core of the Westboro Baptist Church. They parade around Topeka, picketing anybody who disagrees with them on any subject with signs that proclaim the dissention as part of the gay conspiracy. A local hardware store, the local university, even the local churches are not immune to Phelp's wrath. They stand across the street with signs showing silhouetted figures engaged in anal sex, slogans like "Got Aids" and "Hate is a family value". They've achieved world renown for protesting the funerals of AIDS victims, proclaiming loudly that the funeral goer's loved ones are burning in Hell.

This is my town. This is the town I grew up in. I graduated from Washburn University with one of the Phelps grandchildren. While we sat listening to speeches inside, the rest of the Phelps family stood outside with their hateful signs. The university had refused one of the Phelps clan entrance to their highly regarded law school a few years earlier and had since been labeled by them as "Fag U". Of course, they still send their kids there; but they don't see any hypocrisy in it.

Elsewhere in the conservative landscape Attorney General Phil kline is attempting to force two abortion clinics in the state to turn over patient records so that he can determine if any statutory rape of minors or late term abortions have taken place. Opponents say that he's simply bullying abortion clinics and in a less direct way bullying anybody who might be considering getting an abortion, whether it's legal or not.

These issues have become hot topics here and elsewhere in the nation. Abortion and Gay rights are cornerstones of the liberal-conservative debate. They're the basis of the fundamentalist political agenda, and they're nowhere more in play than right here in my little hometown.

To be honest, I tend to agree with the Christian fundamentalists... to a point. But I find there a certain mean-spiritedness and arrogance that the group displays which repulses me. Also, I often find them shallow and false. They disappoint me, especially the born-agains. They often are the worst. Their self-righteousness is frequently self-indulgent.

But on the core precepts, I agree with them. I don't approve of abortion, and I'm not a supporter of the gay lifestyle. But the reality of the fundie political machinations is that they don't do anything to reduce either abortions or the social and legal acceptance of homosexuality. Instead, they're preaching, and what they're preaching is not Christian lifestyle but criticism and rejection.

Let's take a look at the abortion debate, where there is no shortage of hypocrisy and loathesome behavior on either side of the debate. Liberals want to protect the right for a woman to have an abortion, claiming it isn't killing until the baby is born. Even the abhorrent procedure of partially birthing the fetus before killing it is considered a sacred cow by them. The conservatives believe any abortion, even one to protect the mother should be illegal.

The moderates on both side see some middle grounds. Moderate liberals find the partial-birth abortions repugnant, and moderate conservatives understand that there are circumstances that don't fit so easily into black and white/good and evil descriptions.

The tragedy of it all is that the parties have squared off on the far sides of their positions. While the liberals have taken the position that no restriction on abortion of any kind is acceptable, the conservatives have adopted an all-or-nothing policy on what restrictions are acceptable.

Last year there was a measure to criminalize partial-birth abortions. The Democrats wanted some exceptions to the rule for cases of rape and/or risk of death to the mother. Republicans said no. There was much pontificating from both sides and eventually the measure failed, to the detriment of both parties.

The Democrats could have shaken off some dead weight with the passage of such a bill. They could have lost the image that their party is the abortion party. It would have presented them in a more reasonable light. They could focus on other moderate issues and would perhaps have faired better in the election. After all, for all of the talk of mandates and the rise of evangelism, Bush won the white house by 3%. If just 1.6% of the voters had voted the other way, we'd have a different president. Instead, they've surrendered to the sickness of debate and have set themselves as far left as they can, denying any middle ground. Because, after all, middle ground means cooperation and that means an admission that the opposition isn't totally wrong about everything.

As for the Republicans, they could have accepted the limitations on the bill and passed the first meaningful anti-abortion legislation since it was legalized in 1972. The exceptions that were demanded represent a small number of cases. So what was the problem? Was it truly that every life is sacred, or would the party like to keep the status quo so that they can keep their base solidified? They too have surrendered to fighting for fighting's sake.

And the fundies have swallowed it hook, line and sinker.

If the goal is to reduce the number of abortions performed each year, and preaching by itself isn't getting the job done, what better way is there than to limit the number of abortions that are legal? They had a chance to do so and gave it up because they couldn't accept anything less than the totality of their position. It has become more about the fight than the issue. "This is my position, and if it's not yours, I don't want to talk to you."

That same sentiment is true in the gay rights debate... especially when you talk to the evangelical right.

For all the bumper stickers and t-shirts sporting the question "What would Jesus do?" the evangelicals frequently seem incapable of answering that for themselves. Indeed, I think they avoid asking themselves the question at all.

Take, for instance, the case of two children in Costa Mesa, CA. who wish to attend kindergarten at the St. John the Baptist Catholic School. The children in question have gay parents who support their children's enrollment at St. John's. The parents of other children there are protesting and demanding that the school turn the kids away.

Says John Nixon: "The teachings of the church seem to have been abandoned. We send our children to a Catholic school because we expect and demand that the teachings of our church will be adhered to."

Of course, if that sort of attitude had prevailed during Jesus' time that rowdy rabble of fishermen we know as the apostles would have been too subversive an element and would have to have been abandoned by the Lord. After all, we can't have that sort around. And what of St. Paul. No doubt he was no saint to begin with. Mary Magdalen? Are you kidding? Jesus turned sinners by treating them well and with love, not by banishing them. But, as history so often does, it repeats itself today. Even in Jesus' time the fundamentalists condemned his acceptance of sinners.

The parents at St. John's apparently believe that these 5 year olds are going to spread homosexuality to their kids. The "gay" is going to rub off of them. They claim the kids are being used by their gay parents to subvert the Church's teachings, which may be true; but don't we have some responsibility to the sinners in the world? It's as if they're saying that if you're not already pure enough to join the club, you don't deserve to become so.

If you're a true Christian, and a good Catholic (the translation of which means "universal") shouldn't you believe that a Catholic church and school is exactly where these children belong? After all, the "gay" won't rub off. And for that matter, parenting is about just this kind of thing. Anybody can make cheese sandwiches and play video games. Parents are around for just these situations, when their children need guidance.

What would Jesus do? Can you imagine Jesus banishing these two children because their parents are sinners? Would he run them out of town? Would he stone them on their way out? Would he shout their unworthiness at their backs as they fled from him? What would He do? Would he visit the sins of their adopted parents on them?

What would Jesus do?

Continuing on this subject, let's discuss the measure in my hometown that just catapulted us into the national news. Topeka has an ordinance barring discrimination in government hiring on the basis of race, creed, religion, gender, or sexual preference. There is a measure to be voted on soon that would repeal this ordinance and bar any similar ordinances from being passed for 10 years.

Now, part of me says that by default you shouldn't be able to discriminate against people and that therefore no such ordinance is necessary. But the reality is that the measure before the people is really a means of saying that it would be okay to discriminate against gays. The people putting forth the measure make it very clear. And while many of them don't outwardly support Fred Phelps, who is championing this ordinance, behind the scenes they do.

What is their end? Do they mean to fight homosexuality itself? Do they think they can make life difficult enough for gays that they will turn straight? Is conversion their goal? I would have to think not; because if it is they've chosen the least practical means for achieving it.

No, I believe their goal is isolation. And to that end they mean to run the sinners out of town.

Is that what Jesus would do?

I don't profess to be the best Catholic around. I'm not arrogant enough to judge myself above any other Catholics. But I know that there is something in me that finds the brand of Christian fundamentalism being practiced these days repugnant. And when I see them preaching and professing love while driving the sinners away, it strikes me that they are more like the fundamentalists of Jesus' time than they are like Jesus himself.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Entry 4... Lori Ann

Today I was listening (as usual) to war coverage on the way to work. They were broadcasting a story on Lori Ann Piestawa, the woman killed in the same attack in which Jessica Lynch was captured. A teacher from Tuba City, AZ was talking about her 2nd graders' reactions to the war, Lori Ann's MIA status, and then finally, her death. One of Lori Ann's nephews is a student in this teacher's class.

I found myself choking up while listening. In fact, I've come close to it on nearly every story regarding either Lori Ann or Jessica. Each time, I sort of brush back anything that has escaped embarassedly and go on.

It's the same thing a lot of people are doing, I'd imagine. You temper your emotions with the knowledge that the old cliches are all correct. War is indeed hell, and people die in war, war is not a game, etc. At the same time, I don't want to be numb. I don't want to shield myself entirely from the sadness. What sort of person would I be if I shut off such sensitivities?

Even so, I was genuinely puzzled about what made those two peoples' stories so moving. At one level, the answer was embarrassingly predictable. I've been socialized to accept the fact that men die in battle. I'm accustomed to the idea that if there was a sufficiently large conflict, I could be called into service and die in hostilities. However unlikely, I have since the age of 18 recognized that fact and dealt with it. I have also seen men of my acquaintance go off to service and to war. But women...

When I imagine my wife, female friends, or even my daughter who won't be old enough for a long time going off in harm's way it sends a chill of urgency through my soul for their protection. Is this cheauvenistic? I'm ashamed to say that in some degree it may be, though perhaps not as some might expect.

I don't know how much actual hand-to-hand combat there is in war these days; but I think that's probably the only place where a man might have an advantage, and I suspect that a woman who can carry her pack, hike the distance, and shoot her gun could be as effective an infantry soldier as any man.

So I don't believe that women should be relegated to non-combat positions. I don't think they should be stuck in the maintenance divisions, hospitals, etc. I think they should allowed to drive tanks, fly fighters and chew dirt like the men.

What strikes at my heart is the idea that they're more valuable than we men. When I think of my wife and daughter, I can't help feeling that they're more important than I am. They should be protected from harm, from combat. That's the job of saps like myself. I'm a man. I'm more expendable. I'm a tool for certain jobs. I've known my whole life that I was born male and that these things were my lot in life. So when I see reports of Lori Ann, Jessica, or indeed Shoshana Johnson who is a prisoner of war, the sacrifice seems greater. I can't help it.

So what are the less obvious reasons for my reaction? In Jessica's case, her youth astounds me. I work with an Explorer Scout's group in town. I teach students aged 14-18 how to fly airplanes. So I'm not new to the concept of young people doing things that are generally considered the fare of older, more mature people. I myself went through the program and got my pilot's license at 18: so I'm also familiar with the easy dismissal with which the young person views the subject. There is a truth in that dismissal that we adults sometimes ignore.

And yet, Jessica isn't flying a Cessna trainer over the wheat fields of Kansas. She's shooting Iraqi soldiers and getting shot by them. She's getting beaten in captivity. Beaten and perhaps more.

The fact that she didn't actually die does not change the idea I have in my head that she gave her life for her country. Rather than throw down her weapon and surrender, she made the decision to fight to the death. The accident of her survival doesn't diminish that fact to me at all. And when I look at the 18 year-old Jessica in my ground school class, I can't imagine asking that sacrifice of her, this year or next. Rob, my last student, is now Jessica Lynch's age. It seems impossible that I, as part of our country, might ask him to suffer the pains of a hostile death.

If I look at my students in class, I can't help looking at their legs, arms, bodies. An older person like myself has had the use of these things longer. It seems more appropriate to ask me to surrender them, though I know that mine aren't as useful. How presumptuous we all are, to live life every day without a care in the world, oblivious to the sacrifices we've asked for.

Finally, the more personal aspect of my sorrow this morning stems from a feeling of connection, however tenuous, to Lori Ann.

I am not Native American. I don't live in Arizona; and yet, the desert southwest seems more like home to me than this town in which I was born and raised. As I watch the news teams descend on Tuba City, I think; "You are here for the week. You are interlopers in a society that you do not even wish to understand. Because the culture cannot be explained in 30 seconds." It is a culture that ties closely to the land. It is ancient in its knowledge of the land. You cannot trace its faith backward on a calendar to a beginning. It is ageless.

She was a Hopi, Lori Ann. And her homeland looks eerily similar to the place she died.

It makes me wonder. Did Lori Ann see that, too? Was there time for such thoughts? Did she see the mud brick homes at the edge of Iraqi towns and think of the scrub desert and adobe structures of New Mexico and Arizona? If she did, did it make her feel grounded in that strange environment, or was the task at hand too demanding? Were the blowing sands at all reminiscent of home, or the endless sky, the sparse beauty of the arroyos and brush? Did it give her comfort?

She was Hopi, Lori Ann. Did she see the Kachina in the sands of An Nasiriya?

I hope that she did.

I hope that she rests peacefully.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Entry 3... Clearance on Request, Pink Bunny, The Griz Cafe

"46P, Billard Tower. Taxi into position and hold on runway 18 for IFR release."

What sweet words.

I'm cured (at least for now) of entry 2's flying woes. The minute I called ground and got "46P, Billard Ground. Taxi to runway 18, hold short of 13, wind 150 at 4, altimeter 30.00. Your IFR clearance is on request" I was cured. You're doing the pilot thing at that point.

Almost any moron could plan a flight, especially an IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) trip with a GPS on board. But they only let the people who have taken the tests and proven themselves move the airplane around. That's when you start to feel just a little bit better than the rest of the herd.

4 hours later, I made a very smooth landing on runway 30 at Albuquerque. It was so smooth that nobody took notice of it. Those are the best. My wife and 2 year-old daughter were blissfully ignorant of the beautiful work I'd just done.

It's not unlike being a sysadmin in that respect. You tend to live in /dev/null. No matter how much output you produce, nobody sees it. It's only the occassional report to stderr that anybody notices, and then there's hell to pay. I remember about 15 years ago, when I was a new pilot, a controller asked me if I was familiar with the airport I had just landed at. I responded "roger" when technically, I should have answered "affirmative." The controller repeated the question, and after getting the same incorrect response from me, chewed into me like I was a piece of steak right off the grill.

I did, however, learn when to say "roger" and when to say "affirmative."

Back to ABQ. Vacation was great. ABQ has a really good zoo, and good aquarium, lots of shops, great restaurants, y mucha cultura.

The only problem we had in ABQ was a cranky little girl. She seemed dead set on being pissed off about something at any given time. On Tuesday, we headed out from the hotel to ride the tram up to Sandia Peak. It's a fun ride and I expected us to have a great time. As we pulled out of the hotel parking lot, however, my wife said "You know what we forgot? Pink Bunny."

Immediately from the back; "I want Pink Bunny to go with us." And that started the big blowout. People with kids will understand both sides of this little story. I told her that Pink Bunny would have to wait in the hotel room for us, which really pissed her off. But I stood firm. It's important for her to learn how to deal with things because, in the end, I can't satisfy her day to day. She has to learn to be satisfied; and that comes only from learning to deal with life's little issues... like Pink Bunny staying in the hotel.

Others will understand the viewpoint my wife expressed: that it wasn't that far back to the hotel, and that it would be a simple enough matter to just go back and get it, and stop the crying and complaining.

Still others will say "She's a two year-old. It's a little early to be teaching life's lessons."

Everybody is correct. I chose to stick it out for the reasons I mentioned earlier. And as for her being too young, somebody call me on the morning that she's suddenly prepared to learn life's lessons.

So, the only downer was a cranky baby, which was bad enough that we considered just coming home. But we stuck it out, and things got a little better.

The flight to Alamosa was great. Beautiful mountain scenery along the way. Fun flying. Density altitude was at 8500 feet when we landed. The Piper Comanche 260 kicks ass.

In Alamosa, the Sand Dunes gave me that long-awaited sense of calm and peace that I had so been looking for. Albuquerque was fun; but it wasn't the relaxation I had wanted. The Sand Dunes gave me that. Nobody was using cell phones. Nobody had a pager on. It was beautiful to sit and watch the mountains from the dune tops, and to listen to the wind blowing through the pinon. There was no blinking cursor to demand my input. This was the world. The shell prompt isn't real. It's busywork that we've made for ourselves. Sand brought down from the Sangre de Cristo mountains by waters for thousands of years: that's the world. That's real. There's nothing virtual about that at all.

There was also nothing virtual about the coronary I thought I was going to have hiking to the 700 foot top of the tallest dune. Oy. What the hell was I thinking?

Finally, I had the best steak of my life at the Grizzly Bear Inn Cafe in Alamosa. It was cooked to order, smothered in a red chile sauce, and covered with cheese, lettuce and tomatoes; and served with beans and rice. It was delicious. I'd kill for the recipe for that chile sauce.

The governor of Colorado is eating there this week. He's in town for a rotary club meeting at the Griz. I hope he tries the Steak Ranchero. He may just leave Denver.

But... now we're home. We touched down on runway 31 just about 2:00 on Saturday. What a disappointment. Back to the office. Back to /dev/null. Back to busywork.

If I were younger and single, it'd be park ranger time.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Entry 2, flying, sharks, sand dunes

Oy, I can't wait for Friday. I need the coming vacation.
    About a month ago, N and I upgraded the SDD (subsystem device driver) software on one of our 2105 IBM ESS storage units (sharks). This was necessary because the backup system had already been upgraded during an outage/crisis. This, of course, is the way of things. You upgrade when the machine faults on something. Anyhow, we upgraded the SDD, and reconfigured the vpaths. Everything looked good. We rebooted and smiled beatifically as we watched the filesystems mount, and got the all-clear from the DBA's.
    The next day the DBA's were having problems. While they looked at changes they had made to the database ("One change at a time," I told them) we started looking at the machine itself. Sure enough, we were missing some paths.
    It was really screwed up. Not only were an odd number of paths missing (you would expect the number of paths missing to represent a number of datapath device times the number of disks attached to it/them); but one of the volume groups had decided to go mixed (some hdisk, some vpath).
    Needless to say, a lot of dinking around was done to no avail. This last weekend, I removed the dpo, and reconfigured all of the crap during an outage that hadn't gone so well for DBA's (did I mention that I told them "One change at a time"?) Anyhow, my work turned out to be the bright spot in things that day.
    While I was working on it, all I could think about was flying. I'd been out with a student in the morning. It was gusty as hell. I was trying to demonstrate soft-field takeoff and landing techniques; but it wasn't happening. It wasn't a day where he'd learn anything. It was all about survival in the little 150. So we went to the practice area and did some hood work.
    While I was doing the vpath work, I kept thinking about flying and how I hardly get to do any of it anymore. I'm always instructing, so I don't get to actually fly the thing much.
    The next day, I went up with my student again, and while he was flying, I couldn't get those damned sharks off my mind. I kept mulling over what had happened, trying to figure out how to prevent it the next time. Meanwhile, T is really nutting it in on the touch and goes because I'm not coaching him as attentatively as I should. "There you go. Start your flare. Hold it off... hold it off... hold it off... oof! Hold it in. Hold it in. Hold it in."
    This really disturbs me, as I have always been very good at forgetting everything else but flying when I got in the airplane. While others worried about flying when they had too much stress in the world, flying has always been the great relaxing force in my life. I not only have an excuse for forgetting all of my troubles and responsibilities, I have an obligation to do so.
    I've worked very hard on those sharks and S80s. I've babysat them, tuned them constantly, made them purr, so to speak. And now I'm going to turn them over to R. R has no real motivation to take care of them. W will. He'll be okay; but R bothers me. He shoots from the hip, or actually, from the lip. R's a talker. W's a doer.
    I suppose it will be okay. After all, R knows everything. Just ask him.
    So I'm ready for the coming vacation. I'm off to the Great Southwest. I'm loading the airplane up Sunday and flying off to someplace that doesn't have cell or pager coverage. The hot searing desert is my sanctuary. It's a place that doesn't care about computers. It has no release schedule. There's no maintenance, no support contract. There's just the same elemental forces that have worked on the world since its birth.

Mixture - rich
Electric fuel pump - on
Prop control - full rpm
Flaps - takeoff
Trim - takeoff
Autopilot - off
Pager - OFF

User Journal

Journal Journal: Entry 1...

So I'm slugging it out today with every script in the world that decided to encounter some unforseen condition and like some stupid cow in the herd, all I can really think about is what I'm going to scavenge from my two co-worker's cubes. "N" was moved, "A" was laid off in part of what has become a 6 month MTBL (mean time between layoffs) cycle. I'm a lot more jaded than I think anybody ought to be. I guess I figure that if I get laid off, I can get by. Hell, I can do anything... right? I'm intelligent, adaptable, a good student. If I get laid off, I'll slug it out somehow either in this industry or another. This gets me to thinking about those folks who get laid off and spend 6 months at home on unemployment waiting for their old job to come back. They kind of piss me off. Nobody promised you a desk job (apple orchard). Some have gone back to school. Great idea. I applaud those people. Others are just waiting for the same job they had to come by again. These are the people who piss me off. I'm paying for them. I may be waiting tables, or pounding nails, or pumping gas when I get laid off; but I'm not going to simply go on the dole and expect the world to take care of me while I wait for my little office chair to suddenly reappear under my ass. Unemployment insurance was made for people who are having trouble finding a job... not for people who are having trouble finding the same job they left. There's a difference.

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